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THE WALL CAME TUMBLING DOWN

09-06-2007

Stirrer blogger Damien Doran told us last week, how he'd witnessed first hand the disastrous preview of "Lord Of The Rings", which had to be cancelled after an actor got trapped in the stage machinery. Andy Goff can say "I Was There..." when the Berlin Wall came down.

The Stirrer forum is currently carrying a thread “I was there” and this triggered the old brain cells into dredging up memories of a spur-of-the-moment trip I once made.

It was November 1989 and momentous changes were happening in Europe. The cracks in the Wall were widening and history was obviously in the making. Gotta go and see, I thought.

Me and my mate, Rod, decided we should have a look so we tried to get on a flight to Berlin - full. Hamburg was available so we booked a car, BMW 5 series as I recall, and whizzed off, arriving in Hamburg late in the day.

The drive from Hamburg was a real treat. The autobahn was thick with Trabants belonging to East German returnees going home after their first tentative forays in to the big world. The air was choking with the poorly tuned engines spewing out toxic gas which clung to the cold November air until it was sucked in to our car.

We were all but waived through the boarder crossing and started the journey between the high security fences that lined the carriageway. Stopping at the East German equivalent of a Moto was an altogether surreal experience. They served hot frankfurters fried in oil that must have been taken straight from the gear box of a T55 and tasted like it.

The “cola” was not made using the famous secret recipe and probably involved grinding up acorns and baby mice. The décor was similar to an Oldbury working men’s club circa 1956. When we left we had to negotiate a group of East Germans standing round our Beemer stroking the metal.

As it was getting late, and the Trabbies had either broken down or been held up at the border, we decided to throw caution to the wind and managed to hit 125 mph at one point.

We arrived in Berlin, parked west of the Soviet War Memorial and walked down towards the Brandenburg Gate. Fires glowed in the dark and people were milling about. There was real sense of excitement and wind of change blasting across the country.

Some British squaddies were manning a soup kitchen near one the breaches in the Wall and we stood with them for a while chatting and watching the starry-eyed East Germans trying to make sense of what was happening as they absorbed what they had been missing for all those years.

Apparently the BMW showroom had been overrun with sightseers who wouldn’t leave - not causing a problem but sucking capitalism in to their bloodstreams.

We spent a cold night sleeping in the car and returned to the Wall the next morning. I, along with so many others, chip chipped away and now have a bit of wall on my bookshelf. Toxic blue asbestos is one of the ingredients, so I keep it in a plastic container.

Rod and I returned to Berlin ten years later and stayed in what was East Berlin. My, how things had changed. The fashion dowdiness had been replaced by cutting edge dress styles, the crumbling buildings had been spruced up and the sense of uncertainty, danger even, had vanished.

So glad we went a decade before and witnessed an event that I never imagined would happen in my lifetime.

Pictures? Click here

Check out the "I Was There" thread on the Miscellaneous section of the Message Board, And if you can say "I was there" email editor@thestirrer.com

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