I used to knock about with three other lads, Cockney and V from Basic Training and Taff from the previous intake of new soldiers. We all loved dancing, drinking and having a laugh. Out of all the places we could have visited, we chose Amsterdam!
This is one night we will never forget. We could not get into any nightclubs because we were English. Unfortunately, our predecessors had a reputation for fighting. After the umpteenth time of refusal, we just went into the next bar. Three of us had a bottle of tequila, whilst V had Pernod and lemonade.
Eventually, we were refused anymore drink. On exiting we were thrown back by the cold weather and the next lorry to drive past, fell victim to our humour. Someone managed to grab onto the side, most probably me and then the lorry pulled over. This monster of a man got out of the cab and he shouted something in the local dialect, we burst into laughter and then he shook his head in disbelief before driving off.
Here’s where it gets a bit hazy.
I went off with v and the other two were left to their own devices. I remember that v went into a grocery store to buy some fags and by the time he came out I was missing. However, he did notice people walking around an obstruction. On closer inspection, it was me! He called my name and pulled me to my feet.
My next memory is waking up whilst sat on the toilet. I walked into the bedroom and realized I was in somebody else’s room. We had rented a room with 4 single beds and there was a double bed with a couple in it. WOW! was I confused. I just wanted to get out of there as quick as I could. I went upstairs to our room and found my friends asleep outside. I checked my pocket and woke them up stating that I had lost the room key. V then woke up and said that he had the key, even though he was outside sleeping.
Cockney made us all laugh by sharing his woes of how he’d been robbed and beaten up. Taff on the other hand, gleefully told us how he had survived being surrounded by the junkies in the train station by pretending to be insane. As we were settling down, cockney asked me for the time. I said I didn’t have it. He said check your wallet Al. Oh dear! I’ve been robbed as well.
A few years ago I was reminded of how I’d been saved by a lamp post. After V had pulled me to my feet, we stumbled along the canal where we crossed paths with some opportunists and I was much more generous. I was robbed! V was able to keep his wallet.
He was then approached by the police and here’s where my miracle happened. As they were talking I went AWOL. The police then put a call out on the radio and then I was found, hanging onto a lamppost with my feet together using an invisible hula hoop, within feet of the canal edge with no barrier. The police then drove us back to our hotel. Amazing Grace of God!