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  Weekend in Amsterdam, by royahiggins
blackburn, GB
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Weekend in Amsterdam



When the taxi arrived to take me to the airport, I didn't have the faintest idea what awaited me in Amsterdam. Godfrey Hillendale sat comfortably in the back seat of the taxi. Although younger than I he was also my boss by virtue of a university degree. He was reputed to be an electronics boffin, although I had yet to see proof of that claim. Godfrey was in excess of six feet tall, and very slim with a sharp bird like face. His hair, which grew over his collar, was wild and red, and receding significantly at the temples. Godfrey spent most of the working day in his office with the door firmly closed against all intruders. He drank copious amounts of black coffee, and had amassed a huge collection of polystyrene coffee cups, which hed stacked in huge towers around his office making it almost impossible for anyone to enter. I couldn't see the fascination of collecting coffee cups, but they carried different batch numbers, he explained, which made his hobby rather like collecting train numbers, which I found equally mystifying.
Good morning Ray, called out Godfrey cheerily from the back of the cab.
Good morning God, I replied, a little less cheerily, as I could never be described as a morning person.
Id begun calling him God behind his back, and admittedly in malice; as Id been promised the job as head of the department. After performing that duty for several months, in an unpaid capacity, Id been rewarded by the unannounced arrival of Godfrey to take my place. This had resulted in some unhelpful behaviour on my part I must admit.
As we became more familiar with each others strengths and weaknesses, I realised that Godfrey had few management skills, and was happy to hide in his office with his precious coffee cup collection, while I continued to run the department as before. Realising that Godfrey relied upon me, and was also a little scared by my aggressive mood swings, I soon began to call him God to his face, and Godfrey seemed happy to accept the promotion.
To mark the occasion of our trip Id dressed in my best blue suit, purchased directly from the retailers shop window, while wearing my brand new overcoat in an attempt to look businesslike. I was what they termed in the trade, a stock size, the outfitter explaining that my measurements exactly matched those of the shop window dummies, so that the display suits fitted me perfectly. Convinced that they were of a superior quality, and whats more fitted me better than a made to measure suit, I would regularly ask if the demonstration suits were for sale, which they often were, as material runs came to an end and the sample suits became redundant.
Godfrey had made no such concessions to the trip. He wore his everyday grey flannels, blue blazer, and camel coloured duffle coat with peg buttons, finished off, as always, with his university scarf, which he wore with pride as a badge of his academic achievement.
I had little, if anything, in common with Godfrey, and the initial flurry of excited conversation quickly dried up. I tried all the subjects on which I felt knowledgeable, music, television programs, books, history, news, and even politics, of which I knew very little, but Godfrey was not what you might call worldly and had little knowledge on any of these subjects.
What do you like? I asked, frustrated by his lack of enthusiasm on any of my proffered subjects.
I like to drive onto the moor with my girlfriend, he began. Finally we had something in common, but Godfrey had to ruin it. To receive and transmit radio signals, he concluded.
I was surprised that Godfrey had a girlfriend, but it was of no surprise to discover that she shared his passion for radio signals. I wasn't averse to taking girlfriends onto the moor, but not to transmit and receive radio signals.
By the time we reached Manchesters airport Godfrey and I sat in silence. I wondered what on earth we would talk about until Wednesday, the day when Godfrey was scheduled to return to England.
I was excited about flying. As a child Id flown on family holidays from Blackpool to the Isle of Man. On those occasions Id flown in transport planes which had been converted, by the addition of seats, to become passenger aircraft in the aftermath of the war. On this occasion I was flying, for the very first time, on a jet aircraft, something which Id wanted to do, since BOAC had introduced their Comet in the early nineteen-fifties.
Manchesters airport couldn't have been more different from the airport of my childhood, which as memory served consisted of a single story, prefabricated building, akin to the ones where fighter pilots scrambled from battered old armchairs during the war. It was of ultra modern design, built in concrete and steel and of enormous proportions, with huge chandeliers of droplet shaped glass cascading from the ceiling in the departure lounge.
Godfrey and I became separated on the aeroplane as Godfrey was graded as senior staff. This entitled him to travel business class while I travelled economy as my reduced status dictated. On the plane I sat next to a boy of perhaps eight or nine, who although travelling with his mother, shared my enthusiasm for flying, and insisted on holding my hand as the plane took off.


I met up with Godfrey at the baggage collection, and we caught a service bus into Amsterdam.
We were booked into the Rode Leeuw or Red Lion, which we'd been told was situated on the Damrak. As it turned out the Damrak wasn't difficult to find, for as we alighted from the bus it stretched out before us. It appeared to be the main artery of the city with many of the large stores and hotels situated along its length. Trams ran to and from the railway station and with hindsight I wished that wed caught one.
The hotel had a large reception desk with a number of attractive female receptionists to welcome guests. Uniformed porters, wearing pork pie hats, were fighting for suitcases to enhance their salaries by way of tips, and I felt uncomfortable because of the attention being lavished upon us.
Against my wishes the porter took our suitcases and carried them into the lift. The lift operator who sat on a high stool beside a panel of buttons, enquired of the porter which floor the two gentlemen would like, and I quickly learned that we were expected to tip the lift operator on each and every occasion we travelled in the lift. With this realisation I resolved to avoid using the lift more than was necessary.
My room turned out to be spacious, with a king size bed, a sitting area with two comfortable arm chairs, a coffee table, tea and coffee making facilities, and a bathroom with a separate shower. The decor was modern but impersonal in neutral creams and white, with pictures on the walls so boring that no one noticed what they depicted. A single chocolate had been left on each pillow as a welcome gift. I made a cup of coffee, sat in one of the comfortable armchairs and greedily devoured them both.
Once resuscitated I unpacked my suitcase, showered, and putting on my best blue suit and a pair of suede Chelsea boots which were currently the height of fashion, I met up with Godfrey for dinner.
We were given an English language menu in the restaurant, and I chose whitebait for a starter, mainly because Id never tried it before, while for my main course I chose Wiener schnitzel for the very same reason. I wasn't keen on either of my choices and decided to play it safe by ordering apple pie and cream for my desert. This selection turned out to be made from tiny crab-apples and damsons, but tasty none-the-less.
Amsterdams prostitutes sat in illuminated windows to ply their trade, Id been told, and I determined to witness the spectacle. Godfrey refused to accompany me and decided to take himself off to the cinema instead. Id no idea in which direction I would find the red light district, and being too embarrassed to ask I turned right as I exited the hotel, which proved to be the wrong direction.
I felt uneasy, and not for the first time since arriving in Amsterdam. Convinced that I was being followed, although I had no reason for thinking anything of the kind, I frequently turned in an attempt to spot someone behaving suspiciously. I told myself that I was being paranoid, but still the feeling of unease persisted.
Following the crowds I found myself in Rembrandtplein, a square which had little connection to the painter other than the proximity of his statue, which occupied the centre of the square.
The square was surrounded by bars, restaurants, and nightclubs, with doormen resembling gorillas in evening suits cajoling punters to enter their establishments. At first I resisted the carefully rehearsed pitches being scared that I might be taken advantage of. After a complete circuit of the square, and feeling extremely cold, I succumbed to the pressure and accepted the very next invitation.
The doorman, who followed me into the club, insisted on helping me off with my overcoat, which he spirited away so that a change of mind on my part didnt occur.
The club consisted of a single room with a curved bar in one corner. Bench seating surrounded the walls while a handful of tables and chairs increased the seating capacity nominally. Five or six men occupied the shadows, all of them alone, as I was. I approached the bar and ordered a pilsner, which I knew to be a beer.
Shorts only, grunted the barman rudely.
Bacardi and coke then, I grunted back. Id never had a Bacardi, and didn't know if Id like it, but I did know that I liked coke.
After paying an extortionate price for my drink I positioned myself on a high barstool. The barman reached under the counter and a spotlight flooded an area of the dance floor with light. Immediately a door opened, and a girl appeared to dance for me in the centre of the room. She couldn't have been more than seventeen years of age. She wore a red cowboy hat, cowboy boots, a red leather waistcoat with tassels, a similarly coloured bikini top and leather chaps, also with tassels, which showed her cheeky little bottom through cut-outs at the rear.
In my limited experience, strippers who labelled themselves exotic dancers only wiggled while removing their clothing, but this girl could dance. Twirling a lasso she jumped in and out of the loop, sending it up to the top of her head and down to her ankles. At one stage she dropped the loop over my head and pulling it tightly she trapped my arms to my sides. She danced away while holding onto the end of the rope then shortening the distance using climbing hand movements. On reaching me she wiggled her small breasts in my face and released me from my captivity and acute embarrassment.
Removing her leather cuffs, she dropped them, one by one at my feet. This was followed after a lengthy spell of teasing, by the removal of the waistcoat. The chaps came off with one almighty tug to reveal a red leather gee-string, which she inched up and down using her thumbs to tantalise the assembled audience. The leather bra came off to reveal her not yet fully formed breasts, and after removing her boots she danced wearing only the hat and the smallest of red leather garments imaginable.
Her hair was hidden beneath the cowboy hat, which she removed to cover herself as she dropped the gee-string onto the floor. Her hair was long, and as she removed the hat it tumbled down to her waist. It was a chestnut brown colour, and completely natural in hue, as I was able to verify by comparison from my privileged position.
The music stopped, the lights went out, and everyone clapped politely, but instead of disappearing from the room she crossed the dance floor with her hat strategically placed, and perched naked on the barstool beside me. Id watched her with interest as she danced, but I now found it impossible to look at her even though I wanted to do so very badly.
Would you like to buy Greta a drink? she asked me in heavily accented English.
Obviously shed been briefed as to my whereabouts and my nationality. Perhaps shed been deliberately chosen to dance for me because she spoke my native tongue.
The doorman, whod enticed me into the club, approached the girl carrying a silk dressing gown. As she alighted from the bar stool she gave me one last look at what was on offer as she put on the dressing gown, leaving it wide open for a moment as she flicked her long hair over the collar. The doorman stayed close by until I ordered the requested drink, which was green and served in a wine glass. It appeared to be a spirit, possibly chartreuse or crème de menthe, I thought.
Id tried a drink of similar colour served flaming like the brandy on a Christmas pudding. Foolishly Id burned my mouth on the glass, never realising that it would have heated up in the flame. There was no way that this drink would light, because although it cost an extortionate price it was not a spirit but a peppermint drink affectionately known as green sticky.
I have a room upstairs if you are looking for a good time Greta announced.
I wasn't expecting to be propositioned. I believed the scam to be charming punters into buying the dancers overpriced drinks, never realising that this girl had been forced into prostitution to pay for her travel arrangements, from Eastern Europe, and her overpriced lodgings.
She was very beautiful; her lifestyle having had insufficient time to take its toll on her youthful body and pretty face. I was sorely tempted by her offer, but considering the extortionate price of the drinks, I was wary of the price I would have to pay for Gretas personal services, and what would be the consequences should I be unable to pay the bill. I hoped that I wouldn't get her into any kind of trouble, but decided that the best course of action was to decline her offer.
Another punter entered the club, and soon the lights came on again to herald the next stripper. Greta left her drink untouched on the bar and silently slipped away. The new stripper was twice Gretas age. She was dressed as a Turkish belly dancer, and I waited until the last of her seven veils had fallen to the floor before finishing my drink, retrieving my overcoat, which I worried I might never see again, and leaving the warm smoky atmosphere of the club to inhale the cold fresh air of the street.

Description: AUTHORS NOTE

This story is based on factual events. In the late 1960s I was sent to Holland by my employer. On the weekends I journeyed to Amsterdam where I met a Soviet agent, who told me that he was head of security at a Soviet radio station. I envisioned a uniformed security guard at a radio station playing folk songs, perhaps spreading a little Soviet propaganda, but nothing could have been further from the truth. It transpired that the radio station transmitted, and received, coded signals, while intercepting and breaking the coded signals of foreign governments. I befriended the Russian, and we toured the bars of Amsterdam together. When it was time for me to leave he asked if I would work for the Soviet Union in an intelligence gathering capacity. I asked what I might contribute that he couldn't read in a British newspaper or a library book. He answered that I would be surprised and hinted that I could be placed into positions of mutual benefit. I declined, but often wondered what might have been the consequences if the Russian had refused to take no for an answer.

Roy A Higgins

 Photo Posted: Feb 01,2015   Photo Viewed: 445 Pages(1): [1]  
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