Germany - October 1959
(Recalled by Pat Gentles Feb 2004)


In the last week of October we left England for Hamburg, Germany. We were to play a nightclub there for one month before journeying to Ramstein U.S.A.F. in a southern part of Germany , starting there on the 2nd of December 1959.

The first night at the nightclub we played for dancing, and then did a 45 minute stage show. During the very first stage show I was standing in the wings waiting nervously for my turn when the terrifying thought came into my head. I thought this is 1959 just, 14 years after the end of the war with Germany - What if the bagpipes I was about to play upset the audience? I knew bagpipes had been used in the war to spur on the British troops; what if someone in this all German audience, who associated them with the war wanted to kill me? I thought "Oh God, what should I do". I suddenly remembered that I knew the German song "Auf-Wiedersehn" which means "Good-bye"I reasoned I could walk on the stage playing it instead of "Scotland The Brave" - that should make everything alright. So that's exactly what I did - I walked on

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stage that first night in Hamburg playing a tune called "Good-bye!" - Ivy and the drummer who backed me were momentarily surprised but nothing was lost, as the girl playing the drums also had been taught to keep on going no matter what. I got a standing ovation, which lasted nearly all through the piping so I needed have worried. It had been a good thing to do and I was rather proud of myself.

Every night we took the bus from our hotel to the nightclub to do the show; the first Monday, as we were driven along, I noticed some construction workers starting to build something - by the time I looked again on the Friday of the same week, a whole apartment complex was standing there. I couldn't believe that the workers had built that so fast. We found out that the Germans were very hard workers, no matter what their job was.

The show ended at 2.a.m. and then Wendy Todd and I would proceed to go out on the town. Hamburg was great at night, all lit up and clubs serving drinks and promoting dancing for it's customers. We would invariably dance the rest of the night away and we often got back to our hotel just in time for breakfast and then we'd get our sleep time during the day, getting up about 4 p.m. in time to get ready for the next night. And so it went for the next four weeks.