The return of Chris, Global tour host, or should I say Nena? After the events of "Hostess" he vowed never to wear a frock again, but girlfriend Julia came up with a challenge - is Chris man enough for the job?
Will he survive the experience?
Das Ist Normal
by Maddy Bell
All Rights Reserved.
Her Official Web Site is at MaddyBell.com Please Visit!
I suppose the uniform isn't so bad
|"How did I let you talk me into this?" I grumbled as I hugged my fleece around me. The breeze was blowing straight up my skirt and the uniform blouse is how can I put it, thin!
"You'll be on a lovely warm coach soon so stop complaining" Julia's reply was muffled by the collar of her own jacket.
"Here you go, milk no and black with two" Mandy handed out the Styrofoam cups of scalding beverages.
"S'alright Chris, you can get them at Toddington"
"Nena!" Jules and I chorused
"Sorry, habit" Mand told us, "I still can't believe you're doing this, I mean one week, bit of fun but another one? You sure there's not something you want to tell us?"
"Maand!" Jules whined
"I was only saying!"
"Yeah well don't. I told you last night, it's a sort of bet"
"And I don't get to find out the rules"
"Nope" I agreed.
"So are you doing the accent and everything this time?" Mandy asked me
"I guess so, hey Jules, I just realized I could have got away without all that"
"Yeah but you are so much more convincing in German!"
If it hadn't been for the cup of scalding tea I would have got her for that.
"And anyway, Bill's told everyone that a dishy fraulein is on with Den this week"
"I am so not dishy!"
"Go look in a mirror girlfriend!" Mand put in
"Here they come!" Jules stated as the roar of the first coach reached us.
"You must be Nena, I'm Colin, your feeder to Dover" he offered his hand
"Hallo Colin" this is the hardest bit, pretending I don't know people! In fact that's gonna be the worst bit this week as I'm on sort of nodding terms at a lot of the places we're going to. And not only that but a friend of mine from college lives only a few kilometres from where we're staying!
Not only that but some of our regulars are on this trip, regulars that know me! I found that out last night but it didn't sink in till just now.
"You gonna be okay Nena?" Jules asked. Nena. That's me with no escape until a week on Sunday, what am I doing?"
"Oh sorry Julia, just thinking, yeah I'm okay"
"Time to get your bum onboard then" Mand mentioned giving me a peck on the cheek.
"Hey no fair!" Jules stated before bussing my other cheek.
I climbed on board the bus and Col had the door shut and was reversing off the stand before I got my seat down. Next stop Toddington! I now found myself in a bit of a quandary, do my usual spiel and risk being recognised or try something different.
"You okay to do the intro Nena?" Colin asked
"Er yes, I think so" well it's not like I don't know the stuff! But I can't appear too sure of myself; someone might smell a rat. We pulled into the flow of southbound traffic that means show time! Mandy and Julia would both be doing a similar presentation just about now and the regulars would be waiting.
I took up the mic.
|I stood up, smoothed my skirt and picked up the microphone.
The expected mumbled mornings were a bit more attentive than usual, something different was happening!
"My name is Nena, I am from Germany and I will be your Hostess this week. My English is not always so good so I apologise now. We are going to the lovely Eifel region, if you book to go to Brittany this is not the correct bus." Well I thought I'd try some humour and I did hear a couple of chuckles.
"Our driver until Dover is Colin, tour driver will be Dennis and he will join us at Dover. I must tell you something of the bus, here next to me, is the er, Erste Hilfe, yes first aid and fire hose? We would like if you use the seatbelts please but in any case you must when we are in Belgien. Exits in case of emergency are at the centre, the rear and the front. Also there is a Toilette at the middle"
I paused to catch my breath, thought about my usual jest about the right door but decided to play safe.
"Yes soft drinks. The drinks are cost fifty pence or seventy cents if you would pay in Euro. I hope that you will enjoy this visit, thank you"
I finally clicked the Mic off, the passengers always take a while to settle down afterwards so I sat down for a minute.
"Would you like a tea or coffee Colin?"
"Tea, white no sugar please" predictable as always!
"So Nena, what are your lot like?" Mandy asked
The three of us were sat in a corner of the restaurant attacking our breakfast; the drivers were over in the smoking area.
"They seem okay so far" I replied between bites of sausage.
"I've got a couple of right moaners" Julia told us, "it's cold, the music's too loud, haven't you got any decaf?"
"Nightmare" I mentioned
"I've got a week of it to look forward to" she moaned
"You sure you're gonna be alright Chri...Nena?" Mandy asked
"I managed last week!"
"Beginners luck" Jules deadpanned
"Maybe, but this week should be easier, I know all the places a lot better."
"And the people"
"Yeah and the people" I allowed, tucking a blonde lock behind my ear.
Saturday morning around the M25 - miss it if you can! To be fair we didn't get held up too much, well it kept moving just about and we only queued over the bridge! I made a couple of trips up the coach doing the refreshment thing and generally the passengers were in fine fettle despite the early start that a few of them had had. I started to get a bit nervy as we approached the Kent coastline; my first potential tangle with the authorities was looming.
Past the Eurotunnel terminus and up through the tunnel, then the drop down into Dover, I was definitely getting twitchy! Then we were there, the Dover passenger terminal, and there waiting were Rob, Steve and Den.
"Hi Col, Nena. Everything okay?"
"Yeah she's behaving okay" Col told Den
"What about the coach?" Den and Colin both laughed at that while I turned an unbecoming pink.
Col collected his stuff and climbed off.
"Good trip you two and Nena, keep an eye out for Mr Luvva Luvva here!"
"I will, thanks Colin" I sat myself down as Den started us forward.
"Didn't expect to see you this week Nena?"
"Neither did I, I mean I didn't expect to be here either" you never know who's listening.
We were waved through immigration and we made our way around to the loading lanes to wait our turn. The other Global buses followed us through and we joined the couple of coaches already waiting. We had a few minutes to kill so Den and I got off to ostensibly check the lockers and restock the beverage supplies.
"Why Nena again?"
"This is between us okay?"
"Okay" Den agreed
"Well, Julia sort of made me a bet"
"And you lost?"
"No, no, let me finish. So far I'm winning, if I last the tour out as Nena, I get er, I get Jules"
"You get Jules what?"
"No that's it. I get Jules"
"Phewee! Some bet!"
"Yeah, well I haven't won yet"
"We'll have to make sure you do then, looks like we're ready to load"
Unlike last time, the Channel crossing marked the end of the Global convoy this week. Den and I will be heading east, Steve and Mandy south while Rob and my other half head down the French coast. As usual we met in the drivers lounge, at least this time I wasn't wearing an attention grabbing leather minidress!
"So this is it then Chris" Jules mentioned as we relaxed after eating.
"Guess so" I agreed
"You'll be fine girl!" Mandy jollied
"I hope so"
"What can go wrong? No one gives you a second look"
"Well except for those lorry drivers over there" Julia pointed out
"That's all I need"
"Den'll look after you" Mandy added
"I hate to say it Chris but frankly you make a pretty good girl, bit flat on top but I can hardly shout" Jules told me.
"That's not something I really want to hear, and anyway you've got enough for me"
"How sweet!" Mand opined
Half an hour later it was time for farewells as we waited to berth.
"Ring when you get there Nena"
"I'll try to remember"
We all three hugged, the fact that no one took any notice of such a display no longer surprised me. As Nena new avenues and levels of behavior are required and public shows of affection are just one such.
French immigration waved us through and minutes later we turned onto the Dunkirk bound motorway and the start of our six-hour drive to our Rhineside destination, Andernach. I think I've mentioned before that this transit route is BORING! The best part really is that we are in resort tonight, no second days travel just to get there. I wouldn't swap with Mandy; they've got a long slog tomorrow and even then won't arrive till late evening.
I did the tea run every hour or so, just to break the monotony, we were headed towards Liege when the coach phone went off.
"Who's that?" it was Roger back at the depot
"Nena, do you want Dennis?"
"No it's you I'm after. Er I don't know how to say this. We've just found your suitcase here at the depot"
"But I put it in the locker myself!"
"Sorry Nena, seems one of the mechanics had to empty the crew compartment to change a fuse for the toilet, your case got missed when he reloaded."
What is it with me and cases?
"You still there Nena?"
"Look I can't apologise enough. If you can last until tomorrow night, Bill is going to drive over with it, about time one of us checked up on you people" he joked, "in the meantime if you need anything sooner get it out of your float and we'll sort it out later okay?"
"Thank you Roger, I'm sure I can survive that long"
"Sorry again Nena, have a good trip"
"What've they done now?" Den asked as I replaced the handset
"Managed to leave my case at the depot, Bill is bringing it over tomorrow, he's joining the tour"
"Just what we need! You okay clothes wise?"
"Well I've got a change of underwear and I guess I can recycle this stuff for tomorrow"
Den checked the time, just coming up to four.
"You'll see" he advised.
We drove on for a while then Den turned off of the motorway.
"Where are we off to now?"
"There's a hypermarket just down here"
"What do we want a hypermarket for?"
"Get you some clothes"
"I don't need any, and what about this lot?" I indicated our passengers
"Course you need clothes, you don't want to walk round all day tomorrow in that get up do you? We'll stop here instead of the services, there's a restaurant and toilets for the passengers"
"Whatever Den, but I don't need anything"
"Some girl you are!"
"Alright, I give in"
We arrived at the huge yellow shed that served as store, restaurant and plant nursery just moments later. After pointing the punters in the right direction for the restaurant with an admonishment to be back in thirty minutes, I left Den and headed into the store. I could have done without this excursion but at least this place is pretty anonymous - and cheap!
Den was actually right; this damn uniform is not something you want to be wearing too much! I headed towards the clothing department then realised the other restriction in these places, lack of choice. I scanned the selection and found nothing that I could envision me wearing, ah well. I was ready to admit defeat when I spotted a clearance rail with some more likely garments. After quick peruse I found a pale denim skirt, nearly knee length with some embroidery near the hem. Okay, now then what about on top?
I got back to the bus a step behind the last passengers clutching my purchases and sucking on a pear. I did the passenger count and sat in my seat.
"All present" we set off, next stop the hotel.
"You get everything?"
"Enough for tomorrow. Thanks Den, I would have just struggled on"
"I said last week that I'd keep an eye on you, and if you want to win the bet?"
"Like I said, thanks"
We soon rejoined the eastbound motorway and as afternoon changed to evening we crossed into Germany. The kilometres slipped under wheel and Aachen, Dá¼ren then Bonn all fell behind as we now turned south into the golden light of the evening. Signs for several of this week's destinations beckoned but we stayed true to the E31 over the Ahrtalbrá¼cke into the Hohe Eifel.
"Here we are" Den mentioned as the Autobahn took a sweeping left turn. Less than ten kilometres to our destination. Taking the next exit we headed toward the still hidden Rhine or more correctly, Rhein. The less than lovely surroundings of Andernach's industrial zone loomed about us as Den navigated us in towards the river. Almost without warning we were on the riverfront and our customers got their first Rhenish view. Moment's later Den set the handbrake outside of the Hotel Vulkan-Eifel, our home for the next week.
The Vulkan-Eifel is one of those rare things, a modern but privately owned and run hotel. The Krefeld family opened their first hostelry in 1910, the current building dates from the mid eighties, nothing like Ingrid's place in Seefeld! I went inside to book us in, we don't stop here that often but Margrit Krefeld has an uncanny knack for names & faces!
Margrit, thirty something and business like, met me in reception.
"You are with Global?"
Here goes nothing!
"Ja, ich heiáŸe Nena" I offered my hand
"Deutsche?" she asked taking the proffered appendage.
"Wilkommen, Nena. Ich bin Margrit. Wo ist Chris?" see what I mean! I gave her the 'cover' story, which she accepted without question.
The paperwork was sorted out while she started to chat away like an old friend rather than the businesslike start to our meeting. Somehow she extracted more information than I really wanted to give her but as far as she was concerned, I was Nena Ziegler. Phew!
By the time I returned to the bus Den had most of the cases off and the passengers were chomping at the bit.
"Hello everyone, Frau Krefeld is waiting in reception for you. If you go inside she will give you your room key; it will be a card? Yes card. You keep this for the week; it will open the side door if you are out late also. Dinner will be at twenty hours, er eight o'clock in the restaurant. Tomorrow we have a half day trip we depart at elf Uhr, sorry eleven o'clock, breakfast is from eight until nine thirty. Have a nice evening"
I stood down to do the step thing, a nearly full coach takes for ever to unload!
"How'd it go with Margrit?" Den asked as we collected our stuff together.
"Well she seemed to accept Nena, I just hope I can keep it up"
"That's when you get back" Den joked
"You know what I mean!"
"Keep your hair on!"
I followed Den back inside, with her usual efficiency; Margrit had already cleared the passengers.
"Dennis!" she gave him a hug over the counter.
"Margrit. Hans okay"
She rolled her eyes, "Hans! Always off with his guns! Ja he's fine. Here, I've put you two in the annex, you get some peace from the passengers, yes?"
"Fine" Den replied
"You know the way Dennis?"
"Back outside, hundred metres to the left"
"Ja, see you later"
I was glad to only have one carrier bag and my shoulder bag, Den didn't complain but by the time we got to the 'Alte Hotel Post' he was obviously straining a bit! For annex read old and no lift! Now Den started cursing as he negotiated the narrow stairway up to the second floor where our rooms were situated.
"Here we are, 203 for you and 205 for me"
"'Bout ten to eight?" Den asked
"See you in a bit then"
I slipped into my room and collapsed onto the bed, kicking off my strappy sandals before stripping to my underwear. I shook my head, my underwear, bra, tights and panties, whatever happened to just a pair of boxers? I walked over to the heavily netted window, no stunning views here just a few cars darting past, a group of youngsters doing the teenager bit over in the little park, the double glazing successful in keeping most of the noise outside. Ah well, shower, dress dinner, I'm here now.
Then it occurred to me, I know what I get for winning but what about if I fail. Not that I'm going to. What does Jules get out of this? I'll have to ask her when I ring, after my shower.
Photos © Maddy Bell 2001,2002
End of Part 1
To Be Continued...
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