Dur­ing

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my many years with

the mo­tor­cy­cle in­dus­try, I have been re­quired to be, whether for a few days or sev­eral years, in a lot of very dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions. Get­ting there has some­times been chal­leng­ing, and get­ting back oc­ca­sion­ally more so. And as I’ve usu­ally been im­mersed alone into an en­vi­ron­ment where nei­ther the lan­guage nor the cul­ture was fa­mil­iar, the in­ter­ven­ing times have also pro­vided some in­ter­est­ing mo­ments.

It was said that an English­man abroad re­quires just two phrases: “Do you speak English?”, and if that fails, “Then fetch me some­one who can”. In th­ese post-colo­nial times, the re­al­ity now in­volves a lot of fa­cial an­i­ma­tion and ges­tic­u­la­tion, but usu­ally I’ve man­aged to make my­self un­der­stood, if some­times at the cost of my dig­nity.

The fact that I started work with BMW on April Fool’s Day, 1982, should have been omi­nous in it­self. My ar­rival co­in­cided with the Mu­nich fash­ion show, and all the ho­tels were fully booked, so my first night in that city was spent on a wooden bench in­side the air­port. A po­lice­man prod­ded me with a gun around 2.00 am, say­ing that they were about to close for the

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