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