2002 Escape from Den Engel
It’s always a mistake to plan to leave a tour early no matter how important that Monday morning meeting is; come Sunday night with tour spirit coursing through the veins “…just another one” takes on a whole new meaning. On the 2002 tour however Keith Aitchison and Tim Haley were committed to a 7.30 am flight from Brussels for Aitch to be back for a 10am presentation and Tim having some numbers to twiddle around the same time.
Aitch was clear “I’m leaving Den Engel at 12 latest with or without you Tim and I’m leaving for the airport at 5.30. “No one really expected Tim to make it but as the Sunday midnight hour approached (the night of rampant wedging by the wrecking crew) both started saying goodbyes; as they came to leave the wrecking crew intervened, escorted them back to the bar and issued more G&T’s.
After several attempts to leave were thwarted and several more Gins consumed, Aitch asked the bar lady if he could escape out the back way. She declined that but instead offered to clear the windowsill and opened the shutter in the main bar Aitch set off for the door for another leaving attempt only to be intercepted once again but this time with all the grace and speed of a well lubricated Stroller he dummied the move, sidestepped the interceptors and instead went up onto the windowsill and out of the open window into the square outside.
A clean getaway would have been made other than Aitch deciding in mid-air to try and avoid landing on an unidentified prostrate young Stroller lying on the pavement outside the window taking a nap. The slight stumble enabled the wrecking crew to get out through the door and haul him down resulting in a mock punch up being staged in the square outside the bar.
Unfortunately this was observed by a Polizei car opposite and admittedly from their point of view, seeing a bloke dive through a window and then being beaten up by a chasing mob was probably unexpected on an otherwise quiet Sunday evening; accordingly they raced across the square to quell the mob with guns drawn. Fortunately, the tour Doctor had also observed what was going on and in fluent drunken Jock calmed the officers after telling Aitch and Tim to “piss off quick while I keep ‘em talking”. They did.
PS. Why they didn’t just go back to the hotel neither can quite recall but instead decided on one Genever for the road in a quiet bar en route. It went even quieter when they walked in but as Tim explained later, that wasn’t really surprising as two limping blokes with their underpants tied round their heads had just sat down at the bar as if it were a normal Sunday night / Monday morning.
PPS. Aitch’s work presentation was cancelled at the last minute and history can now record how eternally grateful he is for that career saving piece of good fortune.
PPPS. Tim later reported that he didn’t go to work that Monday but instead spent the day in bed “recovering “with Siobhan. History does not record if any more Haleys were created as a result.