I wrote a piece yesterday about how my son and I had to change trains during our journey back to the UK from Berlin – two trains, approaching from opposite directions, stopped at the same time at an intermediate station between Cologne and Brussels and all the passengers on both trains had to disembark and cross to the other train before continuing.
Why? This was never explained. So here is my explanation – total and absolute fiction, I assure you!
(The photo, by the way, is of a cafe at Cologne Hauptbahnhof)
Fritz, a train driver working for Deutsche Bahn, had a problem. He lived with his wife in a small flat in Cologne, and regularly did the run between Cologne and Brussels, where he sometimes stayed overnight so that he could drive the early train back to Cologne. He was supposed to spend these nights at an approved hotel, but had recently got very friendly with a young lady, named Yvette, who had her own flat in Brussels. He had therefore got into the habit of staying overnight with her instead of at the hotel.
This arrangement had worked very well for around a month, with the girlfriend in Brussels knowing full well that Fritz had a wife in Cologne, but the wife in Cologne being in total ignorance of the girlfriend in Brussels. As long as this situation continued, the happiness of all three of them would be maintained.
But it could not last for ever.
Things went wrong when Yvette, unknown to Fritz, made her own visit to Cologne to see Louise, an old school friend who had done very well for herself and now worked as a senior controller for Deutsche Bahn. Yvette wanted to tell Louise about her new boyfriend, and she did so at a café not far from both the Hauptbahnhof and the Cathedral.
“His name’s Fritz”, said Yvette, “He’s a lovely guy. Tall, blonde, very well-spoken. He works for your company as a train driver – you might actually know him.”
“We’ve got more than one driver named Fritz”, said Louise. “He could be one of several.”
“I forgot to mention”, said Yvette, “his eyes look a bit strange. His left eye is blue but his right eye is brown. I don’t think I’ve ever come across that before.”
“In that case”, said Louise, “I know exactly who you mean”.
And so did the woman sitting at the next table whose attention had been drawn to the conversation of the two friends the moment she overheard the name Fritz being mentioned. As soon as Yvette had got up from her table to go the Ladies, the woman went over to where Loiuse was sitting.
“The next time you see my husband Fritz”, said the woman, “You can tell him from me that if he ever comes near me again he’ll get a lot more than he bargained for. If he wants to live with that trollop in Brussels, he can do so, but I’ll be chucking all his belongings out into the street as soon as I get home”.
She then walked off, presumably to go home and start packing Fritz’s things.
Louise had no idea whether Yvette knew that Fritz was married or not. Yvette sounded so happy and it might well destroy her if she found out that her new boyfriend already had a wife in Cologne.
However, Louise was a resourceful person and she had a solution to the problem, which she could do given her professional capacity as an arranger of train movements. When Yvette came back, Louise excused herself in turn and made some urgent phone calls.
She arranged for the train that Fritz was due to be driving to Cologne that evening to reverse direction at Düren, which is where it was due to cross with the Brussels-bound train on which Yvette would be travelling.
When she phoned Fritz to tell him, he was shocked by the news that his marriage was now in tatters, but very grateful to Louise for sorting things out. The prospect of facing his irate wife when he got home was not one to savour, and Yvette’s flat in Brussels sounded like a much safer place to spend the night.
Louise also had to get the driver of the other train to agree to the plan, which he was perfectly willing to do, being one of Fritz’s best mates.
All the passengers would have to swap trains at Düren, meaning that Fritz and Yvette would head to Brussels together, with Yvette being none the wiser about what was really going on.
Louise’s next job would be to collect Fritz’s belongings and take them to her own flat in Cologne.
She had always fancied Fritz. Getting Yvette to sit at the table next to where Fritz’s wife always had coffee at this time had been the only really tricky part of the plan.