The diaries - 9   

06 October

Home - Doncaster


I flew out of Islamabad at 3pm on Thursday 1st October, and it wasn’t a moment too soon.

An hour before check in time I was in the freight company office completing forms in triplicate, typed by a guy with only one finger... well he had ten but only used one of them.  At least I can use two so in real terms would have been able to type the forms twice as fast as him.  The clock was ticking; I kept one eye on it. I was clutching my ‘E Ticket’ for the Pakistan Airways flight PK701 from Islamabad to Manchester. I just wanted out of there. The airport is only two miles away but I remember well the crowd and bedlam there when we had dropped Sue off for the 3am flight what seemed so many years ago.

The deal had been done, after much waiting for returned calls that didn’t happen, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, it was dim but nevertheless there to be seen.  More disappointments, let downs... and just when I thought things were more or less sorted the talk began of the air line company wanting to describe the two motorcycles as coming under the Dangerous Goods Act.  Fuel tanks emptied and batteries disconnected notwithstanding! “So that will be double the price Sir” At least someone realised I was down the river in my canoe without a paddle and the dim light started to brighten.

All I had to do now was get the two bikes down to the freight office in Islamabad some 85km away on terrible roads.

Sue had spent a horrendous night in the hospital at Abbottabad Monday 21st September.  We had set off in good spirits, the bike’s were running well and we were now clearing the weeks of pollution and dust and starting to climb the foothills of the Karakorums. We had just left Hotel Alpine in Abbottabad, a good find, security for the bikes, just off the main road, a warm welcome even from the security guard with a sawn off pump action shotgun! The air was cleaner; the mountains in the distance bode well. Then the prat coming towards us decided to do a U turn and suddenly turned directly in to the path of Sue, thus ending a dream.  She didn’t even have time to brake, I swerved and collided with the rear of the car and went down too.  Sue had hit him full on, I feared the worse as I scrambled from under my GS which had slid under the metal work of the bridge and couldn’t be lifted.  Sue was conscious, a guy trying to make her sit up, wanting to get her in to his car and to hospital.  He meant well but I came close to hitting him as he pulled and tugged at her. Slowly we checked her over; the right upper arm was shattered. Just as Sue said she thought the arm was broken I saw the blood coming through her jacket.  A compound fracture.... one mans moment of inattention and our dream was shattered too.

There were dirty bloodstained bandages on the floor of the hospital, rubbish under the beds, the corners of the rooms were full of old and damp cardboard boxes, the corners of the corridors and rooms had several inches of dirt, dust and cigarette ends and rubbish.  The tables were a sticky tacky quagmire and hadn’t been wiped down in centuries. The sheets were crusty with
stains, red, brown and black and every colour in between. The toilets were awash with urine and excrement.  Sue complained and was allowed to use the staff toilets, they were much better.  So how come the difference, the doctors and nurses obviously know the importance of cleanliness so why wasn’t a good overall standard maintained throughout.  In the early hours of the morning, after fighting the bed bugs and creepy crawlies, Sue has a guy at the bottom of her bed masturbating.  She screams the house down but he just casually walks away.  No staff came, the other three women in the small ward don’t bat an eyelid, and they pretend to remain asleep throughout. 
I get a telephone call at 8am. Sue is signing herself out of the hospital and coming back to Hotel Alpine where I have recovered the bikes and our gear back to.Eventually Sue is flown home ‘business class’ via the Campbell Irvine repatriation insurance we took out ( “That’ll be a 100% loading sir because you’re on motorcycles”), and all of a sudden I’m alone in Abbottabad, northern Pakistan, 7,500 miles from home.  The bikes and myself to sort!
Several days of telephone calls, waiting, promises, negatives, and then I’m ready to get the bikes down to Islamabad. The waiting... oh the waiting! The manager of the Alpine Hotel promises a pick up truck for the next morning.  I had originally been trying to get a truck for both bikes, until the penny dropped and I realised I could ride my bike to Islamabad, so just a small pick up would do for Sue’s TTR250. I could follow.
The truck didn’t come and so I have to start all over again.  Eventually we’re on the move, the driver of the pick up has no English, can’t read the address we need in Islamabad, but we’re heading in the right direction.  I have the ‘phone number for Mr. Qamar, Viking Shipping, and for once I’m surprised.  I expected a small grubby office with an old pallet for a table, but it’s something like out of Dallas. He sends a guy out on to the street to look for us and guide us in. I’m given water, coffee and we discuss the finer points, while my man outside still has Sue’s bike on board.  We have to take the bikes 10km to their warehouse where they’re placed under lock and key, I pay my man off with a handsome tip, he hugs me, and I’m taken to a hotel that
Mr. Qamar has sorted. Special rates... top man! The next morning I’m picked up, taken to the bikes and help organise crating etc.  I disconnect the batteries and help the lad to drain the petrol from both bikes. He so wants to help so I let him use my ‘Snap On’ screwdriver to help remove the BMW screen. He’s delighted when I point to his own little 125cc Honda and now he has enough petrol for several weeks.  Six cans of ‘Polo’ top notch chain spray are deemed combustible and so can’t fly with the bikes.....  the lad’s is now ecstatic!

It has taken days of telephone calls for me to get to the airport, the price goes up.  We get the bikes crated and in to customs, lids off, the engine and frame numbers are checked. Sealed again, then the narcotics want their little dabble.  Open the crates again, further checks that are not thorough regarding drained fuel and batteries, and the Narcotics start probing and searching.  Finding nothing the boss man jabs at my BMW windscreen, wrapped in bubbl
e wrap, with a sharp pointed knife blade.  I go for the throat, prod him in the chest with a rigid finger and tell him in no uncertain terms what I thought of him and his parentage and to stop it.  I didn’t use the same expletive twice... he stepped back out of range.  I expected to be arrested but he merely told his henchmen to re pack the bikes.  He’ll never know how close he came! Probably me too I guess! Good pal Andy Marper picked me up from Manchester Airport with a pack of German bier for I’d declined a night at his... I just wanted to be home.

So Sue is at her home awaiting surgery to the arm once the dammed infection has been sorted.  Meanwhile the arm swings free with a token gesture of slings and bandages to restrict movement, in an effort to stop the graunching and grinding of bone to bone. Now that wants sorting.

I’m at home waiting for the bikes to arrive.....

The end... or is it?


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