It just didn’t feel right when I walked through the thick mud towards the abandoned building in front of me….
It all had started a day before with a brief text message of a friend asking me for help.
When I stepped into the building, I noticed the bullet holes in the wall, the empty gun cartridges all over the floor and a large pool of blood on the ground and all over the windows and the walls.
The next think I felt was a blow over the head……..
“Wolfgang, are you ok ?!”……Malcolm was bending down to me as I was rubbing my painful skalp……
What had happened ?!……a piece of timber had come loose from the roof construction and it had struck me! But this was no great surprise as the whole building was in the process of been taken apart…..
To be precise, the “building” was a form of barracks for the Luftwaffe, hastily erected as a movie prop for a World War II production on a small airfield in Berkshire. With a little bit of luck it had come into the hands of my friends Catherine and Malcolm. Catherine is not only the owner of two huge Maine Coon cats, but also – not only in my opinion – the best Cordon Bleu chef on this side of the Channel.
Behind their cottage the two have a huge vegetable garden with two flocks of happy chickens and enough space to potentially run a pop-up restaurant, providing that they have an atmospheric venue…..
….and exactly this is the subject of this blog post!
By the look of it, the German air crew must have been in for a nasty surprise by the hands of the RAF (I haven’t seen the movie yet and I don’t even know the title of the film….), but there was no time for any further speculations as the hut had to be dismantled on this weekend, otherwise it would have been flattened.
Catherine had asked if I could lend a hand and when I saw what this was about, it was clear to me that this was a “no- brainer”….
The day had started after I had parked my car next to a disused Tornado fighter jet
in front of the office of Simon, who is the guy you call when you need a couple of original Messerschmitts, a Spitfire and a burning Lancaster for thirty seconds of a spectacular Hollywood movie, that will cost you a quarter of your production budget…..
When entering the building, Simon was fixing “steak and eggs” for everyone and although not being a great fan of cooked breakfasts, this was an offer I just couldn’t refuse.
But it was then difficult to leave the warmth of the office, filled with a plethora of war memorabilia and stage props which included a super comfortable fire place and it didn’t even stop at the toilets…..
However, eventually we headed out into the high wind and the spitting rain to lay hands on history.
For a job like this, they clearly needed a German in the team, but rather than taking with me a Luger or a Walther, I relied on a couple of old Japanese friends: my trusted cordless Makita power drill and impact driver, which are always a delight to work with – if you have remembered to charge the akkus….
With six men being commited to a common project, we managed to dismantle the walls in two hours flat
and recharged by a Mediterranean lunch curtesy of our French “Inspirator”, next the roof and finally the wall frames came down without any spectacular mishaps (if you exclude my head).
It was so refreshing working in a mixed German and British team taking down a relict (even if it was a fake…) of a conflict, that saw our fathers and grandfathers at each other’s throats and knowing that it – in due course – will hopefully be transformed into a meeting place for people, regardless of their nationality, who prefer it to talk with each other over a glass of wine and good food.