I was digging around amongst some stuff and came across my old Rhodesia Drivers Licence. (No apostrophe.) The thing was in a right mess. It had all cracked and broke in half and yonks ago I sort of held it together with sticky tape that had now decades later turned dark yellow.
In 1983, even with most of the numbers missing, the Germans accepted it and handed me one of theirs. I recall that at ADAC (their equivalent of the AA) whose job was to convert things like this, they told me that had it been a Zimbabwe licence, I had no chance.
What is interesting about this relic is the photograph. Amongst what few pictures I have of those days, I haven’t one of me in uniform. There was one other but I lost it. I will mention this picture a bit later on. The passport photo which is on the back cover of The Gokwe Kid was taken shortly after another Gokwe Interface stint and I was so pleased with the long hair. Of course I look like a total idiot. Hardly the clean cut image of a BSAP finest.
When I was transferred to Gwelo, the hippy hair was definitely out. I had also lost my driver’s licence. I filled in all the paperwork and was photographed at Gwelo Central whilst on afternoon shift in summer tunic. This is how I looked whilst running around in those last few months in the BSAP. Nice, but not perfect. A couple of weeks before I left I clocked that by combing my fringe backwards the babes went even crazier for me. Shame I didn’t think of that a bit earlier.
So I picked carefully away at all the yellow tape, and cleaned it up a bit. And - Here I am! 19 years old and as sweet as a nutter.
The only other photograph I recall having in uniform was one from me also in Gwelo but in the heavy winter uniform of camel hair jacket and trousers. I remember I am sort of leaning against an urban long wheel base BSAP Landrover.
In 1980, I hitched around Europe a bit on my bank debit card as I was skint again as usual. At some point I was on the way to Munich. Some idiot picks me up and after some healthy clicks informs me he is peeling off and will drop me at the next parking spot on the autobahn. This he duly does and zips off. I now realise I am in a bit of a pickle. This isn’t one of those huge service station type places. They were okay to hitch out of. This was just, well, a parking spot. I had as much chance of hitching out of the place as finding a magic broomstick to fly me away.
There was a British registered truck parked up with the windows covered with curtains. I politely knocked on the door but before I could request for assistance this big bloke opens the curtain, winds down the window a bit and tells me to f&%k off. Which wasn’t very nice.
So I stood in the middle of the joint, thumb up bum and mind in neutral, pondering what to do next. I certainly didn’t fancy a little jog down the motorway. Firstly, it could get me wiped out and secondly, it was illegal and if you do illegal things in Germany they line you up against a wall and shoot you. So either way you land up dead.
Then after a few minutes, a green and white BMW 5 series cruises in. POLIZEI. They made a bee line for me.
“Reisepass bitte.” All in a very authoritative voice from the copper in the co drivers seat.
“Me no speak German, Heil Hitler.” And I crisply snapped my trainer’s heels together, threw the grand Fuhrer salute and did a bit of goose stepping just like John Cleese demonstrated in Fawlty Towers.
The driver leapt out and without much ado emptied an entire magazine from his Walther PPK 9mm straight through my rucksack and into my back. Killing me instantly.
Okay, not really hey. I understood what he wanted and handed over my passport. The same one from the Gokwe Kid back cover, but also inside was the picture of me in the winter uniform. Well that got them very excited.
“Ja, Ja,” I replied remembering my Rhodie slang for ‘Yes’. “Look, it say here ‘Police Officer’ and look picture, this me, famous Gokwe Kid, gook hunter from Rhodesia.”
They obviously didn’t understand a goddamn word but the next line was really helpful.
“Bad place. No good for lift. Vee take you better place.”
Then to my astonishment, one jumps out, opens the boot for my rucksack and after pushing half dozen sub machine guns and a portable howitzer to one side, pops it in. Then he opens a rear door and I scramble aboard. Then we are off like a rocket. I had never been in a car driven at this speed. Looking at the speedometer I nearly passed a stool as it went over 220 kmh.
Half an hour later they pull into a service station and stopping to one side let me out and as the co-driver hands me my rucksack (complete with the Rhodie Green and White flag and a PATU badge sewn onto it, smiles at me and says
“Here good place. Have nice trip.”
As I shouldered the pack, a load of Germans trotted over to me. Asking me in Deutsche some question, upon telling them I only speak English and two words of Afrikaans, one of them chirps
“Ah, they catch you, Ja? How much you pay?”
“Actually, they were fine chaps and they gave me a lift”
“Hah, hah. You English always tell joke about Germans. Polizei no give lift to people like you.”
And with that they wandered off. Well, they might not give a lift to the average bum, but they sure had no problems helping the BSAP.