It was whilst covering the ski jumping in Innsbruck that we finally realized that we were not just best of friends, but that we loved each other.
We had climbed up the back of the ski jump to where the jumpers literally ‘took off’ to fly like birds in the vast open space between the jump and the ground. The run was covered in bright, crisp, shining snow sparkling like diamonds. As we stood at the top with mountains all around, we looked down at the run. The skier pushed himself out of the little compartment, it resembled a small shed, go as fast as he could down and then up the short slope to launch himself into space.
We looked down at the landing place. It was as small as a ten pence piece from that height. Beyond it and below was the cemetery, lower again the hospital and even further down was the cluster of house and the Cathedral of Innsbruch. We could even see the river Inn rushing past the town. The view was awe-inspiring. I had seen some very beautiful places in my life, but nothing which came close to the spectacle that lay before us that day.
I turned to Nick who was clicking away at the view. He lowered his camera. A strange look came into his eyes and he leaned forward and kissed me. I kissed him back. that was the day we knew we were in love.
From that time on the projects were were sent on became more and more enjoyable. We had each other for company. Uncle Lawrence was delighted with our work and we got better and better assignments as time went by,
Shortly after my twenty first birthday Uncle Lawrence asked Nick and I to cover some problem in Northern India, in Katmandu. Some kind of war had broken out between two rival factions. He thought there might be some good pictures to be had as a well as a good storyline. Off we went.
We were travelling far into the Himalayan region of Rajistanpur. We set up camp and went into the surrounding villages to gather information and snippets of gossip which would help piece together the story of the struggle between the Mashti and Ranjoo tribes, hill people who up until two months previous had been reasonably friendly. Then, they had started to wage war on each other.
Uncle Lawrence wanted Nick to take photos of any atrocities. I had thought at the time, ‘What a rotten job’ If outside agencies hadn’t interfered in the first place the tribesmen would probably have sorted out their grievances themselves, given time, but no, there was always someone who knew best how to solve someone else’s argument, and so it went on.
We had intended to get in, get the photographs and get out as quickly as possible, but that was not to be.
We were overpowered by some ruffians from the Mashto tribe as Nick was taking photographs of some bodies we had found at the side of the dirt road. I say dirt road, as if there were any other kind. there was not!!
Three men grabbed me and dragged me away. I screamed for Nick. The last time I saw Nick he was being bludgeoned over the head with a rifle. I think I fainted.
because when I was compus mentus again I was in a dark stinking place. there was no light from anywhere and the smell was absolutely overpowering.
I stood up and moved very slowly about feeling the walls. They felt like nothing I had ever felt before, and as I rubbed my hand on them, they seemed to crumble, but they
were nevertheless solid. No door no window. There were noises overhead. Low moaning noises and occasionally the mewing sound of a sheep. My prison was an underground cell, ten feet in circumference. The smell was atrocious, a mixture of sweat and animals. the pain in my limbs as they went numb drove all other thoughts from my mind.
Time no longer had any meaning for me.