There I was sitting in the drivers Cafe in Shepherds Bush, eating my breakfast, and all around me were plenty of other drivers of all kinds, some taxi drivers, others of vans and delivery
It was a popular place to eat and meet, was the drivers Cafe in Shepherds Bush.
I was into my mug of tea when this fellow asked if he could sit at my table.I looked around the Cafe, it was pretty full as always, so I waved for him to sit down.
If he wanted to chat a bit I could handle that, always learn something when eating in this place.
I often found out who was loosing or had already lost there money, as some were know to be big gamblers, and taxi's often got new owners as some owner driver had lost the lot and needed
to sell quick, to raise some capital.
The fellow sat with his tea and soon he was into chatting away, well its not difficult to have a chat to someone especially if there sitting at the same table. He said he didn't often
come to this place but did on occasion to get a cup of tea, and a bun.
So we chatted away as you do, play a little soccer, bowl a few cricket balls, a bit of this and that, you know the kind of thing.
He said well I must be going, perhaps I will see you in here again, I enjoyed the chat, and away he went.
I never gave it a second thought, they come and they go who ever he was, me I finished my tea and went out to the little yellow van and drove out to the workshop to check the work being
done on our coach.
Several days later I went near Shepherds Bush, and I once again called into the drivers Cafe and ordered brunch, and a mug of tea.
No sooner had I sat down than up comes the fellow who sat with me several days ago, mind if I sit he asks, and promptly sits down.
This time he is asking about what I did as a job, and he seemed very interested, in the travel side, however having been about a bit in this world a person is always cautious, well I
am that's for sure.
I found out that he himself worked in a menial job as he described it, for the local Government.
A week or so later when in the Cafe for brunch again, surprise, surprise, in he came again, this is getting to be a habit I thought.
This time he sat and chatted awhile and then said, I wonder if you would be interested in having a chat to someone, about something which might interest you, it wont take very long and
you might find out something of interest and to your advantage.
I looked at him and asked, about what exactly would this something be about.
He said, I am not at liberty to say too much in here, I am only asking you to come for a chat which wont take long and it is just near by. I asked him, this business of calling in and
sitting at my table to chat, it all has some purpose does it.
He laughed and sat back and said, this is about something important, its something that needs to be talked about in Private, and then he leaned forward and put his hand in the inside
I started to stand and he stood up too, and put out his hand and in it there was a leather wallet, and when he flipped it open there was a small badge.
He said, if you sit for a moment and look you will see what's written on the badge, were all friendly here.
I did look and wondered, why not tell the truth from the outset, why would I care if he worked for some supposed Government department.
He stood and asked me to come and have a chat, I said I would, and he walked out of the Cafe, and I followed him out.
We only went some fifty yards and we came to a car and he opened the back door and he said, we can chat a little in the car.
We both sat in the car and he got right to it this time and he said, on these tours, you must see rather a lot of what is going on within those countries that you travel through, you
must talk to the locals and hear some things about how their feeling and what is going on out there.
I said no, not really, its not like that, we are tourists and travel about and drive through the countries, and don't spend a lot of time in any one place, we are in transit except where
we have a two or three nights stop.
Most of the time we are moving right long, following our itinerary, sight seeing and photos, that's about our lot.
I have read your brochure he said, and I am aware of the itinerary you keep, however you do have the stop overs along the way and days to sightsee and meet the local people.
I think he said, we should arrange a day soon and get together so we can talk this through, in a place more suitable than here in the car or the Shepherds Bush drivers Cafe.
So that's is how I sat and listened, and enjoyed a free lunch in a nice building off Charing Cross, courtesy, of the service which wasn't a service at all, or so he said, it was just
people collecting information and passing it on to other people.
We finished our very nice lunch and was then joined by another fellow. He was introduced to me and then they set to work, on educating me. It was all pretty straight forward really.
It seemed they were concerned about a country we drove through, even though they, had a substantial Embassy located there.
It seemed they desired more information, grass roots information he said, and believed that on a tour like the one I drove, that I could easily meet and talkto the locals and obtain the opinions of some of them and there just might be some different but helpful information to be learned.
To be able to learn a little more about what the locals might be thinking of their Esteemed leader, and the changes he was making within that country, but frankly they said any intelligence
gained would be helpful, like they said a bit here a bit there, helps draw the bigger picture.
They told me about the working relationship that England had with the country concerned, with the oil and other business interests carried out between the two countries, and their concern
was that trouble could pop up and they could find themselves Well out, and likely without.
They said, that the esteemed leader they were making reference to had received a European education and had over time shown a desire to reform certain things pertaining to that country,
to change some of the ways of that country somewhat.
They said they believed he wished for his country to become more Western and more liberal in their thinking, and that was not a welcome thing from the Mosques point of view.
Because their leaders of religion were anti just about everything, unless it was contained in the Koran, and it was cleverly portrayed by them to the listeningmultitudes.
They were strongly against, for example, to allow women a vote, and another was to extend more tolerance towards others within that country, not born under the Koran, and the list went
In fact they said, there was one such person who was so anti and vocally disturbing of the Esteemed Leaders ideas that, that religious leader himself had been exiled to Iraq and was now
living in Bagdad, but the big question was they wondered, for just how long would he stay in exile, this they had decided could certainly be of future concern to England.
Sometime later, the new man asked me, for just how long would you think you might have running these Overland Tours through all those countries where it is always simmering away, always
has been and probably always will.
Then he said, if that person ever returns from Iraq, which seems likely to us the probable outcome wont be advantages for THAT Esteemed Leader, and he said, I doubt either for those of
you who carry out the touring business through that and other nearby countries.
The meeting finished and I finally left, and considering what they wanteddidn't appear that difficult really, I mean anyone can have a chat, and write a little and send a aerogram letter to a post office box.
Then having considered all of what I had learned from the two fellows, I soon talked at length to Salty about our long term future regarding the England to India overlands, and how it
might be advantageous for us to diversify our touring operations, of course I never mentioned to anyone ever about the Aerograms.
Not that anyone could say if or when the situation could or ever wouldchange, but information is what it is, and it might take some years, but as the man said, the thinking out there in that country was not like we are used to, for they tend to think in Infinity.
In the end it was so natural for us to expand our operations into other tours and sometime later, with passengers coming from all over, and Ron holding steady and receiving the booking
for passengers there in Sydney.
The introduction of the tours into Europe, and Scandinavia Russia began, not to mention the introduction by Kirk C, of the Trans Siberian railway tours.
It was just like I said at the beginning.
The things you can Learn when you Eat and Drink your tea from time to timeat the Drivers Cafe in Shepherds Bush.