Dear Father and Mother,
Holstein-Hotel im Taunus
19. Juli 1973
I thought I was going to settle for a time in the land of Bratwurst and Sauerkraut, but my feet have hardly touched the ground this week (that doesn't mean I've spent most of the week in bed) and it seems that when I do finally come to earth, it may be in the land of spaghetti and vermicelli. This much is certain; I'm booked into the Hotel Michelangelo in Milano for next week and have an air ticket in my pocket for the outward journey on Sunday with an open-dated return, plus a DM500 advance on expenses.
Sherwood rang from Italy today and said I shouldn't rent an apartment yet as I may have to spend more time in Italy. That doesn't worry me unduly, since I believe it would be financially advantageous and Italian is, in my opinion, the most beautiful language I have tried to learn. Still, I was rather hoping to establish myself in this country and improve my German. (If they only knew it, I am much more interested in languages than in computers!)
To take up the history from soon after I left off last time, I rang Sherwood from Pinner on Monday morning and he said the work permit was no problem and just get here in a hurry because there were at least two assignments to pick up and he wanted me to go with him to Italy next week. So I bundled up my new and old possessions and jumped on the first aeroplane I could find going my way, getting to work at 1500. Sherwood reimbursed my travel expenses, threw half-a-dozen jobs at my head and told me to get ahead with it.
I know a lot of much smarter computer men than my poor self who could not have made a better job of familiarising themselves with the history of the Dalmine company - most of the documentation is in Italian! And I don't even know if I'm legally permitted to do anything - not staying around to find out, either.
If I felt more on top of my work, I'd be enjoying Diebold immensely. The people are very friendly and extremely interesting - those who are able, tend to swap languages just for fun. It's a rather cosmopolitan show - Germans, Americans, French, English, a Ceylonese girl etc. The only other consultant around the office at present is the Dutchman sitting opposite. His English is wellnigh perfect, his German likewise and he does a pretty good job of chatting up the French receptionist!
Sherwood himself must be the most egotistical person this world has seen since Nebuchadnezzar. He has photos of himself on all the walls, talking to all sorts of VIPs: Pope Paul, Willi Brandt, Moshe Dayan etc. I believe the photos change according to his guests. Still, he's a very smart operator. He has a bigger nose than mine, but has a better reason for it. I gathered from his wife (when he took us out to dinner) that his Jewish family fled to the U.S. in 1933; he changed his name (from Heinz Weizenbaum) and his citizenship and has an ex-wife and 9 daughters over there. He's in his early fifties.
This hotel is very comfortable - DM 66 for B&B, I notice. Pig in a parlour? Have been rather restrained in running up extra expenses - if HFS doesn't overlook them, I may have to pay them myself - however couldn't resist the odd sample of champagne or beer from the fridge! Have two litres of Scotch of my own, too, come to think of it.