Final rendition of ‘Sailing’ leaving bar in Cologne

John Halewood Dodd.

John Halewood Dodd.

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Last Bank Holiday weekend I was in Cologne, Germany on a stag do.

Cologne is a great city that many of us had visited numerous times previously since our inaugural trip during the 2006 World Cup.

With its compact side streets, complimented by large welcoming squares, containing a plethora of bars and Beer Kellers it really is no surprise that so many revellers end up there.

We have a favourite bar located near the famous Dom cathedral. It’s nothing to write home about. In fact, it’s quite nondescript, but we have been regular visitors since we stumbled upon it, quite literally, back in 2006.

The reason we head there is to see the friendly barmaid who, back then, in a drunken haze, we decided looked like Rod Stewart.

Thereafter, it became fondly known as Rod’s bar.

Each time we visited we would treat her to our own renditions of the diminutive gravel voiced crooners back catalogue. She seemed to enjoy it, and I think she may even have got the joke.

Quite a number on this trip were Cologne virgins and were looking forward to visiting “Rod’s” as they’d heard so much about it.

We piled in on the first night but Rod was nowhere to be seen.

Eventually, plucking up the courage to ask a barman where she was we were devastated to be told that she had died the year before.

Apparently, she was 75 and a real character.

Her name was Helga and she had led a full life. She smoked, drank for fun, and, according to her colleague, loved it when the “crazy English guys” came in singing Rod Stewart songs.

We spent the rest of the evening reminiscing and periodically raising steins in honour of Helga, or Rod as we preferred to remember her by.

We had been lucky enough to have had some great fun in her company and even though we obviously didn’t know her that well it was all still rather sad.

We left the bar many hours later with one final, rousing rendition of “Sailing.”

I must confess that not everyone was dry-eyed as we headed back to the hotel, but still good memories.