September 1997, Manchester: I was asked to install the April machine sale in Yemen

My six-day visit to Taiz city Yemen was made at short notice and in unusual circumstances. My Father had retired that summer - replaced as managing director by his accountant brother Mike Heaford - but he called me to visit him at home to speak about work. He and my Mother - both company directors - asked me to do the installation in Yemen, the machine sold at the trade show in Chicago last April. They told me the first technician asked had read the Foreign Office travel warning of kidnapping in Yemen and refused to go on safety grounds. 

I was happy to go, but even my parents thought they should get some security assurance for me first. My Father made a call (I now guess to Dave Dean in the USA) and soon received a call back. After the return call my Father refused to say who he’d spoken to but with a grin told me my safety was absolutely guaranteed. He wouldn’t say anything else and wouldn't make eye contact with me either. He was amused about something but was keeping it to himself. I now think that call came from someone up on high, as high as General Ali Mohsen - the President of Yemen’s own brother-in-law, or possibly Rashad al Alimi - the Director of Security for Taiz governorate at the time.

My factory manager Tony Preece gave me the customer details. He told me a one-day service visit to an exisiting machine in a nearby factory was also booked and paid for. But Tony was very vauge about this, not giving a company name, just the machine serial number and saying someone would take me to the other factory.

Link to .pdf image of my customer database entry made before I travelled to Yemen, and a corrected one I made inside YemPak factory

Truly, for some of us nothing is written, unless we write it