Bonn – A small town in Germany (John Le Carre)..

Peter and I are discussing Cambodia this morning – how we love the Mekong, and the magnificence of the Angkor complex there.

But my stomach is rumbling, and I strongly suggest we think about breakfast. Clutching a Nikon camera and my email address, he agrees…but hardly leaps into action.

Peter is unstoppably mid-rant and is bearing the expression of a man cheesed to the back teeth with language; he is cocking a snook at the word “ongoing”, regarding it as an Americanism. ‘Why can’t people say “continuing”, as they should?’ he asks loftily. Do let me know if I become as pedantic as this, will you?

Steering him into the kitchen ought to get breakfast off the ground, I think naively, but the unadulterated jabber continues; he nonchalantly leans on the sink, with not so much as a kettle boiling in the background. Why can’t men multi-task? I wonder fleetingly.

‘We’ve run out of teabags so it’ll have to be a blend of Darjeeling and Earl Grey,’ he apologises. After living in Deutschland for nearly thirty years, though, I’m not convinced that Peter knows what he’s doing on the tea front any more, and so I opt for coffee.

Monika, meanwhile, has finished her ablutions, and puts out an array of jams, meats and cheeses. ‘Peter forgot to prepare bread,’ she says, looking over her glasses in a mildly reprimanding manner.

Fifteen minutes or so has now passed since there was talk of coffee. ‘Shit, I forgot to put the water in,’ realises Peter, raising one hand to his forehead. ‘Erm, shall we all have an egg?’ Great Scott, this is exhausting.

Leaping out of the door at 11.20 sharp, Peter guides me on a delightful walking tour of Bonn, pointing out where he married one of his wives, and launching into a digression about London air shelters in World War Two.

He is a fascinating chap and, before taking me to Beethoven’s birthplace, fills me in on his 25 years as a professional photographer. After two-and-a-half decades, however, he admits losing his touch, or ‘going off the boil’ as he puts it. He is the original intrepid reporter, though, a character filling me with inspiration.

‘They sent me to cover The Golan Heights in the 70s,’ he begins, as we stroll through this pleasant city on the banks of the River Rhine. ‘I was hoping to go home after that,’ he continues, ‘but they told me to hang around in Israel because Nixon was coming.’

‘I covered that, looked forward to seeing the kids, then I got sent to Lisbon for The Revolution.’ Wow, those are some commissions, but it sounds like he was in the same boat as me; just when I think I’m finishing a tour, another one starts.

Wives, girlfriends and families get put on hold. Remind me I should get out of the industry, won’t you, if I’m still bumbling about in rock and roll trucks in a few years.

As a photographer, Peter has covered royal tours as well. Yet looking at his pictures of a party we were at together three years ago, I notice he’s cut off my head in one of the photos. Hmm.. Well, he did say he’d gone off the boil.

So, to Beethoven – the big draw in Bonn. Ludwig was born in 1770, in Bonnegasse, a little street in the centre of town, and his old house is now a museum. Though precociously dashing off sonatas at the age of twelve, the poor devil had developed hearing problems by the age of 30. There is a selection of his crude ear trumpets upstairs.

Basset horns, an organ keyboard and scrawled manuscripts also fill the rooms. ‘The floorboards in here are the noisiest I’ve ever heard,’ says Peter as we enter. ‘I think that’s what made him deaf.’..