Rotterdam 1941

Some of us go through life insuring ourselves for any known or unknown eventuality. We do that so that nothing untoward will ever happen, forgetting that a life too secure might well end up with a life unlived. After all, one would not have ones life pre-digested and miss out on the wonders of the unknown. Perhaps when there is an overwhelming surplus of the past and just snippets of a future left, we go digging about into the past. It’s a bad habit and a sure sign of ageing, desperately having a last fling at tidying up s unsolvable riddles.

The picture above shows a one year old and a two year old, both August babies and both are getting a tubbing on the balcony of our Rotterdam apartment. That the apartment is standing is remarkable seeing the picture was taken a year after the bombing of Rotterdam. It is even more remarkable that the picture is such a serenely domestic photo, belying the reality of the situation. The boy at the front with hair sticking up is Gerard and the other Frank. Frank turned out to be plagued by severe and chronic schizophrenia. He is still alive and only last week was taken on a holiday ito the South of Holland. He has a life of sorts as perhaps all of us do.  He collects stamps and watches soccer on his TV.

The thing about the picture is that, barely visible, my mum is wearing a rather pretty dress with shoulder pads that stick up, rather than those shoulder pads that went more sideways, which were all the fashion some years ago, sometimes making large women stand out like Sumo wrestlers. My mother is intent on the job of tubbing us. Both of her boys are sitting quite happy. It is a photo of reality. We are sitting there getting a wash and my mum looks on. It is also a photo of unreality. The V1’s and V2’s started to come down unexpectedly even though they were meant for London. The riddle is the shoulder pads and the tubbing; giving an image that must have been so unlike the real situation. On the other hand, a photo of the carnage that Rotterdam suffered and was still undergoing could not have included getting a ‘normal’ tubbing’, or would have included my mother’s shoulder pads.

Going back to insurances, we have none. I do worry about not having car insurance, especially after receiving a bill from GIO some time ago about damage to a car from a tow bar fitted to our car. The bill was, from memory over $1300.-. We did not admit liability as the car had backed into ours during a parking struggle. Since then we haven’t heard from GIO.

We used to have insurances about all sorts of eventualities but lately I can’t for the life of me imagine what we could possibly gain from having them. If our house burns down, well, the body corporate fees include insurance for that. Our belongings are precious and the personal aspects of losing them can’t be insured against. We don’t have Harvey Norman featuring to any extent in our furniture which consists of bits and pieces from our previous farm-life in Holland and odds and ends scavenged from quasi antiques shops. I noticed a lot of TV ads for funeral insurances. What are they hinting at? Strangely enough, those ads feature a man feeling guilty of (again) not caring enough about dying before his partner has been well provided for. What about if she carks it before him? This is it. Enjoy your week-end.

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2 Responses to “Rotterdam 1941”

  1. Lottie Nevin Says:

    Gerard, sometimes your posts make me laugh, sometimes they make me cry, but this one has made me thoughtful.

    I wrote a loving piece about you, and shared a link to your blog on my post yesterday – I hope that you will check it out.

    I always enjoy your posts, thank you Gerard. Lottie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, Lottie. Been somewhat away last few weeks. I mean away in the emotional sense. Thank you for your loving response.


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