Scanning through a box of photos which seemed to have escaped from being organised in an album, I thought of showing them for your enjoyment. I assume somewhat in a dictatorial manner that you would have the slightest interest let alone enjoyment in someone you have only met here on the internet. Still, I do feel I have met many of you troubling yourself in reading my words, even if not in the flesh.
The photo above is with my cousin Eva and taken on her parents property that had fruit trees. I don’t know much more than the fruit trees but it must have taken hold because apart from that, I can’t remember anything else. I was just two years old. Holland had capitulated two years before and Germany was now running Holland. The worst was yet to come. When I told my mother many years later how I remembered her cooking some porridge on one of those pump primus’ little heater/stove one very early and frosty morning, she was amazed because I was just 2 years old. She was cooking some porridge before taking me somewhere to a distant relative who still had more food than us. He was a tailor, married but no children.
On the way there my mother pulled me along on a snow sledge. The uncle lived some kilometres away from our place. While she pulled me along she spotted some German soldiers coming our way. She quickly pulled sledge and me and jumped into a ditch hoping they hadn’t noticed us. We kept hidden till they walked past. They had either not noticed us or they were just not bothered. The primus was a solid baked enamelled green cooking device as was our green bucket that we kept the milk in. Saucepans too were enamelled and lasted for years, lifetimes even. Even when they developed a hole, a special man used to go a round and patch them up. Everything was patched up, restored and fixed. Now we chuck it out and rivers are full of debris choking up reeds, dams and trees during flooding rain. I spotted a perfectly good travel case stuck high up a tree during last weeks rain. I assumed it was in good order because that’s how it is. We buy new not because the old has worn or broken but because that’s how consumerism works. It has got us in its magic (rotten) spell.
This photo of me pondering in the middle was during one of the best times of my life. The peak of teen years having just discovered the roseate softness of budding breasts and smouldering hot eyes in a lovely and eager girl. I was full of wonder what else there was still to discover about her? Her name was Margo. All this rudely interrupted with my parents decision to go so insanely far away. I had to live of those fleeting memories with Margo for a very long time after! The Australian suburban nightmare never quite managed to wipe the good memories away. Of course, ‘the best times of my life’ should not be taken too literally. Times of unlimited possibilities and boundless optimism and belief in everything and nothing, is experienced by most but perhaps all too briefly during those teenage years. Later on it changes and seriousness so easily takes over for many. A routine becomes the enemy but I can say that I have been somewhat successful in fighting this routine and dulling repeats. I never did become an insurance actuary or dedicated estate agent. Lacking a burning ambition in following a single profession was my forte. But how is one to know?
I did have a period whereby I suffered from not going to work while wearing a suit. I seemed to do jobs always wearing overalls or just work-wear with steel capped boots. I had fantasies of gaining some importance and recognition or worth, by going to work in a proper suit, and if possible with an attaché case carrying important papers. I returned to Holland and achieved this by working for a bank and wore a suit for a few months. It wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. In the tram (line 22 to East Amsterdam)no one took notice and it was a lonely time in the office. No recognition al all. I did learn some book-keeping and typing.
After a few trips backwards and forwards, an escape from Dutch National Service, the bank job with suit, I ended up coming good after all. I married Helvi in Finland, who I had met a year or more before while skiing in Austria. She was still studying and I was painting pictures.
It was a long time ago. (with apologies to Actuary and Estate Agents)