Remember

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At times I feel uneasy about how quickly the months slip by without my even noticing. Always the same feelings, the same routine. The relief that it's Friday, the dread of Monday mornings, the weekends that will always be too short. The year will soon be over and the majority of our waking lives is forgotten, covered in the dust of habit with a few outstanding moments which sparkle like beads on a necklace. Yet it's all we have. Since beginning this blog, I'm conscious of how special the little moments are, I love taking a few minutes to look back through old posts and remind myself of all that I have seen.

I always imagined the return from Venice would be hard but the glorious late Indian summer has turned into a washout; mornings when you know it will impossible to leave the umbrella behind even before you draw the curtains and a sky so full of greyness (see above), the return of sunshine seems impossible. I'm ready for the first frosts, even for a little light snow to make things more interesting. In the meantime, I remember and find certain images returning to the surface, like fragments of a mosaic.

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Some wet pictures from last Sunday

My first memory is perhaps of riding round the back yard on a tricycle with my neighbour. Gone are any images of our first house where I spent my first three years, only a few entries in my mother's journal from back then illustrating my natural ability to cause chaos. The best was my turning up the washing machine to a high temperature so it flooded the kitchen.

- I remember the prefects at primary school who used to ask us how many times we'd be caught when they found us chatting after the bell had rung. If it was the third time, you were sent to Mr. S. , a man feared by everyone. He was my teacher in the last year and made almost every pupil cry. We would sit side by side in the class with one of us beginning with maths and the other with English, then switching after break so we didn't copy from one another. There were the music lessons with Mrs K., a tall woman with a strident voice who forced me into the choir. Every year a school play was held. I took over some interesting roles - a hula dancer in a grass skirt - but had my heart set on playing an angel at Christmas time, in spite of the organiser's desperate attempts to persuade me that wings and a halo didn't mean a lot of stage time. On my final day of school, I was persuaded by a girl called Rachel with dark hair to claim a school dinner without paying for it. The dessert was a chocolate sponge pudding.

- Twice a week, my father used to visit my grandmother in a home. It seemed the most exciting thing to go out and explore the small town. The egg custards at Birds bakery which I brought back for us, scanning the aisles of a giant Tesco supermarket and walking in the gardens around the house. Once my brother came with us and we played hide and seek in the grounds with its monkey puzzle trees. Snow covered the ground in a layer so light you could have scraped it away with your fingernail and I remember finding a place between the holly bushes.

- I remember firework displays for Guy Fawkes Night with spectacular explosions of light and colour. My hands were protected by a pair of thick mittens as I clutched my sparkler and created patterns against the stars.

I remember a concert at Kedleston Hall outside in the warmer months. At the end, darkness had fallen and we looked anxiously for the car, guided by the light of flaming torches.

In a week full of remembrance - Kristallnacht, fall of the Berlin Wall, Armistice Day - it feels good to take a moment to reflect. No recent pictures for you but some I took a few weeks ago when the sun hadn't deserted Berlin and I got up early to go to Treptower Park and the Soviet Memorial, a place full of monumental scultures which makes me feel relieved that I didn't grow up in this time. Walking through Tiergarten the other day, I paused close to the Mozart- Beethoven- Haydn Memorial I have become fond of since it marks our picnic area in the summer. I had never looked at it closely before and found its surface still covered in bullet holes which helped me imagine the brutality of the street fighting in those desperate final days of World War Two. I paused at a bookshop to buy myself a copy of Antony Beever's Berlin, a book I should have read years ago, ready to learn more about the terror that occured in the very streets I walk through each week.


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