Thursday, 10 September 2009

Encore?

Thank you to all the kind souls who left calling cards as a result of my last post. I'm not so sure I can produce an encore, as many seemed to request. A lot of my lingering war memories have already been sewn into the Blogland tapestry I've completed so far.

Being an awkward character, I enjoy the way each new post leaves me with a blank canvas to work on. Working to rule is not my modus operandi, so forgive me if today's stitchery draws its own pictures, not necessarily directly related to the previous topic, though it may link in some form or another. In fact, I think I see how...

Having survived a barrage of German bombardments in my earliest years, I see it might appear a trifle strange, that by the time I was at secondary school, I opted to study the German language as one of my 'O' level subjects. Perhaps my curiosity wanted to understand more about the land and its people, as I'd grown up with the word 'Germany' being part of my world. Perhaps it was because I already enjoyed French lessons, and thought German ones would provide another bright spot in a curriculum which could become hum-drum.

Be that as it may, it resulted in my first trip abroad, on my own, to stay with a girl called Helga Winnesberg and her family, when I was about thirteen. I can still see her and her mother, waiting to meet me on the station platform; a round faced girl with brown, plaited pigtail, half a head shorter than me, and Mother in a felt hat, indeterminate coloured, classic coat and sensible shoes. It was quite a relief to see them looking so ordinary, as the station had presented me with a far more disturbing picture when I first got off the train - a pair of uniformed police officers toting guns in their holsters slung across their drab, green coats - a sight which had made my heart beat somewhat faster!

One weekend, we went to watch a hockey match, local German team against a visiting English one, and it was rather disconcerting that goals scored by the English were met by tepid applause, compared to that for the home team. But what on earth did I expect?!

Trips out in the family car - a great luxury in my eyes - showed a prosperous, picturesque country. I was surprised at how Cologne (Köln) city centre showed no evidence of bombing, unlike Portsmouth, which still had areas where it remained well in evidence.

Anyhow I enjoyed my first taste of Germany, and many years later, when I had the chance to visit again with LABBS ( Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers), I was very excited. One afternoon, we went to a community centre to rehearse for our evening performance. It was around Easter time, and in an adjoining room, some ladies were selling Easter goodies of all kinds, for some charity or other, and we were allowed to go and spend some of our money, as well as time (!), before the rehearsal started.

There were many gaily decorated wreaths, baskets etc, flaunting the traditional yellow, purple and white ribbons, flowers and eggs, and chorus members swelled their coffers quite well, I'm sure.

I ended up in the musical director's bad books, as, after purchasing my Easter wares, I was late for her rehearsal. I'd been waylaid by one silver haired old dear, who, despite having little English, and my having a bare minimum of German, managed to tell me about some of her war time memories. She had loved the soldiers from UK being billeted near her home, and couldn't wait to relay some of her girlhood's memories of dancing and merriment with the 'foreigners'.

So this morning, being now a silver haired old dear myself, I thought I'd weave these German threads into my tapestry, for your amusement.

27 comments:

  1. and i'm glad you did. it must've been quite an experience, out the country, after the war, as such a young age...

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  2. I don't think my comment went through...(clicked off before the verification word..) so I'll try it again....
    I am headed to work in a skinny minute, and I will come back here and read every you've written...I'm here....but not able to spend the time that I want to as I read what you write...and you write so well. I'll be back this afternoon.....Until then, know that I love coming to your blog...I love what you write. You mean a lot to me, jinksy.
    Love,
    Jackie
    (I'm going to wait for word verification this time!)

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  3. hi jinksy - thanks so much for buckling under and adding more stories to the previous posting. it's intriguing to follow your choice around taking german as it led you to experiences that you would otherwise not have had. then what? a wholly different life bereft of so much. i always encourage my students to stick with languages for that very reason. have a lovely day. steven

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  4. Your tapestry is beautiful and interesting. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  5. Hi Jinksy,
    I'm glad that your experience of all things German got better as you got older. Perhaps being bloggers and constantly in touch with people from all over the world teaches us tolerance and understanding and we will never fall into the old trap of hating others, simply because they are different.

    On second thoughts, nah, don't think so. That way lies Utopia, Neverland,
    What do you think?

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  6. so this LABBS peeked my interest...your time, your story is just so intriguing, as it is not the experience of which many have today (if any) so it is just great to hear your story. Great encore, by the way :) have a great day!

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  7. You weave a fine tapestry Jinksy!

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  8. Those were the days eh Jinksy - I look back on them with a lot of affection - I think we were too young to pick up the terrible anxieties of war.
    Could you please enlighten me about the POTD mention - I am gets congrats but don't know what for!

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  9. I guess that's what blogs are: tapestries. This was a fine addition.

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  10. Hello Jinksy,

    You were adventurous, going to Germany alone and with echoes of the war still in evidence, at home if not in Cologne. Travel certainly is the best form of education.

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  11. Friko - I don't think it's a question of simply hating others because they are different - more a question of hating their behaviour when it goes against every common decency known to Man. Hopefully, humans have in their power the choice to eschew inhumane behaviour.

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  12. Thank you for this little insight into your earlier days. The world goes around and around, my youngest son named James Robert... (after my uncle Robert, who was killed in the war,) James married a German girl, Heidrun, so I have 2 half German grandchildren. Now last month David's son married a German girl Annika, so I now have a German step daughter in law. Forgive and forget.
    Love Granny

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  13. Yes, the sins of our forefathers,
    it is important to know about them
    hoping to never repeat them, hopefully.
    And even today, wars are waged,
    and our leaders like to make us believe they are necessary.
    Sometimes I think that there by the grace of God we go,
    whether the right leaders are at the helm of a country,
    or the wrong ones, who lead friend and enemy into disaster.

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  14. I am glad I came back, jinksy...
    And, by the way, you never have to 'work to the rule'...your stitches are beautifully sewn...artfully worded....I love your writings.
    Thank you for sharing. I'm happy that you loved your first taste of Germany...and were able to return.
    Smiles from Jackie

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  15. Love this story, did you ever see Helga again or kept in touch? I think we all should make a point of visiting other countries, learning new languages.....there is more to life than our own little worlds.....Life is wonderful....:-) Hugs

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  16. This is a good story to round off your tapestry.

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  17. What a lovely story, Jinksy, and part of your tapestry. You describe it so vividly and I love the part where the silver haired 'old dear' enjoyed telling you about her merriment!

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  18. I've always hear, "Use it or lose it." That's my problem. Took Latin. Took French. Took Spanish. Don't use.

    Lovely story. You were brave. ♥
    Boomer

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  19. Jinksy, and we think life is exciting now. Although there must have been more worrisome times it all seemed so vital. But then everything was, wasn't it?

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  20. Really enjoyed this recollection Jinksy. Thanks for sharing it. Quite an adventure for a young girl, barely into her teens!

    Keep stitching.

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  21. Eine schöne Geschichte! I've always thought that the 'Konjugationen' (not sure if that even is the right word for it, I mean the changing of words according to them being female or male or neither) were very and needlessly difficult. Must have been quite an experience to visit another country with a totally different language, being only 13. It's your inquisitive mind...

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  22. Ilove the fact you seized the opportunity to enjoy a country you could have been indoctrinated to hate. So often in war the people of countries involved are all good and decent persons caught up in events they do not necessarily understand, or approve.

    Many of the German prisoners I mentioned in an earlier comment chose to stay in USA because of their humane treatment and fear of retribution should they return.

    Several German communities arose or grew in population and I perceive contribute positively to the diversity of the second largest state in US.

    Love the post.

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  23. War memories from childhood... how many more children right now are facing the wars! When will this cycle stop!
    I could visualize some of the scenes through your words.

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  24. I really enjoy sharing your memories. You are very good at writing them!

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  25. Now I'm adding singing to your already long list of talents.

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  26. And a fine tapestry it is. You never fail to entertain. I'm so glad that you share such memories.

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  27. Jinksy, I'm very proud of you that you were able to distinguish, at such a tricky post-War time, between the well-meaning nature of your average Germans, and the acts of those minions and madmen who bombed your home-town... Not everyone is as magnanimous, nor as comprehending as you, and I had some stick in the past from older folk who couldn't understand me studying German...

    A beautiful piece, Jinksy, as always xox

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