So here I am in an odd little village called Marxem in Germany. I believe we’re somewhere between Hannover and Hamburg. There’s a lovely fresh breeze coming in through my open window, bringing with it a sort of petey smell mixed with the faint and almost Dutch aroma of waffles or crepes, or one of those types of fried foods which you don’t really get in England.
We're staying in a beautiful hotel. It's terrible, as you’d expect, for vegetarians, but the German’s simply don’t give a crap about that sort of thing, which is, at least, refreshingly honest!
We were, of course, up at shit o’clock this morning in order to make our flight. As we drove out of Thaxted towards Stansted Airport we noticed that they’re advertising a “Teddy Bear Parachute Jump” in the village. Apparently they’re going to be chucking soft toys attached to make-shift parachutes from the church tower, which I think sounds like great fun. I asked my Mum for more details; “so they’re chucking them off the spire?” I asked. It was early. My Mum was in a dream world; “of course they’re not setting them on fire” she said... She's been on good form ever since.
We sat in the airport, and for the want of something to read, she picked up a copy of the Daily Mail and spent the next 30 minutes laughing in disbelief at the sorts of stories they were reporting and the awful quality of the journalism inside, particularly the sub-editing. I’m proud to say that she’d never, in her life, picked up a copy of this particular newspaper. I’d always considered the Mail to be almost more evil than words; a hideous and dangerous bastion of right wing bigotry. Her genuine laughter reminded me that it’s really just a tragic little newspaper that can only appeal to people of limited mental capacity. I no longer fear it!
As we walked to the plane, we discussed that there had been a public holiday in Germany last week and tried to work out which religious occasion it might have been pinned to. Edward guessed Ascension Day. “What’s that in German?” I asked. “Christi Himmel Fahrt”. That kept me amused for at least another 30 minutes.
On arrival in Germany, the first shop I saw was called Kunterbunt, which I also found pretty funny. It's terrible; I even did A-level German, and am still amused by things which sound like English swear words.
This afternoon we were lucky enough to take my Mother back to the place she’d lived in for a year as a teenager; a charming little market town called Winsen Luhe. We worked out that it was exactly 50 years since she’d moved there and it was a real privilege to share the experience of rediscovering the town with her. We even managed to find the house, which once sat in an orchard, but was now part of a much larger development. We had a drink in the pub where they’d thrown her a leaving party. She was overwhelmed to begin with, but as little memories were stirred, so the jigsaw began to grow and the comic stories started to flow. She kept repeating; “I can’t believe I’m in Winsen.” Neither could we. It’s a place which had a massive impact on her and as a result, stories of Frau Sanna et all, took on an almost mythical status in our childhood.
350 years ago, Pepys and his wife called in on their friend Frances Clarke, who was apparently found in a dishabille (a state of undress – and what a fabulous word.) Pepys was all about the fashion reporting that day as he also commented on his wife’s new “slasht wastecoate” which was apparently very pretty. Do you think she'd slashed it herself?!