I have just returned from a long weekend with Rebecca. She lives just off the Bethnal Green Road in the East End of London. She loves it, me too. It remains a bustling confusion of peoples of every colour, creed and background.
And there is a family connection. Her grandfather, my father-in-law, a Polish Jew who emigrated here at the age of fourteen, well before WWII, yet whose whole family went to the gas chambers of Treblinka, (this is my best guess, as they lived in Częstochowa and that was the destination for the Jews rounded up in that city), owned a jewellery store just off Brick Lane.
As an aside, my dear ex, Sue, tells me, as a boy, Mark, her father, was woken in bed by a German soldier who had his bayonet aimed at Mark’s throat. This happened in WWI. For whatever reason, the soldier did not execute his threat but left. This story, if true, and forgive me Sue if I have the details wrong, interests me for two reasons: first, I didn’t know Poland was involved in WWI; second, of all the nations at that time, i.e. before the rise of Hitler, Germany was the least anti-Semitic, so why the assault on a young Jewish boy – or was his religion of no consequence? On both counts I may be wrong and would welcome correction.
The shop still is as was though now sells designer clothes, or something equivalent, reflecting the increasing gentrification of the area.
The weekend was as a result of a promise made to Rebecca to decorate her flat. (I think feminists are correct and God is a female and the only reason She put men on earth was to decorate their daughter’s flats.)
Her living room and bedroom now have that heady aroma of fresh emulsion. And she is a very happy bunny. It is the anniversary of her moving in and, as she said, it is the first time it feels like her own space. So I am a happy bunny too. It is also my early birthday present to her, as my time is cheap and cash non-existent.
I also did a few other bits and pieces, hanging pictures, mirrors, coat racks, etc., - all the things you never get round to when you are single young woman with a busy life. Funny, it is the first time I have felt like a fully functional, grown-up dad. (Rebecca will, naturally, disagree with both descriptors.) Normally I occupy myself when with her by taking the mick out of her friends. I find myself very funny – they search for the address of the nearest funny farm.
PS Gary of the inestimable writer’s fourth emergency service – “Crooked crankshaft, sir? Give us a sec and your plot will be firing on all four in just a jiff” – has given my query letter a BubbleCow four star rating with minor concerns about the marque definition.
PPS This is an odd post - to link the unbelievable with the mundane - my only excuse is the mundane is what keeps us living and hoping.