Snow lay outside in deep drifts. There were four or five- foot high walls of the stuff, with paths built in between. I walked through these walls of ice across the garden.
Inside, there were large, wooden crates filled with belongings on the lovely,shiny parquet floors. The house, apart from the quiet ‘servants’, who came and went, was empty, and my father wept in the large, lonely darkened rooms. I placed my child’s arm on his shoulder to comfort him. I looked in to the empty space around us, thinking ‘What next?’. My mother had gone. I didn’t miss her. There was nothing to miss.
We were leaving Germany.
Dover, is the next place I remember. A cold, noisy, damp forbidding place. I thought ‘if this is England, I don’ like it’.
I was sitting in the back of my Dad’s apple-green Ford Prefect, clutching my Rupert bear, as Dad gingerly drove off the ferry boat on to English soil. I heard men shouting and loud bangs. Harsh British voices. Swearing. The German I had heard and spoken had been softer somehow. My first impression of ‘home’ was a bad one.
Then we were in London. In a sixth-floor flat in Hornsey Lane,in North London.And I was attending the local convent school – Birklands Junior School – with its unkind nuns. I burst in to tears when I first saw ‘times tables’ on the walls of the classroom. What were these? And the only book was the ‘catechism’, and we few Protestant girls were excluded from a lot of the daily services and prayers.