Our days in Germany were coming to an end. I had loved our final Christmas . I never remembered another Christmas throughout my entire childhood after that – or birthday for that matter.
No present. No special food. No celebrations. Nothing.
But for my sixth birthday I had been given a book ( by D, of all people) called Now We Are Six’ by A.A.Milne. I read it from cover to cover, and after a week, I could recite every poem in it by heart.
My father and I were now alone in the house. A few crates of belongings were stacked on the parquet flooring. My father sat on one of them, and wept. I remember hesitantly putting my little hand on his shoulder to comfort him.
Memories of the first six years of my life flashed before me: summers by the Baltic sea, and holidays in Kitzbuhel ( in Austria). Pretty hand-made silk dresses, with delicate smocking – that I loved to wear. My excitement – just before she left – when my mother took me to have my photograph taken in Hamburg. My last outing with her. She was obviously planning to take the photos with her when she left, I now realise. For once, she had been kind to me. My hopes that she might love me a little had been raised.
I remember, too, listening to ‘Dick Barton – special agent’ – on the radio; not really understanding a word, but being thrilled by the feeling of adventure. Also, our trips ( with coupons and ration books) to the Naafi – on Saturdays, and my enjoyment of tooth-rotting Mars bars and bottles of Coca-Cola. Strangely enough, I have no memory of food from these days , apart from eating creamy birthday cake! Torte mit Zahne.
Dad and I clamboured into his Ford Prefect and left. It was night-time. It was going to be a very long journey back to the UK – and we arrived, finally, at Dover, after the Channel crossing.
I don’t remember saying goodbye to anyone.
When we arrived -again at night – in Dover, I hated the harsh sounds of the dockers swearing and shouting. It was foggy and bitterly cold. If this was England, then it felt and looked like a miserable place, and I already hated it.