Sunday, 1 March 2020

Leaving







Dear Reader,


I have been reading an excellent book this week by Anne de Courcy, about 'Chanel's Riviera, Life, Love and the Struggle for Survival on the Cote d'Azur, l930-1944'.  The interesting bit for me was not the shenanigans of the very wealthy with their constant round of parties and lovers but of the occupation of the French by the Germans at the beginning of June, 1940.

The thing that struck me most was how very hungry everybody was for five years. They had next to nothing to eat.  Carrots were almost unfindable and in one woman's diary she wrote that they ate many acres of turnips, boiled, sliced or mashed. So scarce was food that elderly patients left their rations to other patients in their wills.  Cough syrup which substituted for sugar gave out, and people started using children's laxatives such as Syrup of Figs or Syrup of Apples.  As a consequence all but the most robust suffered violent diarrhoea. I think everyone knows that cats and dogs were eaten in Paris but I didn't know that all the rats disappeared too.

I feel so grateful to have been born in 1940 and didn't really know anything about the war.  Of course I had a gas mask, a mickey mouse gas mask, but I don't think I suffered much from shortages or anything else for that matter. And then we have had peace ever since, at least I have felt we have had.
And I feel very blessed.

*


Leaving

The day she left
her heart hammered
tears streamed down her cheeks

the rain beat against the car windows
an east wind blew
the road was black ribbons.

She took a small suitcase.
It held a red skirt, two shirts, underclothes,
two cardigans, a duffle coat
and three favourite books.

After twenty years of marriage
that was her spoils.

Oh, and the kettle.

*

With very best wishes, Patricia


No comments: