In Great Britain, every day is Caturday

Be still my beating heart…

Willkommen (wieder) in Deutschland

I know, this entry is rather late in its arrival. Over the last two weeks I have been relishing my Oesterferien in England, seeing old friends, spending quality time with my family and getting burnt by the feeble rays of the British springtime sun. I vowed not to do a lick of work, and pretty much managed it; I vowed to give my voice a rest, and did not manage that in the slightest. Coming back home for a long enoguh time to take stock and meet people gave me a chance to see how much this experience has changed me, and the physical changes are perhaps the most startling and queer. The long weeks of singing and shouting and doing stupid voices (pretend to be a grandpa and they are putty in your hands) have taken their toll and it has now been five weeks since that loud, piercing foghorn that used to be my beloved voice became a croaking, hacking warble. My arms have become absurdly veiny, I now have great long pipelines pulsing in blue forks right from my fingers to my biceps where there used to be healthy-looking flesh. My legs are now oddly muscular and equine, and my hair has now grown long enough to tickle my lumbar. I hadn’t particularly noticed any of this happening besides the ruination of my beloved voice until I got home, and I am now fascinated to see what happens to me by the end of the year. Do my company know that the work they are giving me has made me into a mutant? Do the children find me scary? Is this why they said that my teeth are green? Who knows…

I suppose this ought to be a summary of what I got up to during my return to my Heimat, so I’ll leave the self-indulgent musing about the nature of ‘one’s true home’ for another time. My Oesterferien began with me returning home to my parents’ house deep in the English countryside, reunited with my beloved cats and reinitiated into English living with a solid eighteen cups of milky tea. That weekend we did very little except look at houses (my family are looking to move) which was essentially a tour of the UK’s best and most varied chintz. One house that stood out was a palace built by and belonging to a carpenter who clearly had spent his professional life carving mahogany sideboards for the Queen herself. It was a colossal place bursting with rich man’s tat: a working jukebox, a six-foot-deep, heated koi carp pond with underwater mood lighting and water features, a hot tub with matching gazebo, a garage with upstairs gym and no fewer than six snowboards in a rack on the ground floor. We shuffled awkwardly past his five cars and left. Needless to say, we did not find a house that weekend.

The week that followed consisted mainly of sitting in the garden and planning the heart-collapsing chocstravaganza that was to be the birthday cake my grandmother had asked me to make for the weekend. It so happened that this year my father’s and grandfather’s birthdays (both on the same day) also fell on Easter Sunday and coincided neatly with my grandfather’s eightieth, and thus a huge family get-together was planned and I had been trusted with the grave task of making The Cake. Neither of my grandparents like or ever eat cake themselves so the idea was to produce something ludicrously gooey with enough chocolate to plug an artery by its sheer mention in order to keep the rest of the clan happy. The resulting cake was so decadent and almost offensively hefty that my family members didn’t know whether to thank me or curse me. It was a dark, dark chocolate cake with whipped ganache mousse icing, whipped cream and – on top, my proudest achievement in cake art thus far – chocolate daffodils upon which rested little marzipan bees with chocolate stripes. To make my cake-indifferent but clotted-cream-fanatic grandpa happy I also knocked up a mountain of scones which he appreciatively ate one of before just giving up the airs and graces and simply eating the clotted cream with a spoon. My grandmother made a pudding too, in case people wanted something less cardiac-arresty, a funny pie she called something like ‘Ecklefeckken tart’ which, apparently Scottish, was less a pudding and more an excuse to blurt garbled swearwords in the guise of talking about a dessert. 

We also saw the other side of my family for a huge and hilarious barbeque under the oak trees, which in retrospect was a mistake as we spent the entire meal being lightly showered with a fine snow of caterpillar dung coming from the trees. By the end of the afternoon the tables and all the food looked like someone had decided to season the entire spread with a million grinds of black pepper. Being hearty country folks, however, we simply chuckled and hoovered down our speckled strawberries and cream regardless.

For my father’s birthday we went to a posh gastropub for an evening banquet and were served by the most gormless string-bean goon this side of the river Kennet. They forgot the bacon on my father’s bacon salad, the avocado on my brother’s avocado salad, the everything on my mother’s main course (i.e. it was entirely absent) and the entire pub was not just empty but eerily vacant, the only other noise besides us being the echoing church bell, the whistling wind and the groaning cliche. All the salt grinders were, however, full of salt, which was exemplary although raised the question of why the pepper grinders were also all full of salt. Ahhh, my poor dad.

Besides eating and more eating, the rest of the time was simply filled with happy projects; I sewed and crafted to my heart’s content, I cooked and painted and rejuvenated old clothes, I slept and read and went to my university town to indulge in some minor nostalgia. I feel utterly peaceful and somehow repaired. Let’s see how long it takes for the kids to undo it all…

Rose T