JOURNAL OF A LIFE – She Is German, But…

 

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JOURNAL OF A LIFE

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As a great mentor of mine – Joe Schroeder – never tired of saying “A Life Worth Living is a Life Worth Recording” so today I am here to share another episode in the life’s journey of one of the great people whose life I am privileged to have shared a part of – my mother AnneKaete Pocklington.

<— Prior Episode

She Is German, But…

Imagine, if you will, that after a lot of soul-searching you decide to settle down in a foreign Country (or even State).

You are introduced by people who are wanting to be nice to you as “This is {your name}. He/she is {your classification}, but…

What is this “act of kindness” really saying to you?.

What did it say to my mother?

READ ON…

She Is German, But…

The above little sentence, really meant well, did hurt at times as I settled more and more over the years in England. In fact, a long long time ago I could not imagine living anywhere else but in England. But some kind friends, made later than the very first ones, did hurt my feelings without knowing it.

When a person like me settles down somewhere, after a lot of soul searching and thought, it is
then completely a fact that cannot be removed. All I heard in that statement was… she is really a
second class person, but almost like us ….

And once I had a grown-up son it had become a very strict and considered question that I must be wholly and unquestionably English. And I had no difficulty at all to accept this. I was now, and had been, for a long time, a very proud Englishwoman. And when some of the friends made in the 60s introduced me to somebody with the words “You must meet Anne, she is German, but she is really nice, and in some way quite English…”, I used to cringe inside and felt like running away. It used to hurt so much I can not describe it. But I suppose that is one little factor that happens when one immigrates. What the friend meant me to hear was “she is nice”, all that hurt my feelings was that word “but”. And I was not German anymore, I had decided to become English long ago. Not been accidentally born English but deliberately decided. I had a divine right to be proud of that fact. That did not mean that I was not homesick any more. That will always be there. But it alters in its shape and its density. What was a country and its customs at first, together with a desperate longing for my kinfolk, became just a longing for my kin and all beloved people over there which were a part of me and my childhood. A feeling one could have if one had just moved to a different area of a country. As Paula well knew when she lived in Nuernberg and longed for the North German dialect, its people and her kith and kin.

And when we lived at Blackwood Hall Peter became a choirboy at the lovely St. Mary’s church. Mr. David Thomas, our beloved vicar, was our dear friend, and so was the whole family of the congregation of St. Mary’s. It was such a wonderful feeling of ‘family’, this time of a family in God, that no country mattered anyway, the warmth of that family of friends made you being one, no matter what your background. And Mr. Thomas was an outstanding man who helped anybody and everybody in any situation. A wonderful friend and vicar. It did not matter what religion you were, you needed help and he gave it. A true Samaritan.

And he always said that he “would fill that church, if it was the last thing he did”. And surely he did. To all our sorrow he died quite suddenly, of cancer, at the age of about 49. We, none of us, could quite believe it. And the church, a really very very large church, was filled absolutely to the brim, and people still standing outside. They had come from far and wide to pay their last respects to the man who had been a true Vicar and Samaritan to a very large congregation beyond the borders of Luddenden Foot itself. And so, David had filled the church as the last thing….

And all this was part of my England. The family feeling in the village which was the same in the communities in towns. Germany at that time was a lot stiffer. One had to be more than correct. And if you had a certain occupation, a certain car went with it etc., but here, in England, a Millionaire would travel by an old Van or by bus, he would be sitting next to you on a paper drive for the church, or going to work on your bus. Atta and Tetta came to visit us, would not believe that the man I introduced Bill to, who was waiting at the bus stop with them, was the man to whom half and more of the houses in Luddenden Foot belonged.

And you felt grand and shared if you owned a little old car or van, no matter what your occupation. And you all shared the last with people, you truly laughed and cried together. Not just in villages but also in one’s own quarter of town. The little old ladies who stopped me in my early days in Yorkshire, and asked after my relations I had left at home, and told me not to forget to write to Mum, in a stern way, as if talking to a wayward child, those people were everywhere then.

And that is one of the great crimes of the 20th Century, around the 50s and 60s. That they pulled down the houses in those streets and replanted a generation of people “willy-nilly” amongst a new estate, and new people. In estates of hundreds and hundreds of houses, all looking alike, and all the people at one stroke who lost their roots.

Formerly one knew the people in the street in which one lived, very well. Knew their parents, grandparents and uncles and aunts. And on special occasions, like Guy Fawkes’ Day or Coronation or so, one would have a street party. And then suddenly, one was amongst a lot of strangers and did not know their background at all. And one had to lock doors and knock politely when one wanted a chat. And one had to have a reason. Not just stroll in next door and start talking of this and that, with no particular reason.

And when you went to see these friends, you visited, just on the spur of the moment. You had a cup of tea together, or a cup of coffee and you sat all evening and were so happy, and sheltered in their love and be ‘at home’! In Germany you had to have an invitation, had to have a properly planned evening, with Liqueur for the ladies, a strong drink of some kind for the Gentlemen, or beer, or wine or a ‘Bowle’ for the evening; It was all somewhat ‘stiffer’. In England, or at least in Yorkshire, you all brought something to the party more often than not, and rolled up the carpet; and sat on the roll, or on the floor if you had not enough chairs, but you were together and that was that.

Things have altered a lot now. People here are also a lot more ‘formal’ now. But at the time it was so wonderfully easy for me to be ‘at home’ and it never occurred to me that I was not. The old English Pub (Public House) was again something special. I did not go all that often, but it was so interesting. I am speaking of the 1950’s.

Every Pub had various rooms. The Bar, which had just a few seats, the Lounge Bar – which was a little dearer, had more seats, a fireplace and more often than not, lots of shiny brass ornaments on the mantelpiece. There the women would sit, some with their husbands. And then it had a Games Room which no decent woman would be seen in. Here were benches all around the room, and little square or round tables. And at least one Dartboard on the Wall. And men would play at Dominos, Cards, Darts, Cribbage, anything. And they would use ‘the language of the natives’ as Mr. Thomas used to call it laughingly. They would swear. So no woman was allowed here, as it was an offence to swear in front of women.

And women acknowledged the right of men to be alone in this room. Sex Discrimination, we hear so much about now, just did not come into it. The word was not even invented. If you thought yourself a decent woman and had your pride, you did not go into that room. And that was that.

And the singing room. In some Pubs the singing room and lounge, or Parlour, was the same. But a singing room with a Piano was the pride and joy of every Public House.

I remember the first one I ever went in, in Luddenden Foot. It was called the ‘White Swan’ (or maybe Black) and it was the most favorite. [Peter’s note – it was the ‘Black Lion’] It had, of course, its singing room. And here you had upholstered benches right round the wall. Hard ones and not very wide, one endless long bench all round the room. And now and then a tiny round table, with a little shelf underneath for the handbags. And around theses tables ordinary wooden Buffets, three or four legged. And so one, two, or three people would sit on the bench and 3 people on buffets and so you could be together with 6 people of your choice in the singing room. But it did not matter much as you knew everybody and just sat where there was room, really, And the weekend, Friday, Saturday and maybe Sunday. But not too often Sundays. A Piano player would be sitting there all evening playing all the old tunes. From every region of England and from any War England had ever had, and some American Musical Songs, all evening. One shouted requests and he would play them, without song sheets and notes. He most likely had taught himself to play anyway and did not know notes. And everybody would sing, at the top of their voices, loud and clear. And if you sat next to somebody with a lovely voice it was a real treat. But if it was somebody who could not really sing that was just too bad. Everybody was allowed to sing. Everybody sang loud and clear, in and out of tune. And when the music stopped they lifted the glass and took a long swig quickly, or drained the glass, if it had been a long song. And quick took the orders from friends around, before he started the next song. And to me it was just magic to watch, the expressions on the faces which the song demanded, full of feeling, happy or tragic, longing or funny. And when the song finished the change back to the normal faces. Until the notes started again, and the light and expressions would be back. It was truly a wonderful sight, and sound, to be ‘at home’ in.

🙂

If  life is the best teacher, doesn’t it make sense to learn from the lives of others?

So what did I learn from today’s episode?

I learned such a lot more about the England my mother and father chose to settle in, and

I learned a little more about what the poet Rydyard Kipling might have meant with the line “in neither foes, NOR LOVING FRIENDS, can hurt us…

So Now it’s YOUR turn, dear Reader. What did YOU learn?

Please ADD and SHARE your insights in the COMMENT BOX Below

Next Episode –>

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Published: October 18, 2014, 14:23 | 2 Comments on JOURNAL OF A LIFE – She Is German, But…
Category: Real People Helping Real People, The Story Of A Life

2 responses to “JOURNAL OF A LIFE – She Is German, But…”

  1. Wow – never knew that about Germany – how you had to plan everything out for inviting people to your home…

    Your posts are so inspiring Peter…

    I’ve been studing the lessons of my Dad and starting to share them too…your posts about your Mum sparked this idea

    Dr. Lias

    • freedomwithpeter says:

      Dr. Lias 🙂 a.k.a. Lisa – That you are sharing the lessons from your Dad really rocks my World. It means that one of my mother’s purposes in documenting this – to let ‘real people’ from future generations know how the ‘real people’ of her generation lived – can be signed off “mission accomplished”. I am blessed to have been a part of that…

      Namaste, I bow to the wisdom of the Spirit within YOU, Lisa

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