Where were we... ? The Summer of '69 and in my case, for three weeks anyway, in Germany. I've written a little here before, about travelling around in the back of a racing green Jaguar MkII and having a wobbly tooth in a thunderstorm. Today I stumbled across an old photo, the only one I have from that trip, of Micha and me reunited for a day. Micha and her family had been next door neighbours for a couple of years before they moved back to Germany. I loved Micha - she was my first, proper, best friend. When she left, she gave me her gold-painted bike 'Dobbin' and a little elasticated bracelet with pictures of alpine flowers on each of the white plastic links.
The lovely Micha on the left
So I remembered about the wobbly tooth and the thunderstorm. I also remember staying in a house which had wooden shutters on the windows and I became briefly obsessed with them, “Mummy, can we put shutters on the windows at home? Can we? Please?” (Of course we never did...) I also loved the fairytale theme park in Ludwigsburg where they had a Rapunzel Tower. Rapunzel was my favourite story of all time, albeit that was only a six year lifetime in my case; still, it was magical. My Ladybird edition certainly was well loved.
Just as the Prince did in the fairytale, we had to call up, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” (“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, lass deinen Zopf herunter!”) and as I waited so excitedly, holding my breath in anticipation, a big plait of flaxen
I remember my big sister getting a mosquito bite that flared up really badly and had everyone worried for days, and I remember feeling worried myself when looking down from the top of the Television Tower in Stuttgart – I really didn't like it at all. “Look at the tiny cars down there!” my sister exclaimed as we peered nervously over the edge. I have a vague memory of a trip to a musty old castle with lots of steps, and another of driving along the Autobahn and my parents arguing because my dad had missed the turn-off and my mum was supposed to be navigating. In a shop where we went to buy some souvenirs there were some toys with the laughable name 'Jobbies' - you always remember that kind of stuff, don't you? I didn't come home with a Jobby; instead I had a little doll with red hair dressed in a dirndl. You also never forget the holiday romances and it's true, I had a brief flirtation in a restaurant with a young German boy who seemed to have the hots for me. Sadly the only thing I was able to say to him, over and over again as I remember, was “Ich spreche kein Deutsch” (carefully taught parrot-fashion by my mum – at least I think that's what she'd helped me to say to him) but I still recall how nice his cheeky smiles made me feel, even then.
There were people, lots of people – friends of my parents who let us stay in their houses, took us to places, gave us presents, like Heidi, and Gudrun & Franz, and Theo and Rudolf. And Micha. Micha who posted that photo to me in England on our return, with a little note on the back.