Friday, 19 February 2010

Very late - a good citizen

Home from Cambridge, via London where we had gone to continue going through my father's belongings. Mostly paperwork still but it's the other things that begin to get to me. His study / office was the small extension room of the bunglow - the size of a box room. Cold in there and the ceiling light not working. The room packed with two chests of drawers, a cupboard a desk and two chairs. Orderly the whole of his life, he had let it go a little this last year. There is a drawer full of chocolate boxes with chocolate in.

Two drawers with useful odds and ends - electric plugs and such things. The papers in essentially three drawers but more papers elsewhere. The desk with hospital correspondence, Hungarian scout magazines. One desk drawer full of charity envelopes, mostly unopened now. More charities there than I knew existed. A paper knife. Two old typewriters. A box full of the home made cards we sent him year after year. A good selection of my own books on the wall-mounted shelves. A few reference books. Travel brochures in another drawer. More scout magazines in a neat chronological pile.

And some very old folders - his documents and my other's documents. His military pass book, his Social Democrat party membership book. His Hungarian ID. And early letters in England. One moves me to tears briefly. It is from the refugee council congratulating him on his first house - a house they helped him buy - and telling him how glad they were to have him, how glad they were he was happy and what a good impression they have of him as a future citizen. Words to that effect. I remember the house very well. It is the one in which he is sitting in that earlier photograph a couple of posts down - along with the spiky pot plants and the bent-metal figurine - dapper and earnest, elegant, a touch self-conscious - a new man in a new life. 1958. Much else to go through. My mother's death certificate and her papers...

Then we drive to Cambridge where I read to Trinity College Literary Society - some twenty people. It goes very well. Afterwards a quick drink with two PhD students, George Younge who invited me and the Australian poet Jaya Savige. The Lion Yard car park is a nightmare. Everyone wanting to get out and no one moving - a vast half an hour snarl up and the worst piece of car park design I have ever come across.

Rain all the way until we get to our own small town centre where it finally stops.

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