Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hitler Has A Lot To Answer For

Google tells me I'm "one percent full," having used only 127MB of my 10,246 MB. Well, that's a relief. I'm always worried about not having enough saved up. Until fairly recently I had a hard job using  new stuff right away or, if it looked good, even anything second-hand. If a blouse at the swap meet cost only 50 cents, but looked really nice, then I'd "keep it for best," just like the old days. Christmas was the big time for "best." But then of course you were peeling the potatoes and making the gravy and were told to take off whatever was new and find something that didn't matter.

That's one reason I remember so vividly my very first morning ever in Belgrade. It was not the culture shock of being in a Communist country, in the center of old Belgrade, the bullet pocked walls, the grind of metal cart wheels over cobbles, the shouts from the market and the hard July sun, but the moment when I gave Duska one of my gifts from England, a blouse from Marks and Spencer. (They all liked the way we said "Going to Marx|") With a cry of delight and satisfaction, Duska pulled it on over her sun dress right away and pushed up the sleeves with a flourish. At home you were told: "Leave them alone! You'll ruin the shape!") 

We were all 1937 babies so had all grown up in war: Duska and Mirka in Belgrade, me in the Thames Valley. In spite of the occasional daylight bomb tipped out by a German pilot on his way home from London, my most vivid memory was watching my mother carefully slicing open an empty tea packet to harvest a few more leaves caught in the creases. Same with the sugar. Duska and Mirka on the other hand had seen local citizens  hanging from the lamp-posts up the road in Republic square and spent days in the cellar while the Partisans and Russians fought the Germans out of Belgrade and the allies helpfully dropped bombs.

So Mirka married a hard drinking ex-Partisan at 19 and Duska pushed up the sleeves of her brand new blouse, declaring, "Idemo!" (Let's go!") and when I die there will be a whole lot of  T shirts from the Clearance rail in the drawers still with the tags on them.

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