Monday, 12 December 2011

Encounters: loss

The cheese straws I manufactured yesterday morning in catering quantities – for a Christmas soiree – were a little saltier than they should have been. I was listening to journalist Eve Pollard on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, and moved to tears more than once.

Her parents fled Vienna in the 1930s, but her grandparents died in a concentration camp. Her mother could never speak about them. When the war was over, she had the chance to visit Vienna, but couldn't do it. Jews' houses were routinely looted when they were deported, and she told her daughter she couldn't bear to see another woman wearing her jewellery. It was a small personal detail – a story I'd never heard before – that revealed so much about the lives of ordinary people at the time.

Pollard dedicated one of her songs, the beautiful aria "O mio babbino caro" ("Oh my beloved Father") by Puccini, to her mother, who would listen to it quietly, lost in memories of her Dad.

Like I said, salty cheese straws.