Poignant Moments

Feeling grateful this morning that I am alive. I have just spent the last few hours trailing through a list of names on My Heritage for a possible tv documentary looking for people who might have been saved by a friend’s uncle from the Nazis. It is a very sobering experience and puts everything else in to context.

The list is long. All these names all these people who had families, stories, lives, friends, lovers and yet so many of them perished. Born in Berlin, in Leipzig, in Vienna, in Romania, in Poland, died in Auschwitz. One entry was particular poignant; born December 1942 in Auschwitz, died January 1943 Auschwitz.

It’s a place I rarely go as it is too painful. As a young Jew I went through a stage of reading everything about the Holocaust – I needed to know. But stopped after reading Primo Levi’s Book If this is a man. A good place to stop. Remarkable book. Remarkable man.

Odd that it coincided with me finishing reading last night The Last Kings of Shanghai by Jonathan Kaufman which shines a light on the role China played in offering a temporary refuge for some 18,000 Jews fleeing Europe. Shamefully one of the few countries to offer a home to eastern European Jews escaping Hitler. Despite Britain’s pride in rescuing several thousand Jewish children before WWII, the truth is that successive British governments failed Europe’s Jews before the Holocaust – and afterwards.

It is something I am acutely aware of when looking at the plight of the current refugees fleeing their war torn countries. It feels like there is an uncomfortable parallel in the language being used to describe those seeking asylum today and the language used to describe Jews seeking refuge in the 1930’s. The Daily Mail back in 1938 referred the Jews escaping Germany as “Stateless Jews pouring into this country” and it warned of “aliens” entering the UK through the “back door”. Sound familiar?

I know its all getting very heavy so I will leave writing about Patrick Melrose, the SKY drama series, depicted by the brilliant Benedict Cumerbatch and whether his psychopathic father was genetically evil. I had been thinking of discussing whether one could be born evil or whether the environment had a part to play – but maybe I will leave that for another day.

Instead I will end with the random statistic that apparently according to a new study by Leeds, Edinburgh and UCL universities Earth has lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice since 1994 . But of course climate change is a myth!

Hypochondria – is it genetic?

So the Spanish hasn’t quite started today but it’s been a busy day and I have been out and about – masked and gloved of course. First it was Daniella the Osteopath who said that unlike most people who hold their emotions in their neck and shoulders I hold all of mine in my sacrum. Who would have thought? Next the dentist for two fillings. “You are going to have to remove that mask, if you want me to work on your mouth,” said the masked and gloved Andy my dentist. Reluctantly I obliged but not without some misgivings. I think I have become unhealthily attached to my mask.

Then the mechanic to fix the lights on the car and finally the post office which is housed in a grocery store – interesting queue winding its way through the food aisles. And today I experienced my first COVID rage. A family in the queue were unmasked and asked to leave the shop. They refused and it erupted into a huge fight. No fists but words were exchanged and they weren’t very nice ones.

Back home and it’s only 2.30 – that’s more than I have done outside in 6 months. A little bit of normality back in my life and it feels good.

I was intrigued about what Daniella said about my sacrum as I hadn’t given much thought to this part of my body. So, I did a bit of digging and found that of the 206 bones in the human body, only one bone is considered holy – and that is the Sacrum. Where better then to hold all my emotions than in a holy place.

Comes from the Latin word sacred and it is the large heavy bone at the base of the spine. Apparently, the Romans called the bone the “os sacrum,” meaning the “holy bone” and the Greeks termed it the “hieron osteon,” which meant the same thing. I just have now to figure a way to get these emotions out of the sacrum but not into anywhere else. Answers please on a post card or an email or just a comment on this post.

I must admit, being the kind of person who can google an illness then display all the symptoms Daniella’s consultation and treatment has left me feeling quite relieved . At 3 this morning, unable to sleep and with pains in my back, I once more started googling. I deduced that I could have had any one, two or three of about 10 illnesses, all fatal and all quite feasible. I am wondering if this has anything to do with my heritage.

Some people, including therapists and humourists, believe being Jewish and being a hypochondriac go together. They think of Jews and conjure up a neurotic, therapy-going, compulsive, worrying Woody Allen type. But humour aside there is a school of thought that believes that Jewish “hypochondria” could be a symptom of the relatively unseen, unexplored, and denied trauma that emanates like a wave from past generations. Look I don’t want to make a big thing of this, and I am definitely not a Woody Allen – just a teeny-weeny bit of a worry monger.

To mark the occasion of leaving my house, I dispensed with my dungarees which have become my daily uniform and donned a dress and some make-up. Remembering what Coco Chanel said, “dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” Not sure I was impeccably dressed but I looked ok.

Now back in the COVID safe confines of my home I receive an excited phone call from a friend.

“Guess what,” she says

“What,” I say

“OCADO are going to start delivering Marks and Spencer food from September 1st.”

Oh how our worlds have shrunk.

“Let’s be careful out there”