LOCKED MEMORIES

You only begin to appreciate the true value of things when you are in danger of losing them. I recently learnt this the hard way when my grandmother caught pneumonia and nearly died. She is fine now, thank goodness, but the important thing to me is that it was only then that I understood how fragile she is and that we may not have much time left to spend together. Visiting her when she was ill – my first visit in a couple of years – and having probably my first real conversation with her for a very long time, I also realised that I have lost many years in not trying to know her. After this one-hour conversation I was astonished (shame on me for not seeing it before!) what an amazing and intelligent woman Grandma is, and what an interesting and rich life she has led.

What’s lost is lost and I can’t fix it but I can try to change the future. I’ve promised myself that I will make a point of talking to Grandma as often as I can and get to know her better, not only as my grandmother but as a person in her own right. So many of us forget that behind the institution of our parents and grandparents are actual people with their own histories and personalities, that Grandma is a woman, that Mum has a name – not only the title – and that Grandpa was once a young man who loved playing football.

So some time ago I started to interview my Grandmother and record her memories. I’m asking her to try to relate to me every detail she remembers of her life, the people she met, the places she has seen – then I’ll sort out the voice recordings and write it all down in a form of a diary. I want to capture most of her long life, spanning almost a century (she is 91) and the amazing stories locked in her memory: the people, long gone, that she brings back and gives them names again, forgotten family stories, the look of my town before it got flattened to the ground by the Nazis – but mostly her own dramatic adventures during WWII and after. These stories are priceless and should not be lost. So many people grow old and die without having the opportunity to tell their stories, and after a few years fade from our memories, leaving just shadows of what and who they once were.

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Wine of the week

Cremaschi Furlotti Single Vineyard Chardonnay Cremaschi Furlotti Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 ( Dulwich Vntners £14, Ministry of Drinks £12.99, Simply Wines Direct £12.99

Phew, after this nostalgic post let’s have some bright and lively Chardonnay from Chile.

It is very ripe and fruity, and really fresh, but its also very well balanced with the oak ageing. On the palate the purity of the fruit, such as pineapple and white peach, and high acidity combined with the weight and creaminess of the oak barrels and touch of vanilla gives harmonious and elegant entity. Absolutely delicious!

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