Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Euro cows

The following is by the boy. It's his homework but North and South thought it deserved a wider circulation. So we doubled the readership by putting it here. Matt is away.

Memories are like movies. For me the ones from last week and the week before are mostly as clear as glass. Much like the HD movies of today. Older memories become cloudier and cloudier the further back you go until you can only get tiny snippets of them, such as your 4th birthday when your Granddad bought you a bike or when you first went on a plane to Spain. These are the memories that make us as people. Everyone has different memories, so everyone is different.

Holiday 2003
Eight countries in a week. Well, eight days to be exact. Eight years old as well. Me, my older step-sister and my younger brother are all eight years in age apart. My siblings didn’t go on this holiday. It was just me, my Dad, and his best mate.

We took the Euro-tunnel from Folkestone to France. My dad and X had several hours driving ahead before the next stop. They both used to work for Euro-camp. The tales they told of French girls and Pastis were the cause of much side-glancing and laughter. But they are experienced drivers, they know the language and they know the roads well too.

I’m here now looking at the old photos of this trip. I'm much smaller, of course, cuter, if that is the word and Dad; he’s not grey.

I'm thinking back to the time in Germany, a petrol garage. Just a routine stop. I specifically remember this because it was very strange. Mega-Bubble Bum-Bum was the name of the chewing gum. I called X and Dad over, they laughed aloud. We bought a pack, still laughing all the way to the till. The German lady looked at us funnily; I remember that well, the eyes, questioning what we were all giggling about.
The gum was shaped as a cigarette. The hilarity increased. “What sort of gum called Mega-Bubble Bum-Bum is shaped like cigarettes!” was the question we were asking. I remember this maybe too well as it probably doesn't mean much to somebody reading this. But for me this was one of the defining aspects of this holiday.

Switzerland, the best hotel we’ve stayed in so far. I had the Playstation Portable with me. ‘Abe’s Oddesy’, a game that you could play for hours, was the game I was on. I remember the sounds from this game much better than the images. “Yo yo yo yo yo” was what the avatar would say when you wanted to move an object with telekinesis. ‘Abe’, the protagonist moved back and forth across his futuristic landscape.

My room looked out on the beauty of the Alps. The slopes, crags, rock faces and snow covered peaks were stunning. The mountains could see everything. I remember looking to these mountains before I went to sleep, they compelled me. The sheer difference between this and what I was used to in Ipswich and London was the thing that got me. Clean and fresh, yes, a toothpaste ‘ad’ spectacular.
Luxembourg. People laugh at Luxembourg. Dad and X didn’t. They already knew the city. I reckon if you grew up there you would always be OK. Not a great recommendation I know. Even though Luxembourg is an incredibly small country, it’s a wealthy place. Safe and secure. It fits snugly between France, Germany and Holland. We’d crossed those borders before.

For some unknown reason there were cows everywhere. Not real ones, but big, life sized ones painted in seriously bright colours. They were just stood around the city randomly. You could touch them but there were signs in French and German saying ‘Do not sit on this cow!’ I remember dad and X laughing. They were always laughing. That night we stayed at Victor’s, X’ friend’s house. He never explained the cows. Thank God. Really nice chips and chocolate. It’s true about Belgium. We indulged there, especially on chips, and high on carbs we took the motorway back through to France, heading home.

Austria and Poland are snippets that are missing from this memory. I know we went there, but like the bits of movies that disappear.......

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