While we were young and zooming around in one of his speedy cars, Horst would tell me stories about his family. I was truly fascinated, as our upbringings could hardly have been more different.
I especially loved hearing about Onkel Reinhold Q., whose main claim to fame was that he had appeared in the Bildzeitung, the German red-top, as being caught driving with the highest level of alcohol ever recorded in Germany. Later he spent some time in prison, where he learned to make hairpins which he proudly showed the family on his return. My favourite story concerned him driving from North Rhine Westphalia to the North Sea. He left home fully clothed, and without stopping the car arrived at the seaside wearing his bathing trunks. Onkel Reinhold Q. became a sort of mythical figure for me, living a life which was beyond my experience or even imagination.
I have spent most of my life wishing I was someone else, and for a long time the mythical person I wanted to be was Cousin Gara.
Just the name! Isn’t that graceful, and blythe and sophisticated, almost regal? All the things I never was and longed to be.
I had never met her as she was one of the vast portfolio of Australian cousins. But some of my British family did know her, personally, and whenever her name was mentioned someone would say “Oh, Gara is absolutely lovely!”
A few years ago we went to a family party in Ibbenbüren, and I was introduced to a little old lady with currant eyes – she was Onkel Reinhold Q.’s wife! I couldn’t believe it. It was as if I had been introduced to Little Red Riding Hood. In person.
So imagine my astonishment when, a few years ago, cousin Leah in Australia (the Queen of Snow Globes) told me she had found Cousin Gara, now living in Sydney, on facebook.
Gara? She really existed?
Since then Cousin Gara and I have not only got aquainted via facebook but also actually met, when she visited Berlin a few years ago.
She is indeed lovely, all the things her name implies, and I have learned so much from her. Across the miles.
Sometimes my students ask me where I get my ideas for lessons, and quite a few of them originated with something Cousin Gara posted or forwarded on facebook. She has interests and knowledge in so many areas, especially art, especially painting, and I am so grateful to her that she nudges me to look at things in a different way. And she is such fun!
Thank you Gara!
Wonderful Poems :https://brianbilston.com/
The Cabin Fever part
How to describe a Picture:
Read the story of a family who fooled the art market – and made a fortune. Learn some phrasal verbs and do some exercises to check how well you understood the story: