From Uta’s July 2015 Diary

 

Last Thursday I went to my gentle exercise class. Ayleen, who usually comes along with me, could not make it: She had hurt her back. It was a very cold day. But I decided to put my very warm winter coat on and slowly walk to the community centre. A walk that in the past would have taken me not much more than ten minutes, took me a bit more than twenty minutes. When I arrived there was a nice hot cup of tea and a biscuit with cheese waiting for me.  Because it was such a cold day, the class was not very well attended. Marta, our instructor, had some sad news for us: Towards the end of the year she has to leave us for a few months for she has to go to South America to look after her ailing 98 year old mum for a while to give her sisters a break. She said she is looking out for a relief instructor for us for the time that she is going to be away. I told Marta that it was very good of her that she wants to do this for her mum and her sisters.

I had asked Peter to meet me at the library after my class. I was very keen to look for some books at the library. It has been too long since I had last visited the library. The library is in the same building as our exercise class. So it was easy for me to get there. As soon as I entered the library I became aware that I had forgotten my glasses. What a bummer. Half blind, I tapped around for some books. Despite my limited vision it turned out I ended up with a couple of excellent books: One book is Colleen McxCullough’s 526 page novel BITTERSWEET. The other book is OPPOSED POSITIONS by Gwendoline Riley.

I  already started reading  OPPOSED POSITIONS. I find it is a very interesting read. This writing style and what she writes about appeals to me very much. I found out from that article in The Guardian that this novel is referring a lot to Riley’s own experiences. How to write about your own experiences in a novel, well, this is really something I could learn from, I think.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/may/18/gwendoline-riley-interview-opposed-positions

 

Novelist Gwendoline Riley talks about her obsessive need to write, and why she’ll never have children
gwendoline riley novelist
‘Extraordinary talent’: novelist Gwendoline Riley. Photograph: Sophia Evans for the Observer Sophia Evans/Observer

Peter picked me up from the library. He also looked around a bit in the library. He was interested in some videos that he could take out on loan for four weeks. He ended up getting four DVDs out. They may come in handy for us to watch over the coming weeks. Often there is absolutely nothing interesting for us on TV.

 

End of July 2014

Today is already July 30. I think it is about time for me to catch up on my Diary.

The last few weeks have been difficult as far as writing for the diary is concerned. I had often very mixed feelings about what was going on in the world. Usually I felt I could not concentrate enough to do much writing. Just reading what the newspapers said and hearing the news on radio as well as watching them on television became very tiring and upsetting. However whenever I found myself with some spare time I tried to catch up on reading novels. I also went for walks as often as possible. After a bit of walking I usually sat down in the sun for a while to relax. I was always grateful when the winter sun made its appearance. I tried to catch as much of it as possible. 🙂

 

 

 

Before and after the War

Before and After the War

Extracts from my Memories

In 1942/1943 my friends in Berlin and I had often contemplated what life might be like, once we had peace again. Our dreams for the future were very basic. We all wanted to get married and have children. We all wanted our husbands to have occupations that would enable us to live in comfortable houses. My friend Siglinde and I were for ever drawing house-plans. There would be at least three bed-rooms: one for the parents, one for two boys and another one for two girls. Yes, to have two boys as well as two girls, that was our ideal.

Before we married, we would finish school and go to university and our husbands would of course be university educated. In peace-time we would be able to buy all the things we had been able to buy before the war started: Bananas, pineapples, oranges and lemons; all this would be available again! Somehow we knew, we were only dreaming about all this. We had no idea, what would really happen, once the war ended.

I turned eight in September of 1942. Most of my friends were around the same age. My friend Siglinde however was four years my senior, the same as my cousin Sigrid.

After I started high-school, some time after the war had finished, Cousin Sigrid made a remark, that put a damper on my wishful thinking. Sigrid had noticed, that I got very good marks in high-school. So she said in a quite friendly way: ‘I see, you’ll probably end up becoming a Fräulein Doctor!’ This remark made me furious inside. It sounded to me, that once I embarked on becoming a ‘Fräulein Doctor’ I would have no hope in the world of acquiring a husband and children. ‘Who in their right mind would study to achieve a doctorate and miss out on having a husband and children?’ I thought to myself.

Mum, Tante Ilse and Uncle Peter loved to read romance and crime fiction. Most of the books they read were translations from English. Mum and Tante Ilse loved Courts-Mahler, Uncle Peter liked Scotland Yard stories best. They all had read ‘Gone with the Wind’. Even my father, who boasted, he never read any novels, read this one.

I read ‘Gone with the Wind’, when I was fourteen. My father’s sister Elisabeth, on hearing this, was shocked, that my mother let me read this novel. According to Tante Lisa, I was much too young to read something like this. However some of my girl-friends read this book too. They all loved Rhett Butler. About Scarlett the opinions were divided. Personally I did not care for the way she treated Melanie. I thought by constantly making passionate advances towards Ashley, she showed total disregard for Melanie’s feelings. Rhett adored Melanie. He showed her great respect as a person with a noble character. In contrast, he was well aware that Scarlet was anything but noble. Often he found Scarlett’s irrational behaviour highly amusing. Ashley treated Scarlett in a very gentleman like way. Not so Rhett. This impressed my friends. They all admired Rhett! I think, I admired Ashley more. –

Mum and Tante Ilse borrowed books from a lending library. A middle-sized novel cost one Deutsche Mark to borrow for one week, a real big novel cost two Marks. In secret I once read a translation of ‘Amber’. Fascinating stuff this was.

When I read ‘Amber’, I was probably thirteen. I read it only, when I was by myself in the apartment, which happened often enough. I was able to consume the whole big novel without anybody noticing it. I knew, Mum and Tante Ilse had read the book already, because they often talked about it, how good it was. But the book was still lying around at our place. There were a few more days before it had to be returned to the library. I found out, that Amber was a fifteen year old country-girl, who went to London. The time was the seventeen hundreds. Because of her beauty, Amber was able to make it in the world. She had lots of lovers. She always made sure, that her next lover was of a higher ranking than the previous one. That made it possible for her, to climb up the social ladder. – Well, this is about as much as I still remember from that novel.

During the first years after the war we lived like paupers. Still, I realized – maybe a bit to my regret – that there was a big difference between a desperately poor girl from the country and me, desperately poor city girl from a ‘good’ family. I knew then, whether I wanted it or not, I had to put up with an extremely low standard of living for some time yet. And I mean by ‘low standard’ not the low standard that everyone went through during the adjustments after the war, but a standard, where it was necessary for us to get social services payments!

Was I out to enhance my appearance in order to catch a prosperous male as an escort to take me out to fun-parties and adult entertainment? No way! Something like that was just not for me. I felt I was plain Uta who was never invited to go out anywhere with anyone.

Was I really that plain? I wonder. Up to age fourteen I may have had some chances with the opposite sex, given the opportunity. However by age fifteen I had put on so much weight, that I felt to be totally unattractive. I was right, because no attractive male ever made an attempt to woo for my attention, not until I was about seventeen and a half that is. But even then things didn’t change much for me. I honestly felt like some kind of a social freak during most of my teenage years.

Here is a photo which was taken in 1948 with Mum

and my brothers, who were 7 and 10 years and I was 14.