Posted by: Corri van de Stege | December 27, 2006

Christmas 2006


As it is Christmas it seems a good idea to start with a story.  You’re spending your second Christmas in England, confusing your languages, a bit tough when you just begin to make yourself vaguely understood in your mother tongue.  Here it goes, your story:

Once upon a time in the far and dark reaches of Norfolk in a country called England there lived a couple, who had landed there in search of a holy grail.  That’s not so unusual in that country, loads of people are always on the lookout for grails.  Their grail was quite simple actually, as they expected to find the magic of work-life balance, not to be had anywhere else in this wondrous country full of dual carriage ways, trains that never arrive and where airports are full of queues of people waiting to be allowed to get on without any luggage whatsoever, because that’s cheaper.  So this couple looked around this peaceful land and found a little patch that would provide comfortable lodgings and with bees, flowers and trees and birds all around them.  It was difficult to get in and out of these far away places but then that was part of the attraction and damnation. 

There was a granddaughter who lived in a place quite beyond the large seas that surround England in the depths of a country that had seen a lot of turmoil but was now peaceful and clutching to its work-life balance grail.  Nevertheless, this little girl came to visit the couple, once or twice a year, having spent arduous times travelling and quite upset by the interference in her daily life of food and play and sleep.  A life in which she travelled around in strange contraptions that her parents attached to bicycles on which they rode her, like a little princess in her very own carriage, to her daily accommodation so that they could get on with their hard working existence of work and study that would keep the work-life balance in accord with their bank balance.   This little girl then came to visit the couple and uttering her first words of wisdom in a language quite alien to these parts of England, said quite clearly and distinctly, upon looking at her father: ‘pappa arbeiten!’  The couple wondered if this child had inherited a sickly wisdom full of biblical connotations that somehow or other dispelled the myth of this wondrous countryside they were living in.
And so in the year of the lord 2006 this couple carried on looking for the Holy Grail and never quite found it.  One travelled across the globe to China, the other travelled across the breadth and width of England even into such faraway places as Wales and Scotland, and still they could not find this pearl of wisdom they so badly wanted.  They met in in-between lands and places, such as Rotterdam and even Malta, where they drew breath to carry on more determined than ever on this search, never really looking close at home.  So another year passed, the little baby girl became a girl and her parents said they would visit again, bless the lord, and with another son they all would once more try and find this peace on earth in a country called England in this far away place called Norfolk for Christmas in the year of the lord 2006.

Thus, aware that they still have not found the peace on earth promised but edging closer to understanding what it is they are looking for, the couple bids all of you who are able to lay your hands on this story a blessed and peaceful Christmas, they wish you happiness and hope you will help them in finding the grail.

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