Postcard Twelve - Coventry
I'm still listening to Hamnet so there's no new book to add at the moment, but I found it interesting that I'd been sent a postcard from Coventry. As well as Hamnet, I've been reading another book (post on this to follow shortly) which has family right at the very heart of it. Although I haven't spent much time in the Midlands compared to other areas of the country, the area plays an important role in my life. My dad was born and raised in West Bromwich and the surrounding area and was in Coventry during the Blitz, helping to rescue people from bombed out buildings. It was in Coventry that he lost the hearing in one ear and I always tell my husband that growing up with a partially deaf parent and grandparent is the reason I'm incapable of speaking at what he calls a 'normal' volume.
When I first visited Berlin with my husband in 2004, one of the places we visited was the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche (picture from Wikipedia), the ruins of which are twinned with Coventry Cathedral. At the time it seemed ironic that I was seeing the result of Allied bombs on Germany, when I'd never visited the equivalent site in my own country, particularly given my familial links to it. However, repellent as the sight was in some ways, there was a wonderful sense of peace about it.
On our brief camping trip near Stratford-Upon-Avon this summer, we had been to Kenilworth Castle for the day and in the process of trying to find a McDonalds Drive Through nearby, I realised we were only about fifteen minutes from Coventry and asked if we might swing through so I could see the cathedral. It would be closed, but we could at least have a look through the gates and see the cross we'd heard so much about.
I hadn't really known what to expect, but I found the same mixture of horror at the inhumanity and the sense of peace as I'd experienced sixteen years earlier in Berlin. I also felt a strong connection to my dad, knowing that eighty years earlier he'd probably stood not far from where I was, albeit under very different circumstances.
It was with great pride that I told my boys all about the time my dad spent in Coventry and just for a little while, I felt very close to him again.