The places I go every day

When I wake up, I’m in England. I yawn, stretch, find my work clothes and brush my teeth. Down the stairs I go, bleary-eyed and thinking about what to have for breakfast. I turn on the kettle, make a peppermint tea, get something to eat, go into the front room and sit down.

And that’s when I go to Italy.

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I’m in Andrano, Lecce, and it’s summer. I’m learning how to speak the melodic Italian language, mixing up the words ‘paedophile’ and ‘pedalo’ on the beach. I have also fallen in love with Daniela and her fiery spirit and will defend her against the racist attitudes of the Milanese when we move there together. I have a car named Napoleon and a language teacher I’m pretty scared of.

After an all-too-brief twenty minute visit to Italy, I return to England, put my shoes on, get my bag ready and leave the house with a flask of tea.

This is the time in spend in America.

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I am alternately Sarah, the privileged young white girl, or Handful, her slave with whom she colludes, having never wanted a slave in the first place. As I walk and see the two Canadian geese and the two Egyptian geese who wait by the river every day, Sarah secretly teaches Handful to read, which is against the law.

Handful’s mother finds more ways to rebel against her oppression, finally reaching a position where the other slaves no longer associate with her but she has become quite well off, by slave-standards. I am nervous for Handful’s mother.

I am even more nervous for Sarah, with her secret desire to become a lawyer but the barrier of her gender to contend with. Her father has found her teaching Handful to read and write. I stand in the library as he rains his anger down upon her.

Just when it starts to get very bad, I leave America and return to England. I’m in Ham House and I get to spend another day making cakes.

Late morning, I go for a break. I grab some lunch and a glass of water and go to Singapore.

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I’m in Changi prisoner of war camp and my name is now Peter. The Japanese are responsible for trapping me here but it’s my fellow POWs that I have to keep an eye on. I’m on my guard when I’m in Singapore. The constant drudgery of life as a POW is interspersed with moments of fleeting excitement or terror.

Mac got malaria so he’s in the hospital, which is a shame. I’m missing his banter. The King is more than making up for it though. The new rat scheme he’s devised is a goldmine but I’m pretty nervous about the potential for it to go wrong. And there is a lot of potential for it to go wrong.

As I sit eating my game stew in Ham, I’m also a starving POW and salivating at the thought of eating a rat. Then half an hour is up and I make the journey back to England.

A few hours later, I clean down the kitchen, grab my coat and bag and set off walking home.

And boy, I’m nervous! Sarah’s father is so angry. Her stutter has returned. She is told that she has committed a crime, that slaves who can read are a threat to society. She feels helpless. I rage with her over the unfairness of the situation.

Before I get too infuriated, I am Laura again and I am in England. For the next few hours, I will be in England. Until bedtime when I can sneak back to my favourite place, Italy.

I learn words like carabinieri, meridionali and stuzzicadenti. I eat fresh figs and pears from Daniela’s garden and visit her family in Sicily. Italy is the first place I visit in the morning and the last place I visit at night.

So you see? Some people live in one place each day. I live in many places. I can leave England whenever I like.

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14 responses to this post.

  1. I like it. I like it a lot.

    Reply

  2. Love this post πŸ™‚ x

    Reply

  3. Posted by Liz on March 13, 2014 at 09:10

    Lovely.

    Reply

  4. Love this post! … And my escapes every day too. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  5. This is a lovely testament to the power of reading!

    Reply

  6. l’d just got back from listening to lost voices in the trenches (Somme 14th July 1916) when AussaLorens popped up on my tablet 10minutes later I’m replying to lazylauramaisey inspiring blog. Really enjoyed your freshly pressed. Thanks

    Reply

    • Thank you! And I’m glad you made it back out of the trenches ok. I’m walking to work and about to visit the kitchens of Britain’s past (A History Of English Food). Have fun on whatever journeys you take today πŸ™‚

      Reply

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