Feather

Today the 11th of July is Andrzej Chodelski’s birthday. Who is he, you may ask. Indeed, I am surprised that I remember his birthday. I haven’t seen him since my 21st in 1974, and when I last got in touch with him after I had written a previous blog mentioning him he could not remember me.

So why remember him now?

This feather has all the answers. When I was twelve or so his mother Ania and my father were I believe quite fond of one another. They spent time together sight seeing and dancing etc etc. I hardly knew her. Then one day I discovered she had a son. Suddenly she became more interesting.

Next thing I know I am in the back of my father’s car with the son in question. My father had offered to take him back to boarding school in Laxton, somewhere in the midlands.

The journey was excruciating. I was tongue tied, I imagine he was embarrassed having this 12 year old staring goofily at him – he must have been about 16- and I promptly fell in lurve. My father tactless as ever kept on turning round and telling me to talk. Couldn’t do it.

Anyway finally we arrived at the school and Andrzej took pity on me and took me for a walk round the grounds. They were beautiful. Once on our own I managed to talk and we had a nice if not deep and meaningful conversation.

There were lots of feathers around and Andrzej explained they were from pheasants. I had never seen or heard of such a bird and I thought they were beautiful. He picked one out for me and handed it to me with a flourish. (Maybe I’ve imagined the flourish. But I like to remember it that way.)

A little while later we left him at the school and drove home. I had my feather and my dreams. He had my address!

And he wrote to me. I too went back to boarding school so getting letters was a highlight of the week. Unfortunately they were opened and censored by the nuns. But Andrzej was clever. He wrote to me in Polish.

And no. I haven’t kept them. Though one of them was written in gold! Before you had gold pens there existed a type of gold carbon paper and you could press out your writing!

But the feather has moved House with me wherever I have lived. I still think it’s lovely. So thank you Andrzej, wherever you are .

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