Memories are made of this
Last night I watched news reports on the number of refugees from Africa trying to get to the UK; their desperate efforts in Calais to stow away on long haul trucks going through the Channel Tunnel, and the social problems which this chaos was causing. I started thinking about the whole experience of being a refugee and how desperately afraid you would have to be to make that massive decision to leave home, family, friends and possessions to seek a future in a foreign land where frankly, you’re not wanted. How would you save your memories of home? What would you choose? What would be so precious that you couldn’t leave it behind? All of which started me wondering what I would select should I ever have the need. Valuables, of course and passports, marriage certificate and forms of ID would all be critical. But once past the essentials what would I choose? My collection of books would clearly be impractical, likewise my stack of family photograph albums. Fortunately modern digital technology has meant that we can reduce most of this data and store it on our mobile phones. But what personal possessions would I want to carry? I haven’t made my decision yet, but when my Mother’s family fled Russia during the revolution this is what they took with them: A brass coffee percolator. Now, I'm a woman who's fond of her coffee, but it does look like an incredibly difficult and unwieldy thing to pack, and at first glance you would wonder why they bothered. On the back of it is a small plaque which records that it was given to my grandfather as a farewell present from his staff at the saddlery factory in Moscow. I can only imagine the sentimental value it held for a man forced to abandon his home and his business. A value which earned the percolator its place in the luggage and meant it travelled the long miles with them as they escaped. I still haven't decided what I would take if I were in like case, but the chances are that percolator would be in my luggage as well as a sentimental choice. The need to cling on to my heritage and have something tangible to show for it would override otherwise practical considerations. Tell me what you would pack, and why?