My mother got homesick and wanted to go back to Holland. My father gave up his career in England and accepted a less ambitious job in the Netherlands. From then on they both used their spare time to help with community work. Even now at the age of 81 my mother is still visiting old people in hospitals who have no family left. To help them thru those difficult (and often final) days of their life.

My parents decided that they were going back in the summer of 1977. The plan was that I would join them, I was looking forward to it. But after I fell in love with Barbara I didn't want to go anymore. I wanted to stay with Barbara.
My parents didn't object. They saw no harm, it didn't interfere with my study. They also saw the advantage that Barbara had a good influence on me. And if it didn't work out with Barbara I could always come over to Holland. My other brother stayed as well in England, he was following a study in Norwich.

With the help of my father's connections I found a nice little apartment in Cambridge nearby the CCAT. It was at Manhatten drive, bridgeacre flat 52 on the second floor. Some of my Arab friends lived there as well. I was still 17 when I moved in (Barbara was a few months older than me). My brother stayed in the same apartment for a few months till his colleges started. I had an arrangement with him. Every time Barbara came, he had to disappear. And when he came back he had to ring the intercom to check if he was allowed to come up. Often he was told to disappear again. Barbara felt quite embarrassed with this arrangement and she was glad that my brother finally moved out.

The apartment consisted of a single bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom. I should really say our apartment because Barbara made it her second home. Barbara had her own key and she even brought a cat along to stay there. She didn't interfere with the furniture. Barbara didn't really care about furniture or decoration. She wasn't interested in perfectly designed or nice decorated homes. The apartment of her mother was not very specially furnished. And she never altered the furniture of her room in London. She never did anything to make it look nicer. She didn't even put posters or any other decorating on the wall.

I moved in during the summer holidays. The last weeks of this holiday Barbara would be waiting for me when I came back from work. We had a few hours together then before she had to go back to Histon to work in the shop.

Having an own place close to the CCAT made life a lot easier for us. We didn't have to arrange meetings any more. The moments Barbara was free she came to the apartment. Sometimes we missed each other, but then Barbara made herself comfortable in 'our' place.

With an own place to go to after school we had a few hours for ourselves before Barbara had to go home to work. Mondays we made 'our' day. We didn't go to school at all that day. It was our day together. Barbara came in the morning and we stayed together all day. A bit like the modern cocooning I suppose. Often Barbara would catch up the sleep she had been missing from working in the weekend.


bridgeacre flat 52

The front view on our apartment.

met cat op kamer

Me and the cat Barbara gave me












(translated by Zhi)


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