2010. A CIRCUS OF MEMORIES

I am really family oriented. I am a fan of my grandmother, a true artist, and my youngest brother Olle is still the best man in my life. I can’t do without my annoying brothers, my absent minded father, and my mother who hoards everything. And I’m crazy about all my aunts and uncles and cousins. Some of my uncles are not real uncles. They just turned up one day and never left. I’ve known them my whole life, and if you share so many memories with each other, it feels just like family. We adore each other, but because everyone is almost always going somewhere, we don’t see each other than much. Maybe that’s why we adore each other so much, by the way. 

Before, we used to see each other at my grandmother’s house, or I really should say, in her garden. It was a beautiful, messy garden full of flowers and fruit trees, with a rabbit hutch and an aviary that my grandfather made, and a huge weathered wooden table under the pear tree. This summer I invited everyone to my house. While I was making the invitations, I suddenly thought that it should be a real family reunion. I wanted to reminisce, to look at old photos and laugh at all those jerky super-8 film from years gone by. That’s why I invited everyone to bring something with them. An interesting album or a cook book, a worn out juggling trick or a tall story. 

Even if I say so myself, this was a flash of inspiration. Really. Because after that memorable evening, I suddenly knew what this diary should look like and I had more than enough ideas for the rest of my collections. Nothing is more inspiring than the fun and games of my own family. 

The day before the reunion I locked myself in to cook and bake. We all like good food and I like to cook. I am just like my father when I cook. I put on my favourite apron – yes, of course, the one that I made myself – and my favourite music and I stuck my father’s favourite recipes onto the tiles next to the kitchen counter. A couple of hours later I was feeling sick – tasting too many of those marzipan decorations I suppose – and the kitchen was a mess. But then Mar and Es turned up to help clear up. That’s what friends are for, isn’t it? We shoved the big table right under the Venetian chandelier and I arranged the cushions that I bought in India on the wooden benches. Es laid the table with my tablecloth and Mar put fresh flowers on the table. Roses. Arms full of roses. 

I had just changed, and my house smelled of roses and cinnamon with apples when Uncle Rudolf turned up. I always call him Giraffe because he’s so tall. And also because he used to live in South Africa. He knows his wine. He brought some wine and crystal glasses and an old drum with him. 

Uncle Roellie almost followed Uncle Giraffe inside. Uncle Roellie is director of a circus. No, that’s not a joke, he really is! He has 3 lovely children with straw hair and freckles and he travels the whole world. They live in a colourful caravan that is full of souvenirs. From the Balkans and from China. His wife is a Chinese acrobat. Uncle Roellie calls her Ling. I don’t think that’s her real name, but it means that he can always call her lovely Ling. I learnt to juggle from lovely Ling. She brought an enormous Chinese vase, a beautiful Ming vase with birds and Ling put a huge bunch of peonies in it that went beautifully with the roses on the table. 

By 3 o’clock, everybody had arrived. Uncle Cees and Aunt Marjorie were there. Uncle Cees is head chef in his own French restaurant, La Petite Abdomen. Aunt Marjorie is really good with whips and that’s why she’s a part time lion tamer at Roellie’s circus. Cees and Marjorie had brought bags full of presents with them. But I actually liked the bags themselves the best! Aunt Lisa was there. As always, neat and tidy without a hair out of place. I always look so disorganised and confused next to her. She gave me Grandma’s chain of pearls. Uncle Dani from Naples had brought his violin and his treasurer, Aunt Margerita. Aunt Margerita had brought a colourful bundle with her which swathed her little dog and had brought a toy box painted with flowers for me. Cousin Wout and Cousin Niels brought a projector and films from before. You never know if you should take Wout and Niels seriously. That’s why they’re so much fun. 

Uncle Theodore still had his head of curls and lots of compliments for Aunt Lisa – hey, did I see her blush?! – and had brought me a box of slides. Slides! Of me and Wout and Niels when we played shopkeeper. Of Grandma’s flower garden, of Aunt Lisa when she was a child – even then she was wearing a pearl necklace! – and of Uncle Giraffe standing proudly next to a ri-di-cu-lous car. We split our sides laughing. 

Uncle Giraffe refilled everyone’s glass and when I started to juggle with pears I knew it was time for bed. But I also knew what my new collection would be and that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, better than a wonderful evening with friends and family. 

Love and kisses from Pip