These are the possessions that my Uncle Freddie returned with after his years in a Japanese prison camp during the second world war. Jenny brought them to my attention this morning. They sit, undisturbed in the desk, in their small canvas roll. The reel of cotton and needle was a present from another prisoner. There were a few other bits, such as the burnt out remains of his pipe, which are disseminated through the family. I never heard him say a bad word about his captors, nor did he recount tales of his imprisonment. He was my god father, so both Jenny and I were very close to him, and yet it was only after his death that we slowly pieced together some picture of the dreadful time he spent in Thailand.
I’m writing this while the fire is crackling in the wood-burner, and the winter sun is filling the room with a warm evening glow. We’re looking forward to dinner and several glasses of wine with friends. Our children and grand children are well and happy, and we can talk to them, or see them whenever we want. For all life’s little uncertainties we feel as secure as a human can. We have never had to endure.