Perfect Family Tales And Other Trivia

The art of the short-story writer is that of the cartoonist. It is the magical craft of creating entire worlds with a few simple strokes of a pen. Tales told by an idiot? Maybe! But my tales are also a mix of reality and fantasy; truth and lies; some based on my own family; others, not. Readers must guess which characters are real; who are inventions - and who are an amalgam of both. Please draw the boundaries for yourself.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

‘Wonderful Copenhagen’

Dan.Uzan“Hi, I’m  Dan Uzan and I’ve been standing guard outside the Great Synagogue, in Copenhagen. It’s  bitterly cold but I can deal with that.

’Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen ...’

“ I love whistling that sweet old tune.

’What a friendly old girl of a town  ...’

“I’m Danish-born and I went to a Jewish school here as a boy. I loved playing basketball and  I studied Economics before spending some time in Israel where I polished up my Hebrew. I was really pleased I did that.

“Then when I returned home ‘I sailed down the Kattegat through the harbour and up to the quay and there she stood waiting for me with a welcome so warm and so gay…’

“It was almost  like having a bit-part in a movie about our most famous writer. Te-da, te-da, ‘wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen ...’

So now I’m here, on this merry batmitzvah party night, marking a sweet young girl’s entry into adult Jewish life.

“Believe me, I am really honoured  to serve as a volunteer security guard patrolling this grand, historic building.

Gt Synagogue Copenhagen“I’m aware, of course, that a place of prayer should be a haven of peace, not a fortress of fear. But as I’m here, I’ll do my level best to help to make things safe. I’m sure that later, the family – they’re lovely people -will offer to share a schnapps with me. This way, I’ll enjoy their festivities all the more.

“But tonight, it’s really important to put their welfare before my own comfort. As it’s Saturday evening, it doesn’t matter that I’ll get to bed late; I can always sleep in on Sunday morning …

“But, hey! What was that terrible bang? If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was  a gun-shot.

“Na! Couldn’t be. Not now. I know something bad happened here in July 1985, when this same synagogue was bombed  by  Palestinian  terrorists. But that was almost 30 years ago.

“Luckily, no-one was hurt at the synagogue – although there were casualties at an airline office. And everyone knows that lightning can’t strike twice in the same place.

“Can it?

“Surely not in our glorious city  – with the  pretty mermaid, gardens, castle, palaces - and visits to the house of our one and only Hans Christian Andersen.

“He was great friends with many Jewish people of his era and even mentioned us in some of his stories.

“But I’m in a mess now. I’ve got something like splinters in my eyes. They’re very painful. I don’t understand what’s going on but it seems like the late wartime monarch, King Christian X is walking in a state procession.

“Oops! I’m embarrassed to report he’s not wearing his clothes! Your Majesty – please have some of mine.

“Speaking of clothing, I know it’s only a silly myth that you wore a  Star  of  David   badge  in  solidarity   with  the  Jewish  community when the Nazis were in power.

“But you did finance the transport of Danish Jews to unoccupied Sweden, so they would be safe from Nazi persecution.

“With respect Sir, perhaps you now wonder why you made that effort. They say that life for Swedish Jews is even worse than it is here.

“Oh, dear. That’s it! My fault! Somehow, I’ve got ice-shards in my eyes. That’s why everything’s become so  dark, ugly ... I’m beginning to believe that the Snow Queen’s come back. I can’t see straight … Everything is distorted - hurts …  How horrible. I won’t be able to stand guard again … Not in my old life, anyway …

Now I’ll sail away, singing Copenhagen, wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen for me …’

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Author’s note:The gunman believed to have attacked a Copenhagen synagogue and a free-speech event on Saturday 14 February 2015 was a Danish-born 22-year-old known to police because of past violence, gang-related activities and possession of weapons ...” (Guardian newspaper report).

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Natalie Wood

(© Natalie Irene Wood – 16 February 2015)

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