Michael and Sieglinde were both studying in Stuttgart. She was an art student, he was training as an engineer. There was plenty of competition for Michael, even from Sieggi’s flat mate Elisabet. But Sieggi moved with him to Munich and they had a family. Michael worked for Honeywell-Bull as an electrical engineer in the fledgling computer industry. One evening he was driving back from the office when his car was hit. Michael never arrived home. Even in the midst of her grief Sieglinde could find humour – in Elisabet ‘taking her place’ at his grave. Elisabet’s promiscuity meant she could take her place many times over at any number of funerals, it had been the 60s after all. Years later when Sieglinde’s pain had abated she showed her youngest daughter Julia a recorder that Michael had left. Julia would be able to hear the voice of her father for the first time. But on playing the tape all they heard were the voices of two strangers. Julia now keeps the recorder in her London home, with or without her father’s voice, the machine had still been his.

03 Mar 2013