Both of Karl’s grandparents fled before the Russians had encroached on Latvian soil. Karl’s grandmother’s family had flourished in Latvia. They hid their valuables, packing them into a box then burying it in the garden. Their house was later repossessed and the building was extended, covering the site. The box still lies there, entombed under brick. Karl’s grandparents finally settled in Loughborough where Albert worked as an engineer on the construction of the M1. Karl remembers the familiar ritual of Albert emptying his pockets of grandfatherly kit, a tape measure, a pocket knife – retrieved to peel fruit. He’d offer Karl a perfect white moon of apple on the point of the blade. When Albert died in 1988, Karl found the tape measure in his grandfather’s bureau. He uses it to this day.

13 Jan 2013