The train journey to Familienfest 2013 was hot and sticky. I got a seat in the bicycle carriage opposite a large dog with a sad, deformed paw.
My mother met me at the platform in Regensburg. She was so tanned that earlier, when she was in the health-food store buying vegetable spread, the cashier had asked her where she’d been.
“Ireland,” she’d said.
We ate mini dumplings for dinner and then my mother said, “Kate, we really need to rehearse.”
We darted into the next room and she took out some pages from a plastic pocket.
“These are yours,” she said, handing me three sheets containing typed verses. Beside every second one she’d written K, which stood for me.
We began to recite.
“You must speak slowly and dramatically,” my mother said.
“Excellent,” she said.
After all, it’s not every day you deliver the gift of Bavarian citizenship to your husband and father through rhyme.
Then we practised singing the Bavarian anthem in harmony.
In just a few hours, Familienfest 2013 would officially open and there would be no excuse for tumbling over words or singing off-key.
My father had been due to arrive any minute. But then I checked my phone to find he had texted to say his plane had failed to take off.
My mother’s faced dropped as the unspeakable possibility sunk in that he might not make it.
But all was well. It was just some technical fault. They changed planes. All going well, he would be in Regensburg by midnight.
We killed time by examining our props.