Traveling Home With Dad

A blog post from the 2009 archives

Tomorrow, my latest novel, Ghost Cargo, will launch. Here is a blog post from the 2019 archives in relation to the story told in Ghost Cargo:

Easter, 2009

Recently I took my 89 year old father back to Poland, to Silesia, to his home town of Bunzlau, now Boleslawiec. It had been his dream for years. He had threatened repeatedly to drive there himself from Germany, but with his dementia slowly taking a stronger hold this was not an option.

The trip turned out to be an epic journey – for Dad, as he dipped back into his past and remembered stories, locations and family connections that had been buried for years. For me, the trip illuminated not just my own family history. My grandmother’s cooking, the famous Bunzlau earthenware that’s been displayed in my parents’ house, the ancient, enlarged photos of the Nowakowsi and Schirmer grocery stores that hang up in my own living room – they’d all reminded me of a place I didn’t really know but that had always been with me.

Bunzlau, once German, became Polish after 1945 and was firmly locked in behind the iron curtain until 1989. I first visited in 1991, two years after the reunification, to find a broken country, a hatred of the old ‘enemy’ and pitchforks shaken at our German car registration.

Much has changed. Poland is a member of the EU and enjoying the benefits of very much improved infrastructure, amazing wifi connectivity and, much to my father’s surprise, no trace of car thieves, pick pockets or indeed border posts. We entered Poland at 110 mph on the E40 (Dresden to Wroclaw) and were never given an opportunity to show our papers.

For me, the trip was an inspiration and an eye-opener for the setting of ‘Ghost Cargo’, Lukas Novak’s second adventure. Yes, I know I am writing Lukas’s series of adventures, investigations, thrillers, mysteries, whatever you want to call them, in rather a strange, non-chronological order; but then I never expected that Lukas would demand more than one volume when initially writing ‘Match Games’!

So, finally, I am now able to correct my imagination with a heavy dose of reality, after having experienced 21st century Poland, interspersed with my father’s memories of life in Germany during the 1930s and 40s. A young boy losing his childhood and going to war, losing his home and his family, being displaced to Hannover without seeing most of his relatives and friends ever again, and not returning to the place of birth until the 1970s, on an earlier visit.

Much of this has now come to life in ‘Ghost Cargo’, which is now available on Amazon.

My very best wishes