Step by step

21st November 2014 at 00:00

You can tell that Ellie got up by herself today because she isn't properly dressed for November. The weather is too cold for a sleeveless dress, sparkly sandals and bare legs. Luckily somebody spotted her before she got frostbite. I point out that her toes are already turning blue, but Ellie explains that it's nail varnish.

While she is at breakfast club, we find her a jumper that is too big, a pair of tights that are too itchy and some trainers that her feet could get lost in. She isn't happy about having to wear school clothes because she knows they are usually given to children who have had an accident. Ellie is eager to point out that she's 8 and almost never pees herself.

Ellie finds ditching the sparkly sandals a wrench. They were for her auntie Sheila's wedding, which I suspect was some time ago because the glitter is worn away in places. We agree that she can wear them in class. At playtime she places them on the windowsill so she can keep her eye on them. For some reason they are still there after home time; two sparkly sandals pointing forlornly towards the grey asphalt.

At half-term, my wife and I went to Budapest. It was cold there, too. The geothermal heat of the Szchenyi baths lulled us into a false sense of warmth. The fun of losing each other in the billowing steam or screaming with laughter when we found ourselves trapped in the swirling currents of the whirlpool did not prepare us for that near-naked dash to the changing rooms in the freezing evening air.

That night we kept the chill out with bowls of hot goulash at a local restaurant and several strong beers at Budapest's "ruin pubs".

It wasn't until the following evening that the cold really set in. In the late afternoon we took a stroll by the river. Freezing mist hung over the Danube. Passing the grandeur of the parliamentary buildings, we noticed flickering lights ahead of us, close to the water's edge. It's what we were looking for and we made our way towards them.

Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial to Hungarian Jews - men, women and children - shot dead by fascists during the Second World War. The 60 pairs of shoes, each cast in iron, were conceived and created by sculptor Gyula Pauer and film director Can Togay.

They are a reminder of how the victims were forced to remove their shoes before being shot into the river.

Small candles had been placed in some of them. Their fragile flames burned bright against the gathering darkness.

Back at school, Ellie goes home in borrowed clothes. Fashion statements are good but they don't keep out the chill. Ten minutes after home time I hear her coming back down the corridor. I smile and put the sandals in a carrier bag for her to take home.

"Don't know how I could forget these," she laughs.

"Me neither," I reply.

Steve Eddison teaches at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield

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