09 July 1999

Home

Home; Birmingham was never that. Home, it seems, is not a place for me, but a more of a feeling - though of course I’m viewing these things retrospectively. When asked where I’m from, I have difficulty in answering, pausing to think. which must strike others as odd; and I usually give contradictory information. The places have changed so often that the feeling of ‘home’ is, at best, no more than associated with a place; but it still is not necessarily a place or house in which I actually lived. And all these arbitrary, indistinct feelings seem to date from post-Brum.

Leaving the motorway at the junction to Weston, night-time, rapid deceleration into the amber glow of streetlights; the curve of the road to the right into a slight depression and then up again. Walking across the playing field at Appleby, through the woods and along the river, into town to buy lunch-hour chips. Another afternoon in Weston, winter, a ground floor flat we rented for a matter of weeks, curled up before an electric fire with a new fantasy game-book, a great big thing in which one could even cast spells, all of us occupied, my mother making tea, the stepfather still in Portugal. One evening in Halle, by the Saale, arm in arm with my girlfriend, never having been there before, not even my native country and barely able to string a sentence together in German. Arbitrary and indistinct, and I have difficulty in identifying precisely why these memories, and not others, should be so implanted in my mind as representing Homeliness. Weston and Appleby, probably, have their fair share of these feelings; my formative years no doubt, although I never actually lived in Appleby, just attended school there: the family circled around the town at a radius of some twelve miles, living in four houses in as many years; although I lived in five.

Hence the practical difficulty in finding answers to the question; however, the answer usually comes in one of three forms:

- I'm from Birmingham, originally
- the Lake District
- Wales, most recently

it should be noted that the second of these is stretching the truth a little, since Appleby is not the Lake District, but in Cumbria; although the Lake District is also in Cumbria. And I shall not go into the entire chronology here, since it would take too long; but it should be further noted that I don’t say I from Weston: because it’s too far back. At the time of writing, I left ten years ago!

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