December 24th, 2010

Home Is

I was talking on the phone last night to my mother's friend Nora. She said she was looking forward to seeing us when we "come home", which jarred a little. Perhaps visiting one's mother is always "coming home" no matter where she is, but I left to get married before she moved to the village she's living in now- and I've never had any particular feeling for it. 

I grew up in South Croydon. If anywhere is home I suppose that should be, but I haven't been back in thirty years. It doesn't call to me. My parents moved to Kent when I was ten and I was never really happy there. I moved to the Manchester area in my mid twenties and have tried to love the place- and in a way I do- but I don't belong. Only the other day in the chip shop the Chinese girl behind the counter asked me if I was passing through. My accent gives me away.  If Ailz's mimicry of it is to be credited I sound like Lord Toffington of Tofftown. When challenged I tend to say I'm a Londoner- on the strength of having been born in The Westminster Children's Hospital- but I'm not really.  

In one sense this house is home. The last time we thought about moving I discovered I was tearily attached to it, but that's the snail's attachment to its shell and not the kind of rootedness I'm talking about. There are places I feel drawn to- Avebury, Glastonbury, Tewkesbury, Avignon- but I've lived in none of them and none of them is home.....