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lundi 27 juin 2011

Where I am from

OK, so everyone's done this today, but I actually picked it up from Avitable (of course!). I strongly suspect most other versions of this will read more poetically than mine, but you know me, incapable of resisting a meme of any kind, so I'm going to give it a go all the same... Sorry if it sounds bitter and resentful...

I am from red tinsel Christmas trees, stolen by my mother from a work dance in the 1960s, from a Spitfire sports car, lovingly stored in our garage for as long as I can remember (and long before that).

I am from the cottage in Hertfordshire, so idyllic sounding, yet a place from which I have no memories, a haven, a gardener's delight.

I am from the daffodils and crocuses, baby thrushes and hedgehogs, an unfortunate stick insect named Henry.
I am from Brussels sprouts with Christmas lunch and sherry before dinner, from pale skin and freckles, from the Mackintosh clan and all the Williams and Bills and Billys on my father's side, and a traditional Scottish nickname for Christine.

I am from the dysfunctional, let's-not-get-to-know-each-other family, the let's-all-die-young-or-join-a-sect family.

From "you were a mistake" and "you're our only child, it all depends on you" (thanks, guys, no pressure there, then).

I am from Scottish Episcopalians and (very lapsed) Church of Englanders, raised without faith, not christened, to avoid family feuding but causing bad blood all the same, growing up to distrust religion and the effects it has on people, raised in a family with Jehovah's Witnesses but never knowing them. 

I'm from Hertfordshire in England, out of the north east of England and the north east of Scotland, with a dash of Viking thrown in for good measure, from vanilla icecream and cheese.

From the grandfather I never knew, born in 1885 and an ambulance driver at the Battle of the Somme in July 1916, a man who owned a hotel in Scotland and was a success until the Depression, when he lost everything and ended up a chauffeur for a cruel, Dickensian gentleman farmer, the grandfather who married a woman 11 years his junior only for her to die, suddenly, at the age of 59, whilst he, my grandfather, was driving his boss to Aberdeen, and my other grandfather, who I also never knew, who, with his best friend, saved a man from drowning in the North Sea, but whilst the friend drowned and was given a posthumous medal, my grandfather, who survived, received nothing.

I am from an old, brown leather suitcase with rusting clasps, full to the brim with ageing photos of people I don't know, people I never met, a happy chest of my mother's, with invitations and corsages from happier times.

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