Finally got round to doing this piece of writing that others on the ring have done.
I am from books. From Sunblest white sliced and a newspaper trailed in marmalade.
I am from the house that always faced the sun, watching its path across the threadbare carpet. From losing my finger-tips in the long white fur of a cat belly as I smelled the cheese scones rising in the oven.
I am from the flints, jutting out of walls in garden or playground, the chalk, the sea.
I am from cousins at Christmas, floors covered in sleeping bags, a barrel of home brew. I am from unconditional belonging, from my everyday mum and my weekend dad and my ‘others’.
I am from the reading and arguing.
From the treacle mine that used to be beside the railway line and the nasty Thatcher lady who was out to get us. I am from the music hall songs. “It’s the same the whole world over, it’s the poor what get the blame, it’s the rich what get the pleasure, ain’t it all a bloomin’ shame.”
I am from no God, no heaven, no hell. I am from the duty we have to make the world better, the meetings and letters and demos.
I'm from Brighton, from sun warmed sandwiches in greaseproof and a big bottle of watery squash.
I am from the dawn dying in a Northern city, the bleeping machines and my sister’s fingers in my palm. From the long dark time that cloaked us all after she died.
I am from the insistent hum of life that carries us on. My true love, hot summers, long letters. From the next generation - blood and babies and new, new people. Their voices and hands and eyes.
I am from the notes of a Barnardo’s home that took my infant grandmother from poverty and hunger. From the stories of the ‘care’ she endured and the love she still gave. From my few memories of her stroke garbled speech. From the sanitorium photos of the grandfather I never knew – the bloody minded socialist and atheist who used to sit in a garden chair and ask the Christians why they weren’t smiling on their way to church. From the box of foil chocolate papers in my mum’s cupboard– every colour, shade and pattern, that my grandmother wrapped around sweets she couldn’t afford to buy.
I am from my mum’s wartime tales of bombs and rations and a beach of barbed wire. From the 11 plus she passed and the pride of going to university. From the couple who met serving fry ups in a seafront café. From my mother’s insistence she would be no vicar’s wife.
I am from the seventies cine film of a family that split but never broke in two. I am from the beach and the park, the back garden larking about – reading Enid Blyton up a tree.
I am from all night parties and cross-dressed photos and little burns on the album covers we used to roll our joints. I am from the sticky dancefloor and the big shots of vodka – from the crisp shaved heads and the wild exhilaration.
I am from an Amsterdam hotel room we barely left, from beer in the park and the moon on the canal. I am from letters sent across the world that told of elephants and mountains and that promised adventures we could take together.
I am from the tiny tags that labelled up our newborns. From the suckling mouths and the determined steps. I am from nappy buckets and a swinging line of tiny clothes. I am from the parades in summer sun with a child on my back, whistles, ice-cream, body paint and feather boas. I am from the parades on solstice night with a child’s hand in mine - lanterns glowing, fire crackling and fireworks ripping through the sky.
I am from the skinny legs pedalling a bike, the shouting and laughing, the standing on heads and climbing up door frames. I am from paper and pens, glue and card, sticks and stones, wool and string. I am from books.
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