Well, I said I might write some more about home in the last post (what is home, where is it, what does it mean..?). So here are a few bits and pieces on the subject. I think this may well turn into a series...
First a song. There are so many songs about home...about a home country (Scotland excels in this area), about a family home, about missing home, about a singer getting home from the road (Canadian James Keelaghan's 'Sing my heart home' is lovely). I can't find the Keelaghan song online so here's a well-known favourite on a similar theme. I suppose this one partly came to mind because I was reading and writing with at least two of you recently about this duo...plus this clip is from 1967 (year I was born)...plus I once had a boyfriend who looked spookily like this version of Art Garfunkel (minus the crazy 60s fashions, mine was an 80s boyfriend who dressed like Michael Douglas in 'Wall Street' even whilst at uni...oh, it's a long story...). Anyway here are the guys:
I don't often post any song lyrics on here...strangely perhaps...but look at these again:
“Tonight I'll sing my songs again
I'll play the game and pretend
But all my words come back to me
In shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness in harmony
I need someone to comfort me”
What writer hasn't worried about 'shades of mediocrity'? What a lovely set of lines.
Secondly a photo. Poetikat posted some photos of her writing stations at home the other day and apologised for the mess in one of them (p.s thanks for the sheep pic, Kat). I laughed because her places were so NOT messy! I am never exactly a candidate for housewife of the year but last week (what with the dog and the sickness) things were particularly slovenly round here. So behold my downstairs work station the other day (there is one upstairs too...I haven't worked up there for a while though). It is not usually quite this bad...
I did have some great views in the other direction too – complete with recovering Small Girl on sofa, days-old ironing, random musical instruments, toys - but my tidy man would much rather we did not share these with the outside world. As usual he is probably right...
And then here are some fairly random thoughts on the subject of home.
I have lived in 29 different locations (and in this I am counting any house/flat/etc. that I stayed in for longer than a couple of weeks, no holiday places, just longer residences). Once as a sort of writing/memory exercise I racked my brain to remember them all and then tried to remember as many details about each one as possible (visual details, people I knew there, things that happened etc.). It was a very interesting exercise...not all details to be repeated here though! One reader asked where I had lived so, in chronological order, I lived in:
6 places in the North East of England (up to age 16),
2 in London,
3 in Madrid (all in 1985/6),
3 in Cambridge (England),
1 in Nottinghamshire,
10 in Leeds (West Yorkshire),
1 elsewhere in West Yorkshire and then
3 in the fine county of Angus in Scotland (2002-now).
And please don't waste any time on...'I think I knew someone who knew a Rachel living there then' because, of course, I probably wasn't Rachel at the time in question (it's complicated, I know, sorry about that). Rachel was only born in Angus, as it were. Is that weird? Unquestionably...
Anyway, maybe because of the above list I tend to think of home as where particular people are (my Mum to begin with, then certain friends, and now of course Mark and that girl) rather than bricks and mortar. We do have a (family) home now and we expect to stay in it for a good while (that or we take the bloody solar panels with us...). However I have been around enough to know that life can change your direction at any point. We like it living where we are now and I am as happy as I've ever been (despite the odd tearful week here and there...I'm just the tearful type sometimes) but if, for any reason, we had to move...off I'd go...off to another chapter...off to number 30 in the list of places. Maybe some of you are like me in this regard or maybe some of you are more like one of my best friends who gets hugely, significantly bonded to the house she is living in. She has a huge physical sense of 'home', feels very rooted where she is and moving is always a very big deal for her. How does this work? Do I just have very short roots? Is it because we moved quite a bit when I was younger?
I always find it interesting when we go away that Small Girl starts to refer to wherever we are staying as 'home' – often within hours of arriving there. From what I can gather if her Dad and I are there then it is 'home' (whether it's a hotel room or a tent or whatever) but I don't know if this is normal? Are other people's kids like this? Or is she just like me...not one for the deep geographical roots? Wherever she lays her teddy bear...and all that.
Which reminds me...a lot of people refer to a country as 'home'. I was born in England, my parents were mostly English, I lived in England for 34 years in total and yet...does England feel like home? Yes and then, most definitely, no. Did it ever? In some ways yes, in many others no, no, NO! I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the place which I think is not that unusual (all those singers who miss their homes...they still go off again as soon as they can, don't they...). All I know is there is a lot about England that I do not miss, that's for sure. I have thought a lot about poems about England but not written that many – one only-slightly flippant one called 'Got the Bridget Jones, Love Actually, Four Weddings blues' (in 'modern world' on site), one downright silly one called 'Between the lines' (in 'writing') – but maybe more are on their way and that's partly what this is all about. Maybe that's in turn partly because Scottish poets write so much about Scotland (not just single poems – whole books of them!) that this has made me think more about the whole subject of homelands. Jo Shapcott has a poem about England (taken here from Bloodaxe's 'Sixty Women Poets' pub.1993) called 'Motherland' and it contains fascinating bits like this “Even / the dictionary laughs when I look up / 'England', 'Motherland', 'Home'.” It also has this striking final verse:
“England. It hurts my lips to shape
the word. This country makes me say
too many things I can't say, home
of my rotting pride, my motherland.”
And...just because I can...I'm going to end this one on another song...one of my favourite English songs...and speaking of the 1980s...
How can you go wrong with lyrics like that:
“I saw two shooting stars last night
I wished on them but they were only satellites
It's wrong to wish on space hardware
I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care”.
For a southerner (and you know the north/south divide in England rivals the England/Scotland divide quite spectacularly and always has done)...he's really very good.
2 hours ago