|photo from here|
I am from alleys between houses, connecting the streets like secret passageways. I am from books, from reading for hours in bed by a chink of light through the door when I should have been asleep.
I am from wide streets with no trees, wrought-iron gates, and an aviary in the garden, behind which my brother saw a newt and thought it was a crocodile. I am from bunk beds, the fear of craneflies in the entrance and the excitement of cows in the street and in the playground. I am from nightmares of drowning in the mythical quicksand over the fields. I am from the tiny yellow house where there was no Narnia in my wardrobe. From the teenage embarrassment of a front window decorated red white and blue for the Royal Wedding.
I am from tiny, perfectly round red berries I collected on my way to school, from making rose petal perfume and green ink from grass and the smell of stocks through the French doors. From the sight and the scent of sweet peas.
I am from the Crane frown and inherited teeth. I am from weekly visits from Auntie Doris - pocket money and sweets, and weekly visits to Auntie Doris, pickled onions and cherry bakewells. From my Nan’s handstands up the coal bunker in the back garden. From Grandad diving behind the sofa when we heard a police car. I am from Bananaface, Cherryface and Clara the Fairy with the hobnailed boots and from Bobo Bunny comics read by Dad.
I am from three Jaffa cakes each because twelve divided by four is three, and I am from keeping the saucepans on top of the cooker, not on a shelf or in a drawer.
From "You can have your sweets when you have eaten your dinner," and "I know you’re not tired but you have to go to bed because I am."
I am from being nominally Church of England though no one went to church except for weddings, funerals and christenings. I am from my own wonderful Humanist wedding.
I’m from Essex and from London’s East End. From fish and chips, warm orange squash that hurt my throat, spaghetti bolognese made with tinned mince and packet soup. I am from (only) being allowed two ice creams when I went with Dad on his round.
I am from Thomas and Eliza who had ten children and lost five, who had to put their children in the workhouse. I am from Charlotte who lived and died in the institution, who could not leave even when she was well because no one had room for her. From Tom who died at Ypres and the mystery girl with him in the studio photograph taken two months before he died. I am from the Burnhams and the Cranes, the Huguenots of France and I am from Soham in Cambridgeshire in the time of Henry VIII.
I am from the pictures on the walls of my parents' house, in the albums under the bed in their spare room and from the hundreds of unsorted photographs in boxes that I haven’t looked at in decades.
This is where I am from today. Tomorrow I may be from somewhere else.