"Foreigners, Mum, are we foreign?"
This was a new idea for me: maybe we could be exotic like stories I had
read about twins from around the world.
she said. "You’re English, Daddy used to be foreign." I
stretch my hand over my heart. Was I English in there, I asked myself, through
and through, maybe there was a bit of foreignness somewhere.
In my book
I consider how my own life was shaped by my refugee antecedents' experience
of displacement and reinvention - ordinary people caught up in extraordinary
times in the twentieth century.
I include extracts from my parents’ letters revealing
a historic resentment and suspicion of refugees and a unique picture of
the internment camps on the Isle of Man.
A neat drip-dry childhood of the fifties in grey northern drizzle
is counterbalanced by my aunties’ rainbow knitting, my granny’s
cakes and my father’s retreat into music.
Wearing rings on my fingers and bells on my toes, I take the
reader through the seventies counter-culture, into the creative and imaginative
spaces lying between my peer group of artists and the inner city neighbourhoods
where we sang in street processions, danced round burning effigies and invited
children to sculpt the creatures of their dreams.
The new millennium and now a psychotherapist, I sit in a circle
with asylum seeker mothers
singing lullabies in different languages; a new generation whispers to their
English babies using foreign words.
My book will speak to anyone who has experienced or observed
the effects of displacement and finding a place.
It offers a vibrant account of the impulse to create an alternative
life-style. Its narrative traces the history of the community arts movement
and what we have lost since its decline.
It offers a unique insight on healing the fractured lives of
young children and speaks to everyone who imagines belonging and dreams
of creating community.
"A roller coaster of cakes,
war, creativity and expression, this vivid hands-on memoir has a story of
serious grittiness at its core."
Publications, paintings, prints and
Send me a parcel with a hundred lovely things
... A memoir