Like most people I’m always asked where I’m from, and like most people it isn’t exactly a straightforward answer.
New friend: so where are you from?
Me: well, I was born in Cambridge
New friend (NF): so how do you end up in Uphill?
Me: we moved here in 2001, the day before Christmas actually.
NF: gosh, Cambridge to Uphill just before Christmas, how did you get here – along the M4, or M14/M42?M5?
Me: well, no – we came from Oldham, we were living in Oldham.
NF: oh, I see – so you moved to Oldham from Cambridge, when was that, did you live there long? (some new friends say ‘oop North‘ in a funny accent… they mean ‘up North‘)
Me: no, I’d lived in Oldham for nearly twenty years, but before that I lived in Manchester for nearly fifteen.
NF: well, that’s still ‘oop North‘… so Cambridge, Manchester, Oldham, Uphill?
Me: not quite… my family moved from Cambridge to Somerset, and bought a house on Bleadon Hill – Bleadon is the next village to Uphill. I lived there for two years and then I moved to Manchester to do my degree… my family stayed in Somerset and as I mentioned, we moved here nearly twenty years ago.
NF: (ponders…) so where do you think of home? Cambridge? Oop North? Somerset?
And there is the tricky question. I’m Cambridge born and bred, my family come from there, my earliest memories are from there and my parents’ memories, though they are no longer with us, are still in my memory. I still have strong ties to a place called Cambridge, but that place doesn’t really exist any more. There have been massive changes over the years and it’s grown from a smallish University market town with some light industry, to a massive cit, the heart of Silicone Fen, of nearly 125,000 people (there were less than 40,000 a hundred years ago) Roads have changed, buildings pulled down, new places built, I hardly recognise parts of it. I still have great affection for the city, but the place of my birth only really exists in my memory.
So Manchester and the North of England? Is that where I think of as home? In many ways yes. I go back to Manchester and it’s a buzzing and exciting place – I see the massive changes, but somehow its heart is still the same, I feel a huge connection to the city and to the area around it, to Lancashire and the other Northern counties.
So Weston and Somerset, the west country… does that feel like home? Until recently i would have said not so much… but over the last few years, particularly the last twelve months, my attitude has somehow changed, like a wind-vane swinging in the wind, and now I would say definitely yes, I do now feel a very strong connection and attachment to the county where I live.
So where am I from? I’m from Cambridge, I’m a fen tiger, but I have a Mancunian heart and I live in Uphill in Somerset!