This Is The Place…Isn’t It ?


It’s a complicated old concept I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

Without realising it, most people have a place where they feel they belong, or a person(s) that they belong with. A constant they will automatically return to.

It’s not based on ownership or entitlement, its just an inbuilt homing pigeon instinct that propels us directly to where we feel we’re meant to be. You don’t question it, it’s just how it is. It has a sense of permanence – as much as anything is permanent – and it makes you feel secure and comforted.

Relationships are complicated beggars but solid ones (be they family, friend or partner) may well dictate where you feel you belong. Train stations are great places to observe people returning to their ‘safe place’ as they reunite with loved ones. It’s comforting to observe faces light up as their sense of belonging confirms on first sight of their special someone.

A friend said to me recently that you can’t belong to a place. That it’s down to a person to inspire where you feel you’re supposed to be. However, if there’s no one to produce such a feeling then cant a location manage it?

Everything is transient. The temporary nature of life all too easily trips us up but certain things carry on long after they appear gone. Memories for instance are powerful things though in good and bad ways. Those rose coloured specs can throw a mean curve ball at times but sometimes they are all we have to go on.

You’d think I’d be going somewhere with all this musing wouldn’t you? Truth is, I haven’t got a clue how it all works (or doesn’t work) though I have a feeling that sometimes the snow globe of life just needs a good old shake.



Spring cleaning time again.

With every move my space seems to have become smaller and my belongings reduced. A succession of clear outs has pared my things down to almost the bare essentials…give or take a treasured knick knack or two.

There’s always a few things that manage to survive though. You convince yourself they’ll be needed one day so you hang onto them for a bit longer.

Sometimes an item you haven’t seen for a while can trigger all sorts of memories.

Having made an unsuccessful attempt to get the hoover right into the corner of the bedroom to tackle a dust bunny or three, I remembered storing away something my Mum had bought because she thought it would make it easier for me to clean the stair carpet.

I think she had visions of me getting all tangled up in the vacuum cable halfway down and having the kind of accident you normally see at the beginning of ‘Casualty‘ where someone gets admitted with an attachment lodged up some unfortunate orifice…

Anyway, it had to be in the spare cupboard that everyone has. That place you shove everything you don’t have another place for.

I opened the door tentatively, worried that an avalanche of stuff would come tumbling out.

I carefully dug under the pile of suitcases, spare duvets and coats, trying to avoid a Jenga-type collapse and there it was…

The mini Dyson.

As I picked it up my eyes suddenly welled up with tears.

‘What are you crying for son?’ I could just hear her ask over my shoulder.

‘It just reminds me of when you bought it. You were so chuffed with it.’

Of course the reality was that the novelty wore off as soon as we discovered the thing ate electricity and constantly needed charging after giving about 5 minutes of suction but, right at that point of rediscovery, it just brought back a happy moment.

It’s often the daftest things that trigger the memories. Every now and then I’ll notice an insignificant item that my Mum bought that I still use – a tea towel, torch or some stationery – and it just strikes me as insane that these everyday items are still here but she isn’t.

She could never have thought, wandering through Semi-Chem or Tescos, that buying these basic bits and pieces would trigger such emotions down the line.

Today (April 14th) would’ve have been my Mum’s 78th birthday.

Of all the many things that I miss in the 6 years since she’s been gone, one of the most difficult to deal with is the loss of that constant anchor figure in my life. Even now, if I’m feeling down or anxious, no longer having that endless, unconditional support is tough to deal with. It sometimes feels like I might drift so far out to sea I’ll never find my way back.

The gradual clearing out of my Mum’s clothes was spring cleaning at its most brutal – every charity shop bag a betrayal.

I was very lucky with my Mum and my Dad and the foundation that they built for me was loving, vast and reliable. Just before the first Mothers’ Day that came along a few months after my Mum died, I wrote down some thoughts and sent them to the editor of a national newspaper in Scotland that I’d worked with in the past.

I remarked how I hated that I was now a member of the ‘dead parents club’. I felt lost that I was nobody’s son anymore. I was 46 and orphaned.

The editor got back in touch and pointed out something so simple it has stayed with me ever since.

‘You’ll always be your parents’ son. NOTHING changes that’.

Happy birthday Mum xxxx