It’s too early to get up, but then downstairs little Lara, still warm with sleep, in her mother’s arms, pouting a kiss for me, sending me on my way. The thrill inside that she is my granddaughter, part of me, her whole life in front of her but now so trustingly dependent on the grown ups around her. I am so happy that she exists.
Then I’m in the car and drive in the dark to the station, wet windows that become opaque with steam and damp, the fan on loud to clear the mist away. News on the radio announces that some time or other David Cameron will have to come up with a conservative policy line, that people will not indulge him forever, I overtake lorries, going by the backlights of the car in front of me, guiding me along. Then the train from Downham Market to Ely, with a hot cappuccino at Ely station, my breakfast, and then the train to Nottingham. It’s light now and the day is bright, so bright and so contrary to my mood, which is slightly jaded and full of work and relationships that need working on and out. The flat country side with some sleepy villages, the train not quite full but busy enough with people on their way to work, in March, Peterborough, Grantham and other places. On it goes.
I feel tired with lack of sleep, the relentlessness of the working weeks usually catches up with me half way through the week. At the same time there is the thrill of being on the move again, no need to stick to one place, am I still running away from myself or is this a genetic disposition? I cannot work it out and decide that it does not matter one way or the other. This is the way it is, I have never been able to stick to one place and this seems odd, as all my siblings are still happily ensconced in villages across Holland, no desire to move far away from their place of birth, with only a few of their children going further away, temporarily, but then coming back again to their roots, as if there is a magnet somewhere that will not let go of them.
That same magnet spit me out, the field force reversing, compelling me to go and there never is the real desire to go back. England has swallowed me whole, with all its disappointments and irritations, it is home in a way that Holland has never been. I am comfortable, even if lonely and slightly separate from everyone else, always the outsider, but indulged in, I live in this sleepy Norfolk market town, after having lived in London, Tehran and Isfahan, Delft and Amsterdam and Nottinghamshire, across the globe, spent holidays in places and resorts across Europe, travelled across Europe for work and pleasure and now I love my home in Norfolk. Still I need to travel, feel the movement of the train, leave my bags on the carousel in an airport and turn the key in a different hotel room every so often. England will always provide the magnet, too late now to go back, a stranger to my place of birth.
My work occupies me throughout the day, another conference, announcing these new diplomas, I am at the fringe of this now with established organisations taking on the role of important messengers, people living and breathing it and I am now working at this cutting edge development in an area of work that has always absorbed me, taken me over. I only need to be there, get a feeling for the mood on the ground, in the region and in the localities. This used to be my hunting ground in a previous job, the East Midlands. There are still some familiar faces, I meet one or two people who seem really pleased to see me and once again I feel totally at home in what I do, who I am and where I am. No longer alienated. The day goes well and I walk back to the station, too stuffy and hot to bother with taxis that seem to be lined up outside the hotel, at the end of the conference. I get lost and twice have to ask for the way – how strange this is, I should really know where I am but it is as if my brain is unable to retain basic information on directions and geography of places once I’ve moved on. Too many places in my head to keep hold of in detail. Once at the station I discover that I have to wait for an hour for my train, I make a few telephone calls, download my e-mails and then it’s time, the train arrives and I’m out of Nottingham, on my way back to sleepy Norfolk, my house, my home.
Tomorrow there’s London and another train journey, a meeting, decisions.