I have few memories of being very young... I was nearly eight years old when we arrived in Australia and remember seemingly little before that… a hazy impressionistic image of the last street we lived on in England… of a front garden that was made of hard paving with stones in it and beds of roses and small pansies and of falling off my first bicycle in this garden… of catching a butterfly in a jar and plunging a fork into my thumb whilst trying to punch
air-holes for it to breathe… and my best friend, the girl who lived in the house on the corner of our street and how to get there — you had to walk past a house where a dog barked furiously at you, which used to terrify me.
I wonder how conscious I was of being a foreigner when we first arrived in Sydney? I can't recall… I guess my voice would have stood out.
Unlike all the other kids in the street I couldn't swim and had to learn very fast. We lived on the cliff of Fairy Bower right near the ocean in a place called Manly — a word set to haunt my youth for quite a variety of reasons. The motto of my high school was the latin ”Virilie Agitur”, which translated as “the manly thing is done” — a phrase that generally had us in fits of giggles…
I often hesitate when I’m asked, “Where are you from?”. In Australia we boomeranged from Sydney to Perth and back. At 27 I moved to Paris, then London and later New York… “What's next”, I ask myself? Aged 13, I’d been to a lot of different schools and was quite accustomed to the discomfort of being the new kid. In France I didn't speak french and in London some folk referred to me as “from the colonies" (not a compliment btw)…
So I’m familiar with being “different” or feeling “out of place”. It’s a feeling, bizarrely, that sits most comfortably with my Aquarian DNA.
The nationalistic fervor that's sweeping the Western World is anathema to me. I can’t define myself in terms of an actual place. I’ve an optimistic belief in individualism and my sense of belonging comes from friends and family. Feeling “at home” is important — but it’s more a feeling than a specific place — achievable anywhere. Staying at a hotel, for instance, I put everything away in the cupboards and drawers and strip down the bed arranging it just how I like… most definitely not a “living out of a suitcase on the floor” guy.
When I go camping I take hangers for my clothes — my inbuilt home maker is always at work.
Driven by intuition and emotion more than heady logic, the Piscean is said to be idealistic and mysterious at the same time — a delightful combination. In touch with their spiritual side more than most, they often feel keenly a connection to the universe around them. They are very kind. Words like “escapist” and ”dreamer” are often tossed in the Piscean direction and the more upbeat side of this coin — “visionary”. Deeply empathetic they have a way of bringing out the best in others. I was reminded of this dining with my great friend Andrew this week — he’s forever helping other people and has been undyingly supportive for the past 26 years!!! I am blessed.
In the blue half-light of the moon last week, the garden in Woodstock was all shadow and silhouette, spooky and otherworldly, almost like a memory. Through the window I spied a fox crossing the snowy flower beds — body crouched low to the ground. It sped and pounced on a leafless bush from which a rabbit fled. The reality of survival framed in this dreamlike vision.
The fox continued on… and for the time being at least, the rabbit is safe.
*Opening image: "Still Life". Flowers: Livia Cetti, styling: Ayesha Patel.