Have you seen the advert Homecoming 2009? Its time to go back home to Scotland. We’ve heeded the call and by the beginning of September will have washed the dust of London out of our clothes for the last time and will be settling into life in the hills and fields of Angus or on the shores of the Firth of Tay. ‘Caledonia, you’re calling me, now I’m going home…’
The truth is, though, I feel very ambivalent about moving back to Scotland. For the last eight years, I have loved living here in London. I love being part of such a diverse, multi-cultural city where everyone is from somewhere else so it doesn’t matter if you don’t ‘belong’. I love travelling around on the tube where every place you stop, you feel like you know it already from a book or a film. I love the self-confidence and the irony of the city and the people. I love feeling like this is a place where things happen. And I love the fact that Ross and I fit the profile of people in our streets: youngish, professional, educated, well-travelled, Guardian readers. I love feeling like we’re the norm.
I don’t really know how I’m going to feel about living in Scotland again. My biggest fear is, I think, that Scotland won’t let me, be me. I’m worried that Caledonia won’t be able to see the changes that have come over me since I last lived there. I don’t want to hear Scottish voices saying: don’t move to fast, act too big, dream too large, want too much, talk too different. I don’t want to hear those voices saying: stay small, live safe.
I know these Scottish voices may just be monsters in my head: my own Cyclops and angry Poisedon. Maybe I won’t encounter them, unless, in the words of Cavafy, I bring them along inside my soul, unless my soul sets them up in front of me. Maybe I won’t encounter them if I keep my thoughts raised high. Maybe I won’t, Cavafy. We’ll see.
(You can read Cavafy’s poem Ithaca here. Its on my list of poems to get you through the night).