‘“Before the morn ye’ll work mischief:” Indeed will I,” quo’ Findlay.’ – Robert Burns, Wha Is That at My Bower Door
Heritage, where do we find our heritage? My mother’s family are Scottish, yet she was born in South Africa. My father’s family are fiercely Welsh (my grandfather Cliff Bere wrote the Welsh Republican Movement Manifesto and had a taste for burning the Union Jack) yet my father fled to London’s Portobello Road as soon as he could ride a motor bike . I was born in London, brought up in Scotland, England, France and Spain. My first name is an Indonesian island, my middle name is from Welsh medieval legend and my surname is Anglo-Saxon.
I take my morbidity from the Welsh, my thighs are those of a Scottish hill walker and I have the late night energy of a Spaniard.
My heritage is varied, contradictory and a lot of fun.
Last night we had a Burns supper… in our own way. We made veggie haggis, squirrel shaped oatcakes and instead of clapshot, we mashed potatoes and Jerusalem artichoke from the garden. The freezing cold air caused me to spend most of the evening shuffling around the house in Jon’s old snorkel parka, making whiskey drinking far trickier than I would have liked…
We talked about my Scottish grandmother Brenda, or as I once named her ‘mumsmum’. We talked of her love of Robert Burns and Billy Connolly (I think he’s the only person on earth she can forgive for using four letter words), my childhood imaginary mouse McClumpha and the gift of a toy ‘wild haggis’ from my first boyfriend. We talked of the Galloway forest and the West coast evening skies, the pound shop on Dalbeattie high street and the white stones mumsmum would find for me to stand on when we went hill walking. When I speak to her on the phone she gives me advice on keeping healthy chickens and I tell her what we’re growing in our garden. She can no longer go walking in the hills, so I send her photos of our rambles and bike rides.
As Ted Hughes wrote to his son:
“And as the old Greeks said: live your life as though all your ancestors were living again through you.”
Heritage, I guess it can go both ways.