Ipswich is where I was born. February 1994. When people ask me where I am from, the answer is Ipswich. It thoughtlessly falls from the lips, as clumsily as a new-born foal taking its first steps into the much feared unknown. Ipswich is my birthplace. The geographical location, that just so happened to be the setting of my physical, brutal and unapologetic debut into the world. The answer to where I am from, as you have just heard, is simple. The answer to where I was raised is an altogether new conundrum.
I was raised in no specific locus. No particular bearing. It cannot be found in a map, atlas, or globe. I was raised in the never-ending and untouchable realms of imagination. It happened in a heartbeat that seemed to last for eternity. The first hopeful breath of Spring, the last icy clutch of Winter. To say that this place does not exist, is to say I do not exist.
I realised from an extremely early age that one day all of this will change. And eventually, cease to be. The power of thought is not so easily altered. Boundless stretches of emerald green trees sitting daintily on sweet-scented meadows, dotted perfectly with rapeseed and poppies, as if by design. A brilliant blue ocean of sky draping itself lovingly against wisps of snow-white cloud. Nightfall is ominous and brooding in its enveloping darkness, and yet comforting. An ideal companion to the dazzling golden sphere who adoringly watches over us in the daylight hours. The Suffolk countryside is certainly a suitable adversary for such splendour. Suitable, though not victorious! Which do you prefer, I wonder?
“I think they both sound lovely” he added, with little vigour and a sigh of disappointment. With that, the young gentleman with the tortoiseshell glasses and brown moccasins with whom I had been chatting to for quite some time now, left the room. He started to speak to me again from the other side of the door, which I felt to be profoundly odd. And quite frankly, a little rude.
“I’m ever so sorry Mr. Pennington, but I’m afraid your wife simply isn’t ready to leave the unit. Her medication shall be increased and she will remain here until her cognitive abilities improve”, I heard him say slowly. I had no earthly recollection of any Mr. Pennington, or indeed any medication of any sort. I concluded that he had simply confused me for someone else or was in fact quite mad! All that time I was talking with that gentleman and it never occurred to me quite how mad he was! How peculiar!
The door clicked open and made a sharp, beeping sound. A young gentleman with tortoiseshell glasses and brown moccasins, whom I had never seen before, entered and sat down beside me on the bed. He must be here for the story, he must be!
I waste not a moment of his time and begin. Ipswich is where I was born. February 1994…