When Did You First Know Who You Are?
Sometimes I hear my Welshness when I speak. Only I know it's there; a lilt where there shouldn't be one, if I were English. When I was young though, and only heard my parents speak, my accent was strong. It was because of this that I was picked on to read (out aloud in front of assembled masses) when I first went to infant school. I have always been small (but surprisingly dense) and this, together with the Welsh accent, must have been different enough to appeal to the teachers in the part of rural Lancashire where I was living then... and it was then, aged four or five, that I remember realising that I didn't like this scrutiny at all. I think that was the first time I became aware of who I was; a bit strange, a freak or oddity to regard and discuss. In consequence I felt a strong urge to hide.
Since then I think I have constantly felt out of place. Everything I seem to have ended up doing in my life seems to have been just a little weird and eccentric. There have often been moments when I have looked around and realised the party seems to be taking place elsewhere and the space around me is empty.
But just recently I have come to realise that that most people feel like that at one time or another. We are all of us alone - and it is this that we have in common. This isolation that we all feel also, ironically enough, brings us together.