“Foreigners Mum, are we foreign?” This was a new idea for me; maybe we could be exotic like stories I had read about twins from around the world.
“No,” she said. “You’re English, Daddy used to be foreign.” I stretch my hand over my heart. Was I English in there, I asked myself, through and through? Maybe there was a bit of foreignness somewhere.
In her memoir Carry Gorney considers how her own life was shaped by her refugee antecedents’ experience of displacement and reinvention - ordinary people caught up in extraordinary times in the twentieth century.
The book includes extracts from her parents’ letters, revealing a historic resentment and suspicion of refugees and a unique picture of the internment camps on the Isle of Man.
A neat drip-dry childhood of the fifties in grey northern drizzle is counterbalanced by her aunties' rainbow knitting, her granny’s cakes and her father’s retreat into music.
Wearing rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, she takes us through the seventies counter-culture, into the creative and imaginative spaces lying between her peer group of artists and the inner city neighbourhoods where they danced in street processions, made videos and invited children to sculpt the creatures of their dreams.
In the new millennium and she is a psychotherapist. She sits in a circle with asylum seeker mothers singing lullabies in different languages; a new generation whispers to their English babies in foreign words.
This book will speak to anyone who has experienced or observed the effects of displacement and finding a place.
It offers a vibrant account of the impulse to create an alternative life-style. Its narrative traces the history of the community arts movement and what we have lost since its decline.
It offers unique insight on healing the fractured lives of young children and speaks to everyone who imagines belonging and dreams of creating community.