So Episode 1 wasn't just about home, it was about Home home. That is to say Kirkcaldy, the place of my birth.
The pod got off to a rollicking start with the Big Cheese...my son Rory. The interview was conducted lying on the grass in St James' Park, just across from Horseguard's Parade in London and we were lying down so that he felt less conspicuous, Nothing to see there then except a chubby middle aged woman lying on the grass next to a bearded young man with a microphone stuck up his nose. Almost invisible.
From his recumbent position, he endeavours to explain why his mother is destined to fail in her quest for a spiritual home. This is largely to do with the impossibility of trying to recapture her youth he seems to think. He makes some good and encouraging points but I feel he is wrong about the youth thing. I can't recapture what I have never lost.
About a fortnight after the interview, I was diagnosed with Lyme's disease and I in no way blame the Queen's horses ...in no way Ma'am.
Then it's off to the Harrogate Crime Festival where Val McDermid is the thoroughly enjoyable meat in the sandwich of my family. Though everyone in this episode knows Kirkcaldy intimately, I was impressed by Val's holistic knowledge and her obvious dedication. The transcription of her interview is on the Interviews S1 page and if you'd like to hear her speak on the subject of the Theakston's Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, of which she is justifiably proud, then bonus material is available to the purchasers of TWHP merchandise..
In the interests of clarity, Val has asked me to make a donation to Kirkcaldy food bank in exchange for this interview which tempts me to say that she is a lovely, lovely woman. Coincidentally this is exactly what Julie Walters once said about my mother in a bar in Lloret de Mar (totally true on all counts.) Whilst we are on the subject, my mother and Uncle Chris have the final say from Wetherspoons in Stamford during a family gathering 'down my end' so to speak.
You probably need to know that geographically, Kirkcaldy sits on the Firth of Forth estuary across the water from Edinburgh. It's actually in Fife and as Val says, Fife is 'stuck out on the side.' To me, it looks like a scottie dog and Kirkcaldy would be just about where you tickle it under the chin. It is on a beautiful stretch of coast with beautiful parks and community-minded people who keep your feet on the ground, but it is struggling economically. Unbelievably, from around and about come a remarkable amount of successful writers and politicians...both historic and modern. Oh that I could be one of them! As you will hear, I name drop one of them shamelessly in this interview. It's all the more impressive when you take into account that Ian Rankin isn't a writer usually associated with caravans. Then again I didn't manage to interview him so much as corner him with a single question as he was taking off his jumper and trying to stop his t-shirt riding off with it. If anyone would like to pay me to write a column about it, I think you'll find me imaginatively prolific.
You may think that I am repeatedly spelling the place incorrectly but yes indeed, for one word only, the k comes before the c. To anyone planning to visit, to buy a train ticket or to report a murder, please note that it is pronounced Kircawdey and definitely not KIRK-KAL-DAY. Similarly, to any American reading this, Edinburgh is pronounced Ed'nburra if you are posh and Embray if you're not, It's never ever Edinburrow. Obviously not...
I lived in Kirkcaldy until I left for college at 17 but retained strong bonds with my teenage gaggle of friends and my large extended family. Mum still lives in my childhood home. She is someone I admire greatly as she, like my father now sadly gone, is incredibly tenacious and upbeat in the face of adversity. I am also humbled by the fact that she is happy where she is...there is no yearning to be elsewhere, to be someone else or to have someone else's things. I really feel that the not wanting it all is such a gift and acknowledges that we already have everything we need. It must be less tiring too.
As you will hear, mum feels that it is paramount that I stay close by my own grown up children but also says that being closer to that family of my childhood -cousins, aunts and uncles - would lend me support.
I have three children. One is in London, one is in Leeds and the third is definitely a girl of the south east and still lives at home. I know what Mum means but it's my Uncle Chris who is able to articulate the displacement and conflicts that we share so I shall leave it to him to explain. Lovely man! Aunty Fred(a) was also there. I adore the woman and her input may turn up in bonus material. She's antipodean now you know!
Interestingly, Val(McD) echoes something I have been saying for decades now.. that home is where strangers know who you are without you telling them. If that's difficult to get your head round, imagine the whole of Scotland was fitted into Sam's bar at Cheers. Norm walks in.
Enjoy Val and ponder on this whilst you do. I left South Lincolnshire to interview Val McDermid in North Yorkshire about Scottish Kirkcaldy and within twenty minutes of arriving, I came across my mother's next-door neighbour on her holidays. We blinked a lot.
Next week, we visit my adoptive home of Stamford in Lincolnshire which is breathtakingly lovely and couldn't be farther from the sea.
Rory...incognito in St James' Park.