There’s one problem with living in the
place where you grew up. The problem is that, because you
were already there, it can never be the place that you chose
– in a strange way, it can feel less like ‘your’
place, and more like the place you happened to come from.
Imagine discovering somewhere really perfect. I’d want
a place that feels a long way from London, but isn’t.
I’d want a university nearby, but I wouldn’t want
it to be the dominant force in the town. I wouldn’t
want the place to feel too provincial, or too toffee-nosed.
I wouldn’t want it to be full of lager louts. I wouldn’t
mind a few lager louts. I think you have to have a few. But
you know what I mean.
Now try finding a place even remotely like that. It’s
really hard. North of London, the stockbroker belt merges
into hard Essex and Hertfordshire territory. As you move outwards,
north and west, you find towns that are based on antiques,
or horses, or poshness, or fox-hunting - Pulborough, Henley-on-Thames,
Newbury, Newmarket, Marlborough, Ledbury. I wouldn’t
fancy any of them.
That’s the trouble with coming from Lewes. Every so
often I think: wouldn’t it be great to discover somewhere
really great, and move there? And then I look at the map,
and talk to people, and find I’m already there. I can’t
imagine anywhere better.