… you have to start somewhere
An article in The Guardian about the terrible persecution of people with albinism in Tanzania shocked and moved me. As so often happens when a subject catches your heart, I kept bumping into examples of people with this condition in Western literature and film – without exception portrayed negatively.
At the time I was interested in exploring the periods of change that people go through in life and what prompts them to move away from what has held them there before. With my sunny character, Hannah, I found I could do this and in a very small way, address this imbalance for those with albinism.
The BBC series, Missing, ran for a number of years in the early 2000’s. It went behind the scenes of the Missing Persons Unit as they looked at UK cases. What struck me time and again, was the heart-breaking bewilderment and impotence of the family and friends left behind. Many said the disappearance was unexpected, uncharacteristic and, looking back, there were no signs of why this person might go missing.
Part of life is to suffer loss – we lose contact with friends, a dream fails, a relationship ends, a loved one dies. We have to make sense of it somehow, through the pain and grief and sadness but sometimes we become stuck – out of fear or guilt or because we don’t have the answers we need. I wanted to explore what might cause someone to become – and remain – stuck, and what they might draw on to finally move forward.
You know when you do something and friends and family look at you and say, are you crazy? Or, more often, they keep quiet and it’s only afterwards you find out what they really thought? And there comes a moment when you look yourself in the eye and find yourself saying, ‘What were you thinking?’ That, and pushed a bit further.
A boyfriend’s brother was full of his travelling experiences – evangelical almost as if he believed this was the only route to an interesting, rewarding life. It frustrated me. What about the enriching possibilities of knowing a place intimately, intensely, I wanted to pipe up, but didn’t. I didn’t because I didn’t know. I have moved home a lot. I find it difficult to answer the commonly asked question: ’Where do you come from?’ but I felt sure that to live deep had as much to offer as to live wide.