David Green gave me this brief: I need to find three “born and bred” Suffolkers and three people, like yourself, who have moved to the county from elsewhere. The request would be for you to write a few lines about what you regard as the typical traits of “born and bred” Suffolk people, based on your experience living here.
I would also need a brief biography – including where you were born and brought up and what brought you to Suffolk and when etc.
Suffolk via Norfolk, Essex, London and India
In terms of geography and tribal identity I consider myself East Anglian : Norwich born, Essex educated, and Suffolk landed.
Although I do feel a visitor like quality where I am.
Perhaps because I have no roots here, in Halesworth, where I’ve landed. No family in the graveyards, (the equivalent of buried umbilical cords in India) for they are far away in Yorkshire or Ireland. No one to remember my grandfather (including me), who married who or fell out with who. No children grown up here to plant seeds.
But this landscape is familiar to me now, and the people too, both those who are ‘indigenous’ and those who have arrived, and I feel comfortable in this familiarity, that now stretches over considerable time. Put another way, I do not feel inclined now to leave.
How to describe a suffolk born person? I think of Mr Palmer our local butcher or Huggy the car and cycle mechanic (here in his shop for 24 years). As dependable as rain, not in a hurry, constant and caring. However, I have observed a noticeable reserve of a stranger in a Suffolk person, until you have won their trust. A friend gave me this story. Arriving first as a holiday home owner up here, he was looking for a gardener to mow his lawn occasionally. One was found. ‘I’m very busy’ was the first thing the Suffolk man said. However, agreed to cut the lawn – ‘But only the lawn, mind. I won’t do anything else’. He ended up doing everything for my friend, finding craftsmen for any other job they needed doing. He became their friend.
There was a swath of people who arrived here from London and environs in the 70’s finding inexpensive homes in abandoned Suffolk long houses, forming alternative festivals such as Barsham and Bungay Fairs, tapping into the traditional rural or nomadic seasonal gatherings, and a back-to-the-land early green ethos. When I landed in 2000, I found both nurture and kinship with this group, who had rooted here, sent their children to the local schools, planted trees, painted, potted. They loved the land and sky as a visitor does.
In 2006 I packed up my Suffolk home to move east to India, but I became involved in the renovation of a village shop, and unpacked and stayed. My view direction is still east, from my small woodland I look out east to the rising sun, but I am content here, and will most probably land up buried here!