I was born in south Wales, my family moving to Edinburgh when I was five. I’ve wondered occasionally whether my life would have been different, had I remained where I was spawned.

There’s no way of knowing for sure, but the experience of feeling completely out-of-place in my environment has been one of the biggest influences on my life.

A neurotic can be thought of as someone who feels different and isn’t comfortable with that. and that’s certainly how I spent my formative years.

An eccentric, on the other hand, is someone who feels different and embraces the fact. which is how I’ve lived (or tried to) for the last thirty-odd years.

I spent some of yesterday planning the ‘dystopias’ novel. which has probably kick-started this brooding about my cuckoo-in-the-nest childhood.

My main male character moves through different cultures, a permanent stranger.

Having lived in cities from five until forty-eight, I’ve spent the last couple of years living in tiny wee towns in central Scotland.

It took me until I was in my mid-thirties to finally feel at home here – to feel Scottish.

So I moved to Liverpool, where I was treated like a porrige-nigger. not by everyone I met, but enough to ram the point home that discrimination’s discrimination no matter what colour you are.

I’ve no regrets about leaving Edinburgh. I was in a rut. in the same job for seven years, in the same flat for twelve. the scousers seemed all foreign and exotic, with their (to me) bizarre accents and curious figures of speech.

But, the bottom line of travel is, ‘same shit, different arseholes’. people are the same wherever you go. and so is that feeling of not belonging.

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