I never really knew who I was
Then my daughter was born.
And I became a father.
And that is what I became.
When Isabel was a baby I had a dream. In the dream it was Christmas. We lived above a pub in a single room crammed with old pub furniture. In one corner was a Christmas tree. It had real candles, all of which were balanced precariously on the tree’s branches. It also had electric lights which were plugged into the socket using bare, sparking wires. And instead of sitting in a bowl of water, it sat in a bowl of acid.
That sense of morbidity, claustrophobia, and anxiety is at the heart of All Quiet on the Home Front. It is a reflection of the fears that sat deep within me all when I became a parent; the fear of my daughter’s death, my own death, and my built-in obsolescence and redundancy as a parent.
To escape this claustrophobia, I took Isabel outside into the landscapes around our home in Bath. The woods of Brown’s Folly, growing out of the contours of an old stone mine, the scrappy BMX track built on the banks of the River Avon, and the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Solsbury Hill became our playground, places where we escaped the confines of a stultified life lived between four walls.
These are the landscapes where both Isabel and I found ourselves and this book tells that story. It’s a series of landscapes, it’s the story of becoming a child and becoming a father. It’s the story of growing up and growing old. It’s a self-portrait.