Rotherham to Ras Al Khaimah is quite a long way to go. How did I get here? And am I now a nob head?
Rotherham, United Kingdom and Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates are very far away from each other in very many senses of the word ‘far’. I was raised in the former, for the last 19 months I have been based in the latter and I have lived in numerous places in between.
Before my Rotherham raising, I had a brief stint living with my parents and grandparents in the premises behind the Barnsley based general grocers that they owned together. After that, my mum, dad and brothers and I moved to the well kept semi that was my home from ages 4 – 18. Mum and Dad are still there now.
All the while they have lived there, life has taken me to Reading to North Hampshire to Southampton with stints in between in London. Now here I am in RAK, with our Southampton property – where I lived for nearly 20 years – still there, awaiting a return that we presume to be imminent but it’s 2020 so who knows.
I often try to make sense of where I came from and where I’ve ended up. As I recline poolside at the Ras Al Khaimah Waldorf Astoria, awaiting to be served my skinny decaf cappuccino I conclude that I am a) no closer to finding my place in the world and b) a bit of a nob head and (c) entirely unsure if reading Kit De Waal’s Common People while repose in swimwear, delighting in the petit fours, is negating or magnifying said nobishness.
I suppose what I’ve realised is that if we must see life as a race to the top, through the ranks, up the proverbial ladder then my moment on the starting blocks saw my back toes planted firmly in the margarine, ITV and corned beef hash of my working class roots.
The rest of me, however, was already nudging a few inches across the middle class starting line before the pistol went off to signal ‘go’. Even that slippy back foot (covered as it was in margarine and corned beef and distracted as it was by all the adverts, especially the shake ‘n’ vac one) couldn’t slow down my propulsion forward.
This propulsion forward was mine as a result of the graft, love and stability provided by those who came before me and the reconnaissance mission of my parents into upwardly mobile territory.
The NHS and no university tuition fees were a huge part of the secret of my success. I also prospered from the ridiculous housing boom pre 2008 and a weird ability to excel at academic exams during my teens and early twenties. Oh and I’m white, in good health, and married to a bloke: all these things have played their part.
But none of this or the NCT classes or the city jobs, the smashed avocados or the homemade hummus could have really prepared us for the jet pack of good fortune that was strapped to our backs when James was offered the opportunity to come and work in the UAE for a couple of years.
We sit here now – nearly two years after arriving – very much the same as to how we were before but altered ever so slightly too.
Mid COVID, adrift from family and close friends, reliant on the roof over our head to also be our school, our workplace and our gym, what we want, what we need, what we love and what we don’t want quite so much from our homelife has shifted.
I don’t want to leave here a nob head. I want to leave here better equipped to live a good life and to help my family to do the same.
I want to record our amazing, bizarre, wonderful UAE adventure and I want to return home more sure of my place in it than when we left Southampton just under 2 years ago.
You can join me, if you fancy.