Why I Wrote ‘Divide’
Do you identify as an urban person or a rural person? Maybe, like me, you’re a bit of both – a hybrid. In many ways, being a hybrid is great – you get the best of both worlds. In other ways, it can be…complicated.
And that’s one of the reasons why I wrote the book. I was having an identity crisis.
Urban and rural life are different. Politically, culturally, socially – they are different worlds. And I’m not just talking about living in the countryside, or a city. I mean being of a place, belonging somewhere, deep in your bones.
I belonged to a small farming community on the Welsh Borders. I was bound so tightly to that place I took it for granted as a foundational, unchanging part of me. What I didn’t realise is that, when you leave, you change. I moved to a city for the first time when I was 25. I built a new life and without even noticing, I changed.
In becoming a hybrid – half town mouse, half country mouse – I found myself continually on the unpopular (losing) side of pretty much every discussion around farming, the environment, food, diets, culture, politics, whatever. Among friends and colleagues in the city, I’d defend my traditional, working class, conservative rural values. Among family and friends in the countryside, I’d turn the other way – defending my middle class, green, liberal urban values. It was all true, all me – but it was lonely. I was the contrarian in the bubble, belonging to neither tribe.
Over time, it got me down. Very down. And it’s one of the reasons I wrote ‘Divide – the relationship crisis between town and country’ – because I can’t be the only person who feels like this.