I've a confession to make: I am not Welsh. Actually I never claimed to be. I just say that I come from Wales, which is absolutely true. I was brought up in a little market town close to the English border. My school friends came from both countries, but I was very confused when my parents told me that I had actually been born in London. It seems that we moved to Wales when I was six months old. Did I fit in? Well my parents spoke BBC English, but I acquired a local accent, so fitted in without a problem. But while I love visiting Wales and my family and friends who still live there, it doesn't feel like home anymore: so much has changed that it really is a foreign country.
Like most of my school friends I left town at 18, and went to college in Manchester, becoming a 'student', as in not a Mancunian: we had our own dress code, our own clubs and our own accent. But this was just a transition, I belonged simply because I was a student.
Post College I headed for the land of Essex, a unique place in 1980s England. And some of what they say about Essex girls is true, everyone in my memory was blond, tanned and weighed down with gold jewellery. There's actually photos of me wearing drainpipes and white stilettos *hangs head in shame again*. I also picked up a London accent and a group of fabby friends, both of which I still have. But I had to escape from Essex as I couldn't stick the traffic, so we moved to Dublin. Yes I know, the joke is on me.
I've lived here for 20 years now, but as I don't have an Irish accent, strangers still ask if I'm enjoying my holiday, and acquaintances still ask if I'm going to go 'home'. So where is home? Where do I belong?
Maybe I don't belong anywhere - in my mind, I'm not English, Welsh or Irish, it's like I don't have a nationality - but Dublin is now home. It's where my kids were born and where they want to be. Many of my friends are here, my work contacts are here. I feel at home here. Even at the worst of times, it's still a good place to live. And, despite the dire state of the Irish economy and the merciless bond market which I believe is now playing "chicken" with the Irish Government and stands to make billions when we finally admit defeat and go to the IMF, other people agree with me.
So, do you know where you belong?