Who do I think I am?

Yours Truly

The fruit of passion or rage

I cannot tell.

Or, perhaps, indifference.

Held in the body, but not the heart,

Bound by duty:

An oddly cold embrace.

Then, the shedding of misfortune –


Tearing only at the flesh.

And scars alone bear witness

To what was born.

A life. A distant memory, if that.


I have never liked the programme Who Do You Think You Are, so last night when I was flicking through the TV guide with the remote, I was hoping my wife would not notice that it was due to show in less than ten minutes. She did notice, however, and when I shimmied back up the list we discovered that it was Julie Walters and I agreed to give it a go.

I have watched a few minutes of the programme here and there, and the whole concept of discovering ones great-great-grandmother feels entirely pointless to me: I don’t even know who my biological father is, and given that my birth mother died a few years ago in her early-fifties I will never be able to find out who he is.

The idea of getting emotional about great-aunt Frida’s fiancé who died on a jungle expedition seems ludicrous to me. Because there is no history for me to delve into and explore, I therefore find it hard to sympathise with someone who has a long, clear lineage, much less someone who has the desire to do so. Perhaps I am bitter; I certainly have my issues when it comes to familial matters, but I simply don’t understand because I cannot relate in the slightest.

That said, it was an interesting programme from a purely historical point of view (and it was great to see a bit more of Julie Watlers, aka Mrs. Weasley) and perhaps that is the point of the show, who knows. However, the plot thickens…

During one of the advert breaks, I thought about a letter I had sent, earlier in the day, to someone I haven’t seen for about 4 years. I sent a letter with a copy of my my book, and it suddenly occurred to me that she won’t recognise my name on the book. I am now Barker, and that is not who I was. For the split second that this thought crossed my mind and for the first time ever the name ‘Barker’ felt vaguely foreign to me. I had the most fleeting image of being stripped of who I used to be and replaced with who I am now – as I said, I have issues!

I am the same me I have always been. Hopefully a little wiser, a little more stable and aware than I used to be, but the essence of who I am has not changed. I chose the surname of my wife as a name I could belong to; a name I was welcome to share and be a part of. My identity is, I believe, intact – I just struggle sometimes to feel rooted in who I really am.

In an attempt to nip in the bud the world’s shortest identity crisis, I asked myself who I was. As I came up with a mental list, the temptation to disparage each of these points was hard to resist – but resist I did. I am all of these things regardless of whether I do them well or not. I don’t have to be anything special in order to be special to those who love me.

I have worked hard to put down my own roots, and finding ones place in the world is, for all I know, an ongoing quest. Who do I think I am? In the grand scheme of ancestral trees I have no idea, but in the here and now of what and who I have in my life, I am:

  • a wife
  • a dog mum
  • a sister
  • an aunt
  • a cousin
  • a friend
  • an author
  • a poet
  • a reasonably good cook

I am someone who loves and is loved. I have people in my life that have chosen to be there, and stay there. I also have two adorable dogs that have no choice who they live with, but I’m pretty certain they love me too!


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