The pictures in this post are all stock images of Aylesbury. They capture very different views. There is a riot at the prison. There is the Aylesbury of 1960’s or earlier.Then there is the theatre, Aylesbury’s newest major landmark. An investment in the town’s future. Three world’s that rarely meet. Yet which all shape-or have shaped-the town in different ways. The prison is necessary, until we decide on a different way of treating offenders. The past is, as we know, “a different country” but one in which we still live. Aylesbury no longer looks like this but it had its part in shaping the town.The theatre stands for a future vision of Aylesbury. Each of these elements represents a part of Aylesbury.
Walking through the town centre yesterday, I was struck by the variety of people who call Aylesbury “Home”. The are the various communities. The Afro-caribean community. The Muslim. The WASP’s. The drug dealers and users. The drinkers-social and problem! The young mothers. The grandparents. The list is endless. Occasionally we meet.In the pub. In a taxi. Just chatting on the street. We go our separate ways. Sometimes neighbours become friends. Sometimes friends separate and go their own way.But we all have Aylesbury in common. We all add to it. It is our town and we belong here and care about what happens to it. Some of us have a greater investment. I am a home owner and am privileged to live in one of Aylesbury’s Old Town homes which goes back to the 1600’s. Opposite me are a group of homeless folk who are currently camping out on a public park. Their Aylesbury is not mine. But it is still their town, no matter how different our worlds.
The inner world isn’t too different. I have those parts of myself that belong to the drug dealer and problem drinker. These are the parts of me that can be anarchic. Devious. (Not to mention deviant!) These are my twilight zones where I try not to visit too often. But they are a part of my internal economy. I choose to allow them to stay in my town because they provide services I want-however distasteful my home owning self finds them! There are also the “posh” parts of me. I am a university lecturer. I own a lovely house. I am comfortably married with two dogs and an Aga. I dislike noise after 10:30 in the evening, tut about young men urinating in the park and am embarrassed by teenagers locked in a passionate embrace in public. I epitomise middle England. And am slightly embarrassed by finding this the case. (In my mind, i am still the young radical 20-year-old, out to save the world.So long as it doesn’t involve late nights, too much noise or inconvenience!)
But these contradictions live hand in hand in my inner town. To pretend they do not is to invite a kind of madness. The kind that defends against uncertainty by adopting an unthinking fundamentalism. Be that a social, religious, moral or cultural fundamentalism that is ossified and rigid.Over many years of clinical work I have concluded there is really only one question that gets asked. . “Who am I?” Whether this question is asked from a psychosis, a drug habit, an addiction to pornography, a fascination with violence, or some other defence, it is the key question. In this context we might ask “Who owns Aylesbury?” But we are also asking “Who am I?”