I have a black and white photograph of my mother and I taken when I must have been about five years old. I stuck it onto my desk with a thumb tack. It is a black and white photograph and curling at the edges (I should frame it to preserve it). There is something spontaneous in the flavour of the photograph. I think that I must have fallen and cut my knee, my mother is tending to it as I sit upon a small table. I am wearing a ribbon in my hair and what looks like a cotton gingham dress. I am sure that I have just stopped crying by the look on my face, my mother, as always is smiling and she has said to me ''you'll be better before you're married''. that I am sure of. There isn't much evidence of the house, apart from an upright vacuum cleaner in a corner in the background and one of those nineteen fifties tables, bevelled edge, red, retro now, if you can get it. I saw one in a fruit and veg. store recently laden with kiwis and green onions and all my memories came flooding back in one gush. But I digress. That must have been my first home. I remember my mother telling me about the parquet floor in the hall and how she polished it with pride until it gleamed. She lost her mother at fifteen and had to leave school to look after her father and her elder sister, oddly enough. Her sister was a bit of a goddess,my mother the appointed dogsbody. But still I digress. This is supposed to be about homes and houses and well...............I moved alot as a child. The next house I lived in was a big bleak damp house in the middle of the countryside. All I remember about it was the kitchen with a large Aga stove and the gravel driveway because when we got our first car I could not believe the novelty of the sound of the crunch underneath the car tyres. Our next house had a huge landing as a center piece and my mother put our Christmas tree right in the middle until my brother came home drunk on Christmas eve and toppled it over. We had a pantry then and a huge living/drawing room with french doors where my dad played the piano and I sang along to ''Somewhere over the Rainbow''. We always had visitors in that house sitting around the fire and laughing. The next house I lived in was by a river where I fished and floated around in a rubber dinghy on Summer evenings or sat in my window seat and dreamed and read D.H. Lawrence books. Our house had bay windows and in the summer time my mother tended her vegetable patch and my father pruned the beech hedge and I listened to the voice of the cox urging on the rowing team down the river. I moved to my first bedsit in Dublin after that, a miserable room where an American lived downstairs and somehow believed I loved Paul Simon as much as he did. From my window in that hopeless little place I watched the city cat population frolick on the rooftops of the old Georgian houses for hours. I moved on, I kept moving, to my favourite little garden flat with a half door and Joni Mitchell's Court and Spark and Spaghetti Bol and tons of student friends dropping by and hazy parties and one telephone for the whole building, two bells and that meant a call for me, three, for sheila next door. I moved on to the states and lived in desert tract homes and row houses in Baltimore and a penthouse in the East Bay and then back again back over here to this quirky little house where a large trunk holds a history of photographs and where my boys have always been, rooted into the bones of this house, where that is all they know now and me, a disjointed, abstraction, leaving bits of my ghost behind in all those places, flakes of a being, never settling, always moving on, like a gypsy or a bandit or what, what was I looking for, was I looking for a small red table with a vacuum cleaner in the background and a smile of a mother, so openly clear and unadorned, so pure, really, so bloody pure that if you saw it you'd say that woman was so god damned happy. Well she was, wasn't she?