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Rhodes, H. (2014). Place: A Sense of Yearning to Belong and to Be Recognised. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 4(2):111-115.

(2014). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 4(2):111-115

Personal View

Place: A Sense of Yearning to Belong and to Be Recognised

Honor Rhodes, OBE

In my job at the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships I walk, metaphorically, between places, carrying notions and news; taking the importance of the idea of the couple to an often tin-eared world, bringing back an understanding of why it is so hard to think relationally. Thinking about these distances has prompted me to wonder more about separation, loss, and longing.

The Widow's Son pub in Bromley-by-Bow was packed, Good Friday at noon. I was standing in a small room, surrounded by sailors, gold braid, navy blue, berets and caps, the press in the low bar was immense and we were all waiting, not to be served drinks, but for something to happen. At twelve, the publican climbed a step ladder and announced that the 2014 Hot Cross bun had arrived and waved it aloft triumphantly.

In the 1850s the then publican, a widow, had sent her only son to sea. He asked that she save him a hot cross bun for his return. Every year the grieving mother had put aside a bun. The years could be counted by the net strung across the bar, with well-preserved buns captured within it. The youngest rating was hoisted aloft and threw this year's offering in to join the others. We clapped and cheered and remembered the widow, a mother's love, the young boy and sailors, facing peril on the sea.

We emerged blinking into the warm East End sunshine. It is not a scenic part of London, bombed intensively and rebuilt by various administrations over the years, with red brick, concrete, high and low-rise flats. The creeping needs of affluent city workers have penetrated this far though now, and glass, steel, and balconied apartments are springing up with different shops and estate agents as evidence of the changing population. The East End of London, mutable, and always offering a place called home to new tribes.

I was not there by accident, with my oldest friend and walking companion. Of course not. I had persuaded her that our walk that day should take in the Widow's Son and that we should walk the Thames Path nearby. I insisted that as we were walking that day we should be part of something that was fixed in time, something that could be missed unless we took our chance.

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