What could have been a better plan: move to England, work on a solo album with Difford & Tillbrook, be recognized for my great passionate vocals and guitar playing -- and songwriting -- and be a best-selling recording artist? Then I’d fall in love with a dreamy Brit (who adored me, of course), make a ton of money hand-over-fist from my music and writing, buy a country cottage and a flat in the city, go on the road, get married, get dual citizenship in the U.S. & U.K., maybe have a family and a couple of animals as pets, maybe a pony, or maybe a cookie that looks like a pony. . . all in that order!
I confess, some of my dreams were very old-fashioned. . . and not many of them included a very ordinary or average life. I didn’t want to be a rock star; I wanted to the best at what I do and make a good living from music and writing. Not very lofty goals, eh? I just loved England and the whole funny/weird Brit sense of humor. I understood the class system and loved that the commonly held thought was that the U.S. has no class system (ha ha -- right, right).
What class does the artist rule? What class does the nonconformist, the entrepreneur, the lifelong creative belong to? Income may dictate “class” to some, but you can’t buy TRUE “class,” dig?? I’ve struggled against the economic confines of (upper-middle-lower) middle class my entire life. Or maybe now I’m working class -- because all I do is work for ridiculous low wages in survival jobs most of the time these days?
John Lennon’s “A working class hero is something to be. . . .” is one of the best scathing songs about society -- the truths cut like dull knives to the heart.
So I start out life, at age 25, in a foreign country where I thought I knew the language. I thought I knew how to read people, how to know if they were sincere or full of shit. I thought I knew how to take care of myself and say the right things at the right time.
Everything I thought I knew got turned onto its figurative ear within two months.
I got to Blackheath and Glenn’s old flat. He was moving to Greenwich (the next town over), to a flat in the same building as Chris and Cindy Difford. Until the lease ran out on his Blackheath flat, I was welcome to stay. I don’t recall if I paid rent, but as I went over with about $900 or the equivalent in pounds sterling (the exchange rate was around $2.00 to the pound), maybe about 400 pounds (or “quid”).
The first week I was there, I’d walk around the scenic little town, go to the greengrocer’s, buy those long French cucumbers called “courgettes,” buy nice bread & cheese etc. I’d cook eggs and toast, cheese and toast, and have that great PG Tips tea. Heaven! (I was a vegetarian then -- no meats, maybe some fish.) I walked out on the “heath” and thought about the thousands of dead bodies and souls from the black death (the bubonic plague), buried there. . .I went to the lovely old Anglican church there and sat still, praying for the past, present, and future.
Soon after arriving, I was invited out to “the pub” with the Squeeze guys a few times. The place we went was in Greenwich, and I can’t remember how I got back to Blackheath from there. But no matter! I ordered half pints of lager & lime (sissy drink -- but that’s me, not much of a beer drinker). I learned to say, “’Alf lager ‘n’ lime, please!” in my best non-American voice. I hated when people would say to me, “Oh, you’re from AMERica! Say something like the Mafia!! Say something like Brooklyn!”
Ugh. I was trying to escape from something all these Brits just seemed to love.
And weirdly enough, little by little, I started to realize that they didn’t behave like New Yorkers one little bit. . .