Yes, the good times were to be had in south London, but my moods were sinking fast -- as were my available funds. I had no source of income other than busking, and was spending (even without paying rent yet) easily 30 quid a week on just eating, going out to pubs, and transport. I’m sure I went to little Oxfam & other thrift stores to find cool stuff to wear (it’s an addiction of sorts). Oh right -- we went to a lot of “white elephant” sales at churches & the like. “Elli-phonts,” as Bentley called ‘em.
So, after three months of spending 30 pounds per week, that left me with about 100 pounds -- which was scary. I knew I’d have to get work somewhere, but where and how? I wasn’t legal to work there, and my options were limited -- even though I could write, I could waitress, I could type . . . and take care of old people.
I faced an even bigger problem: Glenn Tillbrook’s Blackheath apartment had been finally all cleared out and I could no longer “squat” there. Damn! So not only did I have no income, I had no home. Luckily, all I had was a few suitcases and a guitar to tote along to my next digs. . . .
This being the days before cheap phone calling, cell phones, and the internet, I wrote letters back across the pond, regularly. There were these thin blue-papered “air letters” with postage included, that folded into itself. You’d lick the edges to fasten them sealed. Cute -- and practical! But I didn’t like to write longhand; could never fit a lot of words and I DO like to go on (as you can read!).
Fortunately, I found a little portable British typewriter (with the pound sign rather than a dollar sign), a manual one from the twenties or thirties, at a Camden town flea market. It cost a pricey 25 quid, but I went to town on that, and soon had a thriving correspondence with several friends in NYC and my sister back home. (I still have that typewriter and it still works. . .)
Even more fortunately, my friend, photographer Stephanie Chernikowski, knew a woman, a photographer/filmmaker from the south named Gervaise Soeurouge (from New Orleans), who lived in London Central and needed a flatsitter and catsitter. I so missed my (hell)kitty, Claudette, and just jumped at the chance to be near cats AND stay somewhere, anywhere, really.
At the end of my rope, I read a letter from Stephie that included Gervaise’s phone # and a suggestion -- or an introduction -- to her. Whew! I called without even thinking -- and the rest, as they say, was
Ver-r-r-y interesting. . . .