Dedicated to Her Majesty the Queen (from a departed Subject aged 31 1/3)
Queen: (please excuse the familiar)
I feel the need to express my position with regard to my recent departure from the United Kingdom on May 15th from Heathrow Airport. Specifically Glasgow for eight years prior to that, mostly the beautiful neighbourhood of Bridgeton (it needs attention, just FYI).
Although I changed status in the immigration office of Newark airport, in New Jersey on March 23rd of this year ("Welcome to America!"), I wish to reassure you that this was not an ideological event! And though I adopt the style of the New York School poets to construct this missive please do not feel that I have gone native. They may decide these efforts constitute a "legitimate rape" of the genre, but perhaps my efforts are too fumbling and insincere for the body of the New York School to need to "shut the whole thing down".
And while I am now subject to the whims of that popular international figure, Barack O'Bama, I do not consider myself his Subject. I will always feel more akin (a kin?) to your grandson Prince William, with whom I share a name (or gave my name to? My first steps on your fair isle did precede his by a year).
My status may be immigrationally concrete, it is far from secure in my mind. I am other. I have always felt other, but until now I have put that down to a Creatives perspective. Here I am fish-and-chips, a phrase which has begun to feel uncomfortable even in my mouth, I have only been here two months. I resent my mental preoccupation with minor cultural insignificancies, a knife and fork do not define me, and baked beans with meat flavour is not a crime no matter what my inner Beefeater may be shouting from behind his fifth pint of Real Ale. A bean makes not the (English) man.
I have previously decided to launch myself into this lifestyle to make the best of it, and though I know there is a lot of best to make, it sometimes feels more like shake n' bake. Homesickness is a constant GPS reminding me of where I am not. It repeatedly fails to answer the question of where else I should be. I never identified as a Brummie, a Geordie, a Cockney, or a Manx. The closest bad description was applied in Scotland, where I was a Soft Southerner, occasionally a Fucking Englishman, or possibly a Proddy Bastard. Here, I am at least primarily Artist, which is a nice elevation and balances many quiet doubts and second thoughts.
So I have chosen to build my Englishman's Castle in this former colony. A former coloniser becoming colonised by American culture, an undeniable gigantic dildo that must be accepted with good grace. Artificial as the phallic analogue but still capable of providing great pleasure if you can accept it, which you must or go mad since it is not often allowing of an open relationship.
Pen pals then, it shall have to be, but I cling to the awareness that when traveling far one must travel light. I can choose the baggage I shed and search through my collections for the best things to carry along as keepsakes. Like Kerouak, I resolve to revel in the journey no matter where it takes me. Sifting and shedding on the way to identify those parts of 31 years that are worth framing, and I assure you Your Majesty that there will always be a portrait of you at the back of my cultural suitcase. Representing a beautiful national ideal that is hard to recognise in the mescaline experience of life in the United Kingdom, but is a much stronger structure in the isolation of an expats yearning.
When I fall asleep tonight, six hours out of phase, I assure you, I will dream in England.