Sunday, 18 May 2014
Full stop. Capital letter
In the New York Port Authority building (above) a barber, shaving me with a cut-throat razor, noticed a neck rash and suggested a massage. The rash was not unexpected. More than a day before, wearing a three-piece suit. I had travelled by train from Bradford to Glasgow. A bus had transported me to Prestwick airport on the western Clyde. A propellor plane took eleven hours to fly to Iceland, and seventeen hours to Kennedy. I wore the suit to avoid carrying it, I sweated, a rash formed.
In my pocket was a bus-ticket to Pittsburgh. The carrier was Continental Trailways not, as I had romantically hoped, Greyhound. Romance, curiosity, daring and a year's hard work had brought me to this point. I was about to start a six-year stay in the USA by my own choice.
Six years in a foreign country. Forget the common language, the USA is far more "foreign" than say France and Germany where I had lived for short periods. Its foreignness shaped my life.
When I returned I saw Britain differently. More international, less comfortable. Less charitable, better informed. Secular. More cramped. I was more communal and (inexplicably) more confident. Less prone to cliché. Better informed about industry. I supported US world views until leftwing friends (rare in Pennsylvania) compensated.
There's more but the romantic 1965 innocent with the sore neck had gone for good. A carpet rolled up. But how many other carpets since? We’ll see.