The Last of England

And if rain brings winds of change let it rain on us forever.
I have no doubt from what I’ve seen that I have never wanted more.
With this line I’ll mark the past as a symbol of beginning.
I have no doubt from what I’ve seen that I have never wanted more.

VNV Nation, ‘Solitary’

Hours till departure: 12. I write this, the sound of my key-strokes echoing around the room like an epileptic tap-dancer. For Thursday saw the descent of a plague of baseball-cap wearing locusts, in the form of delivery men from Fleet Shipping, who did descend and cart away my possessions – all forty-nine boxes of them, totalling 3.77 cubic metres. And that was after three manic days of cleaning house, which saw ten bin-liners of junk thrown into our rubbish bin (and, if the truth be told, next door’s bin as well, when ours got filled – not quite as anti-social as it sounds, since there’s no-one staying there at the moment. Our patio, on the other hand, gets lumpier…).

The cleaning process was actually kinda fun in a bloody-hell-so-that’s-where-that-went kind of way. Having been here for over eight years, that’s a startling amount of junk to filter through, and I confess to having ground to a halt on a number of occasions, purely to wallow in nostalgia. Some of the stuff that cropped up was like a time machine, winging me back to the days of the Scala, anime conventions, and the days when acquiring a copy of Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the highlight of my month. Cue no agonising at all there – far worse was the problem of whether or not to take my vinyl; unplayed for a good five years, but still

That trauma finished a full ten minutes before the removal men arrived, and I showed them full professional courtesy by staying the hell out of their way, while they dealt with everything from the skull, through the long-sword, to the large stuffed Hello Kitty (though out of deference to their sensitivities, I did dress her in her regular jim-jams, rather than the PVC fetish outfit). Sitting downstairs in the living-room, listening to them thumping around up in my room, it was weirdly like having burglars — albeit very polite ones, for whom you make cups of tea. I kept poking my head round the door to see how things were progressing, and then running off to hide in another room. That’s a decade of my life going out of the house in cardboard boxes. Let’s just hope they actually were removal men, rather than cunning thieves with an inside line to the forwarding company…

I must confess to choosing them largely on the basis of them having a neat web-site, though there was a phone conversation as well, from which I got the impression that they knew what they were doing. Mind you, subsequent calls have had a disturbing quotient of finding myself talking to a phone drone; there appear to be two competent people there; fortunately one of these was the bloke supervising my packing. But the die has been cast, the boxes have been taped up, and the sword carefully enclosed in bubble-wrap and then tied to poster tubes. Let US Customs try and work out what that is all about.

Hopefully, the next time I see them will be in Phoenix, though I will be keeping a weather eye on the shipping forecasts for the next four weeks, to see if there are any reports of cargo ships going down in the North Atlantic. It’d be nice if they had some kind of satellite tracking, so you could follow the progress of your shipment on the Internet, but that’s perhaps a little progressive. I’ll just cross my fingers and look forward to, with luck, a Christmas spent opening forty nine boxes of non-giftwrapped junk.

And so I find myself with what seems like an unshrinking pile of stuff to sort out, as the weeks become days become hours. As yet, I still haven’t actually got a visa, so this trip will be technically “temporary”, even though as far as I’m concerned, I now live in Arizona, and will only ever be visiting London. They won’t let you change from a tourist visa to a legal residency one from inside the country, so when I hear that the necessary papers are here, I’ll fly back, go get them authorised at the American Embassy, then fly back. This is entirely useless, but looking at the ongoing saga of their election, what the hell do you expect? The worst thing is that, until the visa comes through, I’m a tourist and so will be unable to work. How will I ever be able to cope?

Meanwhile, the omens continue to roll in. This is the 150th TC editorial. Tonight sees the death of Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave. It also sees the first million-pound winner on the British version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. [Why do I think this might just be connected to the previous one, which – purely by coincidence, I’m sure – happens to be on another channel at the same time…] Tonight, on the way back from the last “farewell drink”, with Rob Dyer, I fell asleep on the train and missed Tulse Hill, for only the second time in my almost decade here.

What all this means is entirely another matter, but I present them here for your contemplation.

And with that, I depart, for a glorious future. Not without some trepidation, for fear of the unknown is a terrible thing. But I do so with hope, and expectation, and anticipation, and a tremendous sense of joy at the possibilities and love that await me in America, not to mention the wonderful friendships that I have here, and will maintain despite the distance. For the world truly is shrinking.

You shall hear from me again, soon…