British Citizenship (or, No Direction Home)   9 comments

citizenship-pic-2crop

 

“Fare thee well, gone away
There’s nothing left to say….”
Body of an American by the Pogues

The Body — and, of course, the accent — are the only things that are still American as I am now registered to vote in England and awaiting my British passport.  It has been arduous at times to get to this day and worth every greyed and shed hair and spent shilling (just look back at the posts on the Britishness exam and the application for Indefinite Leave To Remain to see what I mean).  If you want to know about the weird Citizenship Ceremony (at which photography is a strictly controlled franchise so no pictures here), I’ll tell you all about it when next we meet…just remind me.

I received the paperwork inviting me to swear fealty to Her Majesty’s realm precisely 40 years, 1 month, and 21 days after I made this decision in the throes of my very first acid trip.  I have a crystalline memory of that day and how it led me to this one.

It was the 4th of July 1976 (not only Independence Day but the Bicentennial!) and I was about 8 hours into the ride on some Felix the Cat blotter, watching dusk encroach over a golf course fairway at Griffin (GA) City Park with the town hospital’s lights becoming noticeable on the hill opposite; the absolute ugliness of my native land, its ghastly inhabitants, and what passes there for culture made all too apparent — too concise and too clear — over the course of the day.  I concluded there-and-then that — not only did I want to be, but — I had the wherewithal to become a citizen of another country.

Since that moment, I’ve worked on this considering — and putting a bit of effort into — Canada, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, and Ireland as potential refuges; but, my new land is the one that made me feel the most welcome or, to be absolutely honest about it, the LEAST unwelcome.  And, so it came to pass that, earlier today, I became a Brit.

No longer need the Indefinite Leave To Remain card, so off it goes to the Home Office

No longer need the Indefinite Leave To Remain card, so off it goes to the Home Office

.

Afterwards, we stopped for beverages in the Three Tuns on the way to the Tube.  Disappointingly, they have no jukebox — modern ones are connected to the Interwebs offering unlimited possibilities — so my playlist would have to wait until the champagne at the house.  What I had in mind was the aforementioned Pogues, Billy Bragg’s “A New England” and some Dylan because, during The Ceremony, Bob’s 1966 audience banter popped into my head: the bit just after the “Judas!” heckle at the Manchester Free Trade Hall.  Not the part where he drawls, “I don’t believe you…you’re a liar,” but right after that (and just before he and the Hawks cracked into “Like a Rolling Stone”) when he says to the Band:

“Play it fucking loud”

 

 

 

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