Three Signs I’ve Been Out Of England Too Long

The first sign I’ve been out of England too long came a while ago. I was in a conversation with someone about British conceptual artists and drew a temporary blank on someone I really should have remembered instantly. “You know…the stroppy one…really minging…lives in Shoreditch…put her bed on display with used condoms and stained underwear…fuckfuckfuckwhoisit…TRACY EMIN! How could I forget Tracy Emin??!!”

The second sign I’ve been out of England too long was during a conversation with Alec and Benny where we were reminiscing about London music venues.

Benny: Where was that place we saw Public Enemy again?
Me: Um…er…dammit I can’t believe I can’t remember the name. Alec, it’s the same place we saw Fugazi. What was the name?
Alec: Uh…hmm…oh feck I can’t remember either.
Benny: Northern line tube station.
Alec: A few stops above Camden, I think.
Me: In a dodgy area. But the venue was beautiful, probably a converted old theatre.
Benny: …
Alec: …
Me: …

[Ten minutes later, when we had totally moved on in the conversation]
Me: I GOT IT! The Forum! In Kentish Town! Thank God!

[Yes, we are dorks.]

And the third sign I’ve been out of England too long came today, when I read this transcript of a recent speech made by Rowan Atkinson and wondered in a fit of obvious idiocy why on earth the Archbishop of Canterbury was making a speech opposing the religious hatred bill.


  1. I wish I could forget Tracey Emin – think yourself lucky.

    The Anglican Church is entirely against the Religious Hatred Bill, I thought. I read a pamphlet in an Anglican Church we were rehearsing in. The cynical side of me said it was becuase it might make some of the sermons illegal (without aith…. burn in hell… unbelievers are wicked sinful…), but I think it’s on the grounds of freedom of speech, just like Rowan.

  2. I totally cannot relate to anything you’ve written in this post–neither specific subject matter, nor the nature of the experiences.

    What I do take away from this, however, is the link to speech by Rowan Atkinson. More than reading it, I want to HEAR him deliver it…that would be such a mindf***!!

    I mean, I know he’s intelligent and all, but when you’ve heard little other than Bean’s “mmprhhff”! and Blackadder’s whine from the man…

  3. Matt: Oh, I don’t know. I mean yes, I’m not personally too keen on her art but I do remember a feature in one of the weekend magazines a few years ago where works of conceptual art were placed with “ordinary people” (a granny, a builder, some first year university students etc.) for a week or so and they were then asked to give their responses to the art, after which the artist commented on their responses. Tracy Emin’s piece featured a pissing dog. It was placed with the granny, and she was very gracious about the granny’s comments. In contrast, the university students made comments that I thought were fairly intelligent about Gilbert and George’s piece (I think it was a little Pinocchio-like jointed wooden doll), but they were cunts in response.

    Don: I know, I’d love to hear it delivered too! I like the very droll humour in the speech eg. “In other words, you haven’t committed an offence unless of course you’ve committed the offence, in which case I’m afraid you’ve committed an offence” and keep picturing that slack-jawed Bean expression to match.

  4. Mich… I don’t know. It may not necessarily be a sign of being out of your beloved London for too long, but could just be a symptom of:
    1) joining the workforce
    2) old age

    And I do mean this in all seriousness. My great memory went on the fritz ever since I returned from London in early January… and I guess all the alcohol and not-sleep I’ve had since then hasn’t exactly helped.

    And when you mentioned Rowan Atkinson, I found myself wondering why you’d be puzzled by why Ron Atkinson (former football pundit who’s been known to make quite a few racist remarks) would be taking a stand against the bill.

    In other words, it’s perfectly normal. Heh.

  5. Mich: Ooops, just realised I got the bill a little mixed up. See? Old age, I tell you. My initial reaction to your comment was: “Since when did Mich have an interest in football?” before realising you probably meant Mr. Bean.

  6. GAH, yet another memory lapse! It suddenly came to me that the cunts (re: my response to Matt’s comment) were not in fact Gilbert & George, but Jake & Dinos Chapman! Now there are signs WITHIN the signs that I’ve been out of England too long. :(

  7. Well, they’re a pair of cunts for sure. Doesn’t make Tracey Emin any less objectionable though. Do we have to use language like this?

    Come back then! There’s always room in London for you, and I for one would be delighted to see you again.

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