You can blame it on my parents really. I don’t think I had ever thought about England until they took me to the UK and Ireland when I was 10 years old. First we landed in Ireland and I have to admit I was not taken by the place. One of the first nights there my brother and I had hamburger steak at some Irish restaurant and it was just that, hamburger on a plate. I think there was some sauce too, but that was it. No bun, no ketchup. I remember thinking, I do not like this place very much, if they don’t have real hamburgers here. And then there was all the green everywhere and peat. I had no idea what peat was until going to Ireland, but it was everywhere. In fact the trip was kind of a downer involving my father’s hay fever and one lane roads until we finally arrived in London. Piccadilly Circus really, and it was a wonderland of color, sights, and sounds. I fell in love but wondered where the circus animals were.
Duran Duran had become popular when I was in fourth grade and they were the first band I ever talked about with my friends. Them and Big Country, but they only had that one song while Duran Duran had lots like “New Moon on Monday”, “Save a Prayer” and “Rio”. My distinct memory of London was exiting the tube station at Piccadilly Circus and walking up the stairs. It was nighttime and majestic. The sounds of traffic, the blazing colors and neon lights, the Tower Records! My father had taken me to Tower Records before, the one in West Covina by the mall. I truly didn’t understand what a record store was and I thought it was like the library but with lots of records everywhere. I remember liking the store but being disturbed by the big Tubes display in the windows. They were a band at the time and their record cover was blue with white tubes everywhere. And that is was what replicated in the store window; a blue background with white tubes everywhere.
Well, the window displays at the Piccadilly Tower Records had Duran Duran! And the store was humongous! I begged my parents for us to go inside and that is really where I fell in love with London and England by default. In Tower Records looking at all the cool merchandise displays of bands that I liked and had seen on Richard Blade’s Video One. In fact we had seen Richard Blade filming his show at some castle earlier on the trip. It was one of the highlights of my young life.
Well I was sold on London and England after that point. We then went to some museums and there were cute boys in blue uniforms everywhere! They all reminded me of the only British person I knew, Rhys Mason, who wore socks with his sandals. Probably the only person in my fourth grade class less popular than me; and I think he was Welsh and not even English! I had a crush on him. Mostly because he didn’t throw rocks at me like Alec Johnson and Calvin Brooks did after bragging about how they knew square roots already. Really? In fourth grade, like I was going to believe that! Long division had taken me for a loop, and I think that is where my liking of math ended. Among nerdy boys bragging about knowing their square roots!
So while my liking for math ended, my love affair with England had just started. And for better or for worse, it has been with me for the last 28 years. The love affair of my life.