(The following is the first half of an essay I wrote for What England Means to Me.)
I left England at time when gainful employment was not all that easy to gain. Mind you, I was quite happy to gad about surviving on the odd song royalty or the occasional writing job. Reaching the dangerous age of thirty, I suddenly realized I had better try and get that thing I had, until then, steadfastly refused to search for: a proper job. Besides, several adventurous but potentially lucrative projects in music, film, and theatre had either crashed and burned or simply petered out rather ingloriously. So the time had come to look.
I tried to get into advertising as a junior copywriter. Unfortunately my spotty resume as a lyricist, magician, and aspiring playwright impressed no one. Even being a member of a prestigious writers’ workshop did nothing to improve matters. “Fink you can amble out the Aldwych and get a job in advertising, who do you fink you are –– Jack the bleedin’ lad?” I thought I was an out of work writer, and certainly not one bit of a lad, Jack or otherwise. But I was thought to be slumming. Oh well.
I could have emigrated to Canada or Australia, but I came to America and the Washington D.C. area. I liked Washington from the time I had spent there a decade before, as a kid in the magic game. And there was another reason: Washington was on the Eastern seaboard, which gave me a foot in the pond, an uninterrupted horizon, with good old Blighty hiding just beyond it.
Americans I met were friendly, supportive, and very encouraging. Even my threadbare resume raised interest instead of hackles. Yes, the accent helped a lot. I sounded cleverer than I was. But folks gave me a chance, and I took it: I got a job. I was allowed to try things, be creative, and within a couple of years, I was senior writer at a major agency. Five years later I met Frances, we formed a small marketing business of our own, got married, had a lovely child. And now live happily in suburban Maryland. All’s well that lands well, as they say.
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