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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Escape from America: Great Yarmouth, England


How long have you lived overseas?

i've been in england for four years now, but moved overseas in october 95, and have lived in three foreign countries since then, interspersed with periods back in america. about 9 to 10 years total overseas.

What made you decide to leave the US?

why i left, is too long to go into. but two quick things, i was bored and wanted to see the world some and have some sort of adventure or experience as well as gain knowledge, and i was hoping to find an alternative to where i was living, a completely different world. i was extremely naive.

What do you miss about not being in the US?

i miss the nice people most. i live in the country with the nastiest, england. ok, maybe australia (judging from several people i've met). i've started to really love america from a distance, and miss it so much. all my greatest times were there. the people were so open, friendly, just genuinely nice. also the food, my childhood, crazy nights and experiences, the open spaces and open roads, etc etc--i could really go on and on.

What are the challenges of living where you are as a foreigner?

i'm challenged day in day out just to keep sane here. you could say i do not like this country. but i have serious depression problems and dream of utopias.

How are you making money in your new country?

i am unemployed, and on 'the dole'. though not for long, and must get work soon and am looking for some shite job. i would like to move back to us but can't get english wife to do it. i live here because i have an irish passport. i don't (and i am serious) believe in private property or money, much less capitalism and the hell that is the world today. i believe people naturally want to work. i think our absolute birthright is a decent home and plenty of healthy food, even if we have never worked a day in our life. but people WANT to work, at least something like 15 hours a week, which is plenty. and real work, to make the world as beautiful as it should be. i believe we are violently violated and manipulated from birth into this 'system'. behold the great, evil powers (and no, not 'god'). i long ago figured something out on my own, then shortly afterwards had it confirmed by bertrand russell: 'they' could, if they WANTED to, create paradise on earth, TOMORROW. but they never will.

What are some of the pleasant surprises you've encountered in your new home?

i try to make the most of things, so i do make some effort with these gormless, mean little dullards. but i have my limits. no pleasant surprises (i've lived here before and hadn't formulated anything yet--but something seemed wrong with the place). ok, the dole and nhs. the nhs truly is a wonder, from an american point of view. the dole, or benefit, too. a huge percentage of people get some sort of income support and/or housing benefit. the downsides are great and many. people are very complacent, that's one. also, the english aren't ALL bad. they do have those characteristics that everyone knows about (as it is after all the dominant culture--it trumps american culture in many ways). most people here are simply just indoctrinated like americans, and don't think about the outside world too much (unless it's in the paper or on tv). but perhaps even britain is changing.

What are some of the unanticipated problems?

this time around, after healing for six years in denver, i came here with the insane, very stupid idea that i could win over the whole damn town. wrong! and a waste of time and effort. the english will be the english. and they ain't impressed. and god they hate americans. am i a fanatic? yes! but many americans, bless them, loved me! the english love nothing. i wish i could remember what my brother said just tonight (we were in the v & a museum tea room visiting on his short layover in london before heading on to malta), but something about a guy he knew in chicago, english, a certain type of nasty (that wasn't his word i don't think) that doesn't exist in america--but just walk the halls of the v & a to get some idea of it in its full force.

What are some advices you have for Americans who also want to get out?

don't come to england! (unless, of course, you're an anglo american, in which case you'll love it. amazing what i've learned about certain americans just by living in years of agony in this place). also, i've lived in korea, and most would not find it to their liking for too long, though i spent three years there and did love the people. as for spain, my other country, much good to be found there. i keep holding out that cuba or south america with its bolivarian revolution will be the true breath of fresh air i seek. but i somehow don't think it will be. could china or russia hold the key? i say this: america, turn off your fucking tv's, you are manipulated in ways you can't imagine. give the indians their land back, fight the evil anglo-american government, take your kids out of school, re-start the sexual revolution, keep looking to the future (america's greatest strength and uniqueness, this looking forward to a better world), but create the radical, beautiful society that you can and must create!... i realize this sounds ridiculous, crazy, and it is of course.

i have so many great memories of people from my childhood. i think they're still there. still, i have no hope for america or the world (well, i do, but it's not the place for that long conversation here). america is too big, for one. it's now a police/military state. etcetera.

--Joe (47-years-old)




Anonymous said...

On the subject of private property, this would be an interesting read:

x larry said...

interesting article! it IS absurd, as is capitalism. fidel castro's autobiography 'my life' i'm reading now, and he says the same of course (it's a very good book so far). also vine deloria, an excellent american indian writer, is very worth reading on this and other subjects, such as science and scientists.

Linh Dinh said...

Joe was in Philly, by the way, where he worked as a bartender.

I spent 9 months in England, then visited it two more times, and I'm very fond of that country. Unlike Joe, though, I never had to find work nor raise a family there, so of course I never felt any real gravity in England. I knew I would leave, and when. That said, I found the English chattier than advertised and I greatly enjoyed taking little buses or trains all over the damn place, just like, well, I'm doing here now. In fact, this mode of wandering around to simply observe people, I first tried in England, and my inspiration for that was W.G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn. A very moving meditation on mortality, personal and societal, this wonderful book is set in East Anglia.

In Ipswich, I chanced onto John Clare's snuff box in a glass case. In Diss, I visited the church where John Skelton was a rector.

Linh Dinh said...

I Am!
John Clare

I am—yet what I am none cares or knows;
My friends forsake me like a memory lost:
I am the self-consumer of my woes—
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life or joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
Even the dearest that I loved the best
Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.


Linh Dinh said...

To Mistress Anne
John Skelton

Mistress Anne,
I am your man,
As you may well espy.
If you will be
Content with me,
I am your man.

But if you will
Keep company still
With every knave that comes by,
Then you will be
Forsaken of me,
That am your man.

But if you fain,
I tell you plain,
If I presently shall die,
I will not such
As loves too much,
That am your man.

For if you can
Love every man
That can flatter and lie,
Then are ye
No match for me,
That am your man.

For I will not take
No such kind of make
(May all full well it try!),
But off will ye cast
At any blast,
That am your man.


x larry said...

hey linh,
excellent stuff--nice comments and thanks for the poetry. man i got a bit obsessed with those types of guys. don't know about you but i got it mainly from robert graves' 'a crowning privelege'. took me many years to more or less snuff that book from my memory. no, i stick completely by what i say, but i realize my opinions are very extreme, in really everything, as has been my life. i've hardly a nerve left in my body, unfortunately. maybe we'll chat sometime. cheers! --joe

x larry said...

yes, bless philly! i can only wonder if linh and i ever crossed paths, as i lived in his neighborhood and worked at the bar next door to mcglinchey's. but there were certainly plenty of personalities in that town to keep one busy, interested and entertained. did you know the dishwasher at the copa, al b?

Linh Dinh said...

Yo Joe,

I didn't come into Copa that much, since it was pricier than McGlinchey's and Frank's, my regular joints, and when I was in Copa, I was nearly always downstairs. I don't remember Al.

In a 2012 email, you wrote, "i'm not a fan of england, though. i once was, but now am pretty much appalled by the people day in and day out, though they do surprise me on rare occasions," so it sounds like you went from love to hate, not unlike some marriages, really.

Last time I was in England, I talked to a Brit who was married to an American, and he insisted that Americans are much friendlier. He also said he always had a great time visiting his in-laws in New Mexico.

In Brighton, I wandered into a random Queens Park pub and met a friendly barmaid in her early 30's. She told me she had studied sociology in college, and was a native of Portmouth, famous for the 6.57 crew. She complained about the increase of overweight people in the UK, 'People used to do all kinds of outdoor activities, but now they mostly stay indoors.' I reassured her the obesity problem in England is nothing compared to the US. Her parents had a 12-week holiday in Virginia, and that's where she was conceived, so she has been to the States, sort of. Her mom loved Virginia and didn't want to come back. The barmaid said 'hon' so much, one might think she's from Baltimore.

Less friendly was some bloke who sat next to me. Since England was playing France that day, I tried to start a conversation but he didn't say shite. Oh, well.


x larry said...

hi linh,
astute comments--yes, it very much did parallel my marriage. far too much to go into, but maybe one day. i can't believe you were in a pub in queens park!!!! (that's my road) which, walmer castle? no, probably duke of beaufort (name now changed to the islingword), literally 3 doors from me. increible, i was in spain till i think the next day. i could tell many stories--though i almost never go to pubs, and certainly don't hang out/meet people in them--but stories from trains, the tube, a-holes in the street, in the park. there are many, and that guy next to you was a type. i know it. obviously usa has plethora of class a a-holes on many a street corner and really in your face ones, so i shouldn't speak as if england's the only place--obviously not. still, i have my theories on anglo saxons and their murderous ways, their insane racism/superiority complex (which completely rules their lives).... i'll stop. cheers linh!
big j


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.