New Englishman in New York Part 7: The Return

It's official, our Englishman finally gets a proper crack at living the American Dream but still has a lot to learn about his new countrymen's fondness for guns and avoiding yet more social faux pas.
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I'm back. I'm in. Legally.

I got accepted into a university. In New York City.

Watched “Buried” on the plane. If you don’t like flying, don’t live abroad, but also don’t watch movies about being trapped in a confined space when trapped in a confined space.

Arrive. Stamped. Official.

In a taxi, heading into the City. I'm being taken in the non-scenic route. It’s grim. You don’t see these places in “Kourtney and Kim take New York”. More places with shutters down than shutters up. I had imagined coming in the scenic route. Empire State glistening. A deep seated happiness that I'm finally in. Perhaps a vague sense of success. Instead, I’m being taken through what looks like a run down americanised Slough. These streets will inspire no one.

Things got pretty dicey back in England after I left. I had little hope of getting back into America. It all suddenly dawned on me. The madness of my rather hasty decision to leave China and automatically go to New York. I hadn’t even really checked the visa laws and simply contented myself with the vague "something will turn up." I would advise such a rash plan to no one.

At one point I was sleeping on a fold up bed in my brother's lounge in Boscombe. Whilst still paying insane rent in a country I couldn’t and may never legally reside in. Meanwhile the American girlfriend was pot-committed with a job and our flat. It looked bleak.

I nearly ended up in the Sudan at one point. I didn't know what I was doing. I could see it in my mate’s eyes. Give it up.

Then the university acceptance letter came. Bang. Life changing.

So from now on. I'm essentially having a pop at the American Dream.

I arrive back at the flat. I can get going. Get settled. Then run the clock down till death. Perfect.

Nestled in amongst endless baby photos is a close up shot of a hand gun. Complete with comment. "My pride and joy."

Social Networking

My girlfriend is on Facebook. Browsing. She has got into a weird habit of going through people's baby photos. That's other people's babies. Friend's of friend's babies.  Stranger’s babies. She clicks on a new album of a new baby. It is a friend's baby this time so slightly less odd.

"Tom, isn't he cute?"

I mean, It looks like a baby. Like every other baby, ever. However, you would have to be a pretty mean spirited person to deny the cuteness of a newborn.


She keeps flicking through the photos. Similar shots.

Baby lounging on the floor. Baby lounging on a table. A handgun. Baby lounging in a buggy...

"Hang on" I say " Go back one."

She clicks previous.

Nestled in amongst endless baby photos is a close up shot of a hand gun. Complete with comment. "My pride and joy."

I'm shocked.

"That's a gun. Why does he have a photo of a gun between baby shots?"

"He likes hunting."

"Hunting babies?" (Of course I'm not that quick witted but lets pretend yeah?)

"No Tom, people don't hunt babies."

"It's weird though, isn't it? A gun in among photos of an infant?"

"I think it's nice he has photos of his baby up."

She continues clicking through. More babies. No more guns.

His pride and joy.

Work do

Am at my girlfriends work do. They have a table tennis table. I dispatch a few American lads. I’ll be honest, few things give me more pleasure then beating someone on their home soil. It is the closest I will ever get to representing my country in anything. I know it is pathetic. But the day I smashed an 8 year Chinese kid in Hangzhou at table tennis is still my greatest sporting moment. Despite his tears.

I get talking to this girl, who is a friend of my girlfriends.

She references her boyfriend.

“Is he in the city?” I ask

“No, he lives in Saudi Arabia?”

Now, that is instantly interesting. I’m a pretty nosey fella. But I’ve learnt from many previous social errors that maybe I should just keep quiet. When I was back in England I asked a friend who has a boyfriend in the army what the “turnover” in the job was like. I’ve learnt my lesson. I keep quiet. But I’m intrigued.

Later that evening, walking home with the girlfriend I casually ask her who the fella in Saudi Arabia is.

“Oh...he’s a prince.”

“He’s a prince?”


“A Saudi Prince?”

“Yes Tom.

Of course he is. I’m pleased I kept quiet.

“I’m not a Saudi Prince.” I say.

She sighs.

“I know.”

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