Psycho Commissioning Editor
They sent me to America because I needed to do some business there and also because I think they wanted my desk for the intern, who’s 22, hot and likes Snoop Dogg. We don’t call them work experience anymore since most of them don’t want to do any work and prefer Facebook to real books. She didn’t smile at me when I met her but that might have been because I had busted lip that day from some rough-housing at the pool hall. As I leave I swear she’s already waiting to get to my desk and probably piss on my chair on her last day but I don’t care because I sold all her personal details to the man who works underneath the Post Office.
I’m in transit for a long time on the way to DC. The queue for immigration and security at Dulles is long, too, and is a joke. Plasma screens show a hideous ‘patriotic’ film that’s so bad they probably get high to it in NoHo, wherever that is these days. They fingerprint me and take my picture and I feel somewhat invaded. The surly bitch at the Shuttlebus booth further irritates me, and I scowl at her. We hit a log jam of traffic we hit on Route 66 in a nine passenger van with hyper air-con and Christian rock in the background on the stereo. The woman to my right has a diamond ring on and talks on her phone so I direct all the air con vents at my face and feel it start to go numb.
I’m pitching for ‘all-American ass, as campus worthy as ever’ (to paraphrase DeLillo) but at a diner all I see are fat people with take out trays. There are pretty interns jogging everywhere carrying their hauty demeanour at a 10 kilometres an hour. I try to make headway into some Virginia Blend Marlboros but I’m told I can’t smoke at the Lincoln Memorial by an armed policeman and I let it go out before he shoots me in the face.
Then there’s the waking up in an East-facing hotel room, the hooker’s gone and the sheets are crumpled and messy. I think I used all the petty cash. There’s a red lip stick mark on a wine stem that I clearly see from where I’m lying. The glass is stood on the bedside table, along with an empty box of Ticklers and some Tamales, which look helplessly sad. I resolve to change – I occasionally allow myself these rare moments. But none of us change, do we? I hum that Coldplay song until I realise why I hated it in the first place — Chris Martin’s glib approach to difficult philosophical problems. I get gingerly into the shower. The hot water makes me feel no better. I slip on my way out and get concussion but I realise there’s no N.H.S. in this country so I sit very still for a long time and wait for my eyes to point in the same direction again.
There’s another stage to my trip. I’m sent along the coast to NY to visit the American office, and to try some new commissioning avenues. There’s a greater dichotomy of good looks and bad looks here, away from the corn-fed blandness of the DC denizens. I’m hustled straight away by a limo driver at the airport who charges me $60 to drive me to my hotel. Admittedly, it’s in a Lincoln Stretch and he looks like Steve Buschemi. He gives me a blank receipt under the noses of the cops, parked on the corner just like we are.
New York is rude, and aggressive, and grimy. Horns sound, people don’t say thank you and there is a relentless curtness to everything. After a particularly brutal night of drinking, I stumble into a Chinese foodhall and start to cry behind my shades, pawing at a cup of split green pea soup and quite aware of the sheer amount of pain in my head. I am unable to hold my spoon up for long. No-one gives a shit. At least in London someone might laugh at me or try to sell me The Big Issue
. The lack of sunlight at ground level further depresses my mood until I fear for my sanity. I try to score some blow but there’s only enough petty cash left for some Hershey bars and a pack of Jolly Ranchers. I get angry and confused and gesticulate wildly on the street but all this does is hail a flurry of passing cabs that then all honk their horns in my face, drivers waving their fists. No lane discipline at all.
I head to JFK in a Lincoln, with an urge to take a poo outside a major monument, brazen in the daylight like an untamed animal. It’s an urge I fail to act on.