Two distinct times, these I remember. Visual recollections of time and place.
The first. The living room of the Tilehouse Road house, radio on, a reading during "Woman's Hour" of "The African Queen". The introductory music, appropriate and inappropriate both, was a short excerpt from Aaron Copland's "Billy the Kid", one of those old cowboy melodies that he wove into his ballet.
I loved it. As the music was not announced, it took some sleuthing to identify it and eventually bring home a copy of "Billy the Kid" as performed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. I played it over and over. "The African Queen" was yanked from German Colonial Africa and placed squarely in the desert of the American west. Where, no doubt, it would attract curious onlookers as Rose and Allnutt woke from their night of passion to look, astonished, at the arid land stretching all around.
The second. In my friend Mark's bedroom, squarely set in suburban Woking, where he would ply me with John Stewart LPs drenched in Country music. Songs so exotic and so far removed from green damp England that they, too, carried me far away.
Now I cannot say I ended up in St. Louis because of these two vivid encounters with an imagined land. Love did that. Or was it simply sex? So distant now. But I do know I made that transatlantic jump with considerably less resistance than I might have otherwise felt.
Of course, once I got here I found nothing was quite as I imagined it, being both lesser and greater than my fantasies. That's OK though. It's been an adventure.
Photo: Valley Of The Gods, Utah.