London feels like a different place every time I visit. The first time I went was on my very first tour and I was so green. I stayed in a one-bedroom Airbnb with my bandmates, my tour manager, and… the man who lived in the apartment. London was experiencing a record-setting heat wave and I remember taking way too much melatonin just to be able to fall asleep. As a ‘thank you’ for ‘letting him stay with us’, the man whose apartment we were in offered to take my bandmates and me out for Turkish food. He ordered us multiple platters and then realised he’d ‘forgotten his wallet’. Again, I was very green.
I’ve travelled to London solo, and though I’m not really prone to loneliness, I’ve felt loneliness there. I sat in a pub around the corner from my bleak Ibis hotel room one winter. I had a glass of red wine and some grey meat and I was reading the Cormac McCarthy novel, Child of God, which made me feel colder. I think too many viewings of Notting Hill had a hand in my romanticization of the place and my subsequent disappointment. (You’re telling me life isn’t just like a Julia Roberts movie?!)
At risk of seeming disparaging, I’ll note that I’ve also had fun in London. It’s where I met my producer, Rob Ellis. We bonded quickly and deeply over too many whiskies in a basement pub after one of my first shows there.
I also ended up in London just before going to Dorset to record Sprinter and it happened to be the day of the Notting Hill Carnival. My friend and I drank a bottle of tequila (I had one and he had his own) in the streets and danced and merrily met tons of people we’d never remember. We ate street meat and were happy to be out in the rain. Eventually my friend had to knock on someone’s door to ask if I could puke in his bathroom. The man called himself Santa. Santa charged me two pounds for that transaction.