Austin, Day Five

No shirt, no shoes, no service. I take breakfast without my trousers with impunity amongst the Saturday hipsters in Julio’s Mexican again as I can’t be bothered driving around aimlessly searching for a café. The promised cold front has arrived but I’m still in shirtsleeves. You’d be pretty satisfied with this temperature at the height of summer in Scotland. I sit at a table on the patio affecting a sophisticated air with my Austin American-Statesman which is a useless rag really but preferable to the soul-draining inanity of USA Today. If I’m honest I kind of need a jacket. Americans call suit jackets coats and for some irrational reason this always irritates me. And waistcoats are vests. So here you’re pretty dapper in a vest and coat whereas in the UK you’d look like you’d stepped out of a Duran Duran video from 1982. A coat and a vest. Jesus fuck. I am that ornery old git with the bad attitude. I think Europeans are very guarded about adapting to the US. I think we suspect that if we lower our resistance we’ll go native and be completely subsumed. It’s almost a subconscious desire. It’s still the land of milk and honey in our psyche.

Birds peck around my feet and flutter in the ornamental shrubbery. On the side street a young lawyer is handing out flyers trying to get people to register to vote. She’s young and pretty and I suppose effectively working for the Democrats. In the coffee shop next door I spot a ginger lad at a laptop wearing a Scotland T-shirt. I can’t figure out if he’s a homesick immigrant or an incredibly ironic Yank. He’s probably Japanese.

I lump my gear into the guesthouse. It’s pristine, modern and delightful. The only thing I’m going to miss about the hotel is the telly. I fucking love the telly. The owner introduces herself with a cup of green tea, gives the lowdown and introduces me to her charming son. I’m the grizzled Scottish lodger living in their back yard. They have a dog which trots in and cheerfully laps water out of my toilet bowl. There’s a little corner with a kitchen and I feel domestication returning like a dull pain. If you’re living in the vicinity of a vacuum cleaner you’re not really free. You’ve settled.

I get to the studio and wait an hour for Mr. McC. I guess I’m not on Texan time. The waiting has made me lethargic. I need a pick-me-up so I go out looking for a tramp that I can pay to kick me in the balls. There was a weather-beaten man at the intersection earlier who’d do it, I reckon. His cardboard signs on his shopping trolley were very professional. “I’m ugly but Jesus still loves me” was one. “Waiting for disability”, another. You could see scars on one of his sun-battered knees. But he looked sprightly enough to invigorate me with a good right foot.

Because the studio has no windows and is stuffed with vintage valve gear it is starting to feel like a 1950s military bunker. I imagine being stuck here during some cataclysm, living in terror of what is outside. We spend some time editing a live piano and vocal take. At the end of time, the great collapse, frittering away the last minutes on a computer dicking about with music.