When I left England on a one way ticket to Sydney in September 1974 I had amongst my baggage a copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez to read on the plane. It seemed an appropriate choice of reading considering what I was leaving behind, it was rumoured to be a strange and unusual book written by a Colombiano who's native country was the source of a product I was very interested in and had been consuming at a furious rate for a couple of years, I don't mean coffee.
I travelled on one of the first 747s, a virtual bus trip, stopping everywhere picking people up, so you'd be sitting next to somebody for a few hours and then another person would get on, another conversation, another story, you could smoke on the planes then and you paid for your drinks, a bar in the sky. I was deranged, sad, paranoid and scared, beyond caring about a lot of important things, a twenty two year old with a habit and a book for a talisman, bolting for a new life in Australia where I knew there was no connection to any product, except coffee, from South America.
The book was exotic and profound, it seemed to express what was in my mind, what I had experienced, everything that was unsaid, and a lot is unsaid in England, it was comfortingly chaotic and unpredictable, it was magical.
When I arrived in Sydney with my chest ray, shocked by the space and sunshine and freedom from Englishness I went for job interviews and met the person I would spend the next nine and a half years with. The major connection for me was that he'd just read the book too, he knew and understood, it was maybe a small bond in a big space but it kept me anchored in the mysterious for a few years, enabled me to start painting again.