One fine morning, I step out of the shower, peer into my wardrobe and realise that my life is over. I’m looking at an exotic collection of leather pants, hostile shirts and pointy shoes. Problem is, I’m a forty-something father of four and I’m feeling kind of mellow. I’m not angry about anything and as a tax-paying, property-owning, investment-holding, lotus-eater; I am in disagreement with what my clothes are saying to the world. The thrill has gone from frightening the natives. I care not that the world be unruffled by my passage though it. 

So what do I wear? What have I got in my closet that doesn’t say “Fuck You! I’M GOING TO BURN DOWN YOUR WORLD!” For so long, I have had to be worthy of the stares and furtive glances that follow rock stars. It would be unprofessional of me to walk out of my hotel room looking like I’d be safe with children. But now what? 

All my life I have lived in self imposed exile from the normal world. My arty friends and I feel like we are the only humans in a world of robots. A business suit is like the carapace of an insect. Conformity is surrender. Even long hair is a cop out. Mine has had all colour peroxided out of it – heaven forbid that I should be mistaken for a nice hippie. 

But I have discovered that some humans are merely disguised as robots. Under cover of conformity strange personalities can evolve. I have started to experiment with other uniforms and disguises. My main circle of friends is the polo set of Gloucestershire. It’s only natural that my first attempt at a new mufti would start here. They wear the same clothes that I used to wear in boarding school. Problem is, my career was fuelled by a desire to burn down my old school. I get even stranger looks than usual when I show up at the club bar in a blazer, with handkerchief in the pocket. Out on the street, the usual double take is followed by a look of confusion. 

The fact is that my dream of lapsing into the countryside in my post rock star years, is not panning out. The flashbulb popping, tabloid screaming, chart topping, crowd roaring express train of fame may have blazed off over the horizon, but strange adventures still befall me. From dancing the Ndele Banga with the Samburu of Tanzania, to elbowing royalty on the polo fields of Cirencester, to sweaty jam sessions in Havana clip joints and black tie curtain calls at my opera premiers; shit still keeps on happening to me. Only now that I’m off the train, I can play with these things as they go by. 

Here follows a collection of strange tales about the things that can happen as I walk in the constant company of a distantly remembered mythical being. Twenty years ago there was this kid with my face up there on the screen, the whole world got a pretty good look at him, and he still hovers just over my shoulder. He’s mostly invisible after all these years, unseen by passers by, but in some settings, everyone can see him. In fact they see him and not me. And the strangest things happen.

September 13, 2015 STEWART COPELAND