“That’s Alan McGee” said Becky as we walked past the distinctive pork pie hat. Alan McGee is the creator of Creation records, the man who discovered Oasis and managed the Libertines and I think we have met before. There’s a polite nod. The flight to New York is easy enough. And the interview at customs is a blast.
“you are here to interview a jazz musician. Who is he?” says the customs officer as he skims my visa details. “Gil Scott Heron”. I reply. His eyes don’t lift as he splays my
passport “never heard of him” he says. Shit, If you haven’t heard of him the documentary
isn’t going to happen now is it. For some reason I say “he’s an obscure jazz musician”.
I can’t believe I just said that. I feel like Peter at the gate. “Fame is a relative thing” I say
and correct myself “he’s famous to me”. Shit now I sound like a fan more than a BBC
interviewer. Customs officer looks at me. He’s enjoying this. Like a cat playing with a dying mouse. Leave me alone and let me through. I have jet lag and you know it.
The stamp hovers and then rests “man came through one time talking on his mobile phone. I asked him ‘sir could you put the mobile phone away’. See they have cameras on them and we don’t allow that”. What beast have I released . The white moustacheoued officer bangs a stamp onto my declaration paper.
He continued. “ The man looked at me, says Do you know who I am. Do you know who it was?” I shake my head “John McCain. People look different on in person” . He slams down the stamp again, into my passport this time. The customs officer raised his eyebrows leaned back and looked at me – “So I said to him…” he paused and narrowed his eyes ” ‘do you know who I am’ ”. And with that he held out my passport and said “welcome to America sir.”.