Bellaire Inn Motel,
6639 Ferris,
P.O. Box 1156,

May 30th 1974.

Dear Folks,
  Sorry about the long gap between letters. I haven’t really had the get up and go to write much since I’ve been here. More of this later.

  Right now I’m drinking a magnum of pink champagne, with assorted friends. I’m celebrating having passed my driving test.

  I took the test today, it’s in three parts, a vision test, a written test, and an actual driving test [in the U.K. in 1974, there was no written test]. Anyway, passed okay, so I’m now fully licensed to drive anywhere in the world—including England.

  By the way, while I remember, I went back to the Golden Nugget, when I was in London before flying here, and I won. It took a long time, I lost five pounds, then ten. Normally I’d quit after that, but I decided to try another five, because I’d lost very slowly. Usually, when you lose, you lose in a couple of minutes. So, I went back to the table, and I was down to my last chip several times. Finally, about 3 a.m., it went for me and I won £41 very quickly. I had to catch the plane about 10 a.m. so I decided to quit while ahead. So I made £26, which I still have in my wallet.

  A good evening’s gambling, really. Roulette is a good game to play. I’ve seen no gambling houses here in Houston. In fact, I think it’s illegal in Texas.

  Friday 31st. It’s officially Saturday, since it’s 12:30. I was at the office till 8:30, then went for a meal, then to a club. Just got in, turned on T.V. to watch the late movie, which is crap.

  Girls here are very strange. Very cynical, and, by our standards, unsophisticated. Also, much-married. The girl I was with last night was 21, and married and divorced twice.

  It’s great having a full licence at last. The car is marvelous, leather upholstery, air-con, seats 15. Just driving around on the freeways is a gas. I’m going to get an International Licence as soon as possible. No test required, just a $3 fee.

  Despite all this, I’ll be glad to leave Houston. It’s a good place to come and visit, but no place to live.

  Superficially, I’ve got everything—big car, free hotel, expenses paid, any time I need money I just ask and get it. But it seems impossible to form any real relationships with anybody. Basically the people are superficially friendly and helpful, but the moment it appears you’re going to make any real impact, you’re frozen out, because you aren’t part of the local scene. It’s hard to explain, you need to experience it, but essentially everyone is taught that it’s good manners to smile and be friendly, but to be very suspicious. Good example, I took a taxi a couple of weeks ago, and the driver opened the door, said, “Where to sir?” So I told him, got in, happened to have my arm lying on my stomach. He stopped the car, said, “Okay, what’s the deal?” He thought I was carrying a gun and was going to rob him. Crazy.

   To be fair, crime here is very bad. If a guy busts into a shop and demands the cash from the till, he may only get about £15, but he figures that dead men don’t give descriptions, so after he’s got the cash he’ll kill the guy. This very situation has happened twice nearby since I’ve been here. There’s normally at least one murder a day, anyway, somewhere in the city.

  So, give me Addis anytime. In fact, I was told, as I mentioned, that I’m going to Pakistan. Well there’s a Pakistani on the course here, and by all accounts Karachi is a pretty good assignment. Much more my kind of city.

  John, by the way, is now in Israel, working on a kibbutz. And Mick is taking four O-levels. Miracles still happen. Helli is well, also Sharon. Andy is floating, Trixie remains silent.

  Weather here is bad. Very humid, very hot. Temperatures 85F to 105F most days, and up to 100% humidity. Which means you can hardly breathe. Literally. But of course absolutely everywhere—car, club, restaurant, office—is air-conditioned, so you only notice it for a few minutes each day.

  I went to see The Sting last week, Redford and Newman. Really good. That really is a good movie, go see it. Fun for all the family. Speaking of which, The Exorcist isn’t. Anybody seen it yet? I’m still having nightmares about it.

  My watch still ticks with remarkable accuracy. Have you read ‘Mila 18’ yet, Mum? Do.

  I’ve just remembered, Rosie, you told me you’d seen The Sting. Good, what, and based on fact. What news on the washing machine front? Sorry to hear you’re not well, Mum, hope you get better soon.

  Got Dad’s letter, by the way, the other day. Now here, unlike Africa, you need news of England, news here just never mentions England. Northern Ireland, of course, but that’s the closest. I can’t even get The Times, except from a newsstand that has one copy, about half the time. What’s the latest score on the home international series?

  Yvonne, I gather, is at home now. What ho, sister, ta for the birthday card. Sorry to hear about Brackie being relocated, though I daresay Moley isn’t.

  Well I guess that’s about it. I’m contemplating attacking a bottle of scotch (cheaper here than in England, less than £2.00), and I have another three letters to write. Possibly the activities can be combined.

  Meantime, keep well, write soon, love to all,