Albarn says his nine-year-old self was utterly unprepared for the sense of dislocation he subsequently felt there. "The reality was that everything had changed in my life. I came back into this extremely Anglo-Saxon, grey, conservative world where there was no understanding of the other world I had left behind just 60 miles down the road. So, that was definitely the moment I became a bit other, an outsider."
Bullied at his new primary school and feeling cut off from the multi-cultural thrust of Leytonstone, Albarn read Herman Hesse and "various books on Buddhism". He also sought solace in the countryside near his new home, where he explored the woods in search of "interesting trees where I could make little shrines". Throughout his early teenage years, until he met future Blur guitarist, Graham Coxon, at Stanway comprehensive in Colchester in the mid-1980s, Albarn was a city kid adrift in the Essex countryside..g