When Damon Albarn was nine, he persuaded his parents, who were in the process of moving house from Leytonstone in east London to rural Essex, to let him travel to Istanbul with a family friend. "I found myself on my own a lot and every day I wandered around the city just trying to take everything in," he says. "I went into mosques to watch people praying and sat in rug shops in the souks drinking tea and chatting. It was quite bizarre when I come to think of it, but I was too mesmerised by the sights and the sounds and the smells of the place to be scared in any way."
Although he knew that he would be going back to a new life in the village of Aldham near Colchester, 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."