Old Dogs and New Tricks


When we moved to this great city, we expected to see new things and meet new people. What we didn’t anticipate was that we might become new people.


Please don’t be alarmed. I’m not talking about plastic surgery, or about any upending of character or values. I’m talking about small shifts in what we choose to do, how we opt to spend our time.


Here’s what I mean. Back in London, L1 was not a shopper.  If the trend over the past decade has been towards men making up at least fifty percent of supermarket traffic, L1 hasn’t been part of that trend. He’s been the anti-trend. And yet, within days of moving to Manhattan, he transmogrified into someone who positively embraces the supermarket shopping experience. Could he possibly pop into Morton Williams on his way home from work to pick up some milk and broccoli? No problemo. Does he want to accompany me to Whole Foods on Saturday morning to pick up some grass-fed beef for dinner, and the other twenty items we need for the week? Nothing would give him more pleasure. I’m enjoying this new supermarket persona, but every now and again, catching sight of him wheeling the trolley through the fresh produce aisles or testing the ripeness of an avocado, I have the odd sensation of wondering who he is and what he’s done with my husband.


It’s not just shopping he’s taken to. We’ve both developed a new enthusiasm for perusing galleries and museums. London has an abundance of world class galleries and museums, but we seldom used to visit them. We’d venture into town to see an exhibit three or four times a year, at most. In New York, we’re members of MOMA, the Met and the Frick, and we see something almost every weekend. Our new devotion to viewing art might be attributed to the fact that it’s more easily accessible to us here (involving a short stroll rather than a trip on the Underground), but it also has something to do with the shaking up of our obligations and habits. In London, there was always a tennis or golf game to play, a dog to walk, a cricket or rugby match to watch, a meal for ten to prepare. Without these fixtures in our weekly schedule, both our time and our minds have opened up to accommodate new ways of entertaining ourselves.

And into these new, opened up spaces has come something else, something even more surprising to us than L1’s proclivity for supermarket shopping or our fondness of a gallery: dance. (Talented dancing nieces: take note)

The dancing thing started after we booked a family holiday in Wyoming which will start in Yellowstone Park and finish up at a dude ranch. The dude ranch offers many activities, including horseriding, hiking, fishing and – somewhat teriffyingly – line dancing.


L1 said, one morning back in January, “When we’re sitting around the camp fire in the evenings and there’s a call for people to come up and join the line dance, what are we going to do?”


“I guess we’ll watch,” I said.


“But wouldn’t it be fun,” he said, “if we joined in? And if we actually knew how to do it?”


“The kids would drop dead from surprise,” I said.


“Ahuh,” he said.


“Let’s do it,” he said, eyes alight with brio. “Let’s take country dancing lessons and get really good.”


Believe me, I was surprised as you all are. But I took L1 at his word and sought out some private lessons, settling on the Arthur Murray Dance Studio at 286 Fifth Avenue. “I’m so excited to be teaching you!” gushed the head of the dance studio over the phone. “Almost nobody requests to learn country dancing anymore.”


The night before our first lesson, L1 got cold feet.


“Are we sure about this?” he said.


“I don’t know. Are we sure about this?”


We sat in silence for a moment, and I considered, just briefly, letting us both off the hook. But I stopped myself from saying those cowardly words: I’ll call and cancel.


“How bad could it be?” I said. “If we’re really rubbish, who’s going to know besides the instructor? And we never have to see him again.”


So we set off on Saturday morning, opting to walk the thirty-six blocks to the studio. We’d also done a stint in the gym, which we realised, when we arrived at the studio drooping with exhaustion, was possibly a mistake.


“Are we really going to do this?” L1 said, finger hovering over the button that would grant us entry into the world of dance.


‘Press the damn button,” I said.


We exited the lift and walked straight into the backstage bits of Strictly Come Dancing. An entrance foyer full of glamorous dance dresses; walls bedecked with photographs of the studio owners in full dance competition mode; large, mirrored dance studios bookending the foyer, and alarmingly open to general view; half a dozen couples practising their moves in one of the studios, with varying degrees of expertise.4yu+IaHxQNiEdxKCQ5ADcA


“Welcome!” said a young man named Chris,  effervescing with dance spirit and leaping up from behind the desk to shake our hands.


There followed some filling in of forms and a nervous wait for our instructor, whom, it transpired, was the co-owner of the studio and six times National Dance Champion Gherman, the Ukrainian I’d spoken to over the phone.


Gherman was outfitted in a slim fit cowboy shirt in a pale blue and silver check, a glittery turquoise cowboy hat slung across his back. “You like it?” he said. “I wore this for you.” One of the other instructors appeared to shake our hands. “I want to thank you both,” she said, “because you are responsible for this.”  – she gestured towards Gherman, posing in his Western garb – “and it’s a treat for everybody here.”


Gherman led us back to the dance studio, where we told him that we’d never danced before and that there was a every chance that we would prove to be rhythmically challenged to a degree that would make him despair. He assured us that a lifetime of golf, tennis, rugby, and gym-going would stand us in good stead, and that we would pick it up in no time. He started us off with four basic steps which are, apparently, the bedrock of all forms of dance, from foxtrot to rhumba to country swing.


We spent an hour learning these basics, to a variety of musical tracks. We each danced with Gherman, and with each other. I would have imagined the sight of L1 in the embrace of a rhinestone cowboy to be very strange, but it was strangely normal. At the end, Gherman declared us to be A* students. L1 declared us to be “not half as crap as he’d expected us to be.”

L1 in action


“And that side step thing,” he added, “It’s kind of like what I used to do on the rugby pitch.”


At some point during the lesson, Gherman gleaned that we were Strictly fans. He dragged us back towards the foyer, where he pointed out the many photographs of him and his dance partner, Iveta Lukosiute of Strictly fame.  Iveta has hung up her Strictly shoes in order to spend more time at the New York Studio and with her baby. “She is not here today, but she is here often so you will meet her, for sure.”


And we did meet her, when we went in for our second lesson on a Tuesday evening. Well, I say meet her. What I mean is that she smiled warmly at us, from a distance, as she arranged a sequinned gown on one of the mannequins or skipped past us towards the studio where she was to give a private lesson. I must admit to being somewhat star-struck. Gherman is a delight – full of warmth and humour – but Iveta is like a real-life version of a fairy tale princess. Watching her dance with the lucky woman who was her student that evening was like watching Usain Bolt run the hundred, or Johnny Wilkinson execute a drop kick. Pure grace and magic.


“One day I’m going to have a lesson with Iveta,” I whispered to L1. “No matter what it costs.”


That evening our lesson was not with Gherman or Iveta, but with Louisa. Louisa was determined to take us all over the dance map, learning small sequences of foxtrot, rhumba, waltz and country. Let’s see if I can recall exactly what we learned. The magic step, otherwise known as the L step from the foxtrot. The Cuban walk and the Cuban box step from the rhumba (but maybe also from the waltz?). The Cuban walk with turn. Yes! The country swing. The country swing with spin. Whoo! I have no idea why she picked these steps, in this order, but it was surprisingly fun and gratifying to grapple with them. And we’ve been assured that somehow, someday, they will add up to an assured triumph at the dude ranch.


But first, L1 and I have to master the art of the small step. Apparently we both take big strides (and L1 takes giant ones) which is making our dance life harder than it needs to be. “Smaller steps! Smaller steps!” Louisa kept insisting. “Especially you, Mr L1. Baby steps, please!”


Now we are dance obsessed. Anyone peering into our apartment might spy me doing a few swing steps while waiting for the kettle to boil, or witness me practising a Cuban strut while vacuuming the sitting room.  Slow, quick, quick, slow, quick, quick, slow. Sideways step. And I caught L1 doing a magic step while brushing his teeth.


The cat’s being let out of the bag as I write, of course, and there will be no surprise at the dude ranch. Unless it’s the surprise of just how bad we are after five months of dance lessons. Never mind. I have to think that simply trying to learn these steps will do something for our bodies and our brains.


So it’s all new tricks for these old dogs. Of course, you don’t have to move to a city like New York – or move anywhere at all – to try new things. Amongst my loyal readers there are countless examples of the old dog-new tricks phenomenon. L1’s parents moved from the Hampshire countryside to Wimbledon, and his mother suddenly found herself riding on buses and shopping on-line. My Canadian friends L and J are spending more time down in Florida and suddenly find themselves playing a game called Pickleball. (I promise you, it’s a thing.) A fifty-something friend has started making ceramics and regular excursions to exotic destinations, and another friend, a talented and highly accomplished painter, has taken up knitting in a big way. And didn’t I read somewhere that Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon is to run for governor?


I guess the world is full of new beginnings for those who want to make them. But L1 and I have been gifted something in our move, which is a kick up the backside and a whole new set of opportunities arrayed on our doorstep.


The trouble is, what with all the gallery-going and dancing, I’ll be hard pressed to carve out time for writing.  I’m counting on you to keep me honest.


Onwards. Slow, quick, quick, slow, quick, quick, slow. Sideways step.


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P.S. While we’re on the subject of dancing, I must tell you about the utterly wonderful Victoria’s, where I was taken by two of my old university chums during a brief trip to Florida this past week.  Victoria’s (in Bonita Springs, not far from Naples) is like no other shop I’ve ever been in. Entering through the front door feels like walking into a party in full swing. There’s music (mostly Motown, but with some Hall and Oates and Pharrell Williams thrown in), raucous laughter, exuberant chat and a joyous, infectious energy. Glitter balls and ruby-red hearts dangle from the ceiling. Women of a certain age (all well on the north side of fifty and many pushing eighty) are everywhere amongst the racks and tables, holding up items to show their girlfriends, draping themselves in colourful scarves, posing in floaty summer dresses or t-shirts with flowers or starfish emblazoned on the front or the back or both. Men who are waiting for their wives and girlfriends (and a number of the wives and girlfriends in addition), are seated at a small bar where a handsome, grey haired senior citizen in a crisp, white dress-shirt and bow tie serves them tea, coffee, juices and sweet delights. (The delights used to include wine and champagne, until the insurance costs spiralled out of control and the alcohol license was reluctantly relinquished. “If you think this is wild,” one woman said, “you shudda seen the place in those days.”). It’s hard NOT to dance as you browse, and many of the women don’t even try to stop themselves.

Kitsch perfection outside Victoria’s
Music, tea and joy inside


Admittedly, some of the merchandise is on the wrong side of that line between eccentric and tacky – a bit too loud, a bit too colourful or shiny, adorned with a few too many giant daisies. And you’d have to think twice before wearing some of the items in places like London, New York or Toronto. (“No, no, no,” said my friend J, holding up a chunky, multi-coloured wooden bracelet.) But no matter.  Mostly what you see is older women who’ve refused to give up on style, and who still find immense joy in seeking out that adorable, fun necklace or that flattering waterfall-blouse-and-palazzo-pants combo. They’re doing it with friends while dancing to Marvin Gaye and they’re having a blast.


It was a life affirming experience.



Finding Shakespeare


Here’s a sentence you probably don’t hear very often: we’ve come back to the city that never sleeps for a good rest. After a whirlwind ten day visit to London, squeezing in more birthday parties, lunches, dinners, and communal dog walks than we’d normally manage in the course of two months, in addition to sorting out a small mountain of post, a rattling oven and a downstairs loo with a lacklustre flush, L1 and I returned to Manhattan happy but exhausted.


“It’s weird, isn’t it,” L1 said as we hauled our suitcases out of the lift on our floor. “Do you feel weird?”


“Very weird.”


“I wonder when it will stop feeling weird.”


I wonder that too. When does a transatlantic life begin to seem completely normal? When do you stop saying to yourself, as you land in each place, Gosh this is surreal, just this morning we were in …. I must ask my parents, who’ve been spending six months a year in each of Montreal and Sarasota for what feels like forever. Do they experience this kind of dislocation, this sense of weirdness? Or do they take it in their stride, rolling from one place to the other and back again with nary a second thought?


Our eighteen year old son had this advice to offer: really you’ve not been there very long, so of course it’s going to feel strange every time you go back. It’s like when I get back to uni after a weekend at home. Or like that first term at Epsom, when I arrived back at school on a Monday morning after a weekend at home, feeling shell shocked. But it will get easier. You’ll get used to it. Give it time.


So here’s another question for you: when did the eighteen year old son get so wise? And when did our children start advising us, rather than it always being the other way around? Age sixteen? Seventeen? Eighteen? It seems to have happened without our noticing, and now I find I solicit the advice of our three all the time. It’s marvellous not to have to always be the one with the answers. And I can’t tell you how fantastic it is that the two girls have taken over the shared parenting of the boy. Whenever I have some tricky issue to discuss with him, or something to admonish him for, one of the of the girls will say already done that, or got that covered mum. It’s such a blessed relief. And I’m sure they manage to dole out their advice in a far more eighteen-year-old friendly way than we could ever manage.


But back to the business of this transatlantic life. It’s not half as unusual as I might once have imagined. I’ve been befriended by one woman who’s been making the journey back to England once every ten days for the past five years. And this week, thanks to an invite from my friend E (herself an experienced transatlantic hopper), I had coffee with eight New York dwelling women, half of whom spend much of their time flying back and forth across the ocean. One woman spends all of her time actually on the ocean. She lives on something called The World, which is sort of like an apartment building crossed with a cruise liner. The hundred or so residents make a plan for the year, deciding where they want to go and how long they want to stay there. Then they set sail, making temporary homes in their chosen ports. The woman said that this year they’d spent five weeks living in the Antarctic, in addition to doing long stints in India, Australia, and parts of South America. She flies back to New York for board meetings. I wonder if she also flies back for a rest.



The place where we all met for coffee was the wonderfully eccentric Shakespeare and Co, a purveyor of new and second-hand books which is also part coffee shop, part library and part printing press. (Who said the Upper East Side was dull?) The two original Shakespeare and Co establishments were in Paris, the first one opened by the American Sylvia Beach in 1919. It served as a gathering place for the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound and James Joyce, but was closed in 1941 during the German occupation and never reopened. The second Parisian Shakespeare and Co, modelled on Beach’s shop, was opened by another American, George Whitman, in 1951, and continues to serve as a purveyor of new and second hand books, an antiquarian bookseller and a free reading library for the public.


The continued existence of Shakepeare and Co on both the Upper East Side and the Left Bank is a heartening reminder that there is, after all, life beyond and after Amazon. The New York shop isn’t related to its Paris counterparts in any way but by name, but I like to think of it as being inspired by them. I also like to think about the spirits of Hemingway, Pound and Joyce wafting around there, lending a small amount of their erudition to all who sit at the little round tables and write, listening to Bach and Mendel, ordering cortado after cortado just to be able to stay long enough to finish a chapter.

Shakespeare and Co

On Friday I walked to Shakespeare and Co in weather that can only be described as a mixed up mix of everything – icy cold, gale force wind, rain, snow and slush. Be careful out there, Robert, the doorman, warned when I set out. And he was right to warn me, because I skidded much of the way, borne along the slick sidewalk by a ferocious wind that turned my umbrella inside out within minutes and very nearly blew me into the path of oncoming traffic at the corner of Lexington and 66th. I arrived at Shakespeare and Co looking thoroughly bedraggled, wet hair plastered to my scalp, leather gloves, trainers and trouser knees soaked through. Serves me right for being so smug about the mild weather we’d been experiencing while the UK battled with heavy snow. Spring is not, after all, on its way.



Is it possible, though, that in the aftermath of the tragic shootings in Florida, some sensible and long overdue gun legislation might finally be on its way? I hardly dare to believe Trump when he says something must be done and talks the language of age limits and strong – very strong, unbelievably strong – background checks being implemented. If he manages to beat back the hard-core, gun-loving Republican base and deliver on his promises, we might be persuaded to forgive him one or two of his many sins of the past year.


Nah. You’re right. It’s not going to happen. A man who just launched an ill-considered tariff war to deflect attention from the facts surrounding Hope Hick’s testimony before Robert Mueller’s investigative team and her subsequent resignation, and the increasingly damaging allegations about his son in law – a man who is today reported as being unglued in the face of the unravelling of his administration – a man who thinks a good use of his presidential time is to engage in a Twitter spat with the actor  Alec Baldwin – cannot be counted upon to follow through on a few disingenuous and hastily made comments about gun control.


Our only hope is Mr Mueller himself.  Was there ever a man who exuded more calm strength and integrity, whose Mount Rushmore countenance you could trust more? Even if I didn’t see in him a striking resemblance to my father, I’m sure I would feel that way. To echo the words emblazoned above Mueller’s photograph on one of my favourite placards at January’s Women’s March: HURRY UP.


L1 and I watch with interest, along with all of America. Meanwhile, the novel writing is going reasonably well, thank you for asking. Twenty-one thousand words down. I feel sure that Hemingway – whispering sweet encouragements in my ear while I sip on my third cortado – is at least partly responsible.




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Taste Test

Still dreaming of those verdant hills and robust cabernets in Napa, and inspired by the story of the Valley’s triumph in the 1976 Judgement of Paris, I’ve decided to conduct my own taste test. I won’t be judging wines, but countries. No prizes for guessing which two. My test won’t be blind and the criteria will be a little more random than those used to judge wine – things like flavour, bouquet, tannin levels, acidity, and my personal favourite, legs. But I will be awarding scores out of twenty, just as the judges in Paris did.

I fully accept that judging entire countries on the basis of some randomly chosen factors, using a sample of one (me), and incorporating data from just two cities (London and New York) is in no way fair or scientific. I ought, at least, to try to get some data from some places like Virginia Beach and Birmingham.   But I haven’t got time for a scientific methodology, and neither have you. So I’m counting on you good people to indulge me in a harmless game of compare and contrast.

So. In no particular order, we begin. Continue reading “Taste Test”

Golden Days

My apologies, loyal blog followers. This post is (a) late, and (b) not about life in New York. L1 was called upon to fly to Northern California for meetings, so I tagged along, as indeed I’m tagging along, L2 like, on this entire year’s adventure. So this post is about California. But perhaps you’ll be pleased to take a break from the intense cold, manic pace and expense of New York to spend a little time in the Golden State.

It so happened that in the week before we left I met several people who knew the San Francisco area well. The consensus seemed to be that the city itself was not what it used to be.

“San Francisco is the new New York,” said A, a management consultant who travels there often. “It used to be kind of an alternative, creative place, but now it’s full of hyperactive, money hungry techies. They’re the only people who can really afford to live there.”

“The traffic is diabolical,” said another friend. “Really, you don’t want to drive anywhere near the city.” (This rather put the fear of God into L1, who had booked us into a hotel in Half Moon Bay, thirty miles south of San Francisco, and was planning to drive in for meetings every day.)

Another woman, who moved from San Francisco to New York six months ago, said “It’s all over for San Fran. The weather isn’t great – it’s almost always foggy and a little chilly. And the only people who live there are the fabulously wealthy tech players, or the desperately poor and homeless. There’s not a lot in between. Plus any day now there’s going to be a huge earthquake and the entire place will fall into the sea.”

On this cheerful note, L1 and I boarded our American Airlines flight to SFO. We then hired a car (which L1 described as a giant sitting room on wheels) and made the half hour drive to Half Moon Bay, a little gem of a place (and the pumpkin capital of the USA, no less) perched on the west side of the San Francisco Peninsula directly across from Palo Alto. Continue reading “Golden Days”

Nice day for a protest

One bitterly cold afternoon this week I received a visit from K, a Lithuanian woman in her early sixties who’s lived in New York for some twenty years. K had made the long bus journey from North Queens to uptown Manhattan to collect a package I’d brought over from the Lithuanian angel, R, who is the linchpin of our transatlantic life, looking after house, dogs and twenty somethings back in Wimbledon.

K refused my first two offers to come up to the apartment for a cup of tea, but finally relented. During the forty minutes we spend together, I learned that K and R are old friends who both left Lithuania in 1996, crossing great expanses of water in search of better lives. K ended up in New York, where she met her American husband in a dance hall in Brooklyn. (When she told me this I couldn’t help picturing the dance hall scenes in Colm Toibin’s beautiful novel, Brooklyn). The husband died eighteen months ago, and K said she was still trying to work out how to live without him.

“Trouble is,” she said, “ New York is not very friendly place. People do not want to know.” Continue reading “Nice day for a protest”

To be resolved


Ahhh, Christmas. I know it stirs up mixed feelings in some –  all that festive fun, yes, but also, all the fuss, all the expense, and the weight of all those unrealistic expectations. But I must confess to being a super-fan. L1 doesn’t call me the Christmas Monster for nothing. And Christmas in London this year did not disappoint.

The sensation of Christmas joy hit me before I went ice-skating beneath the stars at Somerset House, supped champagne with friends in a sparkling Sloane Square, or plonked my turkey into its heavenly scented brine bath of cinnamon, cloves and oranges. The minute I walked into my house I felt an overwhelming surge of warmth. I like to think that it wasn’t just the heat from the radiators (our house is always a tad on the warm side) but the settling of my very soul. For London, and our house in Wimbledon, is still home. One day, when New York has worked its way deep into my system, I might be able to say that I have two homes, like all those celebrities you read about who claim to divide their time between Paris and New York, or LA and Sydney. But for now, New York represents novelty, excitement and adventure, while London is home.

Now we’re back in that place of novelty, excitement and adventure, having expertly timed our arrival so as to miss all the snow and sub-zero temperatures. We came back raring to go and ready to re-embrace our new urban life. We also came back with a slew of New Years Resolutions. Continue reading “To be resolved”

A Christmas Story



When we first told people we’d be moving to New York in November, they invariably said how wonderful it would be to experience a New York Christmas season. Christmas is wonderful in New York, said those who’d experienced it. Christmas must be wonderful in New York, said those who wished they had. With every comment I grew more excited, and more conscious of how lucky we’d been with our timing.


I had it all planned. Eldest daughter H and her boyfriend C were going to be visiting for a week from the 8th December, so we would all partake of the Christmas delights on offer in the city. I was going to do all my Christmas shopping, going back to London with a suitcase full of exciting and impossible-to-get-in-London goodies. We were going to go skating in Central Park, look with awe upon the magnificent tree at the Rockefeller Centre, have cocktails at Bemelmans Bar in the Carlysle,

The Carlysle Hotel

walk the length of Fifth Avenue gazing at the festive window displays. We would marvel at the lights festooned above the avenues, eat pasta at Lupa (Julia Roberts’ favourite Italian restaurant in the West Village) and delight in pushing open the doors of Bloomy’s and Barneys to be greeted by a blast of Frank Sinatra singing Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!


And if we were lucky, we would do all of this while actual snow tickled our cheeks and dusted our shoulders . It was going to be magical. Continue reading “A Christmas Story”

Notes From Underground

Reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground


A few weekends back, L1 and I were headed to the Coffee Shop at Union Square, where they do a stupendous breakfast in classic diner surroundings. It was L1’s first foray underground. He couldn’t get over the industrial feel of everything, how it was all – both trains and track – just big hunks of metal held together by bolts and rivets. It has character, sure, but also a whiff of dinosaur.

A few days later, reading the New York Times, I understood why. The New York City subway, loved, hated and relied upon by some six million people a day, has been neglected. “The Making of a Meltdown” screamed the headline. “How Politics and Bad Decisions Plunged New York’s Subways into Misery.” Apparently we’ve arrived here in a year that has seen one subway disaster after another – the derailment of a Q train, a track fire on the A line, a stalled F train that had overheated passengers clawing at the windows – all of them attributed to century old tunnels, and track routes that are crumbling as a result of decades of underinvestment. The accusations were endless: Signal failures are twice as frequent as a decade ago; New York is the only major city that has fewer miles of track than in World War 11; and New York’s subway now has the worst on-time performance record of any major rapid transit in the world. (Though, suspiciously, London’s Underground wasn’t even on the list.) Continue reading “Notes From Underground”

Is that a trombone I hear?

 “They’re not shy about using their horns in this city, are they?” L1 said on our first morning in the new apartment, as we craned our necks in the direction of the TV so as to hear Morning Joe over the vehicular argument that was gathering both pace and volume outside, five floors below.

“This, of course, is why a balcony is a complete waste of time in New York,” he added, clearly congratulating himself on having had the good sense not to pay whatever extra sum might have been required to secure an apartment with six square feet of precariously suspended outside space.

It occurred to us then, as it has almost every day since, that Manhattan actually has two great symphony orchestras. There’s the one that plays in the David Geffen Hall at the Lincoln Centre, the NYPO (New York Philharmonic),maxresdefault and then there’s the one that plays on the streets.  The street symphony’s illustrious composer is not Mozart or Brahms,  but the combined comings, goings and inclinations of the millions who live, work and drive in the city.

Ordinarily it’s the string section that reigns supreme, with the leading first violinist being the undisputed concertmaster. But in the street orchestra, it’s the brass section that takes centre stage. The constant honking of horns by taxis, cars and giant SUVs forms the very core of the score in this city – mostly trumpets, French horns and trombones, with the occasional stupendously loud report from a tuba. (That would be a super-sized truck making its impatience known.) Continue reading “Is that a trombone I hear?”

On perspective

They came. They saw. They went.

Daughter K (all housewarming-party-sins forgiven) and her boyfriend M departed on Sunday, leaving our spare room looking extremely forlorn, ivory petals falling like tears from the weary looking roses on the window sill. But they remembered to strip the beds and leave the sheets in a neat pile, so there was one reason to be cheerful.

What superb company they were, during a whirlwind week that saw us taking in our  favourite local for dinner, strolling through Washington Square and Greenwich Village (highlights: the Fresh Store, and the Friends building), watching our flatbreads baking in an open oven at Dizengoffs and then eating them with scrummy hummus and bits and bobs, walking the Highline and most of Fifth and Madison (14 km, according to M’s iPhone), scoffing scallops and sliders at the Central Park Boathouse, nuzzling horses in the park,  shopping at Stella Dallas Living in Brooklyn (for vintage t-shirts and hats we will almost certainly never wear) IMG_0315and sampling the hospitality and delicious apple and walnut pancakes on offer in Toms diner. We welled up at the 9/11 memorial site, shot to the top of the One World Tower, peered through the half-light and pretended to be in a scene of SATC at Buddakan, and queued for forty minutes for a five-inch-high pastrami sandwich at Katz deli. We capped it all off with another viewing of The Orient Express (where it was me who fell asleep this time) and a classic all-dressed pizza at home.

In other words, we continued to experience the chronic hemorrhaging of money that is life in New York City. (I’m not going to lie to you. I pinched that phrase from Jonathan in Jonathan Unleashed. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re missing a treat.) Continue reading “On perspective”