Just back from a two week stay in blisteringly hot NYC. When people told me London was hot, I emailed back:
“You don’t know what hot is.”
For the duration of my stay, New York was 100 degrees with similar humidity. It was cruel. And thank God I didn’t know anyone in the city because of my hair dripping on to my shoulders and a face resembling a beetroot, an over-ripe one. …
Plodding down a long, long corridor in the subway I realised I knew what Hell would be like. I’m going to be good from now on …
We lived in air conditioned museums and cinemas: saw 5 films – Much Ado About Nothing (brilliant), Beyond Sunrise (ditto), Fill the Void (ditto), Twenty Steps from Stardom – a documentary about backing singers (ditto) and Aldomar’s I’m so Excited (bad). That Stardom documentary had amazing participants, among them Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen and Sting who gave me something to think about. Speaking about a backing singer with as good a voice as Aretha Franklin, but whose debut album did badly, Sting said:
“Success isn’t about talent or hard work, it isn’t even about luck, it’s about timing, circumstance and destiny.”
Loved the Frick Museum with its collection of Turners, Constables, Gainsboroughs, Reynolds, Rembrandts, Degas’, Monets etc etc … Mr Frick owned a steelworks in Pittsburgh. A strike caused the Pinkerton police to be called in to break it up. A move to NYC was therefore the best way forward for the Frick family. He then built a house he intended to be an art museum. Nowhere in the video intro or throughout the building was Mrs Frick mentioned so I hope she agreed to live in a museum instead of a nice cosy house! Humbling to know the Frick fortune was built on the sweat of steel workers though at least the museum ended up as a benefit to all.
My friend swapped her London flat (via The Guardian website) for a wonderful brownstone in Brooklyn – which was perfect in location and a wonderful space – except a man and his teenage son lived in it and the house was woman unfriendly. No mirrors except one high over the washbasin and plugs in weird places. I had to blow dry my hair hunched in a corner than move to the only mirror and stand on tip toe and it had an overhead light. At one stage I begged my friend to say I didn’t look like that mirror image!
No one commented on our accents – probably because so many Brits are on their TV, films or acting on stage. Only once, after I asked directions, did a woman ask: “Are you English”. When I said yes, she shouted: “God bless you!”
- The Arthritis Thrift Shop – thank you Lonely Planet Guide. Situated in Fifth Avenue, its contents come from the rich women living nearby. A Diane von Furstenburg summer jacket was a snip as was a pure silk blouse.
- Power breakfasts – wonderful granola, berries, honey and yoghurt. Set us up for the day so we didn’t need any food until supper.
- The High Line, an imaginative use of a derelict railway high above the city, beautiful gardens and spaces for meditation throughout. They are going to replicate it in London, great idea.
- Ground Zero … two new twin towers nearing completion, which are imaginative and totally beautiful (something you couldn’t say about their predecessors) with a dramatic water-feature memorial which has the names of those who perished inscribed in black stone all around it. Very poignant to read the name of a woman followed by “and her unborn child”.
- Woman of a certain age we met on the subway dressed stylishly in monochrome black and white with superb if unusual jewellery… turns out she has a blog – “setting a bad example for older women everywhere”. I went on it and laughed out loud, it’s very witty. As is their email: [email protected]. The blog www.idiosyncraticfashionistas.blogspot.com
- New Yorkers – we expected brusqueness if not rudeness but they were completely charming and helpful.
- Much-vaunted Century 21, a bigger TK Max but lots of tat except in the designer section where you needed to be size zero.
- The subway: many trains did not carry signs, maps or indications of stations. Pity non-English speakers as it is really difficult to make sense of it. Our tubes beat theirs hollow – except the trains are air conditioned, London Transport please note!