Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Cut throat razor

We walked the length of Central Park yesterday; all the way from its Northern most tip on Cathedral Parkway, past the Eleanor Roosevelt reservoir and the Shakespeare Theatre, through Strawberry Fields and down to Columbus Circle. It’s a lovely place, which is presently marred only by ugly, make-shift signs almost everywhere, informing us that some of the racoons within the park have tested positive for rabies. As a result, I refrained from feeding and photographing the squirrels. The signs all feature “rabies” written in several different languages. What is it about that word in French, La Rage that sounds so sinister? As a child I remember getting on a ferry to Holland and encountering La Rage for the first time. It gave me nightmares for weeks. I remember wondering if any of my soft toys had caught La Rage whilst they were on the continent.

We had lunch in Hell’s Kitchen, which is also where we passed an old-fashioned barber shop. Someone inside was actually being shaved with a cut throat razor, and I realised that I’d never had that particular experience before. Five minutes later I was sitting in a chair which had been cranked back into a horizontal position and a Russian man was doing the business. It was a hugely relaxing experience, which took, I suppose close to half an hour. There were hot wet towels, balms, warm shaving foams from a special machine, aftershaves, and all sorts of talcs. Occasionally, he’d do something with the razor which felt really quite dangerous, which I guess just added to the experience. The end result was incredible; a very close shave. He didn’t go quite close enough just under my nose, and nicked me slightly on the right of my chin, but it’s certainly an experience I’d repeat for ten dollars.

I then bought a hat, which makes me feel very excited. I buy and lose hats all the time but am determined to keep this one because it’s a proper one-off and I love it very much. Here’s me wearing it in Times Square...

In the evening we went to see Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, which the toast of Broadway at the moment. It’s a sort of modern-day, agit-prop Brechtian re-telling of the story of President Andrew Jackson; the guy who appears on the backs of twenty dollar bills. He’s a controversial character, who seems responsible for annexing great swathes of the southern United States, and finally kicking the Brits out of the country. He’s also responsible for slaughtering thousands of Native Indians. Was he THE great 19th Century president? Or was he an early Hitler? It seems no one can decide, although the production seemed to want us to think he was as nutty as a fruitcake. It had shades of Oh What a Lovely War and I suppose more than a nod towards Spring Awakening with its stirring rock music and physical theatre, but I was slightly unimpressed. It was very earnest. It’s the sort of thing that British drama school students devise. A box-ticking excercise. Now we’re doing funny. Now we’re being physical. Now we’re being quirky. Now we’re doing schtick. Unfortunately, the one thing they managed not to do was truth, and I left the theatre feeling distinctly underwhelmed.

We met Ailsa and Adam afterwards and went for a bite to eat in Vinyl back in Hell’s Kitchen. This diner needs to be seen to be believed. All of the menus come attached to classic rock and pop album covers and the loos are dedicated to four cheesy pop legends; Cher and Dolly Parton included. Each individual cubical room inclues a giant mural of the star in question, and, in the case of Dolly, which was the one I visited, you hear 9 to 5 whilst you ablute. Aisla was looking incredibly well and seems very happy over here. We walked with her to Times Square and took photographs in the fabulous bright lights.

October 6th 1660 was a busy day for Pepys which involved the sorting out of various vessels to take the Spanish ambassador back to Spain after his visit to England. Pepys’ chief rival, Creed was back in town and brought with him a set of “well bound good books, which I thought he did intend to give me but found that I must pay him.” No doubt if he'd have given them to Pepys, something else would have been wrong with them! They went together to Whitehall with plans to see Montagu/ Sandwich to help him in choosing a fleet to bring the Queen (Charles II mother) back to England, but when he hadn’t appeared by 9pm, they left.

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