I seem to be writing this blog entry on a trans-Atlantic flight. Turns out we’re sitting in the worst seats on the plane. To my right is the toilet. People are queueing in the aisle next to me. I have to keep leaning over to close the door. When we were eating, someone made a very horrible smell! As if that weren’t bad enough, the row behind us is for the people who have “paid for extra leg room” which means there’s a sort of wide aisle by the emergency exits where people feel the need to congregate. The people who have paid for the leg room are getting very shirty at the people who are trying to walk across the plane in the space where, one assumes, they feel their enormously long legs should be. I don’t really think they have a right to be shirty. They may have paid for extra leg room, but I didn’t pay for the screaming child they brought with them and I’m keeping my angry mouth very firmly buttoned!
We had pretty bad turbulence at one point. I say pretty bad. I’m sure I’ve experienced worse. In fact, on my way back from Greece once, the aeroplane dropped hundreds of feet in a few seconds, everyone’s dinner flew everywhere and an air hostess hit the ceiling with her head and was taken off the plane in a neck brace! Fun times! But today’s turbulence was horrifying. I’m not a great flier at the best of times, and, obviously, after Paris, I’m rather jumpier than normal, but this turbulence was accompanied by the endless sobs and wails of children across the plane, which made it incredibly distressing. The bloke behind us (the rich one with the long legs) decided to entirely ignore his screaming child, so it simply screamed louder and longer. When he eventually picked it up to give it a bit of attention, he decided to hold it just above my head. It was like a hovering harpy, which immediately triggered an attack of tinnitus. Just what the doctor ordered.
So we’re off to New York. Yay! We haven’t been here for too many years. My very close friend Sharon has a young lad whom I’ve never met and, when we were last here, Ground Zero was… well, Ground Zero. I understand it’s a fabulous shimmering tall building these days, which I’ve no doubt we’ll be able to see from everywhere on Manhattan. I’ve heard the journey to the top of the building is well-worth the effort (even for a man with staggering vertigo), so, if I’m feeling brave, we’ll probably do that.
We are excited about our trip. We have an obscene amount of theatre to see. Many friends out here are currently in many shows. We get to catch up with Cindy, Ian and Jem, Christopher and Kevin, Derek and Lesley and, of course Sharon and her crew. We get to hang out in the village, stroll along the High Line, sing in piano bars, have brunches of french toast, omelettes and fried potatoes sitting in 60s style booths, eat cup cakes in coffee shops and see those beautiful, ostentatious lights of Broadway. As the plane gets closer to our destination I’m allowing myself to feel a little more excited. The hideous thought of flying will always prevent me from actually looking forward to a holiday until I’m about to land!
We arrived in Manhattan at about 7pm New York time and I immediately received word from my bank that they’d frozen my card on account of “fraudulent activity.” This is the third time this has happened in as many months. So there I was, in my hotel room, speaking to someone called “Warren” in an Indian call centre, begging to have my card unfrozen so that I could get some money out. It’s a fairly ludicrous situation but it appears to be mostly sorted.
We’re staying on the East Side in the Midtown area, so went to Times Square for a little wander this evening. If anything the place is even brighter than it was when I last visited. There are new walls of light with huge advertisements for theatre shows, perfumes and Hershey chocolate bars almost everywhere you look. There’s also a large presence of armed police, all of whom carry machine guns, one assumes to show Americans that they don’t need to worry about their theatres being attacked by extremists and to show the rest of the world that America won’t be fucked with. There’s a very crazy juxtaposition between them and the street artists on stilts, dressed as minions and the Statue of Liberty, having their pictures taken with excited children. Americans seem to be able to ignore people holding guns. I was drawn to them like a moth to a flame, and then instantly repelled after realising that if I stood anywhere near them I would be caught in the cross fire if there was a shoot out.
We had a slice of pizza in a cruddy cafe somewhere around 9th Avenue, and then swung back into the theatre district, where we found Ian lurking in the foyer of the Helen Hayes Theatre where he’s working on the production of Dames At Sea. We whisked him off for a catch up and a slice of apple cake in a nearby cafe, bought some melatonin from an all night chemist, and… well, I guess it’s time to go to bed. My clock informs me it’s 5am in the UK. No wonder my eyes are itching!