Friday, January 18, 2008


It has been an awfully long time.

Since my last post I have partaken in the following activities/events:

- Pre-Christmas debauchery

- Christmas debauchery

- Post-Christmas guilt-laden (and often -fueled) debauchery

These activities/events have taken place mainly in London, but also in New York and (briefly) the Home Counties. They have been exhausting but nevertheless pleasing, much like a rousing game of Kick The Kitten.

New York was amazing. I loved the scale of it. Walking with my head tipped to the sky, my sight sliding up the frictionless surfaces of the buildings to the dizzying tips. I was constantly stopping to take pictures of everything like the shameless tourist that I was.

We went on a ferry around the island of Manhattan, wrapping our arms around ourselves to protect us from the icy winds and listening intently to the voiceover as it unveiled the mysteries of the city. We went to Smalls Jazz Club. We had coffee in Grand Central station, beers in Soho and mulled wine in a mueseum next to Central Park.

On New Year's Eve we celebrated with Champagne at seven o'clock for British New Year and mused that all our friends would be drunkenly snogging their best friends' boyfriends and being sick in the streets of London. Then we went out for a meal at a place called Ivo and Lulu near Chris's apartment with some people, drank more Champagne, ate some delicious food, danced and showered each other with glitter until it was time to go. Then Chris, Gav and I spent a few hours in a club where we encountered a dubious salsa band and wore huge 2008 glasses, then jumped into a taxi back home. Gav and I picked up our bags and headed for JFK after some drunken-but-sincere farewells and sobered up nauseously in the security checks.

The flight home was interesting. Still it was marginally better than the journey out, as I had just contracted the norovirus which resulted in a lot of pain and whingeing on the flight and subsequent vomiting all over Newark airport. I spent my first day of the trip in bed, while my travelling buddy explored the delights of the city alone.

I did recover quickly, though, and had a wonderful time. Chris is living in an expansive loft apartment on Broadway, all wooden floors and ludicrously high ceilings. There is an aviary there, walls lined with more books and CDs than I could read and listen to in a lifetime and evidence everywhere that his flatmate is someone obsessed with collecting things. Anything. Old pictures, ornaments, plants, pets. Obscure pieces of furniture with towering ancient lamps, mysterious glass boxes with peculiar oddities inside. A big stereo system next to a table with piano keys drawn onto it, next to an array of sports equipment and curling black and white photos in antiquated gilded frames. Taxidermy was another feature: everywhere you turned some bird was frozen mid-flight or gazing glassily into the distance from its eternal perch. Gav swore that one of the bell jars contained a piece of a real human skull, although I wasn't so sure. Either way I wasn't about to start any fights with our hosts.

One morning after a particularly heavy night out in somewhere extremely trendy, Gav rolled Chris and I out of bed and practically frog-marched us down to Madison Square Garden to watch a Knicks game ("Basketball" explained Gav to my blank expression. "Like netball but..." "Yes, I know what baskteball is, thank you very much" I snapped in repsonse, whilst subtly leafing through my concealed copy of "Sport: What It Is And Why People Pay To Watch It".)

I did actually really enjoy it. After a thoroughly humourous hour of negotiating with the touts on the street for some tickets (which involved quite a bit of trying to be less bloody English) we took our seats inside and began to cheer along heartily. In front of us sat a couple who looked like they were on a date in the 1950s, high-fiving and sharing milkshakes, and generally looking like they were having good, clean, wholesome fun. All around were families enjoying themselves, eating oversized hotdogs of dubious origin and inhaling massive clumps of cotton candy which looked as if they contained enough e-numbers to send the most sensible of children diving for the Ritalin.

The big signs above the court flashed up with what we were supposed to cheer and the enlarged images of the game (which seemed to come in spurts of three minutes at a time) were blasted out at us in glorious technicolour from every angle.

I looked at one of the signs, though, and, as I was cheering, noticed something. Instead of "LET'S GO KNICKS!" the sign read: "LETS GO KNICKS". Note, if you will, the lack of apostrophe.

Naturally I was appalled. I pointed this out to Chris, then leant back and in a very loud Queen's English, proclaimed "Well, the sport is all well and good, but I must say that, spelling and grammar-wise, it is completely below par."

Gav leaned over and asked what I was ruining the sport-watching about. I explained.

As I did the guy from the endearing couple in front of us turned around, horror-stricken. "Where is the apostrophe supposed to go?" he asked, worriedly. I told him.

"Oh gosh. I am so sorry..."

Wow, I thought. That's nice. He doesn't need to apolo...

"'s just that, well, my job is to write the signs. For the Knicks."

I clamped my hand firmly over my mouth.

"You're joking. You're actually joking aren't you? Good one."

Anyway, it turned out he wasn't joking. His lovely girlfriend confirmed it. He wrote himself a note on his Blackberry and my friends looked at me as if I had just been caught throwing puppies at orphans.

Loads more stuff happened and I will tell more. Now I am going to a drinking establishment, and tomorrow I have a gig.

It is dark outside and I have drunk all the coffee I can usefully consume in one day, so I must switch to wine. More stories and some pictures will undoubtably follow.

Happy weekend, and happy 2008.