Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Where were we?

So: here we are on July 27. I've been in North Berwick with my bucket and spade, with a short side trip to New York for a family wedding Fri-Mon last weekend. The family wedding was well worth the trip - since you ask, I went from Glasgow on the direct Continental flight departing 9.0am on Friday morning, back more or less at the same time on Monday. the flight goes to Newark which now has a train service into Penn station, central NYC. I walked to my hotel a few blocks north to stretch my legs, and rendezvous'd with my sister. We sat under a Swatch umbrella at a Swatch branded table under the overpass by Grand Central sipping iced tea, catching up. Dinner that night was with members of both bride and groom's families in an open air courtyard at a restaurant called Flatbush Farm in Brooklyn. We all got on like a house on fire, and only extreme exhaustion drew me away at what was by then 3am my time, back to my room overlooking the beautiful Chrysler building. On the day of the wedding, I went to meet my cousin Jacky and my sister at Balthazar a French brasserie in West Broadway on the lower west side for eggs Benedict, then off to a meeting with friends of Alexander Men to talk about our conference to be held in Moffat Sept 14-17 2012. The wedding itself took place at 6.30pm in a beautiful rural setting, at an 18th century mill deep in the NY Botanic Gardens. The couple, both artists, had invented their ceremony which was conducted by a friend licensed to carry out marriages. Food and drink flowed while photographers did their stuff, then we went upstairs for a sit down dinner and the speeches. Outside, the air was a balmy 23 degrees. Inside the air con was so fierce that we huddled in shawls - luckily we had been warned to take plenty of warm clothing because of this bizarre American habit. The following day, Sunday, the bride's grandfather hosted a relaxed brunch at a restaurant in Bryant Park, a lovely green space right in the centre of the city, after which I went with my overnight bag to Grand Central jumped on a subway train to Penn and thence to Newark for my flight. Everything like check in was done online and by bar code either one's credit card or passport before joining the shuffling queue to go through security. At this point it dawned on me that I could take my bag on board with me to save waiting at baggage reclaim at Glasgow. We landed about an hour early and I was back in North Berwick by 10am on Monday. Forgive me if this is all incredibly old hat, but I do not travel much any more and it has changed so much in the past few years. What did I think about New York, a city I have known for nigh on 50 years? Well, I have to say my impression is of a city settling into post-imperial status - by no means a write-off, but let's say already a latterday Rome. The verve and perfectionism is still there, the haggling and negotiation at every turn, including with taxi drivers whatever it said on the clock. All this leaves me not much time to report on our Moffat Book Events progress meeting yesterday, which was very upbeat, lots of new ideas and we now have a very exciting programme more or less on the theme of 'transformation' for our Oct 15 event. A major innovation will be our children's session, led by chairman Adam Dillon and Angus 'Moffalump' Sinclair with storytellers to be announced. Moira Cox will be revealing the hidden code concealed beneath our choices of everyday dress: a handbag, bangle and necklace might be the 21st century equivalents of combat equipment, military rank and Celtic torque! Tina Fox will be marshalling our volunteers, and Ruth Tittensor will help us down memory lane with the help of Moffat's own 100 objects. This is me, Mrs Boudicca of School Lane signing off until tomorrow...

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