After my dad died in 1993 my mum`s general health and spirit diminished quite rapidly, they had been together since they were ten so I guess it was to be expected. For the last year of her life my mother was looked after by my sister-in-law Patti and some time after mum died, I took Patti to New York for six days to say a big thank you for taking care of my mother so beautifully. Here is my journal from that time which was April, 2006.
The flight to New York takes seven hours and forty minutes, the flight home takes five hours and forty minutes, can anyone explain that to me? As usual I ate enough food on the plane to sink a battleship, including my own and that of the bloke sitting next to me. I watched Capote which was excellent and some crappy movie with Goldie Hawn`s daughter in it impersonating her mother, which was very peculiar. I was very glad when the plane touched down as it was a Virgin jet and the seat space is extremely small so were were cramped and uncomfortable after the flight, but very excited once we had alighted on to terra firma.
We arrived at JFK airport which if you haven`t been is vast, like a city within a city but very dull and grey and almost empty of life, like an apocolyptic film set. We had to take a train just to get off the airport campus and then we found a subway train that took us all the way to the centre of New York. It took forty minutes through lots of districts and eventually got us to 106th street where our hostel was. Several people came on the train to sell sweets and DVD`s and then someone brought a whole fleet of kids on board and the train became like an an episode of Fame, with the kids performing tricky dance routines and somersaults in the aisles and then taking the hat round, it was really impressive.
We had booked into a hostel on one side of Central Park with Greenwich Village just a hop and a skip away. The hostel was only twelve dollars a night and was buzzing when we arrived with lots of young hippy types in residence from all over the globe so being in our fifties, Patti and I were treated like OAP royalty. We were to share our room with ten young women so it was intimate, about eight feet across and maybe fifteen feet long with several bunk beds in it. Patti commented that it looked remarkably similar to the set for Cell Block H. The entrance to the hostel was painted blood red, a bit like entering hell; each room was a different colour such as lime green or purple and not really terribly easy on the eye. We soon discovered that the girls we were sharing with were extremely noisy but as I had some ear plugs and my “cover your eyes” thingy I felt adequately prepared. Later I was to wish that I had poison and tea bags, but that story will come another day. The room`s radiator, in fact the entire hostel including the water from the showers were set to the temperature of the sun, no wonder there is a global crisis! Still, it was good for washing out your smalls.
During the first night one of the girls let her boyfriend into the dorm where they commenced making amour to one another. A Japanese girl complained but no-one else seemed to mind so he stayed, quietly until the morning. At some point in the night that same girl attempted to close the window by our bunk beds and Patti spoke up and said, “Ere! You can`t do that – you can`t close our window or I`ll die.” So she didn`t and fortunately neither did Patti
We decided to rest that first evening and then planned the following day to mooch round China Town, have something yummy to eat and go and gaze at Grand Central Station. The very best way to see New York is on foot and if you have to travel to another district a long distance away then the subway is very good. At first we were mildly confused at the difference between Downtown and Uptown but you soon work it out. Most of the time we walked. In fact we walked so many miles that week my feet felt like they were independent of my body…….