America 2017: Day Twenty-Nine (18 November)

I wanna wake up in a city
That doesn’t sleep
And find I’m king of the hill
Top of the heap

These little town blues
Are melting away
I’ll make a brand new start of it
In old New York

If I can make it there
I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you
New York, New York

 – Frank Sinatra

Saturday 18 November

New York, New York

The weather wasn’t quite as good today as it was yesterday. New York, like most cities, is a far more foreboding and intimidating place under grey and rainy skies. The winds were also forecast to be pretty strong, which can make for an especially unpleasant time in Manhattan, with the way the wind is funnelled down the long streets, a canyon-like effect with so many tall buildings either side.

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It worked out well, then, that we had pre-booked tickets to see the iconic Christmas Spectacular at the Radio City Music Hall on Sixth Avenue in Midtown – part of mum and dad’s Christmas present from Matt and I. And despite lengthy subway delays, we made it uptown in time to be in our seats before showtime.

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The always-chaotic Sixth Avenue/Avenue of the Americas was closed to traffic for a street festival today.

If you’re not familiar with the show, and it’s stars, the Radio City Rockettes, it’s an all-singing, all-dancing Christmas extravaganza, with some of the most amazing on-stage special effects you’re ever likely to see. Honestly, the things they can do, especially now with 4K technology, is beyond belief, and yet it doesn’t take away from the show itself, which has been running since the early 1930s. It’s as much a New York City Christmas institution as the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, and I highly recommend going to a show – they run 4 a day from mid-November through January 1 – if you find yourself in this great city during the holidays. I could watch it every year and not get bored. It’s fantastic.

After the show, we headed over to Fifth Avenue and the flagship Microsoft Store, where one of my oldest New York friends works. Erol and I met at a TV show taping way back in January of 2008 when he was the audience coordinator and, as he likes to say, “We’ve been best friends ever since.”

We catch up usually once a year when I’m in town (although it’s been two years since we last saw each other, unfortunately) and more often than not end up drinking and laughing far too much. Hard to believe, and a little scary, to think that we’ve known each other ten years now. Time is flying by.

One of my favourite places to eat in New York City is the Perfect Pint, one of the first places Erol and I ever went drinking years back, with many return visits since, and one of many hundreds of Irish pubs in New York City, where there’s a sizeable Irish population. We went there this afternoon for a late lunch and a few drinks.

The Pint is one of those great places where it’s warm, the food is good, there’s football on the TV – Spanish soccer and American football: the Notre Dame Fighting Irish game, of course – and, as per usual, I had a great time. It’s a rarity for me to walk out of there and not head down to Madison Square Garden for some Rangers hockey, but that’s an experience for another day.

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By the time we left the Perfect Pint, it was raining, and the forecast called for it to get worse before it got better, so we decided an early night was in order, and, anyway, there was a big football game on TV tonight that I was keen to watch. We were back on Staten Island by 7:00pm, catching a break in the weather for the walk from the ferry to our apartment, happy, but exhausted. Lots of walking today! I’ll sleep well tonight, that’s for sure.


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