Wayfaring: a ranty rant about urban planning

So yesterday I decided to WALK to work. It’s about 6 kms away, but the sky was lovely and overcast, the weather a perfect 22 degrees centigrade, and I had new walking boots I intend to wear in NY. It would take me a little over an hour and I needed to increase my exercise regime from one paltry PT session per week.

I googled my walking path and noticed a thing. It’s an actual problem thing. Brisbane has nowhere nice for people to walk long distances. I live inner east. I’m not too far from the Brisbane river, but in between my house and the river are several main roads that are actual arteries to get into town. These roads are 6 lanes wide, that sort of thing. They are not pleasant to walk along. They are noisy, I am increasing my CO2 and toxic metal levels simply by being near them, and I really just want a nice walking path into town. Do you think I could find one? NO.

Here’s the screen shot of what Google thought would be several good ways to get into town:

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 10.37.22 AM

The blue path is a major arterial road. So is the second. The third way, I kid you not, involves a fucking ferry and 2 river crossings. I have, in my desire to get some exercise, stumbled on what I believe is a significant issue facing Brisbane. We’re fat fucks because there’s nowhere to WALK. The two shorter options are major arterial thoroughfares for CARS. They are not easy walking options. Also, Norman Creek (that wibbly wobbly green thing bifurcating my walk at the right of screen) has about 1 human-crossing bridge available along its length. So in effect I’m stuck walking along a stupid fucking main road OR I can tack across some fields in the vain hope that I’ll find a river crossing to get to the main river.

This is a tragedy. Also, the pretty walk along the river doesn’t start until Kangaroo Point cliff walk because there are no boardwalks between Hawthorn and Kangaroo Point, but do you think there’s a pedestrian crossing on Leopard Street from East Brisbane? NO. I have to risk life and limb trying to navigate across this really busy road when there’s also a SCHOOL nearby without access to a pedestrian crossing. I cannot tell you how pissed off I was trying to simply navigate through town on foot.

This is why Melbourne wins the best city in the world for liveability while Brisbane is shit. Cities like Melbourne, Paris, even London and NY, recognise the need for traversing spaces for pedestrians. There you can walk along the rivers to get into town and you don’t come across a fucking Maritime museum with barbed-wire fencing as you approach it from the south. I’m not holding Melbourne up to perfection but at least they have boulevards and beautiful walking paths nearly every direction you approach town from. You can walk along the river in either direction, you can walk along St Kilda Boulevard (cars are set in the centre lanes and there are TREES), you can approach from the north via Royal Parade (same deal). In Melbourne it’s pretty and lovely to walk in, and right now, with blisters on my heels from boots that were clearly not made for walking and a sense of impotent rage about this city with its heat and humidity and my incapacity to deal with either, I’m not in the best mood about Brisbane and its shit urban planning.

 

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Holiday Funtime 

DH and I are on hols right now, although it doesn’t feel very holiday-like to me. Last Friday we flew south to my home town Melbourne for my son’s engagement party on the Saturday and I’ve been schlepping about so hard I’ll need a holiday to get over the holiday. 

Friday am we arrived and promptly went to bed for a bit, because I’m tired all the time. In the afternoon we dragged ourselves into town to visit Whistler’s Mother, which (who?) was on show at the NGV International. Then it was an early dinner at a Korean diner before 2 comedy shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Folks, there were 500 shows at this festival. Unbelievable. Then cocktails at my favourite little bar Double Happiness, which is quiet yet buzzing. Not too loud and shouty there. 

   
 
Saturday was the engagement do, but not before DH and I went back to the NGV to see Warhol and Wei Wei. An amazing exhibition. Then it was a delicious Mexican lunch at a great place on Chapel St before seeing another silly show at my favourite venue Chapel off Chapel. This time it was Songs for Sarah Connor, terminated. Not as original as I’d hoped: I wanted more original songs rather than rewrites of well known show tunes. 

Then, Sunday morning after the engagement party we borrowed my sister’s car and headed to Aireys Inlet for a brief respite from the world. It’s quiet here and you can hear the ocean from the house. 

  
Then on Tuesday I headed back to Melbourne for my sister’s PhD graduation. Very proud. We now have 2 doctors in the family, neither of the life-saving kind. 

  
Of course, a real doctor would have come in handy for when my newly minted Dr sister decided to have a mild allergic reaction to the shellfish at lunch and get an itchy redness. I didn’t leave town until well after 7pm, so am in bed today recovering. 

Tomorrow we must leave my favourite place but I’m pleased to announce that not only am I writing a cabaret but I’m also starting my crime fiction novel. At the moment I’m just writing a bunch of disparate scenes to see how I write fiction. There’s no plot yet. Mostly descriptions of Brisbane. I think I haven’t read enough crime fiction set in hot climates; mostly the books are set in temperate zones or cold climates. Time for some steam heat. 

Friday Filibuster: From little things big things grow. Some Australian protest songs.

From Little Things Big Things Grow is a song by my favourite muso and serial adulterer, Paul Kelly and his mate Kev Carmody. It’s about how one man’s actions can galvanise a nation into shame for its appalling treatment of indigenous Australians, and begin a “reconciliation” (given that we never had a conciliation in the first instance I’m not sure how we can be reconciling, but whatevs), a recognition of wrongdoing, where a People’s country can be returned to them in a gentle, yet powerful ceremony that is both as profound and as prosaic as pouring earth into a person’s waiting hands.

 

Given the current parlous state of Australia’s ethical and moral stance against refugees and asylum seekers I’m hoping that some small Australians, those ordinary people who work in hospitals and banks and schools and police stations and offices, will rise up and say to our two major parties (Liberal National Party and The Labor Party) that enough is enough. Stop treating these people as criminals. Be humane. Be mindful of international law. Follow that law. Actually, they are doing this, but the right wing goons, who are a small but self-important bunch, are holding the parties hostage. Here’s a song by our beautiful Missy Higgins called Oh Canada that evocatively illustrates the plight of refugees and asylum seekers everywhere.

 

 

Another great artist, Tim Minchin (composer of Matilda the Musical), has written an angry song about our Cardinal George Pell, who seems to have become strangely too ill to travel to Australia to answer a Royal Commission into the Catholic Church’s years of wanton cover up over a string of appalling paedophilic priests who ran rampant around Australia. Heads have rolled over this one but more will roll as more is uncovered.

 

Anyway. This post wasn’t going to be about protest songs. It was going to be about weight loss. Hah. Got you! So it’s just that I’ve started going to the gym every day, swimming. I swim for 30 minutes, or 14 laps of a 50 metre pool (yes, I know that’s super slow. I don’t care). I swim breaststroke, and today it took me a little while but I finally got into a beautiful Zen state, where time disappeared for a while. As I say to DH, it’s my daily meditation, swimming.

I’m back to calorie counting, but not too much – I’m not cutting out carbs and I’m being more circumspect about how I count those calories – in other words I’m not sweating the small stuff like I used to. I’ve also cut out snacking and most sweet foods. It seems to have worked: I’m already down 500 grams in 5 days. A nice start. Tomorrow I’m going to a proper gym class at 8am (yuck), followed by a swim to cool off.

So, from little things big things grow. A daily gym routine to get me out of the house, more thought about WHAT I eat, and the results show that little things can have a big impact. Go little me.

muffintop

 

Gritty

Today’s thought.

If I say I’m a writer, does that make me one?

I’ve written 2 blog posts in 24 hours, I’m planning a monograph, I write mini fiction, I write grants. I’m a published author. Am I a writer?

A recent opinion article by Australian author Nicki Gemmell talks about “grit”. She talks about an experience she had doing her Masters of Creative Writing, where she noted plenty of participants wrote much better prose than her. But she could kind of tell that they didn’t have the stamina, perseverance or resilience to keep writing that she possessed.

I know what grit is. I have grit because I’ve gritted my teeth and driven myself to the end of the path for certain things, like finishing my tertiary studies. But I don’t have grit in other areas, such as singing. I wonder whether I have the grit for writing.

Grit

(I love this image from F*****.com which I’m going to say is a bitch because it doesn’t want you to use an adblocker, so screw you stupid website.)

The image implies grit is gripping, gritty, dirty and hard won. It certainly is. Grit is a difficult thing to master. But when you succeed, it’s like you’ve held on through the dirt and the mud and the piss and the shit, and you’re now allowed to have a really long soaking bath with bath salts, candles and champagne. Hola champagne!

So. Grit. Do I have it for writing? Should I reinvent my identity and travel down a different path? Do I have the luxury of this in 2016? Well, short of getting a lovely paying job, I say hell yeah. Why not.

Grit. You don’t like it in your food, between your toes or in your teeth. But in your soul? It’s the necessary sandpaper to your complacency.

 

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee, you’d notice it was actually Monday morning here in the Southern hemisphere. This is flying under the radar of east coast USA, which is a cool (possibly frigid and snow-bound) 16 hours behind us. Therefore it’s only Sunday night somewhere in the world. I’ve already had 2 coffees and am very very ready for my third.

I’m dying here a bit. I had my job interview last Friday. It went really really well. Even if I don’t get the job, I’m not sure what more I could have done. I was open, friendly, answered the questions (which were easy and simple) to the best of my ability. I felt comfortable, at ease, poised and prepared. As I may have mentioned last week, I had a coaching which enabled me to get the best out of my elevator pitch, and illuminated my skills and strengths. I now know what I do really well, and I know I’m passionate about research. It has taken me until the last few weeks to work that out.

They have promised to call me today so my sleep has been rather interrupted. I’ve taken off the phone’s mute button; the default position. I’m not altogether sure they’ll ring today as tomorrow is Australia Day and it’s a holiday – there may be a Wednesday phone call instead.

But of course it’s Monday now and do you think I’ve done any meaningful work since I awoke? No, nope, non, nada, nyet. I DID get up and shower but my day has been otherwise characterized by lack of movement. Yet, I have a list of Things To Do. I have a DECRA to complete. I have some private teaching to plan (if I don’t get the job). I have 20 hours of editing work to do. I have a book proposal to finish and a monograph to write.

There’s plenty I could be doing. Dammit.

If we were having coffee I’d be telling you about the great weekend my hubby and I had in Sydney, that shiny, fast paced city. That we saw friends and shows and that I felt quite at home in a town that’s neither like Melbourne nor Brisbane. I’d be telling you about the rain that was a constant of the weekend.

I’d be telling you about a show we saw, ostensibly for children, composed by the brilliant Kate Miller-Heidke, called The Rabbits. It’s an allegorical tale about the 1788 invasion of Australia by the British, and the rape, destruction and desecration of the First Peoples of Australia (and their land) in the name of that abominable Roman concept of Terra Nullius (nobody’s land). It’s done beautifully, simply, and breaks your heart. Because its story is truth.

I’m an inhabitant of this land and have been all my life. My Irish, Scottish and English ancestors came here in the 1850s and worked the land, bred, and experienced both prosperity and privation. Even though for many years I was a single parent, poor and marginalised, I cannot imagine my children being removed from me and my homeland violated. I cannot imagine being part of a race who were so oppressed that the scourge of this oppression continues to this day through poverty, violence, drug and alcohol addiction, serious health problems, unemployment, lack of access to good quality food and water, education, housing, healthcare and legal services. And yet The Rabbits (published in 2000, written by John Marsden and illustrated by Shaun Tan), this simple tale based on a picture book, let me imagine all of this and more.

rabbits2

(Copyright 1998 Shaun Tan. “They came by water”. Oil on canvas)

The book has won numerous awards and the opera (in all honesty it’s the most cross-genre work I’ve seen in forever because it includes operatic conventions, panto, pop, blues, and other elements I haven’t thought of yet, set on a stage) has been beautifully realised by Miller-Heidke. She is a composer of special quality. Trained as an opera singer, she has carved out a great career as a pop singer/song-writer. Her music becomes more sophisticated and beautiful the older she gets, yet it is mainly diatonic, tuneful and easy for the lay person to enjoy. The more educated ear also love her work because it sounds easy but just isn’t. She has that rare gift of eliciting emotion through key changes that a listener won’t understand unless you’ve been trained in it. And even then I cried. I just wanted to weep and weep and weep, but as I was not alone I felt hampered by social niceties, and therefore didn’t. Great art has the capacity to move you in all sorts of ways and this work moved me like few others. Take a look: The Rabbits

If we were having coffee I’d tell you about how good it was seeing an ex-student of mine act and sing beautifully in another show we saw called The Fantasticks. It’s a rather flimsy tale and with sinister undertones not fully realised in the rather meh production, but he was great. My lovely student. Very proud.

If we were having coffee you’d be one of several people I’ve managed to have coffee with over the last few days. The Sydney trip was not just for a job interview; it was an opportunity for rare catch-ups with friends and acquaintances. There was afternoon coffee with E who braved simply appalling traffic to get into the heart of town, a late supper with S who had just done a very awkward singing telegram, and brunch with one of my oldest friends C and his son, who is delightful, precocious and super bright. DH managed to be brave during it all – he’s not a friends-type of person, but he enjoyed the interactions nevertheless.

And if we were having coffee you’d notice I’m a little bit annoyed that the possums got to my herb garden on the back porch. It was only a matter of time, of course. Thus far they’re particularly fond of dill, parsley, and coriander. They’ve nibbled half-heartedly at the sage and won’t touch the rosemary, and aren’t interested in the basil, thyme or the oregano. The saddest bit is they’re not at all worried about the dog, who goes psycho when they arrive on the porch for their evening repast.

So now that we’ve had coffee and I’ve been procrastinating yet again, I’ll leave you with thanks and an invitation to join me again. Maybe not on a Monday morning, but on a lazy Sunday.

Au revoir!

(Weekend coffee share is hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. Why not join in the chat?)

weekendcoffeeshare

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee you’d notice the beautiful new coffee machine in the kitchen. It’s cranberry red. Nuff said about coffee, except to mention I drink quite a lot of it. Black and strong and espresso, thanks.

If we were having coffee you’d notice it’s not at the kitchen table because I’m trying to do my tax. There are receipts all over the table. 2 years worth for both my company and my personal tax. I hate receipts. I finally found a new system: chuck all the receipts into a chic black tin box originally containing Aesop grooming products and close the lid. Do not open the lid for a LONG time. Hence the kitchen table has now become a hideous receipt-encrusted eyesore.

If we were having coffee you’d notice a few appointments in my diary this week: I have an interview coaching session on Monday with my DH’s work coach. I’m terrible in interviews and vivas, because I can’t think fast enough and I ramble. Conciseness and precision are not my allies. Hence why I am doing so many 100 flash fiction challenges: I need to edit better. The spoken word: I wish I was Aaron Sorkin and had his brain. But I am not. On Thursday I have a singing gig, yay, and on Thursday night I head south to Sydney for a job interview.

This interview is important because the job is a good one.

I really really want this job.

However, if we were having coffee you’d notice my hesitation about leaving my DH to go work in another state. It’s HARD WORK. I have no fear our relationship would fall apart but it would get one hell of a beating. I’d have to work hard to manage my work commitments alongside family commitments, and to balance weekends and travel plans. UGH. And I have NO extended family in Sydney. They’re all in Melbourne. I’d be all alone (all by myself).

 

 

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’ve put on a kilo or two – that’s too many sticky buns and lounging around work for me. Summer here is hot. I’ve been painting. Then there was Xmas. They’re my excuses. The reality I was depressed and I’ve been watching a hell of a lot of TV/ Netflix/Stan. Now I’m fat again. Time to get to the gym which I’ve not attended since September (hence the fatness).

*Note to self: New Year’s Resolutions, dammit.

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’ve started cooking again, and I planted a herb garden last week. It’s going well, thanks for asking. The brand new bathroom is now fully useable (if still missing an extractor fan), and I am using fluffy white towels. Brand new. It’s a luxury. Finally, I want to draw your attention to my bedside table – it has 3 books on it. I’m part way through all of them.

Life is pretty good this week. It might be because of the good coffee. How was your week?

Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Diana at Part-time Monster.

weekendcoffeeshare

No news is good news, right?

Typewriter-ClearNoony noony noony noo.

I’m the Sesame St typewriter this month. That’s how I’m feeling right now. I’m about to finish organising my book proposal and Post Doc applications but otherwise life is just noodling along, pretty calm and relaxed. My referees are coming along nicely, my book proposal is nearly done, my Post Doc is pretty shite right now and I need to get my referee love sorted BEFORE  June, but mostly I’m feeling cool.

I’ve recently seen more pro-am theatre than I ever want to see again, but I don’t mind. As my mum says, “I’m notching up those karma points for my old age”. And most of it has had some very good points. At least at no time was I really bored. That’s important.

My daughter is OK (which is as good as it gets), my DH is a bit ill with a persistent cold because he needs a long holiday, and the house plans are on the final stretch to costings and council approval. The animals are in fine health, I polished the furniture yesterday and the laundry is done (not by me).

My teaching is going fine (as far as I can tell, I’m over it slightly so the care factor is rather low), and I’m performing again, adding valuable dollars to our school fee account. The house sitters are organised, the bills are paid, Netflix and Stan are getting a good work out, I’m going to the gym and calorie counting again (minus the calories for Pinot Noir, because I need it), I’m cooking, we’re eating out a lot, I’m seeing heaps of great theatre and shows, seeing friends, I’m organising our wardrobe and pantry with some new coat hangers, storage jars and a shoe stand (which is a GREAT thing to have). Exciting overseas holiday plans are coming along well – Spain and France this year. And that’s it.

Noony noony noony noo.

Why then do I have a niggling feeling of impending doom?

charlie-brown

 

NYC is a noisy place part 2.

Megan Washington said an interesting thing about NYC in an article published by Fairfax yesterday when she called it “the most vampiric city on the planet”. I agree. Native New Yorkans are bred to survive and thrive in that environment, which makes their energy outside NYC seem all the more shrill and hard. It’s gratuitously noisy. Unnecessarily so. Aggressive? Perhaps. I didn’t get that sense. It was more that New York believes its own hype about being noisy and busy and bustling. It’s no more busy than any other large city, and occasionally less so. It’s just a lot noisier than your average city and the aural assault is too much after a while. There’s a thrum to the city that was really evident in the peace of Central Park. It’s a tough town to survive for those people who are emotionally and spiritually depleted. I knew I was going to find it noisy and busy and indeed I did.

What I did not really expect was the New York condescension to the Outlier or Other. Friendly folk: absolutely! Don’t get me wrong. New Yorkans were cheerful, loud people and I liked them a lot. But there is a readily observable sense of superiority of the native New Yorkan that is present in all their transactions with people not from the city. I kept feeling during personal interactions a kind of “oh, hello you nice little naive person from the Antipodes. How sweet of you to come here and oh, by the way, all nations of the earth are represented in our restaurants, we’re known for it”. Huh. Maybe a long time ago. Now, not so much. Also, the quality and variety of the food is desperately overrated. There’s a reason Heston Blumenthal of Fat Duck fame went to Melbourne with his restaurant pop up rather than go to NYC or other big city.

Like all cities, there is a cultural overlay that defines and shapes the relationships of people and groups to place. NYC has held the planetary Number One spot for a hundred years for being the vanguard of intellectual creativity and ideas, from Dorothy Parker to Warhol to Seinfeld (well…). The zeitgeist of this place is huge. But this historical mountain over the course of the 20th century seems to be stifling the vanguard now. While there DH and I went to a bunch of art stuff. MOMA, Guggenheim, The Met, Broadway. Was I missing something? I didn’t get excited by the stuff. I fear NYC is now too afraid to attempt to be truly creative, in the big art houses, at least. They seem content to rest on the laurels of their admittedly impressive cultural heritage.

One such example was Aida (Verdi), at the Met. A terrible, horrible production. Singing was pretty good except the tenor, who was past it. Orchestra lovely, but conducting out of time at times. Found myself conducting from my seat in frustration. Acting by the leads non-existent, particularly the main soprano, whose performance was horrible even while her singing was lovely. The horses in the procession scene were the highlight of the show. The director should have been shot. In slow motion. Much like the production, which had 2 very long intervals of 40 minutes each. OMG. I have never been so bored in my life, and I LIKE opera. And I love Verdi. Some truly terrible reviews, sadly, that rather unfairly targeted the singers when actually it was mostly the ghastly direction at fault. But we booked months ago and I expected so much more from this NYC company. Not this hideous heritage piece playing like something out of the 1950s.

Sure, our Broadway experiences were supposed to be about spirit fingers and jazz hands, and they certainly were. We saw all new productions: Kinky Boots, If/Then, Honeymoon in Vegas, Pippin (ok, this one was old but new again), It’s Only A Play. Some nice work going on but no really exciting fresh ideas. It’s Only A Play could have been written by Noel Coward or Neil Simon! In fact, I’m sure it was in parts. The old conceit about a new play and its players,  playwright, director and producer all waiting in the producer’s glamorous bedroom for the opening night reviews from The NY Times (a trumped up nonsense of a broadsheet if ever I’ve read one). Very funny play, but hardly original. But I liked the honesty of live performance. I liked that I could see the faces of the performers (at Honeymoon we were 2 rows from the front in the central orchestra), that one guy’s hands were shaking (he opened Honeymoon in Vegas and it was first night of the previews, for goodness’ sake). I liked that mistakes were made, that the “polish” in shows like Jersey Boys wasn’t always evident in these productions. Gosh, that made it lovely and real. And not that much better than anywhere else, actually. Which made it even better to be a part of. Broadway is NOT inaccessible for our young performers and wanna-be musical theatre peeps. Just highly competitive.

BTW Honeymoon in Vegas is a triumph. Go. Just go. If you want an unabashed, exuberant musical with jazz hands, spirit fingers and dancing show girls, you will not be disappointed. A triumph. The book by originator Andrew Bergman was perfect, the music by Jason Robert Brown was perfect, the Sondheimesque-lyrics by JRB were also perfect. The production was a little patchy, but that’s because it was previews and the tech wasn’t quite finished I think. (I’ve seen worse and we expected worse things to occur!) The performers were fantastic. All really solid – the 2 leads in Rob McClure and Brynn O’Malley were lovely (sidebar, who thinks that Brynn O’Malley in a blond wig is a dead ringer for Taylor Schilling?). Nancy Opel was perfectly cast. David Josefsberg as the Vegas star stole the show and Tony Danza was surprisingly great. There’s even a tap number followed by a soft shoe shuffle duet. Performed by Tony Danza in front of the curtain. 4th wall conventions thrown splendidly away. Dancing Elvis impersonators. Dancing Elvis impersonators SKYDIVING. Quick changes. Oh, it was joyful.

For all my complaints, I don’t think I got to know New York the way I want to. I will be back. But I will be armed with a good Fiji holiday prior, and prepared for the NY assault on the senses. And I will escape from time to time to quieter places, just like so many New Yorkans do for some respite from the noise. It has been said that Americans are noisy people who don’t listen to others. Now I know why.

 

NYC is a noisy place. Part 1

And that’s coming from someone who lives on a main road. NY is noisier than Hong Kong or London or Paris, three major world cities I’ve frequently visited.

So, I’m not sure I like NY very much. There’s no place for quiet. There’s a song by Adam Gwon called “Calm” which explains the frenetic nature of NY very well.

It’s not that NY has lots of people – it does, but so does Paris and London and HK. In fact I’ve stayed in Mong Kok in Kowloon, apparently the most densely populated area on Earth. I don’t mind people. But NY is just so much noisier than these other cities and I’m not sure how I feel about it. And it’s not the people, either. They’re perfectly normal. (Except the tourists from middle America, weirdly, who are noisy and have really loud, rather ugly voices.) It’s the noise of the traffic, the subterranean subway rumbles, the overbearing use of music everywhere. The blaring. All combining to make the city a noisy, loud, seemingly frenetic place. But it’s the noise, nothing else.

It’s also an interior city. For me, coming from Antipodean Australia with its outdoor cafes and laid back lifestyle, all the interior spaces of NY were again – well – noisy. Nowhere to be quiet. Except at 8.00am on a Sunday morning. Or the Highline. Or down at South St, Seaport, where there are lovely open spaces and fewer highrises, and, bluntly, fewer people.

That being said, NY is very beautiful, and I loved Central Park, the Highline, the Guggenheim, MOMA, the Empire State Building at night, the Rockefeller Center. Broadway, oh my! Broadway. And the subway. OMG what a fabulous subway. I love the subway. I love the frequency of trains, the friendly people (yes, strange hey, that people on the subway can be friendly?), and Grand Central Station.

There are overrated places where the collective imagination and valorising of such spaces render the visitor rather disappointed with the reality. Soho and Greenwich village are two such places. The thing about Soho and the Village is not that they are different from other spaces in other world cities (think Soho in both London and HK), but that the architecture is such a relief from the high rise of the Midtown. And of course it was in Soho and the Village that dangerous creativity and ideas and social activism and social conscience and difference were and continue to be most celebrated. I think I expected more from this area and I was disappointed not to find an open square or meeting place – Washington Square too cold and wet this trip – I had foolishly expected a gathering place such as found in villages of old. Not to be, here. Manhattan is characterised by a grid of roads. There is nowhere really to escape the roads.

I’m looking forward to going back again, though. Manhattan/NYC is a fascinating place. I’ve not yet even scratched the surface, and I suspect travelling with more people or at least meeting up with Manhattanites who live in the city might make my future experiences richer and more evocative than the rushed tourist version I experienced last week.

p.s. We really liked Seattle.