Thursday, October 13, 2005


Ok, so it’s my fault for wanting some rain, but all I was really after was a nice British shower. This rain is something else. St Swithin would be proud. It’s been sheeting down now for days without respite. Even J curtailed his ‘must see 150 jazz gigs a day’ obsession yesterday for a couple of hours, due to adverse weather conditions. (He is, however, back to his wild-eyed and diminished-5th ‘I’ve been up all night’ look this morning…)
Everything in this town is extreme. One day it’s 90 degrees with 100% humidity, the next day it’s 60 degrees and a monsoon. Either way, one is always wet.

As a result of this sudden climate change, everyone is suddenly sick, (except for me, unless you count an infected toe, which I have been watching the progress of with growing alarm this week at the thought of having to tackle the vast and complex insurance issue that is accessing the medical profession here).

So everyone is talking about sickness and the weather to total strangers the whole time (which clearly I am now guilty of too).

In the elevator today someone I had never seen before in my life spent 13 floors telling me how sick her nephew currently is. (Who? What? And this affects me how?)
Unlike the UK, where nobody even talks to their best friends in lifts, it is compulsory here to talk to absolutely everyone you find yourself in an elevator with, preferably about very intimate and private matters. I am familiar with the entire contents of a Will someone on the 9th floor has just written, courtesy of a recent elevator ride. (So tough luck, whoever you are’s brother….).

Then there was yesterday at the local hardware store. I had been warned about the staff in hardware stores by the good Rev. on arriving in NY - ‘they’ve never heard of plugs, taps, torches, monkey wrenches or wire wool’ he advised. They actually don’t understand anything us Brits say AT ALL. After about 20 minutes of trying to explain that I wanted something to put in the plughole to stop anything blocking it up, and getting nowhere, our talk turned to the weather. Big mistake. There then ensued a stream-of-consciousness weather-monologue loop (without the aid of an echoplex) for the next half hour or so, which said assistant had absolutely no clue how to get out of. I hung on in there trying valiantly to steer the talk back to plugs, but to no avail. ‘We should sell something to plug the sky’ was about as close as we got. I reeled out into what was now the darkness, seemingly days, and in this town probably Seasons later, with no item purchased whatsoever, feeling like I’d been in a tardis with Jimbobwoof all afternoon.

All these small everyday trials and tribulations bypass the good TH like water off a New Yorker’s back. He is already accustomed to the weather and the quirks, he understands the people much better than I do, and partakes in their foibles with good grace and even enthusiasm. Whilst I, like a true Londoner, still vainly endeavour to keep dry for a certain percentage of the day and stand silent and motionless in the corner of elevators facing the wall, praying ‘please don’t speak to ME’.    


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