Monday, January 24, 2011


To be precise, current temperature outside our building!

Yet another reason to stay in and watch the new season of Gossip Girl. It gives me a headache because it is so complicated. I lose track with soapy shows, everyone looks the same and I can't understand what half of them are saying. I love trying to keep up with GG though, will be putting my two brain cells on charge for an hour or so beforehand then tuning in,,,


Chilly Billy!

Gosh but it's cold here in NYC. Today had crystal clear blue skies and the most icy cold I've ever known. It was the coldest day in the city for two years and out of the sunshine the cold felt a little scary. My eyes and nose hurt as I walked up Broadway. In fact, it's so cold that both my boys are going to school in coats! No hats or gloves of course. I keep saying we're level with Moscow on a world map but it doesn't seem to make much difference to them.

In the cold, the streets are much quieter - people seem to stay indoors. Why then, did my taxi today get into a traffic jam? I don't know because the streets were empty but for the route we took. It was a short cab ride between two locations downtown but I am convinced that, just like some of the contestants on Bridalplasty, the cab drivers are working together against the rest of us. Why? Because no matter when you get into a yellow cab, no matter where, you get into a jam. Do they have a secret code? Maybe all yellow cabs are fitted with other-traffic homing devices. Call me a conspiracy theorist but I'm convinced! I hate cabs anyway, they make me sooooo car-sick, twice as bad in this weather as opening the window is non-negotiable. The subway is warm and smooth so if you're coming here soon, get a map and stay underground....


Another gorgeous, sunny NYC day! After a lovely, freezing run through the park with some excellent help from the i-poddess I am prompted to issue a warning today. It's this. To all girls aged around 30, married or single, please take heed. Can you do me a massive favour and plan for your next 20 years please? What will you be doing when you are 50? Because regardless of whether you have children, you will still want to be making a difference. Maybe raising your children right will help make that happen for you but you're fooling yourself if you think that's what life's ALL about.

Giving up work is the easiest option if you possibly can - it seems that way when the baby's yelling all night, you're in tears and work feels impossible. Ditto the singleton who decides to take off for India on a saved-up for soul searching mission. STOP right there! Intervention coming up........I know so many women, now aged around 40 - 50 whose voices are struggling to be heard from home.  If I had my time again I would not have given up on full-time work. I would have approached part-timing with much more caution. A part-time job is not a career. You back-step for the full-timers, compromise on your power and abilities to enable your arrangement and end up, after five years being seen as someone who's just not serious. Your earning power decreases and that is very hard to change.

SO, if you are thinking of giving up a demanding, time-consuming job and your life is being pulled to pieces, take a little sleeping pill at night to forget your worries but stay in your job! Plan your career. Re-train.  Managing on one income, earned by a man is the fastest passport to Depressionsville. Power and contribution comes from earning. I've seen countless marriages wrecked by bored, resentful, clever women trying to make some poor bloke earn all the cash then come home and be the Perfect Partner. Sorry girls, men have not evolved emotionally that far yet. You have to take responsibility for your own self, for your whole life.
Now, for the Goddess's sake, have a nice day!!!! xxxxxx

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Poem for Jennifer

My fave Jen look. Oscars '09 I believe. I love her but not in a bad way.

Oh I would be so sad, like you
If I had gone and lost Brad, too
I thought you were doing quite well
Until you strayed into Chelsea Handler hell
Hanging around with her is like falling in a muddy ditch
Dirt will stick to you and there's no doubt she is a mucky old person.
Now they are saying you may be off to re-hab
Well FYI Amy Winehouse chic is not quite you
Also, hope you won't mind me saying
The Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Connelly film would have been better
Than starring with Adam Sandler.
He is the on-the-way-out-star's last stop before the B list.
So, please dye your hair back to brown,
And come to groovy New York town
Get a bit serious, solemn and arty
If you must go out, make it to a Schnabel party
Stay away from those un-funny, out of touch LA loonies
Or you will end up as 'Mom' in a remake of the Goonies.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Oh No! Bye Keith O

Keith Olberman, ex-presenter on MSNBC

TV news is pure entertainment in the USA. It's also partisan. Fox News is fiercely pro-Republican, MSNBC is pro Democrat - though both channel's bosses would argue that they present a mixed view. MSNBC is the most entertaining and it's my daily go-to for what's happening in the world. Moving to a new country means you quickly make things familiar as you try to establish a routine. My day is measured out by the shows on MSNBC. Keith Olberman just quit tonight from his role as presenter of the 8pm - 9pm slot. Eccentric, loud and opinionated, he was suspended in November for giving party donations to the Democrats, including, incidentally, Congresswoman Gaby Giffords of Tucson. Since then, he's been recklessly stating his personal opinions all over the place and it was clearly a matter of time before he jumped. I will miss watching his odd, funny, shouty shows. Hopefully he'll turn up somewhere else.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


OUT TRAY: One learner permit.

I am now officially able to drive on my own in New York State. What kind of experience was it? Well, it was as tedious and scream-inducing as expected. Also, when this lady needs to go to the bathroom, she needs the bathroom, scary streets of the South Bronx or not.

So I arrived at Atilla the driving instructor's office at the appointed hour. I know! That's his name, Attila. He is the Road Warrior, the Preacher-Teacher of the open highway. Amy Fine Collins, magnificent scribe of Vanity Fair has even written a book about him, he's a 'ledge' as my children would say. If you're not ready for the driving test, he won't even take you to the test site.  Atilla is a classic Alpha Male and I would normally argue with such a person purely for the sake of it. When he said 'The fight was strong in your husband too, until he gave in" I knew that psychologically, he and I were equals.

In case I haven't mentioned it before, I would have to do the driving test in Atilla's car. As befits a Legendary Road Warrior, Atilla drives a low, sporty BMW. 'Oops!' I harrumphed as I dropped down almost below floor level. I'm SUV all the way. I then had to drive a harum-scarum route up the FDR (East Side Highway) over the rickety-rackety bridge (Throgg's Neck, of course a troll lives under it) to the South Bronx. North, South, it's equally ghastly. Actually no, South is worse. We drove round sad, slush-covered neighbourhoods for about an hour and a half, having a lesson. During this time, Atilla kept making me practice parallel parking. He gave me helpful hints but I couldn't concentrate - too bored and cheesed off to listen.

Finally we got to the place of the test, a grim street by some warehouses. We joined a queue of cars.  This is when I told Atilla that after 2 and a half hours in the grindster, I had to go pee pee. 'Can I go in the test centre?' I asked hopefully. Turned out there was no test centre. The examiners were a group of people, dressed like bus drivers or postmen, standing around on the pavement. They hopped in and out of the cars to do each test. 'Atilla', I said after half an hour of queueing, 'I am going to look for a bathroom'.

Ignoring commands to sit still and calm down, I got out of the beemer and trudged up a hill towards some shops. On the way, a man ran out into the street, trying to attack two teenagers who he claimed had stolen his phone from his 'crib'. I'm not making it up, he used that word. Everyone got really angry and some kind of scuffle broke out. I just kept going to a supermarket I'd spied at the top of the road. Very kindly, the till ladies agreed to show me to their bathroom facility. What can I say? This was a supermarket basement in the South Bronx. But they were super nice and the bathroom itself, pink tiled, was an oasis in what was no more than a concreted-out cave. The kind of space normally used for electrocuting Daniel Craig. I was as quick as I could be but then I had to wait while the kind Spanish lady who escorted me, er, availed herself fully of the facilities. It was a bit like being in prison.

Then I ran back down the hill to a worried-looking Atilla, who handed me over to the examiner. She was another very nice lady who took her seat beside me. It was a real effort not to make conversation with her, especially because she had the same name as one of my sons! It's strictly forbidden to start chit-chat though, you just have to drive. We were in that car for 8 minutes, during which time the examiner only had to apply the emergency brake once. Despite my magnificent attempt to parallel park and an attack of school buses, she passed me. Everyone was thrilled, we high-fived and then Atilla drove us back home, over the rickety-rackety bridge......


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I knew, when I saw Miss Arkansas yodelling, via ventriloquism, through the mouths of her dollies on Saturday Night that stardom was unfolding. This girl may dream of being a judge/saving the world/marrying Jesus but so what!! With a talent like that, she needs nothing else. Oh I'm getting carried away, it's not 1935. Or is it? Sometimes, when tuning into the US media, one can be forgiven for wondering. Perhaps it's 1945 instead, then? Everyone's banging on about Roosevelt (anniversary or birthday or something), ventriloquising beauty queens and guns. They'll be inventing computers next and teenagers will start dancing to their own, scary new kind of music.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


This is Miss Nevada - now Miss America. She clinched the title by playing the full classical version of Chopsticks on the piano, admitting she makes dresses from different coloured duct tape and saying she wants to be a Supreme Court Judge.

Having just bought HBO and tons of other channels there is still nothing worth watching on Saturday night TV. Unless it's Miss America night, as it was last night. Whadda show! Simon Cowell needs to get hold of this franchise fast because it was the best, competitive, reality TV I have seen in a long time. The competing queens are professional pageant veterans. Giant, Tiny Tears dolls with Barbie wig-hair and odd, home-made looking spangle-frocks.  With a mix of horro-nation (horror and fascination, folks) I watched. A woman came on in a blonde wig and red semi-ballet outfit then wearily performed a 'contemporary dance' routine to Michael Jackson's 'The Way You Make Me Feel'.  Her robotic (learned and unchanged since the age of 4?) performance went beyond anything ever seen on French & Saunders. Another came on in a catsuit with two ventriloquist dolls and yodelled her way through gritted teeth to a song called 'I want to be a cowboy's sweetheart'.

The talent section of the show just kept giving. The last contestant performed a full classical ballet piece to a rock ballad. I'm not being mean, just saying she was about the same size as me. Miss New York, the lone politicial ranger in the show, apparently campaigning on gay marriage, sadly did not get to perform her talent routine. A shame because she was wearing an outfit hinting at the roaring 20s (as in decade, she's about 40) which promised to be pretty bluddy good. Actually she is not 40 but all the competitors looked like 40-plus cosmetic counter assistants from Macys. Not Barneys or Saks.

After the talent section came a hide-behind-the-sofa-cushion session of mini-interviews on current affairs. Oh Lord. Yet my feminist mind has been changed on the demise of beauty contests. Everyone was nice, there was none of that awful criticism you get on the X-factor, these women were oblivious to the outside world. Sponsored by a shoe retailer, they came up with a fancy dress outfit each based around a shoe.  Meanwhile they were constantly praised for their beauty, talent and grace all the way through the show. It's sexist in the old-fashioned sense of the word but hang on. Let these women make their choices and please, please, let's televise them doing it more often.

The Miss America contest was televised from Las Vegas, where the same mayor has been in charge for 12 years and never appears without a showgirl on each arm.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Right, Country music is an interesting thing. Chic Americans shun it like a plague of flying roaches.  To ask 'Does 'Jesus Take The Wheel' by Carrie Underwood make you cry, too?' at a fashionable gathering is to commit (another) social suicide. For some of us, the sheer drama of country music is irresistable. If you think 'I am Woman' by Helen Reddy is Country Woman Power, try Goodbye Earl by the Dixie Chicks. This was a favourite of a good friend of mine who moved to Miami, listened to it all the time, dumped her husband as a result then ran away with her childhood sweetheart from Rochdale. She was a Cilla Black freak but I blame the Dixies for truly settin' her free.

Male country singers are not so interesting, droning on about boots and whisky in an annoying, yodelly way. Country women, however, carry a world of troubles on their shoulders. Who can blame them? It's been a tough few centuries for the females of the North American countryside, only now enjoying pick-up trucks, bars and beer of their own. So I can see the attraction for Gwyneth Paltrow to the role of Kelly Canter in 'Country Strong'. She nearly pulls it off but for that constant 'I'm really Gwyneth, cleverly demonstrating my talents here but don't forget I am actually very fashionable in real life' look in the back of her eyes. Went to see it last night with the other Real British housewives of NYC. Also the script just wasn't very good but never mind because we thoroughly enjoyed the overall experience - sometimes what going to the flix is all about. Plus Leighton Meister was fabulous in her role and she's not a person I can really be doing with, most of the time.

Bit of a film review there!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


.....of rock/roll, last Saturday I dragged us to see the Broadway musical, American Idiot. Appropriate in the light of how that day transpired.

The reason for the dragging was to see Billie Jo of yer actual Green Day, who is starring in it for a month. My argument was: you would go and see Liam Gallagher in a 4 week run of an Oasis musical, or, er, a Mumford & Son in a M &S rock opera wouldn't you? The answer from my family was a resounding No. Nobody enjoyed it and it was no fun. Then RBH and myself had a small domestic in 5 Napkin Burger, one thing led to another and the weekend was ruined.

Which again, considering what happened elsewhere in the USA on Saturday, was appropriate somehow. 


There once was a bloke called Matt
Who came from the town of Teignmouth
He started a Radiohead rip-off band
That were actually quite successful
I once went to Teignmouth on a rugby tour
but couldn't relate to anyone there, man.
The point I'm trying to make is,
Matt seems to be slightly in over his head..

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


This is stylist Kate Young, famous for her work on shows, campaigns and celebs including Natalie Portman, Derek Lam and Target. This nowhere near describes her talent but google her later if you need to.

Kate's trademark bleached blonde locks are ultra-cool and she always looks like any right-thinking fashionable person would wish to. Meandering through the webrooms of mars last night I noticed an interview where she confessed that sometimes, when she goes over to the East Side with black roots, shop assistants are mean to her. What? Not glad anyone could be mean to a super-stylist of course, just fascinated that even she, for pity's sake, gets the cold shoulder treatment in East Side shops. Because to get respect over there, you have to look like a Russian Oligarch's mistress on one last, pre-deportation spree. Actually, that sounds like quite a good look, doesn't it...Oh anyway....

It could be worse for cool-looking Kate. Because this is my blog, indulge me in a bit of comparison here. If I go shopping on the Upper East Side without lashing myself up to the very nines, I don't get the cold shoulder. I get the pitying, cold shoulder. Far worse than mere mean-ness. I would rather the hard-faced-seen-it-all-dominellas and driven-deranged-by-selling-doxies cold shouldered me than took me on and tried to 'help' me.  'Do you like denim?' said one assistant during a meander over there before Christmas. Pardon?  'Have you ever tried a cargo pant?' said another, in a different shop. Such comments make me laugh out loud, prompting the poor-old sales birds to write me off as insane. I wouldn't advise anyone to set foot inside DKNY on Madison Ave by the way,  the shopbirds in there are half-human-half-vulture.

Don't cry for me though, Our Tina, this only happens on the UES. Here on the UWS I am on friendly terms with all the assistants, from Burberry and Barneys Co-op to Zabars. Not including Staples, obviously (see previous postings 'Banned etc etc'). Also suffer no prejudice downtown and breeze in and out of stores there like a person who knows DVF (I don't).

This all leads me once more to the conclusion that the Upper East Side is barely New York. Some old-fashioned Waspy presence can still be vaguely felt but all in all, it is more like a suburb of Minsk. Sorry, Minskys. Pot-holed roads, Very Bad Smells, rats that build nests in cars (!) 1970s shop fittings, ghostly figures with cracked white faces, yellow teeth and red lips trying to sell you stuff, barely a Starbux in sight and deathly, scruffy convenience stores litter the land. Strange people, the kind that might in fact, have hovered behind Steve Strange in a Visage video roam the streets. In a Madison Ave cafe before Christmas, an old lady introduced herself to me as the 'English psychic' and reassured me that death would ultimately find me. I looked at an apartment over there once where the elevator operator had grown deformed. His right arm and shoulder, after 50 years of turning the old-fashioned elevator wheel, were massively over-developed. I feel terrible for admitting it gave me the creeps and I couldn't rent that apartment. It doesn't help that I've read a spooky book about the disused hospital on Roosevelt Island and scared myself with that Jennifer Connolly horror film, Dark Water.

Anyway, I seem to have strayed back to the subject of horror when I started on shops. That's me, unable to concentrate, ask anyone of the myriad of school teachers who tried to make me. My point is, if you come to NYC this year looking for atmosphere, check out Barneys and co but don' t linger too long or allow shopworkers to intimidate you. If they do, remember NOT to take it personally.  Just laugh loudly and even maniacally if you fancy it, then skidaddle downtown where the pulse of this city still beats like a big bass drum.


Poppy just loves the snow -  like water to her only better because she can eat, drink and kind of swim in it.  Despite a grumpy trudge down to the park this morning, I couldn't help laughing at her sheer doggy joy.

I'm struggling to keep awake now thanks to the all-night scraping of over-zealous Mayor Bloomberg's neurotic snow-ploughs. So paranoid after his snow-crisis-holiday drubbing, the Mayor sent the ploughs out before the snow had barely settled. All night long the sound of metal scraping on concrete rang out through the canyons of NYC. This morning, residents texted each other blearily, some only able to see their phone screens with the aid of spectacles, thanks to their heavy metal-racked night.

Weather like this brings apartment living up to the top of my 'Good Things about NYC' list, though. Our bedroom is on the corner of the building, 11 floors up, yet the walls and windows are tough enough not to even rattle with the wind. Downstairs, the doormen and supers had already scraped the pavement and sprinkled salt when I took Poppy out. Thanks to all the other doorstaff on the block I've just made it to Starbucks and back in my Uggs with barely a splash. Oh it's a busy, busy life! xxxx

PS: Irony there, someone give me a job, PLEASE.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Opened the kitchen door this morning to dump the newspapers in the recycling bin, here's the view. I know! What the Flicking Hell is it? Admittedly, I was half asleep at the time, so the sharp drop/leap in my heart is understandable but honestly. It is, of course, the neighbours again. Trouble is, apart from the Happy Trio across the hall (see posting: The Neighbours) the only other occupants of our landing are families with kids under 4.

Here's the front view.

I can only imagine it must be a Halloween relic.  Call me Margo Leadbetter but the sight of this scared me and, subsequently, the teens too. Although one of them had a hangover so it was easy to scare him. A Bad Thing and a topic I may well return to later when my nerves can stand it. 

My question is: Which of the 3 other apartments did this apparition come from? I'm surprised not to have heard more late-night screaming from behind closed doors if this is a discarded piece of home decor. Surely small kidlets would be afraid of this - it's at least 4ft tall. It's funny but it's also funny-bluddy-peculiar. Natch, it set me off thinking along these lines........One couple on our landing are both skittering on the edge of showbiz. Their small son is trotted off to auditions day-in, day-out. Maybe this is part of some kind of conditioning exercise to mentally prepare him for a role in Scary Movie 13 or something? Now my imagination's running away with me of course. But ever stopped to wonder about such kids?

 I've pondered previously (in print) about kids who appear in horror films. How do the parents stand the sight of their 12 year old daughter hanging from a beam?(Amityville Horror) Because it's is not all special effects in such films. Do the neighbours say 'Ooo we loved seeing your daughter being raped by the Devil in The Last Exorcism, great movie!'  Or whatever. Having seen lots of horrors involving kids for research into this topic, it's pretty gross. Following the after-lives and careers of child-horror-stars is pretty horrific too.  Depression, derailment and occasionally an early death seem to be the most frequent endings to their sad, scary little lives.

 Oooooooh many apologies for that trip to the Dark Side. Just following a train of thought that will certainly lead to more nightmares on the 11th Floor tonight.....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


The names of two real women, slugging it out on MSNBC yesterday. With names like that, no wonder those two girls are on the TV, telling everyone else what they think. I love America!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Do you like what I've done with my picture? I was trying to merge my hair across my chins using the Apple photo app newly discovered on my Little Mac. seen here, you can't rub out if you make a mistake - story of my life. Never mind, we are lucky to have this picture at all because it was taken by a nutter.

Yep, the passing fella I accosted seemed normal enough - and this is how many, many New Yorkers trick you. I mean, he couldn't have looked more normal. Clean-shaven, podgy-ish but boring-business-smart-casual, carrying a couple of shopping bags, newly filled at Whole Foods. We are talking trustworthy! So I approached him very nicely and asked if he would mind doing the business. He obliged, handed back the camera and then launched into a tirade. "Whaddaya wanna picture of yourself in front of all that goddamn garbage for Lady anyway, are you crazy? Or are you gonna send your picture to the m_________ers who left the garbage there? They are m_________ers, I hate those b_______ds!!!!!! If I ever met one I would f_____g let that m__________er know woddIthought of his garbage removal skills!!!!! A-------es!'

 It was unclear if he was referring to the rubbish removal men or the previous owners of the stuff but when he started sweating and not moving on I ran away. Looking back on the incident, I now regret not photographing the passing bloke, instead of vice-versa.

As for the garbage, it really was stinky today as the weather has warmed up. Most scary of all was that while on my early run around 7.30 a.m (lunchtime in New York) I passed a similar pile of garbage on Amsterdam. Drawing level with it, the pile seemed to move. I new exactly who was in there and it wasn't Batty Bat. It was Ratty Rat and his mates as usual.  Screaming 'Rats! Rats! Yaaaaagh! Help!!!' etc on the silent street caused one little rat to jump out from about waist-height (mine, not his/hers) and run off. The lesson is: when passing a pile of rats, it's best to be swift and silent rather than motionless and hysterical.

The Goddess only knows what it must be like for the garbage disposal folk. Our local ones are a very friendly, cheery bunch who Poppy and I are on good terms with. They tell me the rats always run if you approach them but to be honest, I never want to test that principle again. Will just leave it to the professionals who cannot help the regulations, weather, excuses and holiday plans of the people they work for.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


After a few days of hunting for liquor - that's what they call alcohol in Utah - smiling a lot and going to bed very early, I'm looking forward to returning to the big A. To illustrate this please enjoy a pic of the Naked Cowboy, former mayoral candidate for NYC. The Naked Cowboy was seen a lot on the streets when we first moved to the city and he never minded if you wanted to pose alongside him for a pic (?). Always ready with a song, the Naked Cowboy could often be heard strumming around the streets before one actually caught sight of him.

The NC represents the Other Side of NYC life. On the one-hand it's so high-fallutin'. God forbid you should venture across the park to the East Side with a hair out of place and still expect to be served in a shop, heaven preserve you from mentioning your cockroaches over cocktails.  It is still possible though, to venture downtown, mooch around on the Lower East Side or any one of a dozen other neighbourhoods and meet naked cowboys, old ladies dressed as Cleopatra or dogs that talk (according to their owners). So, as awe-inspiring as the Canyons of the Colorado River are and as high as the Rockies can take ya, I'll still be glad to get home. See you there I hope. xxx