Sunday, 16 December 2007

A Is For Parrot, Which We Can Plainly See

Empire State Building (Honest)

IT started snowing as we walked through Times Square.

Then it started raining. The Statue of Liberty: shrouded in fog. The Empire State Building: shrouded in fog. Brooklyn Bridge: shrouded in fog. The Naked Cowboy: indoors keeping himself warm in these frozen times. December is not, it would seem, the best time of the year to go sightseeing in New York.

That doesn't mean you can't have a good look around. This morning we headed to South Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, but prevented from doing so by the weather we went inland, to Wall Street and the financial district, and then up to City Hall and Ground Zero. Seeking refuge from the cold briefly in a department store (don't ask me which one, I'm a boy) we then went back up to Times Square for lunch and some exciting shopping opportunities (yes, even for boys) and then to the Empire State Building ("Today's Visibility: 0 Miles - Tickets $19"), before catching the train to Central Park to watch squirrels and to squelch in the snow. All the while I dreamt of cheesecake and a nice warm fire.

When our bus pulled into New York yesterday I was worried. I like big, busy cities - I find them exciting - but seeing the skyline of New York approach slowly I couldn't help but think I was out of my depth. This place is so much bigger than anywhere I have been before. Times Square on our first night (a Saturday night no less) was absolutely heaving. The metro was packed. It was all very different to the islands of Fiji, one of which you could walk around in four and a half minutes (Jeannette timed it).

But I've warmed (in spirit at least) to the place. It's quite exciting really, since anything of any importance tends to happen here. The Big Apple is the quintessential home of the American spirit, which makes the fact that the highlight of my day was the presence of an Englishman all the stranger.

That man would be John Lennon. In Central Park, in the Strawberry Fields section, is an 'Imagine' memorial to the singer. In the Hard Rock Cafe a board with his handwritten 'story', a scattergram alphabet in which A is for Parrot and N is for Brazil, because it is close to Venezuela. Surreal and probably nonsense, but a valuable item to have on the wall. Whether you buy into his legend or not, the memorial is an affecting place, with no image or statue, but just the word 'Imagine' and a symbol for peace.

This is my story both humble and true,
tear it to pieces and mend it with glue.

Tomorrow morning my first visit to New York City comes to an end, as I shall be catching a bus to Boston. Boston, I am told, is even colder. I can't wait to return to British weather!

From A is for Parrot (again) (March 2008)

"A is for Parrot", originally uploaded by SBishop.

The subject of a previous post, I finally got around to publishing a photo of John Lennon's poetry in the Hard Rock Cafe, New York.

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