A Londoner in New York part 9: Dates and Departures

17ikuta8vm9k1jpgI really can’t believe that this is the last blog I’ll be writing from New York – it feels like only yesterday I was being driven around the  seedy depths of Brooklyn in an unlicensed cab at 2am. Sweet, sweet memories. But three months on, I’m packing my life back up and heading home to London and funemployment. Twenties, you confuse my brain.

I figured that I would have to mark my leaving NYC in as many ridiculous ways as possible, so from sitting on the subway dressed as a reindeer next to Jake Gyllenhaal to venturing into the online dating scene, I’d like to think I lived up to the challenge.

To give a little bit of context to the latter situation, in New York, everybody who’s single is on the same free dating website, which sounds like an exaggeration but is actually true. So anyway, during our very drunken Thanksgiving, my roommate was regaling me with tales of how she found some kind of sexy acrobat on the site and they had some sexy acrobat sex before he ran off to join the circus. Or something like that (I was in a ham and vodka induced coma so the details are hazy). Having been in New York a couple of months by this point and only encountered gay men, I figured that at worst, I’d get murdered, and at best, I’d get an STD, and to be honest, those weren’t the worst odds I’d ever had. So the next day, I signed up.

Initially, I was really worried about spotting someone I knew on the site, so I put little to no information on my profile and only put up photos taken from a distance in case anyone tried to steal the identity of a broke English girl living semi illegally in New York (we are the prime object of identity theft so I am told). Early on in the online dating game, I had your run of the mill messages from people who only had photos of their torsos, or who wore really lame glasses, and I was getting pretty disillusioned with the whole thing. When I discussed the lack of success with my American friends, they assured me that they had met people and everyone had fun and nobody died, so I should just stick with it. I reluctantly listened, but continued to ignore all of the messages people sent me for the aforementioned reasons and because, quite frankly, the spelling and grammar in those messages was appalling. I’m not saying I want to date Einstein, but someone with a higher IQ than a grape surely isn’t a lot to ask.

My friends insisted that I send messages to people as it was the only way of not ending up with total reprobates, so I decided to have a drunken 3am perusal of who the site had listed as my ‘top matches.’ And as I was scrolling through the list, I stumbled across none other than a fellow intern from work, at which point I laughed hysterically, briefly pondered the ridiculousness/awkwardness of the situation and then passed out. The fact that someone I had pretty much zero in common with was an alleged ‘86% match’ reinforced how completely and utterly useless the site was, and reminded me exactly why English people/I am scared of online dating. Because it is weird.

I’d forgotten I was even on the site until the other day, when I had a (correctly punctuated) message from a guy who seemed relatively normal. Well, as normal as someone searching for sex/love on the internet can seem. I ended up agreeing to go on a date, although after a few days of very overly forward text messages from the guy in question, I was beginning to change my mind. But, being the true stoic I am, I soldiered on and went to meet him. He wasn’t a killer, which was nice, and somehow we managed to pass a few hours with reasonable-ish conversation (read: me talking all the time to avoid awkward silences). But the whole affair was rather dull, and after a 13 hour drinking session the day before, all I wanted was to go home and watch Elf in my pyjamas. Eventually I decided that enough was enough, and said I had to go – there was clearly no spark between us, and he was wearing a jumper I didn’t like, so I figured we’d go our separate ways and be done with it. But as we said our goodbyes, he lunged in for a horrendously awkward kiss whereby I was sort of craning my face away and he was still trying to kiss it. It was bad. Very bad. I then made the situation far worse by half running away, and in doing so dropped the candy cane ‘Christmas present’ (seriously) he had brought me onto the floor. Again, very bad.

Some mild boy drama ensued over the next couple of days mostly involving him wanting to meet up again and sending me more dirty texts (this guy was a pre-school teacher), but it ended in typical fashion with us going our separate ways. Probably a good idea given I’d only met him a few days before I left the country for good. But I’m sort of glad I tested the waters, as it taught me that 1) online dating is mostly like real dating, just with a higher chance of murder, and 2) that I’m going to die alone. Necessary life lessons, I suspect.

On a less depressing note (sort of), leaving has given me the chance to think about how many incredible things I’ve seen and done here, and how many wonderful people I’ve met.  Of course, there have been trying times too (a hurricane and near lawsuit spring to mind), but I even found myself getting a little choked up as I left work for the last time on Friday afternoon. Thankfully I’m dead inside so there were no actual tears, but the momentary voice raspy-ness felt symbolic – to me at least. Anyway, I should probably get on a flight now, so bye bye NY – it has been bloody amazing.

A Londoner in New York part 6: Hurricanes and Hipsters

Hipsters. Fucking hipsters. Only they could make a hurricane more bloody irritating than it is already, and with the whole no power/not being able to leave the apartment for days on end, it is bloody irritating enough. Mid-hurricane, we decided to have a little wander up to the roof because seeing Manhattan without power is just something you have to do when the opportunity presents itself. I’d been reluctant to leave the safety of indoors during the first day, much to the dismay of my far more adventurous housemates, who had gone for a wander to “check out the flooding.” There are times in life when you have to just say no to being hit in the face by a flying bin, and I felt as though that was one of them.

But after the power outage struck that evening, I thought the roof was a safe enough place to feel adventurous when really not being that adventurous at all, so up we went for some high wind related funsies. What made the experience less funsies, however, were the hipsters using this meteorological fuck up as an excuse to be really bloody hipster-ish. Up they trotted with their alternative hats and non-prescription glasses, practically shitting themselves with excitement thinking of all the fun they could have uploading their photos onto their Macs and playing around with the colour settings. I was then sadly dragged in on the act, and made to take a photo of them IN THE HURRICANE so that they could “quickly put it on Instagram.” Really? Really, hipsters? Is Instagram honestly your biggest priority right now? Everyone else on the roof was doing that thing you do when you watch fireworks (the occasional ooh and aah, interspersed with silent appreciation), but they had been there for all of five seconds before the Kodak moment had ensued and they were planning how many social media sites they could shit all over with their hipster hashtags.

It seemed sort of fun and exciting when the power first went out, but it was only by the next day that I realised what a mess the city was in. Given we had no internet at home, and I had no phone reception whatsoever (still don’t on both counts), I was kind of oblivious to what was really happening outside. But yesterday, I decided to make the hour and a quarter long walk uptown to my friend’s place (who, incidentally I couldn’t tell that I was coming given the lack of phone signal), as doing that was a far greater alternative to sitting around all day. What I accidentally forgot, however, was that as around 99% of Lower Manhattan is still without power, walking home at night time would be a rather terrifying experience. It’s honestly hard to imagine a city like New York completely black on every corner to the point where you can’t even see the hands in front of your face, but that walk back was pretty bloody scary. How on earth I even navigated myself back in the darkness from so far across town given my geographical ineptitude is nothing short of a miracle.

We’re likely to be without power and subways for at least a week, which may not sound like a big deal, but when you’re washing yourself with several day old water by candlelight, it feels like a reasonably big one to be honest. Of course, it’s nothing compared to the devastation that has hit so many parts of the city, but the hurricane has been quite isolating in some ways, and the lack of working traffic lights anywhere near where we live makes the roads of New York even more ridiculous than usual. We’ve been having a lot of vodka related fun in our apartment block, though, so every cloud.

When I’ve not been hiding from the storm, I’ve been trying to do some babysitting on the side to reel in some extra funds, although this has been largely unsuccessful. I was offered a full day of work in the Bronx, which was “one block from the ghetto” to quote its owner, and I did contemplate this for a while, thinking that I could just man up and be the strong independent woman Beyoncé has been telling me to be for all of these years. But then I remembered that I’m about as ghetto as a crayon, so I quickly declined. Lots of people genuinely do get shot in the Bronx on a daily basis, and I had tickets to see Alanis Morissette the next day, so it just seemed like it would have been bad timing.

It has been a pretty awesome week for live music, actually, and watching Joan Jett perform live from about 10ft away was the highlight of my life in NYC so far for sure. Less good was the Alanis Morissette gig, though, where I was enjoying bopping along to Ironic (the only song of hers I actually know) when AN ACTUAL MAN WIPED ACTUAL PHLEGM ON MY ACTUAL SHOULDER. This is not a joke. I mean, who the fuck does that? It was an Alanis Morissette gig for one, so the number of bodily fluids flying around was at the bare minimum (just the way I like it). But my elation soon turned to trauma as I saw an palmful of the yellow stuff on the shoulder of my cardigan. The fact that I am an avid cardigan wearer should, in my mind, alert people to the fact that I would not appreciate having their mucus rubbed all over it, but lo and behold, some people are obscenely selfish and disgusting.

So life has been pretty weird on all counts lately, but life in New York is still awesome, and although the Halloween Parade has been cancelled tonight (for the first time in 39 years!), we’re off to Bette Midler’s Halloween Party to see Blondie perform. Let’s hope Sandy doesn’t manage to fuck that up too! Until next time…

A Londoner in New York Part 4: The Racist Freak Show

It’s been a funny old week. On Monday, myself and trusty fellow skiver Alice bunked off work to watch a live taping of The Jerry Springer Show, travelling across the States to Connecticut in order to join the jobless of America for an afternoon of harmless fun. Or so I thought. After we’d queued up in the cold for several hours, we were allowed into the lobby of NBC’s studios, and told to wait in one room. The time spent in line had given rise to some serious hunger pangs, so we asked if we were allowed to cross over into the forbidden other room which had the much in demand vending machine. The staff okayed this, but said we had to return to our designated area afterwards because of potential ‘fire hazards.’ So far, so normal enough.

After we returned to our room, Alice pointed out that everyone where we were sat was white, whereas those in the room with the vending machine were all black. I shrugged this off at first, thinking it could be coincidental, as surely a major television network wouldn’t exhibit such a blatant act of racism. But there was clearly no coincidence about it, as when we were finally let into the studio, all of the white people were told to sit in the front rows and middle block of the tiered seating, while the black people stood queuing at the door before being directed to the lesser seating on the sides. I sat there in shock for a while, wondering how on earth such explicit racial segregation was allowed to happen. My malaise quickly intensified as the recording began, as the producers ordered us to shout “WE LOVE LESBIANS!” at random intervals, applaud wildly every time Jerry made some vile comment about his vast earnings and offer a standing ovation whenever the show’s guests, who were clearly actors, started fighting each other.

The whole experience was atrocious, and as I sat there vehemently willing it to end, I did ponder how this kind of televised freak show was allowed to occur in 2012. I have never actually watched a full episode of the show, only five minutes here or there, so perhaps it was naïve of me to think that it would be a silly and light hearted affair. But one that provided an affront to race, gender and sexuality was not something I had accounted for.

Still perturbed by what I had seen, I emailed the show the next day, asking why they had done what they did. Needless to say, I didn’t get a response, but I honestly am still shocked by what went down that day. No one deserves to be treated like a second class citizen, least of all by supercilious cunts with clipboards, and I can only hope that now they know they’ve been found out, they’ll keep their foul racial prejudices under wraps.

In less depressing news, work has been rather more interesting this week, the highlight of which was probably a charity benefit at The Plaza. In between befriending Manhattan socialites with ridiculous names, I met Bow Wow, Nick Cannon and Swizz Beats, all of whom were supporting the Children’s Rights Foundation, celebrating its seventh year. As you can imagine, an event in the Grand Ballroom of The Plaza was pretty fancypants, so I turned up looking my usual dishevelled self with frizzy rain hair and holey flat shoes. I just like keeping it classy, okay?

The evening was small talk a-go-go as these events always are, but I did get invites to a few more things, one of which is a charity event with Demi Moore this week  and a pro-Obama vegan cupcake party. The latter of these things particularly tickled me, as I was trying to think of the British equivalent. A Sunday roast party for Ed Miliband?! Somehow, I don’t think it would take off in quite the same way. I’m also going to some kind of Cointreau party hosted by burlesque lady Dita von Teese and interviewing her in the next few days, so there are definitely some good things in store for the coming week. Until next time…

A Londoner in New York part 3: Craigslist and the Cat Bully

As you may recall from my last blog, my entrance into America was not quite the seamless process I had planned (or rather not planned). After having no sleep for about 36 hours, I figured it was as good a time as any to go off in search of an apartment, and set up a couple of appointments from places I’d seen advertised on Craigslist. Granted, the site was far from ideal given that all of my enquiries up to that point had resulted in emails from envelope selling Philipino scam artists, but in between fending off their demands for $5000 bank transfers and people looking for ‘chilled nudists to share a bed with,’ there were a couple of promising leads.

The first place I went to was on the Upper West Side, and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact it was a decent little space in a neighbourhood that didn’t seem totally murderous. The couple living there seemed – shock horror – normal, and after half an hour of us chatting away, I thought I pretty much had it in the bag. Except, what do you know, I get a text a few hours later saying they’d given the place to someone who paid up front. Now this got me worrying a little, as I was on TOP BLOODY FORM for those 30 minutes I spent in that flat, and if me at my best wasn’t appealing enough, I had no hope in hell of finding anywhere. I mean, I even pretended to find it amusing that the girl was Asian yet had a Greek name (seriously, stop the press) so I was feeling pretty fucking slighted that I’d listened to all that inane shite if I wasn’t even going to get a room out of it.

Anyway, more apartment hunting ensued, and a particularly fun Sunday of traipsing all over Manhattan to no avail did nothing to allay my fears of homelessness. Highlights of the weekend included me travelling half an hour to a place, calling to say I was outside and then being told it had been rented less than five minutes beforehand, and spending so much money in Starbucks to use their wifi that I feared being able to pay rent at all.

So the weekend was pretty shitsville, but there was little time to contemplate the poopiness as my internship started on Monday. Needless to say, I haven’t really done anything in my week there but at least one of the interns is nice so I have someone to cry into my $9 salad with at lunchtimes. More Craigslist trawling ensued on my first day in the office, and that night, I scheduled a viewing after work. AND GUESS WHAT. The place seemed relatively normal, and I was gearing up to sign on the dotted line. But then some smug American bastard working in the Financial District came to look round at the same time, and did that typical American thing of being really emphatic about things (“I just LOVE this couch.” It’s a fucking couch) while I stood quietly in the corner, being, well, British. I’d had enough of apartment hunting and couldn’t be bothered to let this one slip through the net too, so we had a kind of mini-stand-off for about 15 minutes, with both of us refusing to leave and trying to suss out the other’s stance. Eventually I won out, and as soon as he’d walked out the door, I agreed to take the place, cat and all.

Yes, you read that correctly. I now have a cat. Those of you who know me well will probably be thinking – ‘you hate cats! Didn’t you once come to a dress-as-what-you-hate party as a cat?’ To which I would say yes, you are correct (although that outfit was more a result of unimaginative fancy dress than true distaste). But I am not a feline fan – they have mistrusting eyes and get run over a lot, and that is not what I look for in a pet. Anyway, I digress, I now have a cat, and because my roommates are conveniently allergic to it (don’t ask), I now have to feed and water it and KEEP IT ALIVE. Which kind of feels like a big deal.

You’d think old whiskers might be grateful for my efforts, but you would be very wrong. We had a little showdown at around 5am this morning, when I kindly went to open the door for it in case it wanted some air. And what did it do? Cornered me into one part of the living room until I fed it. It is probably quite worrying that I – a person with a degree – am being outwitted by a creature that spends half its time licking its own arsehole, but I’m not going to dwell.

There is no way of skirting round the issue: I am being bullied by a cat. It has spent the last hour scratching at my bedroom door, and I’m scared of incurring its wrath if I actually open up. I did have respect for the cat initially (particularly when I thought it had gone missing and then found it in the allergic guy’s bed), but things have taken a very sorry turn, and I don’t think we are friends any longer. I did have plans to go out today, but Evel Knievel kitty is trying to put the kaibosh on that. Only time will tell who emerges victorious. Until next time…


A Londoner in New York Part 2: The Fuck Up

A mini floor mutiny ensues

Well, the big move was never going to quite go to plan, was it? Although perhaps how wrong it did go couldn’t have even crossed my mind. In spite of a stressful trip in the rain to Heathrow, I managed to slip through to the departure lounge with two pieces of hand luggage, several coats (in which my knickers were stuffed in the pockets – more on that later) and had successfully checked in my ten ton baggage without accruing any extra costs, so I was feeling pretty good about the journey ahead. Sweaty, but good. More good fortune struck when I got to my seat, and found that I didn’t have to sit next to anyone for over eight hours. I genuinely caught myself thinking – ‘wow, what have I done to deserve this stroke of luck?’ – which I see now was a MASSIVE FUCKING ERROR and that I should have just accepted the thrill of three seat sprawly time without question.

And then we landed. And things started to go very wrong. We waited on the runway for an hour and a half before finally being allowed to disembark and head through immigration. When we finally made the mammoth trek, the room was honestly full of several thousand people all trying to get through, and the queue cutting (by one particularly obnoxious Italian man with a ponytail in a SCRUNCHIE) had already begun. I did the typical English thing of tutting, looking disapprovingly at the guy but not actually saying anything, and figured the whole shebang would take an hour, tops. I WAS VERY WRONG. It took three and a half hours. Three. And a half. Hours. You can’t even make that shit up. I know people laugh about Brits’ love for queuing but that vile experience made the hour and a half waiting to get off the bloody plane seem like a holiday in itself.

By the time it got to 1am US time (this is 6 fucking am English time, people) there was one solitary man checking visitors’ passports. One man in a room filled with thousands of people. At one point, ponytail wandered off in search of some extra staff, and I instantly felt bad about judging him and his earlier queue dodging, thinking that if he’s going to be the voice of our generation, then sure, he can wear a scrunchie now and then if he feels like it.

But then what did he do? Jumped the queue again, the smug scrunchie wearing bastard. Mild carnage ensued when a number of people decided to flagrantly disregard the disgruntled queuers and head straight to the front, and ponytail’s girlfriend fended off the death stares saying, “It’s a jungle.” I mean, is it? This was hardly some William Golding type shit going down. No one was eating anyone, and if anything, I thought the general despair had created a sense of unity (although I didn’t feel so great when I dropped my frilly knickers on the floor and got alerted to them in front of the crowd by the guy standing behind me). Again, I was wrong. The whole situation turned into a divide between the moral (99.9% of the people standing in line) and the totally cuntish, who didn’t mind screwing everyone over to get closer to that coveted spot.

So, five hours after landing, I got through customs, and after spending a while trying to find my bag (no one knew where the luggage was, natch), I tried to head to my destination. Approached by an old Jamaican cabbie in the airport, he told me it would cost $40 to go to the place I was staying at, and I naively said yes. I was going to stay with a friend of a cousin of my dead grandma’s dead family friend (tenuous much?!), but hadn’t been able to get through to them in spite of my frantic calling. By the time he actually figured out where the place was (sans sat nav) he told me it was really far away, so I decided to try and look for a local motel. Again, ERROR. He spent most of the journey driving at 15mph on his phone swerving in and out of lanes, whilst I sat in the back seat eyeing his Christian newspaper and trying not to die. I figured arriving at 2am at the house of a couple who have no fucking clue who you are was a bit antisocial, although the steaming shit pile that ensued was undoubtedly worse.

We drove from motel to motel in rough parts of Brooklyn, and I kept getting told it would cost $130 for the night. And by the night, I mean eight hours. In between kissing his teeth and murmuring ‘bumbaclart’ a lot (true story), the cabbie kept telling me he knew cheaper places we could go. Except he was old and senile and a total fucking idiot, so that obviously didn’t happen. At one place, I actually started to cry a little bit, and some guy who looked like a knife crime dabbler took pity on me and tried to offer advice. When a boy reeking of drugs who rents a motel between the hours of 2-6am feels sorry for you, you know your life is pretty fucking shit.

By motel 3, I was losing the will to live, and finally decided that I would just pay the extortionate price and be done with it. But then the cabbie told me I owed him $95. NINETY FIVE DOLLARS. I asked if he was on crack, and he told me I was ungrateful for the help he’d given me. Um, help? If you were going to charge me a total bloody fortune, I could have just gone to the first motel and saved myself the money. I gave him $80 against my better judgement and went to my weed reeking room (ideally placed opposite the elevator for maximum noise) in the hopes that tomorrow would be a better day. As it was now 7:30am English time (meaning I’d been awake for 25 hours), I texted my mum asking that she email the couple I was meant to stay with explaining the story. (Oh, I’d also apparently spent £16 on 3G for trying to look at a map when the imbecile driver had no clue where we were. Excellent). Anyway, I tried to sleep but being over a main road and opposite a lift weren’t exactly ideal conditions, so I lay in bed hugging my laptop and hoping the various drug users and prostitutes – or neighbours, I suppose I should call them – wouldn’t try to break into my room.

A few hours later, the room phone rang, and as if by genuine magic, it was the lady I was going to stay with. She offered to come and pick me up, and then she bought me coffee, so she is basically a complete and utter legend. Her and her husband stayed semi awake all night waiting for me (bit awks) and they think I’m a total fucking knob, but in truth, they are correct, so I only really have myself (and the shithole that is JFK) to blame.

I smell quite a lot of poo but it’s time to go apartment hunting, and no doubt more tales of extreme idiocy will ensue. Until next time…

The time I had a real job for grown-ups

Back in June, I wrote an article for Wannabe Hacks discussing the perils of grad scheme rejections. It wasn’t all bad news bears, though, as I was later offered an editorial role at Fest magazine, one of the leading publications that runs during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As a bit of a live arts junkie and major Fringe fan, this seemed like a pretty sweet deal.

As those of you who read my travel blog last year might remember, organisation in my personal life has never been my forte. Having crashed with friends up in bonny Scotland for the past few years, I took the job with little hesitation, thinking I could just do the same again. But this turned out to be a little problematic. None of my friends had space for me to stay, and my salary wouldn’t even make a dent in the exorbitant rental costs that are unavoidable during the festival. After much pleading, though, and just days before I was due to leave (around the same time I actually managed to book some train tickets), everything magically fell into place, and I geared up for my  return to the Fringe.

When I finally made it to Edinburgh, several things immediately felt very wrong. For one, the sun was blazing, and for two, I was staying in a room that almost resembled luxury (hello double bed and ensuite bathroom!). But there wasn’t much time to indulge this shocking turn of good fortune, as I got a call saying I needed to head into the office.

Now I don’t know how many of you have been to Edinburgh before, but it is one hilly mofo. I mean seriously, that place is like hill upon cobbled street upon cobbled hill upon hill. In summary, REALLY BLOODY HILLY. I eventually made it to the office looking a little shinier than is acceptable, familiarised myself with the place (four walls. No windows. Didn’t take long) and pretended to do some work on my very tiny laptop before we went off for a staff curry. Everyone was young, normal and seemed to drink a lot, so things didn’t seem like too much of a departure from the student life I had been mourning post-graduation.

The next few days went by in a blur of free booze, early mornings and late nights, and the various venue launches were a great way to see loads of good acts condensed into a short space of time. I’ve never been to Edinburgh out of festival time, but needless to say the streets were buzzing, the posters were up and the flyerers were already pissing everyone off. Plus ça change.

My first big reviewing day was a bit intense: four shows, 1000 words to write and all with the narrowest of windows to turn the pieces around. But it felt good to have that deadline pressure back again, and while I did have a bit of a guilty wobble penning my first two star review, the volume of pieces I was writing meant that I didn’t have to feel bad for too long. Good news for me, not so good news for the many acts I trashed.

In between the editing, writing and having my feet shredded to pieces by the pesky cobbles, I was trying to restore some semblance of routine into my domestic life, which had been pretty non-existent given the long working hours. I spent the vast majority of the festival out of the house for at least 16 hours a day, giving me just enough time to shower, sleep and occasionally pre-prepare lunch for the next day. Having not explored the place I was staying in at all, an exciting night where I had about an hour to come home and eat dinner meant I rushed in with a ready meal prepared for quick munchies a-go-go, and was met with no microwave. I did try other ways of cooking it, but it turns out when packages say ‘microwave only,’ they really mean it.

Several other domestic failures ensued, highlights including attempting to wash my clothes, the result of which was everything stinking of dirty water and remaining soaking wet for a week, and calling 999 to ask them for advice on fixing a faulty smoke alarm. I don’t think they were too impressed.

In between being totally incompetent, I saw a few really good shows: Mess, a very powerful play about a girl with an eating disorder, Austentatious, an improvised Jane Austen novel, a mind boggling piece of interactive comedy from Simon Munnery and David O’Doherty’s stand-up show. Other highlights included interviewing a number of high profile comedians (some of whom were lovely and complimentary about the pieces), seeing a show which featured the smallest dog I have ever seen, and playing Homeless or Method Actor, which is always a great source of entertainment.

The work environment was ideal for someone like me – casual, varied and most importantly – fun. It might not be everyone’s idea of a good time combing through copy to make sure it reads well, and trying to produce a chunk of reviews that don’t all use the same idioms (not sure how well I did on that part), but it certainly increased my confidence in terms of both writing and editing. For a 20 year old to be deputy editor of a bi weekly magazine seemed a little daunting at first, but all the years I’ve spent slogging my guts out on work experience and writing for every publication under the sun (largely for free) were invaluable. With everyone on the team older and wiser than me, I also learnt many new words, at least two of which I can remember the meanings of, so it was essentially a win-win situation.

Although it was my fourth time at the Fringe, this was definitely one of firsts – my first time eating haggis, having a press pass for valid reasons, realising that after slating my degree for years, it may have actually helped my writing, being next to someone who fell asleep in a show (Henderson), properly getting to grips with the layout of the city, turning 21, discovering that everyone uses hyphens too much and, most importantly, undertaking my first proper paid job in what I plan to do for the rest of my life. All of these things have had a somewhat profound effect on me (admittedly some more than others), and I look forward to the next adventure in NYC . When I get round to booking it.

A Londoner in New York: Part 1

Last week, I decided to forget I’m doing a degree (a skill I’ve perfected over the past few years) and take an impromptu trip to New York City. My reasons for this were threefold: I wanted to visit the office where I’ll be interning post-graduation, my mum was doing business there (read: no need to stay in a hostel full of foreign drug lords), and I’d never been before. All of the above, plus I couldn’t really be bothered to sit through a two hour Chaucer lecture, and this seemed like a far more exciting alternative.

The travel day began in typical bleary eyed fashion, and things had kicked off before I’d even managed to check in. I had arrived three hours before departure, checked in online already and only had hand luggage, so check in at the desk should have been a doddle. I could see some airline ground staff asking passengers flying to New York questions, so thought nothing of it when it came to my turn. However, instead of the three or so questions everyone else seemingly got asked, I was on the receiving end of a mini interrogation for several minutes, asked to produce secondary ID (which I did in the form of my driving licence) and then informed the supervisor was being called. After he rocked up and asked me some more questions, I was told to follow a security guard upstairs. Where, I hear you ask? Well, at this point, I had no clue, so I traipsed up the stairs with my twelve year old Reebok holdall in tow, wondering where on earth I was being led to. I did ask the security guard what was going on but he told me he didn’t know, he was just asked to perform this duty when signalled by his management. Reassuring.

It transpired I was being taken to a special bag x-ray area of the airport, which they had to open up for me as it was 6am (which really helped the situation). Anyway, the bag was x-rayed, I was deemed as not being a threat to my fellow passengers, and then led back downstairs to the queue I had been stood in ten minutes earlier, desperately trying to avoid the quizzical gazes of the other flyers. I did debate quietly informing them that I wasn’t a terrorist, but I thought that probably wouldn’t help matters. Once I’d eventually checked in and had my bag x-rayed (again), everything was fine, and I sat drinking coffee and reading a novel in a reasonably civilised manner (I had obviously covered my Reebok holdall at this point).

But once I’d got on the plane, further problems arose as my television monitor wasn’t working. This probably sounds incredibly trivial, but when you have eight hours to kill, no entertainment is a bit of an issue. I asked several times over the space of two hours if the air stewards wouldn’t mind trying to rectify the problem, and was eventually moved to a seat three rows in front. Why I had to wait for confirmation for this minor adjustment, I really have no idea. My new seat, although complete with a working monitor, had the unfortunate accoutrement of an elderly West Indian man who kept shouting “GINGER” every time the drinks cart rolled around. He was really a rather nightmare-ish neighbour, elbowing me violently as he ferociously tucked into his chicken meal and generally grunting a lot.

I noticed him gesticulating wildly for several moments and presumed he needed to use the bathroom, so I asked if he would like me to get up so he could leave his seat. He grunted a bit and then shoved me as soon as I’d stood up, causing me to fall on the earphones I had plugged in which broke, ripped a huge hole in my leggings and left me with a bleeding scratch on the back of my thigh. I then waited in the aisle whilst feeling rather indecently exposed for him and his wife to do their business (which they did in separate bathrooms, but were still gone for a worrying amount of time) before sitting back down. Post-poo, he decided to sprawl out, something that is unadvisable in economy class when you have people sitting either side of you, and fed up, I returned to my old seat. I had no television monitor, no dignity as half the plane had seen far too much thigh for that time of the morning, and was generally not a happy camper.

When the journey finally ended, I boarded a bus to Grand Central station and spent half an hour traipsing in the rain, hood up, Reebok holdall slung over my shoulder and leggings verging on indecent until I found my hotel. It later transpired it was actually a two minute walk away but I managed to get painfully lost, of course. The rest of the trip was far less stressful, and I managed to pack in lots of sightseeing, saw a great play, went to a couple of exhibitions, experienced Chinese New Year in Chinatown and had a lovely meal (The Shop at Andaz, Fifth Avenue. Seriously, go there).

I did meet a rather interesting man in Starbucks, who I can only describe as ghetto fabulous (I suspect he must have been a drag queen in his spare time as he kept making hair flicking motions. He was bald). We chatted about everything from slavery to Sandra Bullock (he hates her, by the way), and said of Shakespeare: ‘She’s so overrated.’ I kid you not. Our chat ended up lasting two hours, and whilst it delayed my sight-seeing, it was a wonderful little interlude in the middle of the day.

The trip was a great getaway and a really good chance for me to experience the city, which will be my new home in a matter of months. Whilst I’m not sure I will ever love it as much as I do London, I’m excited to try something new, and if everyone thinks I’m as ‘fierce’ as the man in Starbucks did, I should be okay. I should probably add that he says he doesn’t feel sorry for victims of molestation and therefore is perhaps not the best judge of character, but his compliments were nice all the same.