Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's a wonderful town

Just back from a great holiday in New York City with my mum and husband. Rob was on a course during which he got to meet the mayor, some disgruntled parents of a school about to be shut down in Harlem and lots of thrusting chief executive types, but Jackie and I were there strictly as tourists with a classic agenda – all the major buildings, landmarks and shopping we could pack into four days.

Here are my best bits:

Feeling full of hope on top of the Empire State Building the morning after the Obama win
On our first morning in New York and Obama’s first morning as President Elect, Mother and I headed out early to the Empire State Building. Not only was it amazing to get such a great view and literal perspective on where we were and what we might be able to see that week, it was also extra special feeling the city so full of hope and positivity.

OK and, to be honest, watching Sleepless in Seattle a million times over a million Christmasses together added to the excitement for the pair of us. Into the bargain, as we were so early and the town so empty (post marathon, post election, pre Christmas I guess), there was no queue at all. I did tire a little of my mum saying “I don’t remember Tom Hanks doing all this” as we snaked our way through the maze of empty queuing systems.

Feeling full of late night sandwiches with Robert in Sarges after seeing Gypsy on Broadway.
It was Friday night, we’d been out to see the musical Gypsy with the incredible Patti LuPone taking the lead, Rose; great music and story as ever – plus incredible orchestra and amazing acting from all the actors. And Robert was hungry.

Leaving Jackie in her room to a bag of Lays and a handful of Tanqueray miniatures (courtesy of very sweet BA steward, Shahid who discovered our trip was a birthday/Christmas treat), we changed into jeans and "sneakers" and headed out for eats from the city that never sleeps.

Sure enough within a matter of minutes we came across a great 24-hour Jewish deli/diner Sarges that served the most amazing sandwiches (the one pictured actually from breakfast there the next day) and fries and had the most charming staff I’ve ever come across in a restaurant at 12.45 am.

Being reminded of the futility of believing you can control anything on a rainy ferry back from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
This photo is part of a triptych. In the first, Jackie closed her eyes accidentally, in the second, Robert closed his eyes accidentally.

At this point I expressed my frustration with the pair of them in no uncertain terms. For the last time, I extended my arm, instructing them to concentrate, look in the camera and smile relaxedly like THEY WERE HAVING A GOOD TIME (italic caps = shouting through gritted teeth). You can see the resulting picture below.

My husband’s insistence on calmly and deliberately shutting his eyes expressly to frustrate me made me laugh with more tearful abandon than anything has done in a long time.

Enough personal soppy nonsense - back to work - and unfortunately not a time necessarily for the "best bits" final compilation.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Men: How to Avoid "Ram Dressed as Lamb" Syndrome

Despite the overwhelming response (thanks Jo) in favour of my menstrual whinge on the unfairness of fashion restrictions imposed on women of a certain age (=mine [36] and over) I've decided to take a different tack.

Instead I'm evening the score by providing a few helpful hints to the ageing fellas so they too can avoid age-inappropriate fashion faux pas or what I like to call "ram dressed as lamb" syndrome.

1. Hair
If your hair is longer than Dame Judi Dench's ask yourself the following questions:
a) Am I hiding a bald patch? Cos the answer is likely that you're not - you're highlighting it - and a short back and sides would stop everyone else's internal debate ("doesn't he realise we realise?")
b) Have I had this hairstyle for longer than a year? If yes, you may be hanging on to a fashion statement that doesn't bear repeating.
c) Am I a celebrity? If yes, continue at that length for as long as work offers continue to pile in. When your sales curve starts to flatten, however, get Denched.

2. Sportswear
That is, clothes and shoes designed for a specific sport - not necessarily designed by a sports shoe manufacturer - should only be worn when participating in the appropriate sport. Think board shorts. Think cycling shorts. Think again. I would also like to add that no man over the age of twenty should ever wear any shoe that resembles a hoof.

3. Band t-shirts
At a gig, under a shirt, acceptable. In bed on a cold night, gardening - even out the front - all fine. In the office, however, you may as well announce that you compulsively masturbate in the disabled toilets, you look so much like a teenager with an ageing disease. Give these guys a couple of years ...

Of course, rules are made to be broken - consider them merely a guide to when you may be jumping the shark, style-wise. In fact, this train of thought started at my own wilful wearing of footless tights, application of liquid eyeliner and insistence on keeping my hair long, when all of these things have been deemed by magazines and fashion pundits in recent months to be the exclusive domain of the younger, fitter bird.

But only when it's part of your act or you're extremely comfortable with your alternative life choices should you wilfully cast them asunder. For example, Russell Brand the comedian looks like a love god who smells of fine white musk (albeit with a line in auditory slip ups). Russell Brand the accountant looks like he reeks of rollies and his favourite author is Terry Pratchett. Nothing wrong with a bit of Golden Virginia and Discworld, but I'm guessing it may not be the look most would go for.

Instead of "What Would Jesus do?" (remember he was only 33 when he died so he escapes rule number 1.), think "Would Jimmy Saville, Peter Stringfellow, or Steve Tyler possibly wear or look like this, even on a day off?" If you so much as waiver in your answer, postpone the meeting, tell your date you'll be late and start again.