|If you've got a little time to spare,|
I want to take you there, 42nd Street
My nephew and his fiancee were to be married. We received an invitation to the wedding from the bride to be’s parents and I was later asked by the future bride and groom if I would recite or sing one of Robert Burns’ finest songs, ‘My love is like a red, red rose.’ I surely wasn't asked because I can sing, and nor was I asked because I had any talent at recitation, more it may have been because it was thought likely that I might know some of the words. In any case I agreed to do it. The affianced couple live and labour in the city of Birmingham in the Midlands of England and so it followed as sure as night follows day that they would be married in Central Park, Manhattan, New York City in the State of New York, USA. To be sure, not only were we delighted to accept our invitation to the wedding, we also were excited to visit New York City again, for we had spent some time there in February, 1990.
Despite our early resolution not to take a Yellow Taxi Cab to Manhattan from JFK Airport we did. It cost $72 and was worth it for it turned out to be a relatively stress free exercise.
|It was down by the Greeley Square Gardens that my love and I did rest|
Afterwards we walked to the 33rd Street subway station to buy tickets for the buses and subway. A man fixing one of the ticket machines told us how best to buy our tickets and he immediately identified who the boss was in our relationship. It wasn’t me and his assessment was accurate.
|A not too often photographed scene on Harlem River|
As we reached the end of our circumnavigation of Manhattan, Malachy made an observation carrying with it a poignant yet deeper reverberation of an observation made about New York cabbies by the Kashmiri taxi driver who the day before had driven us from the JFK Airport to our hotel . What was different this time was that Malachy said, "All New Yorkers are immigrants."
Unlike me, you may already have guessed they both liked motor bikes, and in particular, he did, having averaged over 200 mph at a speed trial in NZ. It was I think their second marriage. She had a daughter in Australia and he had children in New Zealand but he said he was not good at grandfathering and wasn’t too keen on the mothering techniques of his son’s wife ( a large woman, his wife hinted to us non-verbally) and told us a story about his son, his son’s wife, their children, mealtimes, and ice cream. After hearing the story, I tended to side with his grandfather’s view of things.
Following this we had coffee at Greeley Square Gardens before boarding an M5 bus down to 23rd Street where we walked along to the currently closed Chelsea Hotel which was fronted with scaffolding. The two young men guarding the building allowed us into the lobby, where we last sat over 25 years ago. It looked exactly the same though the paintings which hung in the lobby that were given to the then hotel owner, Stanley Bard by impoverished artists - Willem de Kooning for one - in lieu of payment for their accommodation, have all gone. The reception desk was still the same but there was a larger more modern lift, sorry, elevator. We weren’t permitted any further into the interior because of the building works that were going on. I think many people like us make a pilgrimage here to go down memory lane.
We shopped along Bleecker Street, getting, as our eldest daughter, might say, ‘the Greenwich village feel’. The person who was by my side throughout the week bought post cards and cheese and I nosed around a book shop for a while. I had a pint of ale at a craft beer pub. My constant companion had a Diet Coke. Shortly after this we had more coffee, this time with biscuits and a shared lemon meringue tart at Rocco’s an excellent and popular local bakery.
|'Getting the village feel'|
We bussed back up to Herald Square and into Macy’s but we were knackered by that time and for that moment Macy’s held no charm for us.
|Taking the High Line|
We walked through Chelsea and reached Bleecker Street where we boarded the M20 to Battery Island. On this route we passed the new Peace Tower and we also passed through the Ground Zero area.
|We'll take Manhattan|
The reception at Pagani’s on Bleecker Street was also great. It was a friendly, lively, yet traditional Italian Restaurant. There was un sacco di amore around. I thought the best man, the groom’s younger brother was the best ‘best man’ of any wedding we’d ever been to. His care for all the wedding guests and his vast knowledge of the New York City terroir made him an inspired choice. His wife was also wonderful company and the bride’s attendants, the bridesmaids and the page boy were respectively beautiful and handsome. Though lacking in years the page boy, who was wearing a kilt, looked particularly manly and tough. Perhaps I haven’t mentioned, the bride and groom have Scottish connections so there were a few kilts around.
|Opportunity for a wedding photo shoot in Central Park|
|Speech at Pagani's|
|Yes, it's a red, red rose.|
Things, in the happiest sense, were hotting up. Certainly too hot for us.
|Strong young Scotsman in a red checked skirt propping up the Ladies' Pavilion in Central Park|
We had dinner at the Martinique Café on Greeley Square. The verdict was “Just OK”. My boss had a burger, while I had half a chicken with mashed potato and corn on the cob. Too much for me really.
Muffins and coffee partaken of early, followed by coffee, empanada and croissant in our favourite Greeley Square Gardens.
|In the lobby at the Walcott : checking out and paying my half of the bill!|
We had a smooth run to the JFK airport and the time we spent there was relatively calm which was good, because by leaving early so as not to be compromised by the Pope, we spent five hours to waiting for our flight.