Arriving in America properly was delayed by the zealousness of the US Immigration service who decided to send me into a small over crowded room to await review. From out flight there was only a black man with dreadlocks, a white guy who turned out to be an actuary and me. Most of the people in the room seemed to be older ladies from Eastern Europe who shared hairstyles and taste in clothes with my mother-in-law. My wife who retained the right to wait with me while I was reviewed said it was probably because in my passport photo I look a) very dark-skinned and b) more importantly, like a serious jihadist. I can kinda see what she means by the photo but I suspect it was the fumes from the unlikely cocktail of beer, wines red and white, bloody mary, beer and brandy that I unwittingly breathed all over the immigration lady while I was being electronically finger-printed that set the alarm bells ringing. The room reminded me most of the dole office in Birmingham where I used to sign on as a teenager. But here they had guns and were more smartly turned out. They seemed to really buy into the idea that they’re protecting the homeland. Anyway, once they’d reviewed my case I was allowed to leave without questioning so I never found out what the problem was.
The thing that I noticed first is that Yellow taxis don’t look like they used to – but it is 18 years since I last came to New York. Instead of the menacing death machines of Travis Bickle they look like a cab would in a Disney film.
Things done so far: ate in the diner round the corner (twice); hung out in Central Park (twice); Frick collection (twice – once to see in they had cafe only); tea from place on corner (twice); Bloomingdales; Pylones; walked around a lot.
I kept seeing the Frick in NY’s best kept secret-type lists so it obviously isn’t that much of a secret. It is an amazing collection amassed at the start of the 20th century by old man Frick (aka “The most hated man in America”). For your money ($15) you get an amazing Bellini, an amazing Duccio, Cimabue, a couple of very good El Grecos, two excellent Holbeins, a couple of Titians, a very nice Ingres, a great Velazquez and others I’ve forgotten.