So here we are in New York. Our hotel bedroom is above a busy highway, with the Hudson River ‘across the road’. I am here for my seventieth birthday staying in the Jane Hotel which used to be a seamen’s mission and has now been transformed into a glorious retro retreat in West Village bordering Chelsea and Greenwich Village. It’s my fourth time in the city, but the first in twenty years, and I still feel the excitement I did way back in the nineties.
The hotel has bikes and we have an ambition to cycle as much as we can, with my wish to pedal up to and around Central Park on my actual birthday. We spend a few days wandering about, discovering Chelsea Market, the High Line and going to an Andy Warhol exhibition. We eat a different country at every meal, with David wanting to have pancakes for breakfast at a diner at least once before we return home. We spend a wonderful day with my cousin Janice who comes in from Connecticut on the train, having lunch in the Chelsea Market, Joni Mitchell’s ‘Chelsea Morning’ on repeat on my internal iPod.
And then on my birthday we set off north up the Hudson on the cycleway up, up into Manhattan. Ella sings ‘Manahattan’ and then after that Billie takes the cabaret floor in my head and sings ‘Body and Soul’, ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Business’, ‘These Foolish Things’, ‘Solitude’ and ‘Big Stuff’ [written for her by Bernstein]. And then we walk four blocks across the city to reach Central Park.
Lunch of coffee and bagels and cream-cheese at The Boathouse café after a cycle round the park and we are now New Yorkers. And I am seventy.