05 October 2013

the big apple (a distant nibble)

Kathleen (sorrowfully): "Where's mummy?"
Me (somewhat impatiently): "The Big Apple!"
Maisie (educationally): "Oh, he means Noo York."
Yes, Michelle jetted off for a week in NYC; the melting pot, the city that never sleeps, home of the sky-scraper and the yellow cab. And where are we? The melting pot-hole, the city that sometimes wakes up, home of the lobster supper and Green Gables.
For me it's Daddy duties, the school run, playing shop with Kathleen and bedtime stories. However we aren't missing out entirely; in this digital age it's quite possible to tag along and enjoy a nibble of 'The Big Apple', to sample the sights and sounds, cored and peeled for public consumption.
"There she is! With Nana, crossing the road!" I point to a likely couple strolling across a pedestrianised section of Broadway.
"Where?" Maisie demands, brow furrowed as she squints at my laptop.
"Right there. See her red shoes and green jacket?"
Maisie studies the pedestrians intently before growing doubtful. "She could be anywhere..."
There are several cameras overlooking Times Square streaming HD video and sound online, night and day. When we tune in at 7am the streets and sidewalks are virtually deserted except for red-clad city workers hosing away last night's excesses, but by 9am the show is in full swing and our eyes rove the crowds. There are gridlocked lines of yellow taxis and open-topped tour buses; everyone racing to be somewhere else; strident horns blaring; and every minute or so the ominous wail of police sirens. Heck, it's a jungle out there.
Michelle and her mum are a 'no show', much to the girls' disappointment so we play spot the Disney character, watching creatively dressed pan-handlers harass the crowds for photo opportunities and tips. Mid-morning we see Buzz Lightyear taking a break, deep in conversation with Spongebob on a corner of 7th Avenue. One of several Statues of Liberty approaches and joins in.
Michelle texts us to say she is waiting for a Brooklyn tour bus so we zoom in on Google Street View and see what she's seeing. I click and step inside the Hard Rock Cafe to see a three-sixty view of the tables, bars and memorabilia. Soon I am sidetracked and soar north to Central Park to enjoy a virtual stroll right through that lush oasis, thanks to Mr Google's fleet of trusty cyclists kitted out with helmet cams. From the comfort of my armchair I can scoot along the path by the Jacquie Onassis Lake, passing runners with an effortless gesture on my mouse pad.
The girls join me as I jump the Hudson to the New Jersey shoreline and look back at the iconic cityscape. Then we adjourn to YouTube and look down from a helicopter flight, grazing the forest of dizzy spires, picking out the Empire State and the Chrysler, before buzzing Liberty Island and back to LaGuardia. After supper we chat with Michelle on Skype, tucked up safely in her hotel room in the heart of Theatreland. She doesn't even seem as tired as we are!
It's hard work, this armchair travel!

1 comment:

Russell C.J. Duffy said...

I love New York. I love the pace of the city. I also like the outlying towns in New York State of Platsburgh and Keysville where I purchased a leather cowboy hat, a brown leather belt which I am wearing and some cowboys boots.
When ordering food in a fast food place always remember to drop your English upbringing. No please and thank you's just say what you want. "Two coffees, two cokes to go." Boom bang job done!
Mt eldest daughter likes shopping in New York. Apparently a lot cheaper than London.