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Monday 22nd August 2016


We were taking Phoebe to one of the playgrounds in Central Park this morning, but she fell asleep on the way there, so we just had a relaxed hour sitting on a bench reading books. My holidays used to be the time I caught up on reading and I usually got through a book a day, but I have just read about 20% of the Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore over the last fortnight. I don’t know much about the Romanovs beyond the bit that I know everything about, and it’s hard to keep up with who is who and who has been impaled on a spike or had their tongue ripped out or having sex with who, but it’s an interesting read and a reminder that however violent and corrupt things might seem now, they are nothing compared to even a couple of centuries ago.

There was the most New York moment ever when a middle-aged woman who looked like she’d stepped out of a Nora Ephron film approached a bench near ours and said in hushed tones “I don’t believe it. It’s here.” She was with a very New York looking silver-haired man who was a few paces away and I wondered if they had found the bench where they first met. But it turned out that she’d just been sitting there earlier and left her umbrella. And her disbelief was all about the fact that she’d left something unattended in this city and it hadn’t been stolen. Still she was really happy to get her umbrella back and went back to her New York life and her smiling silver fox.

We then walked up to 30 Rock to see where 30 Rock is set. I didn’t think we’d been here on our last trip and we were hoping to go on the studio tour and see Liz Lemon at work. But we found the layout a bit confusing and the tickets we bought were for an exterior tour of the architecture of the building (though I feel the woman who sold us the tickets knew exactly what we wanted and pretended otherwise). Phoebe wasn’t in the mood to take part in this and was screaming the place down within five minutes, as the penny dropped that this guy didn’t look like Kenneth and wasn’t wearing the right jacket and also said that this wasn’t the NBC tour and if we thought it was then we were on the wrong tour. That was probably the biggest clue. So we bailed out and went to see if we could get on the NBC tour, but it was all booked up, so we just went to the top of the Rock instead. It seemed vaguely familiar and got a bit more familiar a we went along. And slowly we realised that we had come here before - it turns out on the last day of our last trip. We really did fit a lot in last time. Though not the NBC tour. 

Despite this disappointment we went to the NBC shop and I bought a Community shirt and a Troy and Abed in the morning mug. They didn’t have merchandise from that many shows, so I was surprised that Community was covered. There was nothing from 30 Rock as far as I could see.

We went on to Times Square which was, I imagine, what the nicer parts of Hell look like and then walked back to our hotel. I wasn’t hungover, thankfully, but I’d woken up early and had remembered one of the main reasons I’d given up drinking. And I think I will go back on the wagon now. But glad I took a little holiday from it. It’s important to behave like an adult occasionally when you have a baby.

We stayed in tonight though and had room service and watched series 7 of Parks and Recreation on American Netflix (which is way better than ours). Interestingly we haven’t watched any American television whilst we’ve been here (aside from catching a bit of the Olympics in a bar). There’s some interesting looking new shows advertised on buses, including a show with Ted Danson (who not only seems to be immortal, but never out of work) and Kristen Bell. But it says a lot about the changes in the world that my first impetus when in a foreign country or a hotel is to turn on the TV. That used to be what was exciting about travel, but the internet seems to have more or less destroyed that pleasure.

Parks and Recreation is set in Indiana, of course, which I knew but that hadn’t registered when I was there. And in one episode some of the characters head to Chicago, so it was fun seeing places we had been. And we’re such sad comedy geeks that as well as getting excited about the possibility of meeting Liz Lemon who doesn’t even exist, whenever we were in a park and saw a Parks and Recreation sign we’d point at it and be really happy. Maybe next time we should just do a sitcom tour of the US.

We’re off home tomorrow night and back in the UK on Wednesday morning, if God be willing in his Heaven above. It’s been an odd little excursion and today was almost the first day that I really felt properly relaxed and on holiday, just kicking back and enjoying the late summer sunshine in the park without having to worry about anything else. I am looking forward to getting home and thinking about all the things I have to get done now. I’ve actually done quite well at not thinking too much about that.

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My new stand up show, Happy Now? will be touring from September 2015 to June 2016 All details here.
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