Home at Last

Today was hard work my god. Two transatlantic flights would have been less stressful. My mother decided it was time for young Billy to venture into the big city. We’ve never taken him beyond the cosseted environs of our lovely Park Slope and I felt uneasy from the offset.

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First we had to get him in the subway, that meant using the gate instead of the turnstile. There were two gates and I naturally chose the wrong one and was yelled at. We took the 2-3 and changed at Nevins Street for the 4-5. We found out after waiting 15 minutes in the boiling station that the 4-5 wasn’t running. So we got back on the 2-3 and had to walk to our destination. A problem for my gran as she has polymyalgia rheumatica in her hip and leg and can’t make it far. We had lunch sat outside a pub at South Street Seaport, a popular tourist trap.

We were served green french fries with our meals. Soon after the meals arrived it started raining and we had to huddle under umbrellas whilst we ate.

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Then my dad and I had to walk round the block 15 times whilst the ladies looked in Baby Gap.

Our initial plan had been to go to Ellis Island. I thought that had been abandoned after all the messing around we’d done. No such luck. My mum and dad said they’d check and see if it was too late to go, which I assumed was a token effort as it was after 4. They returned with big grins and 5 tickets. Now we had to take Billy on a ferry. We had five minutes to catch it but they had us remove all metal objects from our persons and put them in boxes to be scanned (like the airport). We even had to collapse Billy’s pram and put that through the scanner. This took so long we missed the boat. So we stood in a queue with hundreds of chirpy tourists all trying to push in front of us, Billy threatening to howl all the while. My brain was screaming. I considered grabbing Billy and running as fast as I could back to Brooklyn.

We got to Ellis Island as they were closing up. We did, however, manage to get tea and cakes from the slowest server in the history of mankind. If she’d gone any slower her arms would have atrophied and fallen off. Oily pigeons loitered close by as we greedily ate our cakes and gulped down our hot tea. The 7 green chips we’d had for lunch hadn’t filled us up properly. I took several swipes at the pigeons but they knew I didn’t have it in me to really wallop them and just bobbed out of my way momentarily. One of them had the most frightening red-rimmed eyes you’ve ever seen.

Billy was in drunken sailor mode when Heidi tried to feed him, bouncing off her and flailing his arms around wildly. The moment he settled and started to drink we were ushered off the island by security. Heidi couldn’t really feed him on the boat and when we got back to Battery Park her, my mum and my granny grabbed a cab and left me and my dad saddled with the grumpy hungry baby. (Cabs only take 4 people and we had no car seat for Billy). We hurried towards the subway, choosing the R this time as the 4-5 wasn’t running. When we’d carried Billy down all the steps we were informed that Brooklyn bound R trains weren’t running either and we’d have to go up to Canal Street and change there. If my brain had been screaming before I don’t know how to describe what was going on in there as we stood for 15 minutes in the rancid sweltering station waiting for a train to take us in the wrong direction.

We eventually made it to Canal Street and got an N over the Manhattan bridge. Unfortunately that dropped us off 2 miles from where my mum and dad were staying. I had to speed walk the distance as Billy was yelping for milk at the top of his voice. I just gave up on my dad; I left him for dust.

Half an hour later I had a slice of pizza in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other and the intense horror of our lovely family day out slowly faded from my ravaged mind.

Heidi and junior on Ellis Island:

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A few dry minutes at the seaport:

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Six of the Best

We went mad with the camera today and took 160 photos. Mine were all rubbish and Heidi’s were all good. It was just 80 consecutive pieces of good luck on her part though. She will lose next time. (We aren’t competitive or anything like that, honest we aren’t).

We went to Prospect Park and took a little boat ride on the lake then we were all bitten by millions of mosquitoes.

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Family

My mum, dad and gran arrived on the scene today. I was very excited to see them all. So excited in fact, I’m considering forgiving my mother for bringing me the wrong brand of tinned mackerels in spicy tomato sauce. FYI: Princes rule. Glenryck: suck. Luckily for her the 4 torpedo-sized jars of beef paste make up for it. (It’s strange that I only miss prole food. I miss pickled onion monster munch, Ginsters sausage rolls, scotch eggs, cheap crappy sausages, chip butties and triangular sandwiches from Marks and Spencer’s. What a classy guy I am.)

We’ve got them all set up in a lovely brownstone less than a block from Prospect Park and we’re looking forward to spending as much time as possible with them. 1. Because they have a very cute garden and 2. Because my mum never tires of nappy changing.

Knowing they are just a few blocks from us instead of 3000 miles away is a very nice feeling by the way. I wish they lived here.

I asked them to bring me some old photos as I love old photos and I’ve been feeling a bit sentimental of late. I suppose this comes with having a kid. If anything is going to make you think about the importance of family, starting one of your own has got to be up there near the top.

My mum brought me photos from the reject box because she didn’t want to destroy the albums. When she first said this I thought goddammit! But as I looked through the photos I realized that these were the images that don’t show everyone looking straight at the camera with a big grin on their face. These are the photos I don’t remember ever seeing and they are much more interesting than the ones I do remember. I’m looking forward to compiling some kind of album from them and correcting and preserving them in digital form. For the benefit of my family and amusement of my friends I’ll be posting them on the website when I’ve finished. Whenever that may be.

For now, here’s a photograph that really freaked me out; it is my mum’s dad in his youth:

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He looks more like me than I do. (Plus hair)

And a picture of me looking more robust than I ever remember feeling. And look at those beautiful locks! I could cry.

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