Tuesday, 21 August 2012

So good they named it twice

Yes chums, this week's missive comes to you from hot, sweaty New York whence the Shah has led his tribe.  We are here because we will be attending a family wedding in Boston at the weekend so thought we would combine that trip with a return visit to one of our all-time favourite cities.

Unfortunately, I cannot bring you any of my fab photo efforts this time round mainly because iCloud is not playing the game and its claim that all my photos will be pushed to all other devices is a patent lie (if anyone has any advice on this, it will be gratefully received).  It is seven years since we were last here so it's the first time the children have visited as virtual adults (although the way they're going, I doubt adulthood will be conferred upon them until they're about 35).  Consequently, it feels a bit odd not to have to spend hours at Central Park Zoo or standing by the Carousel, waving madly as they spin into sight.

Instead, we have done more grown up things like er, shopping, visiting the 9/11 Memorial Garden, the theatre (more of which next time), walking the Highline (again, more to come with added pix!)

It's been fab, although I wouldnt choose to come in August again.  What has changed in 7years? There's just more of everything.  More noise, more traffic, more people (whoever said NY was empty in August?!), certainly more characters and everything costs A LOT more.  Last night, drinks at the Rockefeller Centre - 2 Gin & Tonics, a glass of lager (not even a pint) and a lemonade cost $50 plus tip.  The Shah had to put his head between his knees and breathe into a brown paper bag!


Monday, 13 August 2012

Outstanding Olympics

True to form, the appallingly cynical British press forecast a washout of a Games on every level - the weather would be wet, the transport system would fail, the security would be, well, insecure and the British athletes wouldn't win anything worth writing home about.

Well how wrong can you be? Yes there have been a few problems - most notably the ticketing situation. So many people failed to obtain tickets but what the hell?  We had the best seats in the house at home in front of the TV, able to flick between multiple channels of thrilling sporting action at the touch of a button and all of it shown on local time for a change.  The atmosphere has been palpably wonderful with even our usually humourless police force breaking out in unaccustomed smiles as they filled in as security guards.

And there have been so any performances that have warmed our cool, British hearts... 

Jessica Ennis, the mixed race kid from the wrong side of the Sheffield tracks who turned out to be the best all-round athlete in the world; 

Mo Farrah who arrived in this country as a refugee and was often in trouble before he discovered and nurtured his talent was asked (rather crassly) by a reporter whether he wouldn't have been more proud to run for Africa? "Nah mate," came the reply "this is my country".  Andy Murray pounding the machine that is Roger Federer off Centre Court in sweet revenge for his defeat in the Wimbledon final; Bradley Wiggins pissing the French off hugely (shame!) by winning not just the Tour de France but also Olympic Gold; 

Tom Daley honouring the memory of his father and touchingly thrilled with his Bronze medal, not to mention the cycling, the rowing, the Gymnasts, the sailing and, and, and...

And I've been astonished by how much I've loved the Games  - the TV has been on all day and we've all grown to enjoy sports that we would never previously have dreamt of watching - Handball anyone? Not to mention the eccentric but very British opening ceremony and, as I write, the equally barmy closing ceremony.  And who can forget the Queen..the Queen for God's sake, "parachuting" into the Games with James Bond by her side - hilarious and one of the best-kept secrets of the century.

But for me, one of the best things about this Games has been the transformation in the normally sardonic and inclined-to-be-negative Brits.  All of a sudden, we have re-discovered the famous Blitz spirit and once again are being feted for our innate friendliness and helpful demeanour, which is just as it should be.  And the sound of the crowd joining in with the singing of the national anthem every time we won a gold medal made me come over all emotional more than once.  

And so, to close the show we had a medley (or should that be a mêlée) of British music.  From the surly Liam Gallagher, to the nervous looking Ed Sheeran to Freddie Mercury brilliantly cut in on video to start off his old band.  I would love to know who Annie Lennox's agent is because HOW in God's name did she get that gig?  We could all be forgiven for thinking she'd been put out to grass years ago.  The Spice Girls re-formed for probably what will be the last time and zig a zig ah'd their way around atop black cabs...by the way, has Geri gone through a late puberty?  Or is there some other explanation for the sudden massive increase in her boob size?  And the Shah, watching Roger Daltrey's strenuous performance remarked "I'm worried he might give himself a hernia in a minute." 
But for me, the most cheering thing of the whole Olympics is that it seems to have restored a sense of national pride and patriotism that has been hugely lacking of late.  Now let's see if we can keep it up, although it might involve never reading a British newspaper again...

Monday, 6 August 2012

In which the Shah becomes the Sheikh...

I wrote recently that the Shah had been packed up in a large crate and sent off to work in Kuwait for a while.  He has now been there for about a month and has settled quite well, although it is fair to say that he is struggling to fill his leisure time (well that's his story).

I, in turn, have been missing him quite badly.  In fact, unexpectedly so.  That's not a poor reflection on him it's just that, in the course of our married life, he's worked away from home quite a lot but (craftily) never long enough to make it feasible to uproot the children and move with him.

Not having the backup was easier in the past because, when the children were young, they broadly did what I wanted them to do when I wanted them to do it and so I always knew where they were and who they were with.  Fast forward a few years and they are both independent, both driving and it's like herding cats.  I never know who is going to be around at mealtimes so I am either wasting sinful amounts of food or they are complaining that the fridge is empty.  Ironically, it is the 20 year old who is really good at letting me know where he is and when/if he will be home.  This is a skill that still requires a little honing by his sister.  Just the other night we had the mother of all arguments (again) because I didn't agree that it was "fine" to go out to see Ellie at 11.30pm simply because Ellie "is like, bored and so am I".

All this is a long-winded way of saying that I was greatly looking forward to the Shah's first visit home last weekend.  He texted once he got to Passport control to confirm that there wasn't a 2 hour queue despite what the media would have us believe and I set off for the airport.  We'd arranged to meet at the Passenger Drop-off point because its easier to park and wait there for a few minutes if necessary.

I arrived and didn't spot him.  So I parked and hopped out of the car to flag him down in case he hadn't seen me.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed what I can only politely describe as a swarthy gentleman approaching.  I imagined he thought I was a taxi driver.  So I ignored him for as long as I could until he got so close that I thought I was going to have to lamp him one.

And then he spoke.

Well can you blame me for not recognising my own husband?  The goon.

Friends have commented that he looks disturbingly like the real thing.  If only he had the oil dollars to go with it...