Thursday, March 29, 2007

Up on the roof.

Trawling throught the archives I discovered some shots from last summer.

Liberty in the evening. Taken from the roof at 7th Ave and 15th St in Park Slope.
Midtown Manhattan (with Downtown Brooklyn in the foreground). 7th ave/15th st.
My beloved Williamsburg bank building. Listmaker and I used to have a dentist on the 20th floor overlooking the harbor. The best view from a dentist's chair anywhere in the world. Again, 7th/15th
Ooh? crazy effects of Manhattan at night! 7th/15th.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My street.

Once the home of the mafia, now a strict observer of alternate side parking regulations.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rhode Island Road trip. (geddit?)

It's a play on words.
Rhode, sounds the same as road.

Anyway, Frau Random Doubt, Henry and myself took to the Eastern Seaboard's favourite stretch of the interstate we love to call 95 and headed north to the tiny state with the motto 'Hope' and the motley yet charming bunch that is Frau Random Doubt's roots and origins.
We spent the weekend in the charming and hospitable environs of Frau Random Doubt's oldest Third grade school chum of French extraction, actually she lives in Boston so we all made camp with her fragrant Mom and the mildy frightening Malcolm.

The awful, awful beaches of Narragansett. Yeah, the whole place sucked.
Obviously, that was sarcasm.
J'mapelle and Frau Random Doubt ignore Henry while trying to remember who kissed who on what part of the beach in 1987. It was just another wonderful weekend of reminiscence and ice cream. And then it happened.
We spotted the ginger surfer.
Look closely in the rearview mirror. Ginger surfer is trying to drive away from his ginger surfing paradise. J'mapelle was quite catagorical. This was not stalking. Just looking at a stranger without his permission and taking photos.
Oh my god? Henry has gone to bed, we are both awake and are able to enjoy someone else's booze and supremely comfy leather armchairs.
See? there it is again! Proof that we did indeed spend Saturday night drinking it up and being almost like grown ups again!

Of course, Sunday morning was a different story. I feed the boy whilst 50% of our hosts does what has to be done on a Sunday morning.
It gently dawns on 50% of our hosts that there's a baby* on the road in his living room.

Back to the paper.

*Attention breast feeding purists: The boy is drinking breastmilk from a bottle. No formula. Thank you.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Don't do this.

Amble in a nochalant manner into the classroom of an esteemed colleague.

Notice that a child has a nametag on.

Make a daft comment about that child's nametag.

Look up and notice a panel of very important observers and a teacher you don't know in the middle of a demo lesson.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

You don't write, you don't call...

... and then you go and get 4 (Four) blogs without telling any of us what time you would be coming home, if indeed you would be coming home. And on top of all that you have a lovely wife who I have yet to meet and probably a pet or a child or something.

Well blood and sand if Mark hasn't got himself a blog, 4 of them actually. I'm as delighted and amused as our very mutual friend Weasel is. You can find Mark's main blog (complete with subsiduary links )at the links bar.

Three of my favourite 'Mark' anecdotes.

1. He once cycled from Ware in Hertfordshire to Norwich for a pint. He had the pint (I was there) and then went to his mum's for a shower. He needed the shower, it was a warm day and the distance was 80 niles. For this he was awarded the Market Cross, the highest award Norfolk can award and one of only two ever awarded.

2. He cleaned a badly trashed boat during a friend's stag weekend. He swabbed the decks ridding it of all remnants of flour and eggs that had been used in a traditional quasi-naval trashing of the groom to be. He worked his balls off so that others may drink beer and belch. He in turn joined in the drinking and belching but only after thoroughly tidying up. A bit like some of the Swiss characters in Asterix in Switzerland.

3. His nickname is Trotter. Always has been and noone really knows why. Once, he was due at my brother's house for a meal. My young neice asked who we were expecting. "Mark" I replied. "Who is Mark?" said she. "Oh you know, always comes round for lunch, rides a bike, always smiling, goes to the football with Uncle Mondale".
"Oh, you mean Uncle Trotter".

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The beginning of the end.

And so, as spring comes in with a whimper or whatever it is folk say, we begin our slow descent into London, Heathrow, England, Norfolk. Rural strangeness, financial obscurity, solid breakfasts and mud.

A few pointers have recently pointed towards the reality of our move.

We are seeking a home for our elderly and misanthropic cat. We would love to take her with us but it's just not practical. We would spend $$$$ to get her injected and certified and more $$$$ for a place in the plane knowing that for all intents and purposes she could die in a week. She could also live for another 5 years. Bloody cats, there's just no knowing. And before you all kick me over this one, we are all about being romantic and allowing her to live out her remaining days in the beautiful Norfolk countryside but it's cruel and simple math. She comes with us or we buy a dishwasher and a new fridge at the other end.

We have also just cancelled two long standing and much appreciated subscriptions.

Our weekend delivery of the New York Times. Since Henry was born we have simply moved the paper from 'gonna read' pile next to the sofa to'recycle' pile by the door. Neither of us has had the time or inclination to do anything more than glance at the magazine section over a bowl of cereal. Don't worry New York Times. We'll buy you when we need you on an Ad Hoc basis fom now on.

As well as the Times we have had to say adieu to our old friend Netflix. It's been a wonderful ride since a hip cousin gave us a month's subscription for a Christmas gift a few years ago when it was all shiny and new. He let the month lapse on his credit card and I had to meet him for lunch with a check for the rest of the year. That was in August. We've loved the endless episodes of The West Wing and Frau random Doubt particularly enjoyed watching every episode of Upstairs Downstairs. It was also a useful way of catching up with some of the wierdness that is Listmaker's annual movie list. Today it's the same problem as the Times. The discs have sat there since Henry was born and we watch very little TV beyond The Daily Show and a few assorted dvr'd treats. We haven't been able to settle down and watch a movie or devote ourselves to something whilst also allowing for inconsistent fatigue and Lil'un's demands. I watched a movie on the plane last week and had kinda forgotten what to do.

It's not all bad, we have become whizzes at dvr'ing lots of shows and have got into some pretty good stuff through that.

I should add that I find the value of an organisation in the ease of leaving it. When calling or emailing both the New York Times and Netflix I was met with brevity and understanding. No harrassing me with special offers (although Netflix did ask me if I was going over to Blockbuster and I'm not and I don't mind them asking). As a result of their very grown up approach I would heartily recommend either to anyone.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Book Learning #32

The Likes of Us. A biography of the White Working class. By Michael Collins.

I picked this off my mum's shelves during my recent trip to Norfolk. I had been working through Lincoln's Melancholy by Joshua Shenk but had managed to leave it down the back of the sofa. I found this in my carry on during the flight home.
Collins begins with a reference to the racist murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993 and traces the cultural history of his own family's neighborhood in South (pron: Sarf) London back through the last two centuries. It wasn't a real gripper but did prove interesting in a number of ways. Also, living in New York, race is the big deal whereas in Britain it's still (i think) class, no matter how much some will try and deny it or pretend that it's gone the way of the empire and smoking in pubs.

Collins traces the story of his own family and how the social upheavals of the last 150 years affected them. It's an interesting approach but I would have preferred a bit more depth.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My Brother was right.

When Henry was born my brother Busydad told me that I'd not be doing very much reading from now on.
I bumped into a parent at the eye doctor's the other day who told me that she didn't read for two years after the birth of her kids. She told me that this had really upset her.
Since the boy arrived on the scene I've changed masses of diapers, been on some cool father and son strolls, fed him a few bottles, got scared by his crying once or twice but have actually read very little. Perhaps a page a week. Henry is now almost sleeping through the night and is a delightful baby, the truth is that I no longer need to read to get to sleep at the end of the day, I'm already exhausted. I did read a bit on the trip to Blighty last week, much of that was British newspapers which I adore but of course I went and left the book I was halfway through at my parent's house. By the time they send it over here I'll have lost the impetus.

I'm not yet too upset by this, I've been reading like a crazy dude on fire for the last three or four years, Maybe it's time to get my head out of a book, wait for the right one to come along. I've just taken the first of the Lord of the Rings trilogy out of the school library. I think it might take a while.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Sorry I missed your party.

But thanks for the lovely picture.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A wanderer returns.

I'm back in the arms of my family after a week of being in the arms of the other bit of my family. That and visiting lots of schools and drinking gallons of Norfolk County Council tea.
I didn't get the job I went for but felt pretty good about my performance.I turned up, gave a good showing of myself but a better candidate got the position. I compared it to that of West Ham in the 2006 FA Cup Final
The Silver Fox expressed a hope that the next 12 months in my life didn't in any way reflect the fortunes of East London's finest

Here are some of the other highlights of a fine few days in Norfolk.

Yellow is a major food group in Britain. And it's not always so bad.

Norfolk is very pretty, especially in early spring and especially a bit off the beaten path.

The family are all good and well. Kids growing like weeds, everyone busy.

Norwich is a fine city.

Wymondham has a daily traffic jam. Who would have thought? I got stuck in it twice.

I met the English version of Listmaker. He was located in a school faculty room muttering dark mutterings about the poor fortunes of Norwich City. He was ginger.

Tea can be drunk in abundance and have very little detrimental effect upon the soul.

Located a churchyard with about 15 Mondales buried in it dating from the mid 1700's to the mid 1800's.

The Silver Fox is convinced that the Mondales are related to Abraham Lincoln. He claims to have evidence.

You really can't beat a Friday night down the pub with a good crowd. Lovely.

Wherever you go in Norfolk you can stumble across a discreet spot of outstandingly beautiful countryside. It lifts the very soul it does.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

So buy me beer and whiskey...

Last night Frau Random Doubt went to dinner with her business partner.
She told her of our plan.

That's it, it's official.

We will be leaving these shores come the summertime.

We'll be returning to my hometown Wymondham.
For Frau Random Doubt and the boy it will be a whole new adventure in the gently lit plains of Eastern England. For me it will be a return to the old stamping grounds of a happily confused youth.

It all feels a bit like we're stepping into the lyrics of a Cowboy Junkies song. Car rides to lonely beaches, sunsets over cornfields and lazy summer evenings wafting over the larger than real blue skies. Then of course the season will shift and we'll spend October to May ducking the rain, freezing our toes and getting splattered with mud.

I have spent most of my life romanticising the place so now it's the fun part, we are actually going to live there. I will introduce my family to some of the finer points of Norfolk life, country walks, winter tea, navigating massively overweight farm animals on muddy footpaths and strolling along the beach in January. There will also be more up to date pursuits such as watching Norwich City slide down the league table, learning the bizarre and incomprehensible local dialect and watching Julie Reinger present the Weather on Look East.

Next week I fly off to find myself a suitably paid position within one of the County's fine primary schools.

Whatever happens we'll forever have Brooklyn etched into our souls, the birthplace of Henry and our first phase of life together. We'll be back often to drink in the disgusting heat of August in New York and complain about the apalling standards of customer service in the UK.

We've got the next few months to lap up our remaining days and weeks in the U.S. What generally tends to happen when you relocate is that the final weeks are a blissful experience, the hassles of moving loom very real, very large and rather costly. The weather turns gorgeous (trust me, New York we are about to have the best springtime ever) and friendships blossom as never before. In short, everything conspires against your decision to ever leave this sceptered corner of God's green Earth.