Thursday, August 10, 2006

How strange to wake up this morning and to switch on the TV news in the middle of the government security statement. I've forgotten the name of the young chap with the slicked back hair who was reading out the instructions, but his steely tone certainly sent a chill through the early morning air.

Not wishing to personalise this serious event too much, but I know that my mum will be having kittens now. I only told her yesterday that we would be going to New York later in the year, she is a professional worrier so I'm sure the anxiety gene will have kicked in with this mornings news.

In 2001 we had our New York trip booked up well before our Xmas trip, so when the news of the shocking events of September 11th started to reach us it, we had those inevitable selfish thoughts regarding our own safety. Pretty soon we decided that unless anything else happened, we would stick to our plans and make the trip. We didn't want to be voyeurs of others peoples misery but, the signs coming from the city were that once the dust had settled (literally in this case) they wanted people to visit. My mother was very concerned about this and had to put on her best trembling stiff upper lip voice when wishing us a good trip.

So we went, and had an amazing trip. We kept away the ground zero area, however we did spend some time with a friend of a friend who was working in the second tower at the time of the attack. The things he told us about that day were truly awful but he was doing his best to get his life back on track.

So unless we are told otherwise we will be getting on the plane later in the year, looking forward to another fascinating trip to one of the most eclectic places on the planet. The first time I went to New York was in 1984, with the my good friend, the unfortunately named Simon Templar. At the time any potential worry about a trip to New York was purely linked to the supposed wildness of ordinary street life, rather than a terrorist threat. Family and friends were convinced that we would be murdered within seconds of arriving, such was New York's reputation at the time, it's fair to say that Simon and I probably weren't the most streetwise pair of lads, so maybe their concerns were justified.

We managed to get stung within seconds of our evening arrival in Manhattan! We took the bus from the airport to central Manhattan, with the idea of getting a cab to the Vanderbilt YMCA on East 46th street. On leaving the bus we dashed round to collect our luggage before the anticipated gangs of gun touting hoodlums made a play for our enviable collection of black clothing. There must have been a glut of black T-Shirts that year, as no-one took any interested in our cases. We were almost there, now we just needed to take a short ride in one of those famous yellow cabs and we would be safe for the night.

The bus pulled away, and magically the crowd that had been around us melted into the night, leaving Simon and I looking expectantly for a cab. At this point a man approached us, saying that the cab drivers of New York were on strike! Luckily for us, he happened to know where a few strike busting cabbies would be and that he would be happy to help us out. Wow, what a stroke of luck, how nice of this fine fellow to come to the rescue of these strangers in his city. Dumb, dumb, dumb!

He told us to follow him, which we happily did, maybe we should have taken a moment to consider where this chap may be taking us, but no we just skipped along behind him. Luckily for us, the guy wasn't interested in a major scam, all he did was stand in the road, flag down one of the many passing taxi's (obviously there was no strike) and charge us for his hard work. I can't remember how much our special taxi tax was, so it can't have been too much, we took this as notice to sharpen up act and not get caught out again. During the rest of our stay nothing untoward took place and indeed every subsequent visit has been touble free


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