Tag Archives: the muppets

…For The City.

I am having trouble remembering where I am sleeping. When I am out in London or Glasgow I have to think quite carefully about where I am going home to, once or twice, on rather drunken nights, I have nearly asked the cabbie to take me to 92nd and Lexington in the hope that I was going home to my amazing air mattress in Manhattan, but sadly not. The joy of being a rolling stone, of home being wherever I lay my hat, is that I can get to see these cities in a new light…so here are my best bits.

LONDON

I may or may not have mentioned this once or twice, but I met the Muppets. I’ll repeat that, I met the MUPPETS! It was the best day of my life (so far) and I was 5. They were appearing at the Selfridges Christmas Grotto and our friend had designed it and so I went to the opening night and drank my own body weight in Orange Juice – from a wine glass… And met the Muppets. Anyway, because of this Selfridges became a happy place for me. A perfect day would involve going there to look at all the beautiful things, hang out in the food hall and imagine what it would be like to actually do shopping in there, in the posh bits. Then I would wander through the streets to wander across Hungerford Bridge to the Southbank with its views of St Paul’s, The Gherkin, the NFT and now The Shard. Across the river and past  the skateboard graveyard below. After seeing a film at the BFI, I would head back across the bridge to Gordon’s wine bar for wine and cheese and warm memories.

NEW YORK

Having only visited or studied in New York I suspect I saw it in a somewhat different light from a native New Yorker. However, hanging out in the New York Public Library every morning – giggling while writing scenes of inappropriate sex scenes for such a grand setting and then meeting friends in Milady’s, a classic dive bar on Prince, gave me a pretty good starting point. All restaurants in New York are required to display their Department of Health rating on their front door. Most places display their ‘A’ grade with pride or if they received anything lower than an ‘A’ would display a Grade Pending sign in the hope that next time round they’d get an ‘A’ but not Milady’s – they displayed their ‘B’ with pride. Loaded potato skins, mozzarella sticks, Bud Lights, pool, you could easily waste more than a couple of hours in there. For the first time in my life, while living in New York, I took up, and actively enjoyed, jogging. That’s down to the Jackie Onassis reservoir which has been seen in numerous films but when you’re a local (as I was for half a second) it becomes YOUR running track and you start screaming at the tourists running round the wrong way – ‘Wrong way! Can’t you read the sign, it’s right there! I’m running here!’ Ok, maybe my aspirations to become a real New Yorker were nearly realised.

GLASGOW

This city has surprised me no end since ‘moving’ here several weeks ago. Aside from the numerous independent coffee shops, the bars focused around music, the £5 cab rides, the funny money, the aggressive friendliness and many more similarities with New York there are other reasons I am growing to love this city.  The food here, and the restaurants I have been taken to have been phenomenal. Café Gandolfi is a Glasgow institution serving up Arbroath Smokies and Haggis, neeps and tatties as well as courgette flowers and smoked venison. Despite the fact it has been going since 1979, neither the food nor the décor feel tired and the enthusiastic staff certainly aren’t. Due to the proliferation of birthdays in September (New Year’s shag anyone?) I have spent a large portion of my lunch breaks shopping for presents. Luckily my office is near the wonderful Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum where the have a pipe organist who plays every lunchtime (his standard is New York, New York ironically) and where they also house an amazing collection of art. When I was about 11 my mum took me there and she couldn’t pull me away from one painting in particular. It was Salvador Dali’s Christ and I was mesmerised by it – the only way she could get me to leave was by buying me a print which I still have. I haven’t been back to see this glorious painting yet (am worried I may not return to work and I am terribly busy) but just knowing it is there fills me with faith in the beauty of full circle, of being taken places for a reason, of life coming through for us. In a purely atheistic way of course.

Being A Grown Up

On Saturday my friend came over and we ate pizza and watched The Muppets. We are 35. I can honestly say it was one of the most fun evenings I’ve had in a while. So what if the movie’s not a patch on the ‘turn left at the fork in the road’ brilliance of the original, it stayed true to the characters and message of the Muppets and it transported us to a simpler, safer time in our lives, free of drama and responsibility.

Having said that, the life I live now is actually not hugely dramatic or responsible compared to most of my friends and I have recently been worrying that I am being left behind – the only one of my group who is not yet, and may never be, a grown up. All around me people are buying houses, getting married, having children, things which traditionally give definition to the concept of ‘grown up’ and here I am renting from a friend, single, transitory, with not a plan in sight.  I am stubbornly clinging to the conceit of youth, to the vain imaginings of Neverland, to the dim hope that I never have to change my life because I’m quite content as it is, actually.

I’m blessed with an incredible group of girlfriends, many of whom have been friends for over 20 years. We grew up together, we have so much history together that when I look at them I see the best parts of myself reflected in their eyes and their smiles, memories of all the love, advice and laughter we have shared over the years. We have always spoken candidly with each other and dinner the other night was no exception…only (and this has been happening a lot lately) I had nothing to contribute, no advice to impart, nothing to say. Of course this didn’t stop me and I ended up saying a lot of things, but everything that came out of my mouth felt asinine and irrelevant, juvenile and self centred. My drunken dating stories lost their lustre among their stories of trying to start a family, of being newly married, of planning for the future. After so many years of growing up at the same pace, I am finding it difficult to adjust to the differences between us and am having to ask myself if it’s time for me to keep up, to grow up, to settle down.

I’m not entirely sure why these two concepts – growing up and settling down – are so intertwined in my mind. I know many people who are proper grown ups who have never settled down, and plenty of people who have settled down and are as far from grown up as it is possible to be. But if they are not the same thing they are definitely related and I just don’t feel ready to do either, it feels too much like facing reality, like hard work. I know my friends don’t expect me to keep up with them – they would probably insist that they like my drunken dating stories, it allows them to live vicariously through me but I really don’t want to be that person. I want to be in their gang again, to understand what they are going through and share in their successes and failures, like I always have, but I am at such a different place in my life that for the time being I have to accept our differences and support them in other ways. One day I’m sure, my priorities will change and I will forget the name of the boy they gave a blowjob to behind the skate park and be able to remember the name of their firstborn child. One day. After all it’s not a race and I’m sure they are blindly negotiating the complexities of real life just like I am blindly avoiding them in my bubble of irresponsibility. We are all still growing, if not growing up.

So maybe I’ll grow up and maybe I won’t, maybe I’ll settle down and maybe I won’t but for now the differences between my friends and I will remain, but so will the honesty and so will the support, of that I am sure. Our paths may have diverged – I may have turned left at the fork in the road and they may have turned right but we will meet again because no matter how grown up you become, the friends you made when you were 12 will always remember who you were before life got in the way.