Opinion

A Brit’s first day in New York City

Times Square

When I first told my friends I was coming to The Big Apple to work for The New York Observer, I got the following reactions: ‘New York? Like, the one in America?’, ‘That’s amazing, you’re practically Carrie Bradshaw!’, and my personal favourite, ‘Oh, so you won’t be here for my birthday?’

Over time, numerous American sitcoms and movies have slowly drummed it into me that one day, I want to be a writer in New York. I couldn’t tell you how long I’ve had this dream, but it’s like it’s always been there. Like on October 31st, 1991, out I came with I LOVE NEW YORK already programmed into my squishable head.

Maybe it was the ten seasons worth of Friends that did it to me, lets be honest – we all want our own version of Central Perk. You see it on the big screen, glamorous people all walking in unison as if practicing a synchronised routine through the city. In reality? Oh no, don’t be fooled. These people, these New Yorkers, are on a mission to make wherever you’re going to, the hardest route possible.

I’ve had men in suits stepping on me in order to get just a few inches closer to the curb. Old women with hundreds of bags, cutting right across in order to make that vital last purchase of the day. Oh, and don’t get me started on those who insist on doing about thirty things at once whilst walking down the street. They’ll be on the phone, steering their uncontrollable children with their spare hand, oversized purse thrown over the shoulder and hitting everyone in passing.

What’s the rush people? This city, this iconic city is here for us all to enjoy – don’t just pound the sidewalk, eyes down and missing everything – do you know what I have to look at back home? I’ll tell you. There’s a small high-street, filled with either closed down stores or charity shops. Next to those are about five supermarkets, with every possible brand of baked beans you could ever wish for. The local, and only, pub in town is, as usual, filled to the brim of old men, drinking away their sorrows over the latest defeat for their favourite football team. It’s a sad sight sure, but it’s home, what can I say?

So next time you’re power walking your way through the city, maybe just slow down and look up once in a while. Not for long obviously, I don’t want you causing havoc to the standard New York momentum, but long enough to actually appreciate just where you are. It isn’t Littlehampton that’s for sure.

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