The last time I was here was in 1989 and it was about a week before Xmas. I found it freezing and slightly threatening. Certainly around Times Square.
A transformation has come over the city since my last visit, or maybe just my perception of it.
It is busy, busy, busy and with that comes exasperation and high levels of noise. My theory is that in order to mask the background noise of car and truck horns, construction work and people hustling anything from gold and diamonds to suits and theatre tickets, everyone has to turn it up a notch.
People complain about "Muzak" in public buildings. The hotel lobby where I am writing this has music thudding away which makes conversation difficult. Everyone is shouting to make themselves heard. I gave up on breakfast as Adam Ant's "Goody Two Shoes" forced me out of the restaurant area.
The first night I was here I set off for a walk in the steamy humidty and 85 degree evening heat. Every so often I would duck into a shop in order to cool off thanks to fierce air conditioning.
I found myself in an Irish Bar somewhere down Hells Kitchen way and fell into conversation with an ex pat Irish guy who had married and moved over here 8 years ago. His boss was with him. The Irishman had to translate a lot of the conversation as his chief was either drunk, mad or possibly both.
He was probably in his early 60's and talked about how in the New York of his childhood you had to marry within your own community. "If for example I went out with a Guinea I would get shot by her father."
Me "Isn't that term a racial slur?"
Him to barman: "HEY MATT IS GUINEA A RACIAL SLUR?"
Barman "Yes, I think so these days."
Him to me "Anyways as I was saying...Italians married Italians...Polacks married Polacks."
Me: "Excuse me I think you may be slipping into old habits again."
Him: "I AM a Polack"
Me: "erm oh I see..lovely."
The conversation continued along similar lines for an hour or more as he railed against everything he could think of and more besides. The Irishman and myself were completely baffled when he decided that the reason the Queen doesn't have direct power any longer in the UK was part of a Communist plot.
As I left, I noticed a large poster on the wall which listed names such as that of Bobby Sands and other IRA and INLA "martyrs".
There was a thunderstorm and pouring rain as I squelched back to my hotel. A cab came round the corner too fast surprising me on a pedestrian crossing. "Mudder ******" shouted the driver. I gave him the finger.
This is a great town.