Friday, 15 March 2013

US Diary - reflections

It's a week now since the 'Ike Reconsidered' Conference in New York, and I've actually been back in the UK since Monday. It worked out cheaper to stay in the US 'til Sunday, so I enjoyed the great pleasure at the end of the trip of a free day in New York City. The feedback from the conference has been great - my presentation went down well and my work seems to have picked up an appreciative audience. To an extent, I was preaching to the Choir, but it's a reall buzz to get a positive response to my thoughts on Ike from a very knowledgeable crowd.

As is my great pleasure, I set out relatively early on Saturday morning and just walked: miles and miles, stopping to browse in a Barnes and Noble; taking a look in the wonderful Art Deco lobby of the Chrysler Building and skirting the rather ghastly Times Square.

Given my history leanings, I'd always wanted to visit the USS Intrepid, nudged up to the edge of Hell's Kitchen on the Hudson River. I spent a good couple of hours looking round the WW2 carrier and its aircraft displays.

After that, it was back to Times Square to try and get hold of a ticket for one of the major Broadway Shows. The queues were a killer, so I headed direct to the Richard Rogers Theatre and bought a ticket for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

The theatre, which feels just a bit run down, wasn't quite full, and the play has had mixed reviews. But, aside from Ciaran Hinds' Big Daddy starting with a significantly more Belfast than Southern USA accent, and Scarlett Johansson gabbling a few too many of her early lines upstage, I thought the performance was mesmerising. Back at the hotel about 15 hours after setting out for the day, I still couldn't get to sleep.

Sunday morning, I breakfasted with the estimable Dave Nichols before we shared a cab to Penn Station and I started my trip home - via DC. My journey back was ridiculously expensive, thanks to getting a cab from Washington's Union station out to Dulles (when's the subway finally due to reach the airport?), but it would be churlish to complain about a terrific week including great research, a superb conference - and the chance to see Scarlett Johansson looking deliciously sultry.

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