Live From New York, it’s Thursday night…

19 01 2012

I don’t drink coffee I take tea my dear, I like my toast done on one side,
And you can hear it in my accent when I talk,I’m an Englishman in New York

See me walking down Fifth Avenue, A walking cane here at my side,
I take it everywhere I walk, I’m an Englishman in New York

I’m an alien I’m a legal alien, I’m an Englishman in New York.
I’m an alien I’m a legal alien, I’m an Englishman in New York

Confession time. I have been dying to write these lyrics on this blog.

But I live just south of Boston, come to the Big Apple on an infrequent basis and, when I do, sitting down with the laptop is frowned upon by she-who-I-obey.

So this is the first time in over two years that I find myself sitting alone in the city that never sleeps with the chance to write about being an Englishman in New York.

I don’t have a walking cane, I have no real feelings about toast, am not intending to walk down Fifth Avenue and I drink more coffee than tea these days.

But I am a legal alien.

And that is enough of a connection for me to write this short post. Before I head into Brooklyn to see a punk band from Boston.

Thank you, New York, you’ve been great!

And, yes I know, that is Sting – that is kind of the point.

The Final Frontier – STS 135 marks the end of an era.

8 07 2011

At 11.29 am Eastern Standard Time, Space Transportation System Atlantis lifted off from the launch pad at Cape Canaveral and headed for the inky blackness of space.

The final flight of the Space Shuttle, the last chance to watch one of humanity’s greatest achievements muscle its way into the sky and power towards a place in history.

Thirty years of making space exploration seem like the most normal thing on earth, thirty years of watching a familiar shape ascend and then return, gliding back down as if doing nothing more than fly from Boston to New York.

STS 135 is the final mission, the one that signifies a new direction for NASA and their dreams of conquering space beyond low-level orbit and the Moon. Read the rest of this entry »

Space….the Final Frontier

28 01 2011

All of a sudden, space isn’t friendly. All of a sudden, it’s a place where people can die. . . . Many more people are going to die. But we can’t explore space if the requirement is that there be no casualties; we can’t do anything if the requirement is that there be no casualties.

— Isaac Asimov, regards the Challenger investigation, on CBS television show 48 Hours, 21 April 1988.

Twenty-five years ago today, on a chilly day in Florida the Space Shuttle Challenger suffered “a major malfunction”. 73 seconds after launch a small flame appeared on the fuel tank caused by the leaking of hot gas from one of the rocket boosters which ignited and caused the STS (Space Transportation System) to explode, killing all seven astronauts on board instantly.

In those days, Shuttle launches were still a big affair. The notion of a reusable machine that was capable of taking off, heading into space, doing some work and then landing like a regular airplane was hugely exciting. But STS 51L was significant in one aspect, hence the worldwide interest and the live coverage beamed globally.

One of the seven people on board was one of us. A civilian. A teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, who was to be the first “normal” person to have the chance to see this blue planet from space and to show that the conquest of space was not merely for those who had undergone years of training. Her name was Christa McAuliffe and she was the People’s Astronaut. Read the rest of this entry »

Christopher Columbus: A Cause for “Celebration”.

11 10 2010

In 1492, an Italian explorer (with some financial ties to Spain) was attempting to find his way to Asia. Inspired by the thought of trading with this fabled culture and the desire to convert heathens to Christianity, he had set sail with three ships in the hope of making his way across the ocean without having to navigate around annoying pieces of already discovered land.

The mission was a failure.

Are we there yet? I was looking for Asia!

Instead of the vast open sea that he imagined lay between Spain and Asia, he actually managed to find himself in a situation where he discovered not only land but a population of friendly and trusting natives who, unaware of the fact that they were heathens, were curious about this visitor from afar and approached him with open hearts and minds.

The explorer repaid this trust in the only way he knew how. By enslaving them, pillaging their land for precious metals and shipping them back to the Spanish monarchs who were providing the financial security that was needed to ensure the success of the venture. Read the rest of this entry »

Random Irritations can often dampen enthusiasm

29 07 2010

Just some of the items that seem to annoy me as the hot weather brings out my grouchy side :

The reset button on the back of my CISCO router that requires nothing bigger than a cocktail stick to use. Surely the reset button should be slightly bigger

Continual letters from Chase Bank/Capital One offering me the chance to get into more debt. If I haven’t responded yet, what makes them think that this time will be the one?

Average IQ is yet to be determined.

The idiots on MTV’s Jersey Shore. Never seen it and having now read an interview in Rolling Stone with Snooki, J-Woww and The Situation, I can only think that Andy Warhol was so right.

Curry houses in Boston asking how hot would you like a vindaloo or jalfrezi. I want it to be vindaloo or jalfrezi hot. Read the rest of this entry »

Burger Me : Homesick in my Hometown

17 06 2010

Note to self.

If you see the words “homemade beef-burger” on an English pub menu in the next ten days, don’t think to yourself “that sounds good, I like beefburgers. I really fancy one right now as I haven’t had a decent burger since I arrived back in London, after all it is homemade and not one of those mass-produced circular slabs of unidentified meat that may have some beef in.”

Be sensible, choose something else. Traditional English food,  Shepherds pie, fish and chips, gammon steak with pineapple. Even a curry will be better than the pub’s attempt to provide a taste of American classic.

Because there will be inevitable disappointment when you bite into the burger and realise that the reason why you were not asked how you would like it cooked was because the chef only knows one way. And it is not the right way. Read the rest of this entry »

The Beautiful Game takes Center Stage.

11 06 2010

For anyone that has been living under a rock recently, today is the start of a small football tournament in South Africa.

Or soccer if you live in the continental United States of America.

The World Cup. La Copa de Mondial. A celebration of The Beautiful Game. 32 nations competing for the ultimate prize, 32 of the “best footballing nations” in the world all desperate to get their hands on the prize. Fighting for the right to be crowned World Champion – which involves actually playing against other countries as opposed to the isolationist policy that seems to pervade American sport.

64 games played over the course of a month. A festival of football and the chance for the world’s best players to showcase their skills and angle for a pay raise when they return to their clubs.

Of course, the 32 teams in South Africa are not all necessarily the foremost proponents of the world’s most popular game. Read the rest of this entry »