I had some time before the plane. At my meeting with CO OP in the morning, Jim Moran had warned me about the cabs, which apparently all stop working between about 3pm and 5pm. There’s a shift change or something, and getting a cab is well nigh impossible.
Well, my plane wasn’t until 8.55pm, and I’d finished the last meeting of the day – indeed, the whole trip – by about 3pm.
It had been a good one, too. I’d been invited into the offices of a major global branding consultancy to meet one of their Creative Directors. It turned out he’s keen to work with me later this year on an absolute plum of a job in New York. And I mean, a really, really exciting one. (Wish I could tell you more than that.) So I couldn’t really have asked for a better end to the tour.
But New York hadn’t quite finished dispensing gifts. With an afternoon to kill, and armed with Jim’s knowledge that there was little point trying for a cab until after about 5.30pm, I told myself I deserved a drink.
A couple of nights before I’d discovered O’Donoghue’s, an Irish bar on 44th Street near Times Square. It was just what you want from a New York bar: smallish, friendly, busy but not heaving. And Irish, which always helps. They did a good Guinness.
So I took myself back there for a celebration drink, while the cabbies were all off doing whatever New York cabbies do when they’re not driving cabs.
And what do you know, I end up chatting to the guy next to me at the bar, and he’s a writer from England. Manchester, to be exact. Currently working for the BBC and spending two weeks in New York every couple of months.
I love the idea that if you scratch a New York bar, you’ve got a good chance of finding an English writer. That seems entirely as it should be.
So we had a beer together, and when that didn’t seem quite enough we had another one. As we were drinking that one, the barmaid said, ‘It’s snowing!’ And so it was. Snow in New York city to see me off. Perfect.
It was pretty snug in O’Donoghue’s, I have to say, and my new Mancunian friend seemed the sort you could happily chat to until suddenly it’s tomorrow morning, and someone with a tea-towel is insisting you go home. But I forced myself off the barstool, said my goodbyes, and walked through the gathering snow back to the Gotham for my bags.
What a trip! It was a fantastic experience from start to finish, managing even to exceed my own hopes and expectations. (As I write this, by the way, I still have all the meetings from Chicago and New York to write up here – bear with me!)
So I need to say a quick, but sincere, thank you to everyone I met along the way, many of whom went to some trouble to make the time to meet up. Thanks very much to all of you.
But the biggest thanks of all have to go to Ted Pearlman, who stage-managed every step of this odyssey with extraordinary sensitivity and skill, and amazing generosity.
Ted organised all the flights and hotels, and found me pretty much every restaurant, lunch spot, pub and coffee house I visited. And by the time I arrived at each of them, the staff knew I was coming and the bill was settled. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Thank you so much, Ted.
I’ve seen some wonderful places, met a whole string of truly inspiring people. I also have several definite assurances of collaborations to come, including some from people I hardly expected ever to meet, let alone work with. And I got to fall in love with New York City all over again. It’s been phenomenal.
Ted and I are now working on three or four ideas, all of which are pretty exciting. Those will be reported, in the fullness of time, on my main website. But this is me signing off on this blog. Thanks for reading!