From North America Notebooks – People

  1. In the Oyster Bar at Grand Central, New York, there’s a couple of co-workers on what’s obviously a first romantic date. He tells her how happy he always was when he saw ‘[She]… is typing a message’ on his screen; and she tells him how she missed him when he was away on that trip – but took a while to understand that that’s what the feeling was. It’s a celebration of such newly-liberated confidences. Reminding us of us.
  1. In a brew pub over on 9th, one man is shouting at the game on the TV. But to extraordinary lengths and details. As if entirely unconscious of there being people around him. Just him, his voice and the televised event. We know there’s a lot of this goes on – heck, everywhere in the world. But there’s something about this guy’s delivery that’s worth remarking on.
  1. Two young women in a Chelsea Market bookshop emulate each other’s speech in a very low-energy conversation until the soundwaves of their voices become so deep and slowly oscillating that time itself seems to run down. I turn around expecting to see them on the floor – if not further down.
  1. In a favourite bar on Bleecker Street we meet Michael from Philadelphia, orginally from Long Island and back for the first game of the Islanders at their new home in Brooklyn. He drives a lot and likes to meet people. He knows his beer and he’s good to talk with. Later that night we see him on the local TV news; a fan being interviewed about the game and the Islanders’ new Brooklyn base. ‘Hey, it’s Michael!’ we both cheer.
  1. In a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco the lady at the table next to ours tugs on the waiter’s sleeve. ‘I’m not letting you go until you give me the recipe for this!’, she chirps. But the waiter doesn’t quite go with it, and she has to try many times to explain herself, all the while her enthusiasm for the point seeping away.
  1. In a fancy bar on Polk Street, SF (there are a couple), we ask the barman for ice for the drinks. He makes to look around him a little before telling us he’s pretty sure they don’t have ice. No attitude, just the facts as he understands them; and I’m reminded of the hapless casino croupier character played by Jon Thompson in The Fast Show – which clip, quite appropriately, I can’t find anywhere.
  1. Open mic night in a bar in Yaletown, Vancouver. I have nothing but admiration for the people who step up. A little regret too maybe. We quickly understand there’s a genre being welcomed here – all very good, all very talented and all in your Ed Sheeran mould. Then it’s a different guy’s turn. Orange anorak, orange keyboard and something like a nervous tic. He puts his spin on a song by Bryan Adams, providing his own beat from the keyboard and delivering the melody in a lilting falsetto. Looks of disdain are shared between the waiting musos and he is quickly, though quite gently, ushered off by the plaid-shirted MC. When he leaves (our orange pioneer), he says a nervous and hard-for-him goodbye to the others, who all look away at that moment.
  1. Ready to fly from JFK, a man in gold winged Adidas sneakers hustles and bustles his way through the waiting area. He snaps into his phone about urgently needing insurance. He takes a seat and then with his golden shoes he accidentally kicks over his drink.


"In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away..."

“In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away…” (Auden’s ‘Museé des Beaux Arts’)

About Stevie Mitchell

I come from a long line of cartoons and beer. I was once peed on by a tiger. Hoping the resultant super-powers are yet to come, cos if these are they, then, grrrr....
This entry was posted in Creative Writing, Travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to From North America Notebooks – People

  1. weebluebirdie says:

    Can’t beat a spot of people watching 🙂 Except it’s more than simply watching, because for those few moments you feel connected to someone else’s life. Well, apart from people wearing gold trainers; they deserve a comeuppance!

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