It’s been a while since I’ve written some Life Drivel. It’s been a busy time, alternating between deliberately cutting down my hours at work, going on politics-themed trips, going to weddings full of love and light and laughter, and lounging on my sofa, reading. So far, I’ve approved of summer. Summer, you can stay.
I spent ten days in America, some with Catherine in Philadelphia and Washington D.C, some on my own in New York. Well, Mr K was there too, but he was working, so I basically had the days to myself, sending pornographic descriptions of food to Aisling, Clare and Lucy (priority #1) and seeing sights (priority #2).
When I landed in the US, Catherine, Fred and I drove to the Jersey Shore.
You know how they say everything’s bigger in America, and you think of the food, of the buildings, of the people? I hadn’t really realised that it applies to the space, too. Just so much space. So much sky, and sea. Coming from London, and landing here, that can plays tricks with your mind.
We paddled in the Atlantic, ate water ice, rode on the big wheel, walked the boardwalk, ate the best breakfasts on the planet, and stayed in a motel. A actual motel. I tried not to be an overexcited tourist, and failed. We walked and walked and walked under huge skies and along grassland and beaches. It was the only way I knew to get London out of my system.
And then when night falls on the Jersey Shore there’s the smell of popcorn and candyfloss in the air, and excited kids, and fairground rides, and families who’ve been coming here for generations, renting houses, getting out of town for long weekends.
In D.C, Catherine and I visited the Newseum (a museum on the history of journalism. I could have killed two whole days there). It was incredible.
There was a moving exhibition on the front covers around the world of 9/11, there was fascinating coverage of JFK, and how he used the media, there were stories of how the press broke stories, made stories, captured stories in the face of incredible danger. But the final exhibition was about Pulitzer-Prize winning photographs, and the photographers who took them. I don’t think either of us could speak much afterwards. It’s incredible to realise that you don’t plan fora Pulitzer winner. You’re just in a terrible situation, a situation the rest of the world cannot even imagine, and you take a photo at just the right, or wrong, moment. And then someone realises that yes, that’s the photo the world needs to see, to understand. And then you’ve won a prize…but at what cost?
Whilst at the Newseum, we stepped out on the balcony overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue. To your right, is the White House. To your left is the Capitol. We heard the blaring of sirens, looked down, and there was the motorcade. The actual motorcade. All traffic stopped. I think there’s nothing either of us wanted more than for the motorcade to stop, the President to get out, and wave us in. This led to a lot of loitering around the Capitol, trying to look politically aware, waiting for someone to come out and offer us a job. This did not happen. At 10pm we wandered over to the White House, eating frozen yoghurt. We were convinced that Barack would be out walking Bo in the grounds, spot us, and engage in some lighthearted chat. Catherine would amaze him with a groundbreaking idea on healthcare reform,he’d offer her a job as Presidential Adviser, and then she’d only accept if I could accompany her as British Correspondent.
I still can’t believe it didn’t happen. It was so REAL.
Please allow me to tell you about my Transcendent Bagel Experience.
I was in New York, and I had the day stretching before me. The day alone. The only time I am alone these days is in the bathroom, so this was a Novel Experience. I had also, in an unprecedented move, not brought a guidebook, to force me to wander round and not live life by the Lonely Planet.
But I wanted a bagel. The best bagel. I’d never had an all-American bagel. And so I typed this ludicrous search term into Google “Where is the best bagel near Park Avenue?” and Google TOLD ME. God, I love the Internet.
Ess-A-Bagel was packed. You had to get your order right, otherwise they shouted at you. Being British, I spent my time in the queue, practising my order, muttering under my breath. ”Sesame bagel, herby cream cheese, toasted”. The grumpy-looking man threw me a paper bag containing said bagel (my English accent got me no points, here).
I sat down at a table, and bit into my bagel.
Now, allow me to give some context. My only experience with bagels up to this point has been those packs of five you get in Sainsburys. Toasted if I’m feeling frisky, and a bit of Philly. Nice enough. But nothing, nothing on this.
This bagel was dense, and chewy, yet crispy on the outside. It was warm, out of the oven. It needed two hands to keep it together. The cream cheese was tangy. I took one bite and almost felt like crying. Here I was, in New York, on my own, looking at people going to work and listening to the blaring horns of the taxis, eating my first proper bagel. That bagel was my way of realising I’d hit my 30s.
I’ve wanted to go to Whitby ever since I read Dracula. I wanted wild, gothic, angry seas, Yorkshire moors. I got it. ”Let’s go to Runswick Bay, my favourite place on the coast first”, said Lucy. ”We can eat ice cream and watch the wild sea.” Yes. Yes. I’d like to do that.
We drank steaming cups of tea, the only people anywhere near the beach that weren’t in head-to-toe waterproofs. We watched the sea. I watched Lucy and Tom watching the sea, and felt so excited about their lucky, lucky baby, being born to that much love.
Whitby was everything I’d hoped. It’s overlooked by a ruined abbey, it’s full of winding streets, it’s dark, it’s beautiful. We ate fish and chips and talked and talked and talked. We walked. We got sea spray in our faces. Anna bought flowers for the infamous flower crown.
We arrived at our B&B. Did you ever see a more English sight? We napped, we got ready, we went to meet the others. It’s always like walking into a room of people who know you, and who you know, even when you don’t. And when we arrived at the wedding, shedding our heels for wellies, heading for the field filled with laughter and love, and looked up and saw Amy there in her flower crown and her dress that made her look like she belonged in a woodland glade, so happy she was barely able to speak, that’s when we all realised the privilege of weddings. Being invited to take a glimpse of the best of another person, but the rawest part of them too, a love laid bare. And that we did. That we saw.
Thank you for inviting us, Amy.
In June, I spent time abroad for work. I can’t talk about where or what BUT, if I had been allowed to take pictures for you all I would have taken reels, because there was desert, there were gin and tonics on the terrace of the Ambassador’s Residence, there was an armoured convoy to travel EVERYWHERE, there were dramatic sunsets. My greatest feat was to learn how to run across tiles in four-inch heels, clutching papers, and throw myself into the back of a moving Landrover (once the Minister is in the car, the convoy doesn’t wait). It was hard work and it was tiring but it was astonishing, the whole visit.
You may have noticed we’ve moved to posting on alternate days during the week. That’s not because we don’t want to post more, but it’s because we’re just not getting the influx of submissions we used to. There’s probably a lot of different reasons for that. We don’t want to harangue you to write, you don’t owe the blog anything, and we want you to write for us because you want to, not because you feel you should. We could post more personal posts, to fill the gaps, but once a week feels the right amount (otherwise, trust me, the quality goes down. Badly.) So, my point is…if you want to write for us, on anything, anything to do with being a woman today, politics, feminism, experiences, opinions, rants, inequality, equality, love, sex, marriage, singledom, family, anything at all – please send your writing through to us, we’d be honoured to run it.
We want this blog to churn out incredible content that makes you think, and feel, and laugh. We love what we do, but it’s nothing without your writing.
Any of you can write. Trust us. We’ll help you if you want. Everyone’s got a story to tell and this is the place where people want to hear it. This is your platform.