After spending five nights in New York City, most of which were spent hunting for pints that cost less than $7.50, I am far from qualified to pen a travel guide to the Big Apple. But why the hell would that stop me? Here is the first in a series of daily* insights into what the city has to offer, including handy hints and tips, geared solely towards tight-arses.
*Don’t worry, they’re unlikely to be daily – still feeling a bit lazy and unmotivated
1. On Broadway
Don’t go and see an off-Broadway play called A Perfect Murder or The Perfect Murder or something. It is utter shite. And that’s not me being common and only liking telly and films and only having read classics that were included on the school curriculum – it’s just a fact. Listen, I’ve paid to see King Lear with Sir Ian Mckellen in it. So do one. OK, I don’t remember much about the plot – my only two memories are of seeing Sir Ian’s cock (it’s massive) and being really fucking angry when Sylvester McCoy suddenly rocked up on stage, playing spoons and generally being a dickhead. I mean, what was he doing there? I bet Shakespeare hadn’t written into the script that the most annoying former Dr Who turns up as the jester, arsing about with a couple of dessert spoons. I still get angry when I think about it. Any sane person would.
I could be doing A/The Perfect Murder a disservice – I did make the ridiculous decision to see it on my first night there, just a few hours after arriving in the city, courtesy of United Airlines. My problem with the play could have been down to the drink and drugs. To cope with the anxiety I feel about flying I took a cocktail of Diazepam (officially prescribed, readers) and some actual cocktails. In short, I wasn’t feeling bright and breezy. I could barely focus, let alone concentrate and follow a plot, however simple. I once got a bit confused about what was happening in Pirates Of The Caribbean 2 when under the influence, so I knew I could lose my cognitive skills with ease. And I was tired. Really tired. Getting through US Customs, collecting my luggage and making my way from Newark Airport to the hotel had been a struggle.
TIGHT-ARSED TRAVELLER’S TIP #1 – Get to Manhattan from Newark on the NJ Transit Train into Penn Station. It costs $12.50. Don’t get a taxi. Fuck knows how much one of those would cost. And then there’s the whole tipping nightmare thing to consider. Which I’ll devote a later post to. Because it really needs covering in some detail.
Anyway, once I’d dropped my case off, it seemed liked a good idea at the time, so I headed straight to the TKTS discount booth in Times Square. They offer discounts of up to 70% on tickets for shows on that night. Oh, that cheeky ‘up to’ teaser. Gets me every time. I only saw a couple with 50% off and most had a 30% reduction, I think. I can’t be sure, I could barely see, remember. Still, it’s not a bad deal.
The only thing I wanted to see was The Book of Mormon, so I asked about the possibility of getting tickets for that. The bloke laughed in my face (apparently it’s sold out until Fall – yes, I said Fall). Scanning the alternatives, I decided The Phantom Of The Opera was the way to go. Mainly because I knew that one song. And I suppose it’s meant to be a classic. And, despite missing out on the only thing I’d wanted to see, I felt compelled to see a show while I was there. It’s Broadway, after all, I thought. Everyone has to see a show when they come to New York. I can’t go back and say I’d not experienced it. It’ll be like having to admit that I didn’t go to Anne Frank’s House when I went to Amsterdam all over again. It’s something you’re meant to do. And then I remembered an important fact. I really hate musicals. Really hate them.
So it had to be a play. But what? I turned to Chuckles, the ticket seller, for advice. I told him I’d quite like to see something amusing that wasn’t his red puffa jacket. I didn’t say the last part of that sentence – I’m actually over-polite in New York. I make a point of trying to be quintessentially English. And I do some bumbling too. Like a sort of working class Hugh Grant. His puffa jacket was awful, mind. He recommended A/The Perfect Murder.
“It’s like an off-Broadway show, it’s been running for years,” he enthused. “It’s a really clever thriller, but with lots of twists and turns and it’s really quirky, so yeah, I think you’d really enjoy it.”
I was sold. And, as a result, so was a ticket. When I arrived at the Snapple Theatre (210 West 50th Street – not sure why I’m listing the address. I don’t think you should go, I just want to appear like I’m really a travel writer and I think this is the kind of thing they do) it seemed that they’d only managed to flog a further nine tickets. Oh well, I thought. Not necessarily a sign.
I settled down as the house lights dimmed. Here’s what I recall:
Blonde woman enters from stage left: SHOUT SHOUT SHOUT SHOUT SHOUT
Cap gun is fired a few times. Not sure by who.
Blonde woman: I’M SHOUTING AGAIN.
Bloke sat in a chair: I’m mumbling a bit. I might be quite bad at acting but I’m mumbling so it’s difficult to tell.
Blonde woman: WELL I’M SHOUTING.
More cap gun action.
Blonde woman: SHOUT SHOUT
And then, all of a sudden, it was time for the intermission. Had I been so gripped by the mystery and suspense that time had flown by? No. I’d been asleep for 40 minutes. I didn’t have a clue what had happened. Apart from shouting, mumbling and cap guns, of course.
I made my way to the lift. Or elevator, if you like. I needed to wake up for the second half. Get some fresh air. I was joined by an American couple.
“I’m glad someone else feels that same about the play,” the chap said as he pressed the lift for the ground floor. “What a load of crap. We’re going back to the hotel.”
And so I joined them. Not at their hotel – I barely knew them. It wasn’t Magaluf in 1997. I meant I also left. But you knew that. Nothing happened in Magaluf in 1997, either. I’ve never been there – I’m not quite that common. It was just a poor quip.
So, in conclusion, I would not recommend this play, which, it has just been pointed out to me, is actually called Perfect Crime. Perhaps see Phantom. But I must warn you, I don’t think Frank Spencer is still in it.