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NEW YORK 2001 Travel Diary Page 3

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Day 5

I was up until 4:30 am this morning and then a further few hours after waking up getting this diary upto date.Lee and I didn’t get out the house before 2pm. We had two main objectives for today, the main one was to go about 20 to 30 miles out of the City to meet an online buddy of mine, Amiee, who I’d chatted to occasionally on the internet over the last 3 or 4 years, the second more simple task was to make our way to near the Statue of Liberty so Lee could take some photos of it. Leaving with plenty of time to spare we took the Subway. It was several stops into our journey that we realised the station on the map that we’d been using as a starting point for most of our journeys so far(Bergen Street) actually has two points of reference on the Subway guide map, and it had only been luck so far that had prevented us from previous major muck ups. If you imagine a square, and the lower side of the square represented our initial journey then the actual route followed the other three sides. To add insult to all this we found out from an extremely kind woman that the journey we now wished to take was no longer possible because the stations and track were now destroyed as a result of the September the 11th terrorist attacks.

Marjorie, not Marge she insisted, and I discussed the future of New York. I tried to reassure her that in time New Yorkers would become acclimatised to the threat and impracticalities that being a terrorists target brings, as we had done in London. However I was struck by the fact that whilst the IRA may well have wanted to attack us with weapons of mass destruction, it was not likely that either they could, or even if they could, that it would be in their best interest to do so. New York , and possibly London also, on the other hand are now facing an enemy who seem more than willing and possibly able to hit out with such weapons.

If one isn’t willing to capitulate to the demands of the terrorists, then time is of the essence, trying to apply only diplomatic or economic pressure means a possible lengthy wait during which your terrorist enemy may pick at or even paralyse you. Today a further 30 people have tested positive for Anthrax contamination and the news is rife with theories that ultimately conclude with a possible uncontrollable epidemic.Whether it’s biological, chemical, nuclear or an environmental catastrophe the fact remains that we are especially prone at this time in our “sociological / Biblical” clock to worrying over a possible doomsday scenario. This one factor possibly plays a far greater role in our perception of world events right now , far more than most people care to admit.

Lee and I, on the advice of Marjorie, don’t attempt to get to the Statue of Liberty, and turn back towards the main central station, so that we can arrive at our rendezvous on time. The USA too is re-assessing it’s place in the world and sense of security, the events of September 11th are still foremost in the minds of American’s especially New Yorkers. Our journey around New York on the Subway seems far more revealing than hovering around Times Square, or shooting up The Empire State Building. New York is known for it’s brash and aggressive culture, but I was deeply touched to see the welcome and delight in the eyes of some of the people near us on the Subway when they heard our English accented apologies for sitting down next to them, or asking for advice regarding the Subway (and God we needed it!).

Today I got a taste of the “special relationship” between the UK and the USA. Up to now it felt like the UK is merely a puppet of the USA, and that the US would quite happily sacrifice the UK if push came to shove. BUT there’s something that needs to be taken into consideration in this formulae and that is the issue of TRUST. Lee said this evening “I am 3000 miles from home but I feel more at home here than I do 30 miles across the Channel in France.” The close similarities of language and culture stand for a lot in a world that’s simultaneously shrinking (in terms of communications) and fragementing (politically).Just before I left the Uk a friend had told me that she could not forgive Tony Blaire for getting us so deeply involved in what she considered to be the USA’s own problem, a problem that they did not need our help with in solving. Strangely she’s one of those people who would defend her own friends even at great risk to herself with no definite promise of loyalty back.

This evening we met Amiee at White Plains, went to an “Irish” bar, (I didn’t notice any IRA collection tins) deepened the friendship with Amiee (giving a person flesh and blood and real three dimensions is generally a bonus.) Her co workers, who were in the Bar too, were English, so we didn’t speak to them much, only enough to check out our locations in the UK and assess our class and station.On the train home the ticket inspector on looking at our “reduced price for people with disabilities tickets” shouted loudly at Lee and I “Show me something!” at this point a plethora of one liners comes to mind, however I clicked that he wanted to see in what way Lee was disabled. Lee waved his plastic hand at the man (He should have waved his plastic finger at him). A prime subject for disability awareness training I think. Later as the man passed by I said to Lee to trip him up, “and when he gets up tell him that’s your artificial leg too”.

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