My lovely partner Chris Michael (check out his blog ‘New Slapstick’) wanted to go and see an old hero of his, a physical performer by the name of Bill Irwin. Bill was playing in a show called OLD HATS…. in New York. When I approached Chris, wide eyed a few years ago and told him the Tom Waits was playing in Paris he showed no reservation in telling me to go, because Waits would stop touring at some point and I would be forever sad to have missed him. He was right, and so I suggested that Chris should do the same now and go and see Bill Irwin in New York.

I was a teensy bit jealous.

Then Chris saw that Prairie Home Companion was being recorded in New York in the same week. ” you should go” I suggested.

I was REALLY jealous. We don’t have a lot of ‘our’ things. Our son was born too early in our relationship for us to have experienced much together so ‘our song’ ‘our place’ ‘our book’ hadn’t solidified into our lives. BUT, over the years, we have listened to Garrison Keillor, whistling his S’s as he tells us of Lake Wobegon and what sort of a week they have had. Usually we listen in bed, late, when all else is quiet. It is gentle and sweet, and it is OURS though we both came to it via books / tapes way before we met.

Chris bought us both flights and accommodation in New York. My sister offered to take a week off work and come and live with the children. It was our first proper holiday together in 15 years of parenting.

Im not going to bore you with the ins and outs of our ‘holiday’ but I will say this. Go and see Old Hats if you can. Bill Irwin has the most generous face I have ever come across. Physically he is a master of isolation and momentum and his show partner David Shiner matches his skill and intensity, playfulness and showmanship in every way. They are joined by Nellie MaKay. A most refreshing female musician who links their sketches, interacts, leads the men astray, fixes arguments and at no point feels secondary or bolt on to these two extraordinary performers. She, along with her band hold their own all the way through. It was joyous, rough enough to feel real and skilled enough to make you truly gasp. I wasn’t expecting to like it so much, but I really loved it (can you tell?).

The following night and after a fairly hairy yellow taxi ride to the venue (New York Town hall) we saw Garrison Keillor record his radio show. He has guests, tells stories, dramatizes scripts (along with all the foley effects). It was fabulous. It was calm, slow paced, beautiful and i think that we both struggled not to sniffle in places. Garrison is accompanied by a fantastic band ‘The Guy’s All Star Shoe Band’. Watching a radio show being recorded was great, stage managers running across the stage with notes for the performers and of course, hearing my bedtime storyteller, live. Here’s a link to the show that we saw . Check out the Milk Carton Kids, they were most special.

So, 4 nights in New York really happened. Every time I say New York, even now, my stomach turns. It was so exciting and so very far away from all that we normally do. It’s a special place for sure. Walking in Central Park, blossom out, IS romantic ( it even shocked us how romantic we felt!). The park has a bizarre mix of urban and rural in every horizon. 4 days was probably enough for now, although the jet lag still had us waking at 5am every morning. I have to say though, I can wait to get back there. The Carnegie Deli is calling……

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