Saturday 5 December 2009

From the Other Side of the Atlantic

In New York for our December sales conference, and very much looking forward to meeting a few of our translators, authors and some fellow publishers.

I love coming to NY in December: I always find either snow or bright skies, and both are a nice diversion from London's pall of gloom.

The journey was great – I was sandwiched between two kids and my seat tray was broken (for this I got a £10 Virgin voucher – ts!), with no movies or entertainment provided other than old or silly films on a tiny Panasonic DVD reader, which I kindly declined (a new experiment, they said – well, don't do it again, man!). But I didn't much care, as I spent seven of the eight hours of my flight agonizing over two lines from Pope's Epistle to Arbuthnot – "Blessed with each talent and each art to please / and born to write, converse and live with ease." Oh well – I got over the hurdle in the end.

I love talking to New York taxi drivers. They are far more interesting and varied than their London equivalent. They are from Haiti, Portorico, Italy, Cuba, Mexico, the Caribbean – even England! The one I got yesterday was from Poland. He's been here "not very long – only thirty years". He seems to have done very well: he's got his own limo and passed his car body garage to his older son, who bought a huge – "too huge" – house with a private lagoon and a motor boat a few miles from where he lives. He's got eight grandchildrens – and each of the grandchildrens are perfectly fluent both in English and Polish. He was a friend of Lech Wałęsa at the time of Solidarity, "before he got a liddle crazy in the head". I asked him my favourite question: "What do you think of Obama then?" And his replied made it obvious that the honeymoon between US citizens and the new Peace Nobel winner is over. "He not that smart," he said. "Why?" I asked, and he replied after a pause: "Because he do stupid things."


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