New York State of Mind – for Emma Freud and Richard Curtis

Dear Emma, Richard and family. Welcome to New York! I am sure that everyone will be full of good advice here as to what you should do, where you should go etc., so I thought I would chip in with a few useful pointers, too. UK’s loss in NYC’s gain!

1.     Don’t “Rush to the Macy’s sale”. There will be another one in 30 seconds. Every day. For 365 days. And 366 in a Leap Year.

2.     Don’t go to Macy’s. If you don’t break your neck rushing to the Macy’s sale, sure as hell you will do so rushing for the elevators. That one woman with three hatboxes you watched in old movies has been replaced by 20 overweight women with strollers.

3.     Say stroller, not pushchair.

4.     Don’t even think of asking for a European wine outside of a smart hotel. There is only one. Pinot Grigio.

5.     Allow an extra 40 minutes for every restaurant experience you will be sending back the corked Pinot Grigio and debating with management holding it up to the light saying they can’t see any cork in it.

6.     Fear not for the “blizzard” everyone is already warning you about that will allegedly arrive in January. It won’t. It’s a flurry.

7.     Every man is gay. Keep Richard locked up at all times.

8.     Shop online at Peapod. Don’t do Fresh Direct, which is way more expensive. Don’t shop at Food Emporium unless you want to spend the next three days crying. And starving.

9.     Don’t attempt irony. I cannot stress this enough.

10.  Every 4th drink is free. If it’s not, move on.

11.  Avoid Irish bars. People in them are even marginally less funny than they are in Dublin on a Saturday night. “You’re gonna laugh at this” means you won’t.

12.  Learn how to talk about sport in bars. Here are some useful phrases – all to be spoken in a VERY LOUD VOICE while (preferably) throwing a chair: F*****g moron! ISIS c**t! Tom is innocent! Yay, the Heat, maaaaan! No f*****g way ISIS c**t! etc. etc.

13.  There is no such thing as a free hot dog. They may tell you that in Rudy’s dive bar, but you will still be paying the price several days on. Trust me.

14.  Don’t snog anyone in Rudy’s dive bar. Especially after 3am. And especially if they have consumed a free hot dog. And REALLY trust me on that.

15.  Do not interpret the lit-up pedestrian icon at every junction as a signal that it is safe to cross the road. It isn’t. It is an incentive to every driver to accelerate and try to kill you.

16.  Customer service is second to none. Buy everything. Use it. When you are bored with it, take it back and say you want them to exchange it. They will. You won’t have three birthdays while arguing your case at the Marks and Spencer Returns desk.

17.  Don’t trust the Bed, Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons. You will find that most things are at least 25% less on Amazon.

18.  If you fall into the Bed, Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons trap, remember you can always take everything back (see 16).

19.  Don’t fly American Airlines. Ever. Life is too short. Unlike their waiting times, while they try to fix mechanical faults.

20.  Don’t watch FOX news. It is not good for your blood pressure.

21.  Do watch Suits (hot lawyers), The Good Wife (more hot lawyers), Law and Order: SVU (hot lawyers and cops with a mutilated body every episode), Mistresses (best garbage on TV), How to Get Away with Murder (or How to Get Away with Stretching a Weak Premise to its Limit), Chasing Life (the sometimes upside of cancer).

22.  Don’t give your phone number to anyone after 4am. You really will get a call the following morning from a stranger whose opening gambit will be: “Hi, we met on the subway last night.”  Some of us have learnt the hard way.

23.  Join Chelsea Piers. It is by far the best gym/sports venue in the city. Don’t opt for the “Are you happy to go circular?” in the pool. It is really a Jaws remake.

24.  The answer to anyone asking “D’you want to join me in a shot?” should always be NO. Shots are the Devil’s work.

25.  You will never bump into Jimmy Fallon. Be content with breathing the same air. Anything else is delusion.

26.  Central Park is full of mosquitoes and thousands of people who run or cycle in the opposite direction from the one in which you are traveling.

27.  Never spell with two LLs where one will do.

28.  They love Brits here. And I mean really love us. If in doubt, put on your best Downton Abbey accent. You will get everything for free.

29.  Address everyone as “Sir” or “Madam”, especially cab drivers. Over politeness goes a long way here – unless it is interpreted wrongly, in which case you will be stabbed.

30.  ENJOY! You are embarking on a great adventure that you will love! The UK’s loss is New York’s gain *sings Star Spangled Banner while saluting*. Oh yes, I forgot. Learn the damned words to that.