Tag Archives: bronx

“The real king of England” on the BX10 bus in The Bronx

23 Jul

Got chatting to a funny-strange New Yorker on the bus tonight whom I almost offended when I lightheartedly accused him of speaking a corrupted version of the English language.

Turns out he’s originally English, from the illustrious locale of Bognor Regis, and moved to America when he was eight years old. He even slipped into an authentic English accent to prove his authenticity.

Anyway, wasn’t sure how much of his chitchat was the well-oiled claims of a pure fantasist and how much was in the realm of truth, but he claimed the following:

1) He attended William and Kate’s Royal Wedding, not as a mere flag-waving member of the hoi-poloi-riff-raff  in the street, but in Westminster Abbey as one of the esteemed invited guests.

2) His claim to fame? He is actually the ‘real king of England’ as his family, from Bognor Regis (Regis = king in Latin), can trace their lineage back to those natives who booted the Romans out of the land of pastures green somewhere way back in the early centuries of A.D., thus significantly pre-dating the Windsor dynasty currently presiding rather undemocratically over the kingdom.

I offered to bow down to him, but he politely demurred.

Meditation or a Big Mac?

3 May

Quick reappearance in world of blogs – as lightning finally strikes outside, breaking through a muggy New York night – to describe two radically contrasting approaches to life that hit me in the face today.

The first, I just saw on the BBC News website:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8652837.stm

This shows a hermit in India who claims to have lived for as many as 70 years without food or drink, having created enough energy to live through the power of meditation and his mind. As the BBC writes:

The holy man claims that he derives energy through meditation

The Indian army has now apparently installed a surveillance camera in his hospital room to see if his claims add up. To date, he’s on 108 hours under supervision without any food or water (and without passing any urine or stools).

The second: Walking home past a long line of motorists waiting in their cars to buy McDonald’s at a Drive-Through on Broadway, Bronx, New York.

That annoyingly true phrase “You are what you eat” came to mind.

I’m still Rebecca from the Block

16 Mar

No. 1 in a possible series of “Overheard on a Bronx-bound subway train”:

“Headin’ back to da block, man?”

Snippets like that make you realise that you’re really not in London any more.

On the subject of people ‘from the block’, apparently our dear Jennifer “I’m still Jenny from the Block” Lopez’s real-life ‘block’ somewhere in the Bronx is not rough at all. It seems she somewhat fabricated that inner-city deprived image of her home neighbourhood to score some ‘cool’ street-cred points with that vile – but annoyingly very catchy – song of hers. In reality, it seems, her neighbourhood is supposedly quite salubrious.

(For those fortunate few among us who don’t know the song in question, it’s basically our J-Lo saying she may now be stinking rich, living in the lap of luxury, but is still the same good old gal  – just to reassure us all that her mountains of wealth, diamond-encrusted sunglasses and pedigree poodles with mink fur coats haven’t gone to her head. Or as she puts it so prettily and pithily in her song: “Used to have a little, now I got a lot, I’m still Jenny from the Block.” Phew, we’re so relieved and reassured and happy for you, our Jenny.)

And while we’re on the subject of reassuring all you anxious souls in the face of the relentless cycle of change and transformation, I just wanted to emphasise that, just like J-Lo, I too am still good old Rebecca from the Block (but in my case, “used to have a little, still got a little”). I may now be living in New World, I may once have sojourned in Paris and Tel Aviv, but I’ve never forgotten my humble London NW11 roots.

a bus ride through an American fast-food, chain-store hell

2 Mar

I found myself on an agonisingly slow, very local bus last night, as one stage of a very long-winded journey to get home.

The bus took me through a string of unfamiliar commuter towns north of the Bronx, a surreal urban landscape I was only vaguely aware of at the start of the journey, being distracted as I was by the burblings of my I-pod and my meandering, slightly morose thoughts.

But as the bus lurched on interminably, my attention switched to what was going on outside the grimy window – and I found myself transfixed at the pure ugliness of the passing landscape. This was nothing but an American fast-food, chain-store dystopia. All I could see was an endless series of Dunkin’ Donuts, Wallgreens Drug Stores, McDonald’s, Baskin Robbins, Starbucks, Burger King, KFC…

I started to think the bus driver must be playing tricks with me and was going round in circles, because every time I got distracted and looked up again, there was another bloody Dunkin’ Donuts. Was someone teaching me a horribly cruel karmic lesson? Was I bound to remain trapped in this endless doughnut-shaped loop of fast food joints ?

And every single one of these depressingly uniform fast-food joints flashed that ubiquitous sign: OPEN 24 HOURS. Why do people need 24-hour access to doughnuts is my question? Can’t all those sorry, tired workers, paid a pitiful pittance of an hourly rate, just hang up their aprons and go home to bed? Would the world really fall apart at the seams?

This was a landscape where drive-thru, convenience, fast food and an overriding ugliness reigned supreme.

This was, I quickly decided, just the America I wanted to avoid.

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