When you’re in the midst of turmoil, it’s difficult to understand what the rest of the world thinks about it. When I was sitting at my desk in London in July 2005 trying to catch up with the terrorist attacks on the capital’s transport system, it was hard to get a sense of how the rest of the world was reacting. Did they see it as a continuation of the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001, or were they thought of as isolated incidents with no real connection to the world at large?
On a wholly different level, when I first realised that there was a vague possibility that my hairline was imperceptibly moving backwards, it was a dark day in the Brit Out Of Water household. Tears were shed, and innocence was lost. Admittedly, this might just have been me, but it felt like a big thing at the time. Clearly, when you’re in the middle of something, it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees.
Talking to She Who Was Born To Worry over the weekend, I casually mentioned that the weather was awful, with driving wind and rain.
“I know, it looks pretty nasty,” she commented.
“What do you mean? Have you secretly been popping over here for a bit of shopping?”
“No no, I’ve just been watching the news about America’s financial collapse. New York’s on its knees begging for mercy, you know.”
Sure enough, with the recent travails of Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley et al, New York has been the focus of the world over the last few weeks. While I’ve been complaining about chocolate brownie munching commuters or waiters washing their hands, the Big Apple has been crumbling around me.
Indeed, as far as She Who Was Born To Worry is concerned, New York is currently in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. The United Nations are airdropping bagels and coffee into the outer reaches of Brooklyn, while desperate
queueslines are forming outside pizza places across the city, out of fear that mozzarella rationing is about to be instituted.
I tell you, if SWWBTW is right, Sir Bob Geldof is on the verge of getting on a plane over here to put on a fundraising concert with Phil Collins and the remnants of Queen.
Bono’s apparently up for it, but only if organisers will guarantee the availability of pancakes and maple syrup. The way things are going in New York, nothing’s certain.