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New York magic

On our last night in New York, we had dinner with Ó [EPI’s daughter] in an atmospheric little Cuban restaurant in SoHo. Afterwards, we wandered up to Washington Square which was teeming with life … we were drawn to a corner of the park where a small crowd had gathered. Two guys were sitting strumming on guitars, a guy with a bongo drum sat nearby and a girl was doing a brilliant rendition of Summertime. As we came closer we saw that the girl had clearly just been passing through, heard those guys and started singing … she had on a jogging outfit and her backpack lay on the ground next to her.

When Summertime had finished, another guy in the crowd launched into a version of That’s Why They Call it the Blues, after which the girl with the backpack ad-libbed an incredible blues number that she and the guitar players made up on the spot. Everyone was completely in awe, and yet both she and the musicians and everyone else was caught up in the magic of the moment and just so … happy. And it dawned on the three of us that we were in the midst of a fabulous impromptu concert that was developing in a completely organic way.

Soon another guitarist joined the crowd – an older man, probably in his sixties, very intense. At first he just sort of stood on the periphery and joined in the strumming, but suddenly he asked if he could do a song. He then launched into one of the most powerful protest songs I’ve ever heard – I wish I could remember the lyrics, or even his name, because he was phenomenal. Clearly he was in town for the protests launched in connection with the UN assembly, and I can say without hestitation that this guy was one of the most brilliant lyricists I’ve ever heard [and as you may recall, YT is a huge fan of excellent lyrics].

When he’d finished, he immediately launched into a recital of a poem along the same lines, also phenomenal. Everyone was completely spellbound listening to him. An even larger crowd gathered – different people, of all races and from all walks of life, and everyone listened. As soon as he’d finished, the guys with the guitars started playing Imagine and almost everyone joined in. It was incredible, magical.

Anyway, we’re back home now and the weather that greeted us when we stepped out of the airport terminal was enough to make us turn and head straight back to New York. When we left the temps were probably in the 30s C [80s F] and we came back to stormy, rainy, grey weather – as uninviting as can be. Unsurprisingly, both EPI and I are still there in spirit and not only because of the weather – the city, with its electric energy, quite simply got under our skin.

I can’t wait to go back.

We’re in for more stormy weather in the east, with winds dying down in the south. More rain tomorrow afternoon. Currently 10°C [50F] and sunrise was at 7:24 am, sunset at 7:12 pm.

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