Off to New York

 The poet laureate is Carol Ann Duffy.    Thankfully.  Andy Burnham thought better than to give us a clue when i saw him last night though he so nearly did.  Besides  being the culture secretary Andy Burnham is also the MP for Leigh, my home town. How bizarre!   It’sbeen a full-on  week.  Tuesday was the end of the  opportunity for Gil Scott Heron fans to hear the documentary I made. It was taken from the BBC website seven days afterbroadcast as usual.

The poem is now upon the BBC website with other poets.   I became the North West’s ambassador for Antony Gormley’s  4th plinth sculpture for Trafalgar Square entitled  One and Other. Click here  for details.  It is a beautiful idea and was covered in the Manchester Evening News .  Also  I read, as reported here on the blog, at the TUC’s congress hall. What I didn’t say is that the minister for cabinet affairs  and Ruth Kelly, and Tony Benn were in the audience alongside the cleaners union of Barking.

Just before we board the flight to New York  I receive some great pictures from the photo shoot yesterday. I sit on the plane and all is well as the  list of things to do pixelates  in my head and  the iphone switches  off. But the plane seat won’t recline and there’s no possibility of moving. Virgin verging on the ridiculous!   On arrival in New York we merge in the passport line with a flight from Cancun Mexico. There’ss a crick in my back andthe men women and children in the que are wearing facemasks.   We all look like we are in a freakin hospital qeue at accident and emergency. Welcome to America.

This four day break is a birthday present  to The journalist.  We are staying at the park central hotel on seventh avenue.  Newark airport is sixty dollars away from the Midtown four star hotel.  Rain pours and sounds like applause. The taxi’s  Window wipers slide back and forth like the arms of fans held in the air as the concert of new York playson. The park central hotel waits to greet us both. Finally we are here. Once in the room the Journalist and I kick back and let the akward journey slide from us.  I am moments away from my brother and my mother and my friends and I am  happy to be here, a home from home.

Quite wonderfully Pen World Voices Festival of International Literature is on in NY at the moment as is Tribeca film festival. I have good friends at both. One, Lisa Dwan,   isinterviewing Salman Rushdie and the other has a hit film  Only When I Dance  on at Tribeca - perfect. Lots of other friends who live in new York. I am looking forward to the next fewdays unfolding like a  hand before it shakes mine.