Today the Cotswolds starts its transformation into little Ireland with the first race in the Cheltenham festival, the week long horse racing event that brings in punters and trainers alike from across the Irish sea. The wine bar, as usual, will show the races on TV and provide an in-house bookie so the locals don’t have to brave the racecourse crowds thirteen miles down the road. But this year I will have to phone in my bet on Denman as I have traded in my bar stool for a seat on a flight to JFK. (Thing I love about my Cotswold town #389: being able to phone in a bet to my local wine bar.) In New York I can expect to find a week of confinement in the stale walls of a Time Square hotel conference room, to be followed by two consecutive evenings of steakhouse dinners where the most St Patrick’s Day merriment I can hope for is some green lager to wash down my boiled corn beef and cabbage special.
I find the fact that my company is choosing to hold this meeting in NYC and forcing me to attend work dinners in locations chosen by a secretary catering for the tastes of my predominantly forty-something male colleagues downright cruel (to think of all that New Yorker “Table for Two” reading gone to waste). I don’t mind so much when these meetings are held in the Boston suburbs where my expectations for free time are set no higher than an outing to the mall in the Hyundai rental car followed by a turkey melt from Marriott room service. But New York? I have old friends to catch up with, Tim Burton exhibits to line up for, and all of Central Park willing me to get lost in it jogging as is my tradition each time I visit.
Thankfully I have managed to eke out one opportunity for frivolity in the Big Apple, which presents itself tonite not long after I land. An old friend from Los Angeles (who once visited us in the Cotsies, as he calls it) who now lives in New York has, trading on his newfound local television celebritydom I like to think, scored tickets to a preview of Dame Edna’s new Broadway show. I am hopeful that this will be followed by a late dinner and drinks anywhere that’s not a steakhouse.