A New Englishman in New York Part 25: The Travelling Granny Who Hates Everything

This week our man in the Big Apple gets stuck in conversation with the most miserable, yet well travelled woman on earth. A bit like Johnny Cash as an old granny...
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This week our man in the Big Apple gets stuck in conversation with the most miserable, yet well travelled woman on earth. A bit like Johnny Cash as an old granny...


It is the festive period so my wife and I are heading up town for a dinner with some old family friends of hers. I’ve been coaxed into this with the carrot of the Red Snapper at the St Regis hotel bar, the bar where the first Bloody Mary was made.

The drink is a massive let down. I love a Bloody Mary but this is essentially half a pint of Worcestershire sauce in a wine glass. The wife suggests I complain, but I refuse to accept this as a man made a mistake and just presume that the first Bloody Mary was rubbish.

On we go to the dinner. Crowd of about 12 people. Having had dinner everyone gets up from the table and starts socialising.

I walk up to my wife who is talking to an old lady by a table where all the desserts have been laid out.

“So where in China did you live?” asks the old lady.

It is at this point I notice her mouth is caked in chocolate from the dessert.

“In Shanghai and Beijing.” My wife replies.

“Be more precise I’ve been to China over 25 times.” Says the old lady pretty curtly.


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Intrigued I move into the conversation and start talking to the old lady I’d previously written off.

It turns out, much like Johnny Cash, she has been everywhere.

She then begins to give me a lowdown and her opinion of all the places she has travelled. What is key here is that she doesn’t use words. She says the name of a country and then explains her opinion on it with different types of facial expressions.

“Boliva?” She says, as she rolls her eyes. Assumed as bad.

“Brazil?” Big eye roll. Assumed as very bad

“Argentina?” Nod and slight smile. Assumed as good.

“I’ve always wanted to go there.” I say.

The wife comes back into the conversation

The old woman continues to list countries and moving her face

“Croatia?” Slight smile. Assumed as quite good.

“Czech Republic?” Biggest eye roll yet. Assumed awful.

The wife cuts in and says “Oh I lived in Prague for a year.”

The old lady never to be outdone replies. “I have two friends there. I don’t keep in contact with them.”

“Oh” replies the wife

“Yes, I don’t like people. I like to be alone.” Says the old lady.

This begs the question, why am I locked in small talk with her next to the fruit salad?

She continues. “I have friends in Japan. I don’t keep in touch with them. I know people in China and I don’t keep in contact with them either.”

She begins a long list of countries that she knows people in and confirms that she doesn’t speak to them.

“They write to me, but I don’t write back.” She says proudly.

In an effort to change the conversation my wife ventures a compliment.

“Oh, I love your necklace.” She says.

“You do? I stole it off a woman in the street in Tibet.” Replies the old woman.

In an effort to end this mental conversation, I make some excuses and end our interaction by saying “Well, maybe we will see you one day in Argentina.”

“I’ll probably get there before you.” She says.

The amazing race, with the amazing granny.