New Englishman in New York, Part 4: Return of the Tramp

Our Englishman is off to a seminar hoping to nail down that visa, while also embarrassing himself in front of famous folk and spotting a tramp on wheels who is also getting quite a name for himself.
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Sitting in

I”m to sit in on a seminar for a potential graduate university. I balls up the address so with 10 minutes to get there I’m at the wrong place, on the wrong side of Manhattan. Panic. Big panic. Life ending panic. If I miss this then it’s a bad mark on my name. No course. No visa. End of life.

I go to a taxi. Won’t accept cards. Stitch.

Find one. I ride the wave. Green lights all the way. Get in the building. Massive line for the lifts. I’m 5 mins late. It’s over. Everything is over. I get to the floor. Eyes darting and find the room. Steam in. Oh god. It’s probably a worse impression being late.

“Hi, I’m Tom Greaney.” She looks at me blankly. I’ve angered her. “Ok. Hello.” She’s not angry. “I’m here to sit in on a class.” “Oh, nobody told me. Welcome. Sit down. We will start in 5 minutes.”

Thats it and all is well. I don’t have a notebook. Just a used miniature 2008 diary which was my girlfriends. I find some free pages. If anyone asks, I’m using it to save paper. That’s the line. I’m a committed environmentalist. I do actually have a monthly 8 pound direct debit to Greenpeace that I keep meaning to cancel.

In any situation in life I give deference to everyone else in a room. Any room. Everyone is better then me. Everyone is a genius. I’m inferior and everyone knows it. I await the latecomers. Giving amazing backstories to everyone in the room. They are probably all highly intelligent brilliant young people.

Seminar begins. It all comes flooding back. Just like being at the old days. The awkward social skills of the seminar leader. The dominating dicks. My silence. (Although I’m supposed to be silent. It’s still very familiar.) The majority sat there silent, annoyed at the dominating dicks. Briefly falling in love with an average looking girl sat nearby. The offer at the end for a group meet up which I ignore.

Some things are different though. Many of the people have Apple macs which they are typing away on. I’m scribbling around phrases such as “Yoga” and “Lisa arrives?” from April 2008. It is also full of Americans. They put a few boots into “The Brits.” I’m fuming.

I’m mainly writing down big words I don’t understand that I can check later. Then I can formulate perfectly useless retorts which will never be heard. Thankfully it ends. Christ I hope I get in.

"I never do well with famous strangers. I’ve been in a queue with Chris Tarrant twice, I muttered something about bacon. Ballsed up a chat with Guy Garvey in a bar. I have previous."

Girl Guests

Girlfriend's friend arrives. I need to shower but I'm not allowed to until the friend arrives and I say hello. What sort of man showers on command?

So she arrives. I say hello. Nice hug. I like her, we get on. My girlfriend then says “Ok you can shower now.“ I turn silently and skip off to the shower.

Now, imagine this from the guests point of view.

She arrives. I hug her. Physical contact. I am then immediately told to shower.


I’ve got tickets for a live taping of the Colbert Report. My girlfriend is in a mood with me. She can’t come. Ill. She wouldn’t like it anyway. Her TV watching is regimented. Saved by the Bell in the morning. 902010 in the afternoon. Not the new versions of the show. The old versions. Brandon is an arse.

Anyway, it is a sickeningly long wait for the show. But we get front row seats. It sounds better than it is. The cameras are positioned in front of us. So I spend the entire time watching it on the screen. I could have done this at home.

Colbert comes out at the end and shakes peoples hands. He is doing the front row. I’ve got a few seconds to prepare myself. I never do well with famous strangers. I’ve been in a queue with Chris Tarrant twice, I muttered something about bacon. Ballsed up a chat with Guy Garvey in a bar. I have previous. Colbert is on his way. He is saying “Thank you” to everyone and shaking their hand. My mate goes for “Great show Steven.” Americans are so good in these situations. He did it perfectly.

My hand is out. Shake. Firm eye contact. He says “Thank you.” I shake back. Meet the eye contact. I open my mouth. This is it.

“Thank you.” I just said what he said back to me.

And he’s gone. I’d thought it out. Say something funny. He likes it. Hires me. Gives me a Green Card. But he’s gone.

Homeless man on a bike 2

The homeless bearded bike man turns up again. I get a better look at him. He is young. My age. Itʼs a decent bike. Better than any bike Iʼve ever had. I once got my friend's bike for Christmas. Second hand. Anyway he goes through the same questions as last time.

“Can I have money?” “Can I have a drink?”

The agreed American way, so iʼm told, is to just totally ignore a homeless person who begs. As if they donʼt exist. So the people Iʼm with do that. As if he were not there. I smile and shake my head.

No snidey comment from him this time. Just cycles off. Now if you read the last interaction we had you would say, “This is your chance”. A chance to say what you wanted to say last time. A second chance. People donʼt normally get them.

Naturally I do nothing. I mumble to my girlfriends sister, who is staying with us at the moment.

“Heʼs asked us before.”

Sounding like some pathetic tramp spotter. I then say to her. “He should sell his bike.” It barely registers.

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