An enormous die crashed into the sand with a thud, but what number would it land on?
The die is cast and it certainly does feel as if it has landed on an unlucky number…number 19! For the human race – is our number up…or is our way of living up?
It is a number that we will long remember along with the year 2020. One of my favourite memes of recent is one that says that there were 29 days in February and hundreds of days in March…could also be said for April although I can hardly believe that, as I type, it is the 28th of April.
On Tuesday night one of the local news agencies published a supposed report from the Government. It felt like the light at the end of the tunnel. After 31 days in full ‘stay safe’ mode with only being allowed to leave the house for shopping or medical treatment we were to be allowed to go out for a walk! To me this seemed the best news and went to bed excited about walking in the park or even getting my bike out. However, like so much of what we read, this article was not quite as good as it seemed. Yes, we could go out, but only to the gardens and areas around our buildings…it is a start. One positive was that the seed shops would be open allowing the farmers to get planting the vital crops.
Last night there was another announcement – this time I made sure that the same information was consistent in a variety of sources – and from May 4th we are beginning a gradual lifting of quarantine with small shops being allowed to open along with banks, dentists and ….hairdressers. We are waiting for full confirmation on where we will be able to walk and exercise…that park across the river is so tempting.
The news from many countries beginning to ease quarantine is positive. But the news from the UK is not so good with numbers of deaths rising daily, particularly with the elderly.
And so the die has been cast again and it is looking more favourable…but have we learnt a lesson from this? Only time will tell.
Manhattan was my first experience of America way back in 1995. It was the summer of the OJ Simpson trials, the city was changing under mayor Rudy Giuliani and the city was alive as it was Independence weekend. Along with my travel companion Irene, we walked the streets visiting landmarks and enjoying the ambiance of the celebrations. One landmark we did not visit, probably due to the long queues, was the Statue of Liberty. When a day out in New York from New Jersey was proposed visiting this symbol of America was top of my list. The ferry to the statue and Ellis Island were booked along with access into the statue itself to the pedestal (very limited access to the crown).
A short ride across New York Harbour at the mouth of the Hudson River lies Liberty Island. Frederic Bartholdi’s sculpture of a robed female figure bearing a torch and a tablet was a gift to the United States from France in 1886. Inscribed with the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4th 1776 the statue was a symbol of freedom and hope to the millions of immigrants arriving in the late 19th and 20th centuries.
This statue warmed the hearts of those new immigrants but the reality of starting their new lives would hit when they arrived at Ellis Island. This island which previously housed Fort George was to become the first port of call for over 12 million immigrants as they were processed at America’s busiest immigration inspection station from 1892 when it opened until 1954. Individuals and families were questioned and underwent medical inspections within the building which now houses exhibitions telling their stories. From the many reasons for immigration, the journeys they made and the struggles and challenges which faced them on arrival the audio and visual displays are a fitting tribute to these new citizens.
The day began with a lunch in a typical Manhattan pizza pie parlour and continued with dinner in China Town. Walking through the streets of China Town with offers of fake designer bags and watches and the array of random items in the shops around: I could have been in parts of Dubai or Hong Kong! The day ended with a visit to the razz-ma-razz heart of Manhattan, Time Square. With street performers and the array of flashing lights and images on the buildings on the square and the streets around it was a fitting end to a day of history and local colour.
New York, you have gone through some very difficult times since I saw you last. However, with your spirit of hope and the strength of your people you are bigger, better and continue to be an inspirational place to visit. I will see you again very soon.