From the November 1966 magazine.

A Bat in Old New York

An Englishman who hated the city ten years ago looks again

A DECADE ago I traveled from England to spend three weeks in New York with friends who lived down by Greenwich Village. The trip was, in practically every sense, unsuccessful, and this was certainly no fault of my host and hostess, who were generosity itself. Almost every night we visited the theater. By day, I was shown the sights. Promptly on the stroke of five, the cocktail hour allowed me legitimately to top up my flagging batteries, and to drink enough to plunge those theater evenings into a haze of rosy, cosy muzziness. Now and then, I went off during the daytime to establish what I claimed were business contacts. These excursions invariably led me to convenient bars.

For the first week my behavior was exemplary, or almost. Apart from excessive fatigue and a general nervousness, all went well. I had decided quite early on, however, that nothing about New York was to my liking. The height of the buildings. I said, coupled with the lack of green-growing things, gave me claustrophobia; New Yorkers were disinterested, self-centered beings with whom I had nothing in common. My attitude towards them in return was condescension itself. Furthermore, I said, tut-tutting in a way in which I was eventually to become expert, there were too many drunks around. I recall entering a church on Fifth Avenue, in search of I cannot imagine what. I was appalled when a man suddenly rose from the pew in which he had been resting and pursued me along the aisle. The red of his eyeballs haunted me for years after--still does, in fact.

-- Ronnie H.

London, England

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