NY Snapshots. The One Where We Meet Frances

1 February
I’ve had a hankering to visit the Metropolitan Opera ever since Loretta Castorini met Ronny Cammareri there in ‘Moonstruck’. Tom and I have skipped the fancy dress because (1) we’re still battling with freezing New York temperatures and (2) we’re waaaay up in the Gods in the cheap seats, but the Met doesn’t disappoint. Even though, this high up, we can see water damage on the gilded ceiling, it’s still a magnificent venue and the famous crystal chandeliers, which rise up as the production begins, are truly amazing.

We’re here to see a new production of ‘Carmen’. For me, Carmen is two ok-ish tunes and a load of padding. Don’t even get me started on the story. But Tom’s a fan and I’m happy to see more or less anything just to be here. The production begins with a dramatic pas-de-deux in a gash of crimson lighting, foreshadowing trouble ahoy. I’m surprised by how well we can see; I thought they’d all look like microdots from here. The seats are comfortable, we’ve got free playbills, it’s a visual treat and the musicians are superb. What more could you want?

Well, actually, Tom’s been watching the repeats of theoretical physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku's series of programmes on time and would quite like to meet him one day. As we stand up for the interval who should I spot – also in the cheap seats – but Dr. Kaku himself!! Since we would have to clamber over several people to get to Dr. Kaku, we decide it would be better (and a lot more polite) to sit tight, but what are the chances of that happening? And does string field theory explain it?

2 February
Working out the probability of meeting Frances today is a lot easier because we’ve already arranged it. We’re meeting at the other Met (so confusing!; the Metropolitan Museum of Art except that it’s further along Fifth Avenue than we anticipate and we end up hoofing past Central Park at a rate of knots. Even so, we’re five minutes late and I’m mortified, given that Frances has given up her precious time to be with us.

I have absolutely no problem spotting Frances who looks just like the photo on her blog. Chic, petite with a lovely smile, glossy dark hair and beautiful eyes, Frances is absolutely delightful company and it’s like meeting an old friend. Tom and I are incredibly privileged because Frances once worked at the Met so we receive a lively and informative tour of the museum and its stunning collections. Something of our enjoyment rubs off on one of the attendants, an African man with a big smile, we meet in a glass lift. He’s so caught up in our conversation that he follows us out then looks perplexed. ‘What am I doing out here?’ he asks, laughing. ‘I’m supposed to be in there! I was so interested in what you were saying, I forgot what I was doing!’

We forget time, in Frances’s company. Suddenly it’s four o’clock. After a quick peek at the Guggenheim and a failed attempt by Frances to blag a brief glimpse of the interior spiral (what a hard-hearted attendant to resist!) we are back on Fifth Avenue. Frances goes to catch her bus and Tom and I start walking. In some ways it all feels very normal, as if we’ve just said goodbye to a friend who lives round the corner and yet very soon we’ll be 3000 miles away. But what a way to spend our last full day in New York.

The next post concludes my snapshots from New York.

The photo shows the view of our hotel (a smaller dark, glass building near the centre of the picture) from the 'tippy-top' of the Empire State building. We hadn't planned to go up, but walked past on a brilliantly clear day... and, my goodness, were we glad we did!

Frances has a photo of us on her blog - my camera decided not to play inside the Met!


JJ Beattie said…
Right, that's me singing 'Toreador' for the rest of the day!

Oh, it's so lovely reading about your trip - almost as good as going myself.
mountainear said…
I'm even more envious now - Both the 'Mets' and Carmen.

Had a good look at your photograph - it does look cold - something about the quality of the light.
Frances said…
Chris, I so agree with you. We really did have a splendid day at the Met, and time really did speed past us.

Yes, when we had those hugs and I went to hop on the crosstown bus, I just had the feeling that I'd pend the day with old friends, and that I'd be seeing them again soon.

Preseli Mags said…
How lovely to meet Frances! Phew what a view from the Empire State building. I bet that was a trip and a half. I'm with you on Carmen (I'd argue there's three good songs) but what an experience to see it at the Met. What a coincidence to bump into Dr Kaku like that (I might have to find out what string field theory is!)
her at home said…
it al soounds very exciting ! Lucky you!!
gaelikaa said…
Wow! Sounds like you had a fantastic time! I had a peep at your novel from the chapter given and I loved it! Well done, Chris!
Pondside said…
I'm with you - I'd have listened to a rendition of Mother Goose rhymes if I could sit at the Metropolitan Opera!
It sounds as though you squeezed every bit of pleasure out of The Big Apple!
Pipany said…
Why aren't your blogs showing up on the blogline thingy Chris? Hmm, off for a catch up now. Lovely to have met dear Frances though x
toady said…
Sooooo jealous - New York and meeting our dear Frances. I'd go myself but 1. can't afford it at the mo and 2. Can't bear the thought of flying. Dream on!!
Irish Eyes said…
Glorious and I love Carmen. Indeed, our Frances is a treasure and we on the 'Coo are lucky to have her as a friend.
Fennie said…
I'll have to learn about crystal chandeliers rising up - maybe I should ask Frances - who does really seem like an old friend. Who will be next to New York, I wonder?
Lane said…
And you met on the blogs? How wonderful.

That's the best thing about this internet thing, isn't it. Well, that and Scramble:-)
bradan said…
Stunning photograph! And lovely to read about your meeting with Frances and that it felt like meeting an 'old friend'- very envious actually!
ChrisH said…
Sorry about that, JJ!

Mountainear, it was probably reflecting off my blue face!

Frances, I'd like to think we could do it all again.

Mags, the trip to the tippy-top costs more, but worth every penny. Meeting Frances? Priceless!

HAH, Yes, I do feel very fortunate.

gaelikaa, shucks! Thanks for doing that and saying such nice things.

Pondside, definitely! Just to sit there was wonderful.

Pipany - I didn't know they weren't. Perhaps I'm being censored?!

Toady, we could only do it because we sold the boat, but it was worth every penny. I don't especially like flying, but at least I'm ok about it. Hard luck, though, if , like my MIL, it's something you're really afraid of.

IE, Tom and I certainly felt lucky that day. Frances was wonderful company.

Fennie - have a look online! It's stunning!

Lane, we did! And we just turned up and met for the first time and I felt as if I'd know Frances for years - strange but wonderful (the experience, that is - not Frances, who is not in the slightest bit strange!!).

Bradan, it's true that one way and another, such views and such meetings come few and far between so I've been trying to preserve the memories.
We wanted the opera experience at the Met too, but they were playing 'House of the Dead'and we didn't fancy that. But we spent nearly five hours (which included lunch in the cafe) looking at the art. Fantastic place.
Elizabethd said…
That sounds like a day to remember. How lovely to meet Frances, such a special lady.
Cottage Garden said…
I've relly enjoyed this tour of NYC with you Chris and so envious of your trips to both Mets!
Glad you met up at last with the fair Frances!

Jeanne x
elizabethm said…
It sounds truly fab. I'm not a carmen fan either but I wouldnt have cared. And the combination of meeting Frances and the guided tour of MOMA sounds like heaven.
So glad you had such a great time, and only a very little bit envious!
Debs said…
It all sounds so wonderful. I want to go back there, now.

I was hoping to visit the Guggenheim, but didn't get round to it. Definately next time.
LittleBrownDog said…
What a fab trip that sounds, and a wonderful photo for that last day. I just knew Frances was going to be lovely. Glad you had such a brilliant time - much better than poor old pig boat, eh?
Kitty said…
So much to comment on in my brief stop-by to say hello - Moonstruck, I watched it again recently to cheer up a cold afternoon's ironing marathon. Ah, Loretta in that beautiful dress, Ronny in his Tux. That's when Nicolas Cage was handsome.
And meeting Frances - lucky, lucky you. (And lucky, lucky her meeting you too).
And the book! A chapter to read... I'm saving that one for a quiet moment later, with great anticipation.
雪糕 said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ChrisH said…
Rosie, yes, I think we got the better deal with Carmen!

Elizabeth, yes, we were fortunate to meet our lovely Frances.

Jeanne, thank you m'dear.

Debs, it's impossible to fit it all in in one trip - good reason to go back!

LBD, - yep! Much better than the pig boat!!

Kitty - it's one of my favourite pick you up films, so many great lines. (And, thank you!)

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