It is three o clock in the morning; except it is eight o clock in the morning.
I have taken my iPad and sit hunched over it in the dark hotel room a couple of blocks from Central Park. Words woke me up insisting to be written, though it is dark outside in New York City, because the words are still on English time. hough, admittedly, they have slept in a little.
But this, I am informed, is the city which never sleeps. And on the walls of the comfortably dog-eared hotel where we are staying is more testament to this: prints of one of my favourite artists, Edward Hopper.
And inevitably, Nighthawks makes a show, Hopper’s iconic picture of middle-of-the-night customers, of a phenomenon we don’t have in England.
I speak, of course, of the diner.
But for Shrewsday’s, who love their stomachs, the Diner is a sub-category of tourism. We are fascinated by them because they do what the Brisish seem unable to do: provide good food cheap and fast in a no-frills setting.
We had a great flight and arrived in time for a stroll round Central Park, ambling like the pigeons without much of a sense if direction around this rather lovely piece if landscaping, unable quite to pinpoint the zoo where Alex the Lion lived.
At 3:20, our tummies thought it was seven, but that was ok. Because so did every diner in this great city, including the one at the end of the street in which our hotel stands.
We bagged the corner seat, at a glad right angle, on the corner of 57th. The perfect place to gawp at the taxis and the traffic lights and the crossings and the dogs trotting by on leads.
It was hot, and the waitress arrived immediately. That never happens in Britain. With four glasses of iced water on this hot day.
Which never happens in Britain. We gulped gratefully and perused the menu which had both healthy and unhealthy choices, extensive short-order possibilities, and that most certainly never happens in Britain.
I would kill for one of these in my town, I thought. I would never eat in.
We all chose the unhealthy choices, naturally,though we marvelled like true food tourists at a salad served in a bowl made out of cucumber strips and dutifully ate our greens.
The waitress did not know what Phil was ordering when he asked for scallops. But she persevered and served his with fries as requested-and fresh broccoli.
Truly, this is a wondrous city, for fresh broccoli is hard to find alongside chips in Britain.
And not only that, but if Edward Hopper is to be believed,I could potter down to the end of the street right now and stare soulfully through the glass with a cuppa cawfee.
Tourists value the strangest things. Central Park was really nice. But my favourite find of the day?