Mel sent it to me. She said she thought I’d like it. She wrote ‘Lovely film. Soul of the city’, obviously because she remembered my disappointment at the documentary I watched about New York City, and how I said I wanted to see something about the soul of the place rather than its logistical wrangling with the smooth functioning of social machinery.
It was called New York, I Love You. You’ve probably heard of it. You’ve probably even seen it. I expect everybody in the world but yours truly has seen it, because that’s usually the way with me. (I haven’t even watched Notting Hill yet.) And I did like it because it is a lovely film.
But you know what? For all the mix of drama and superficiality, for all the humour and pathos, for all the gauche erotica, for all the varied nuances of desire and affection, for all the random quirkiness (I like quirkiness, especially when it’s random), one uncharacteristically ordinary scene stood out because it reminded me of something I’d forgotten.
I remembered what a thrill it is to have a child take your hand and walk with you; to tell you what does and doesn’t make them tick; to ask you questions about what interests them; to grin at you through a gap in the front teeth when you’ve helped them through a difficulty they couldn’t quite navigate; to tell you without unnecessary words that you make life easier and they’re glad to have you around.
That’s what I’d forgotten. And you shouldn’t need to be in New York to remember that, should you?