Nous sommes arrivés

Brooklyn 27th August

Yes, it’s French (for we have arrived) – we are posh, intellectually sophisticated, speak many different languages, we are very erudite and know how to engage with the ‘right’ audience.    And of course that includes you ..  as we know parental bereavement knows no class, no race, no faith, nor language barrier.

Anyway, we have touched down, landed and been collected from the airport by our lovely nephew Jonny and his family Rachel, Eli and Naomi.   Jonny is Josh’s cousin (he has 6 overall) and has grown up in the states since my brother moved here in the 1980’s.    Our first stop then is at their (very nice) town house in Brooklyn where both Jonny and Rachel are teachers.    Completely knackered but relieved( oh so relieved) to have got through US immigration and Customs without a hitch.  (There’s a back story here – I had been seriously paranoid about not been allowed into the states to make a film and had applied for a journalists visa which was then rejected – but my details would then be on file as were my finger prints and retina scan so we had anticipated a long drawn out interview of what was the purpose of our visit – with all this camera gear we certainly look like professionals and yes we are here to do a job – this is not just a holiday – sorry ‘vacation’).  As it happened the immigration officer was all smiles – an elderly Al Pacino type with a proper New Joisey twang – and we spent our few moments with him joking about retirement and his shift patterns until he waved us through.   Have a nice day y’all… !   Oh why was I sorry worried but I must thank all those who in our moment of panic sent letters of support emphasising the research rather than filmmaking aspects of our project.  In particular thanks to Julia Weston of the WCMT who was on the receiving end of my almost tearful phone call  from a cafe just by the US embassy in London and was a truly calming voice.

It is now just 5.30 in the morning and our body clocks have to yet to get adjusted.   The first time I came to New York (1981) I was greeted by Jonny’s uncle and grandfather Ross.   I remember being slightly non plussed by the way they invited us to hold hands and sit in silence for a while before we started in on our meal, something we never do at home and which seemed to me to be replacement for a grace and the need to thank God for the bounties before us.   Last evening we held hands again – six of us around the table, two young children (Naomi never knew Josh) their Mom and my not so young nephew taking on the role of a gentle patriarch – but now this quiet everyday ritual felt much more significant and has got me thinking about the role of ritual and the grounding it can bring to lives that have been so disrupted.    More of that later I suspect.

Concerned about the news from Roanoke in Virginia where we shall be meeting another of our contributors in a few days time.

Thanks for reading


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