The mission

Armed with juice, bagel and blueberry muffin, Maggie O'Farrell tries her hand as a latterday Holly Golightly
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Indy Lifestyle Online
he film never really did it for me. But I accept a mission to have

breakfast at Tiffany's, the New York jewellery store, with a certain amount of excitement. After all, it's not every day I get to tread in Audrey Hepburn's footsteps.

New York is undergoing a period of freak, glacier-destroying weather. The sidewalks of Fifth Avenue are gridlocked with herds of mid-western teenagers who, moving in a kind of molecular structure, refuse to let go of each other. It takes me five minutes to battle my way to the revolving doors of the city's most famous Aladdin's cave. A doorman appears, a la Mr Ben, so I accost him. "Hellah," I say, once more vexed at how my voice mysteriously mimics the Queen's as soon as I so much as set foot on American soil. "Is it possible for me to have breakfast here?" He closes his eyes for so long I begin to think he's forgotten about me. "No," he sighs eventually, with the air of a man who's heard enough rat and super-rat jokes to last him a diamond's lifetime. "Haven't you got a cafe?" I ask. "Only for employees." "So I'd have to join the staff if I wanted to have breakfast here?" He considers this for another extraordinary length of time. "Ye-es," he concedes.

Requiring a more immediate solution, I head out into the seething mob, returning five minutes later with a brown bag containing orange juice, a cream cheese slathered bagel and a blueberry muffin. I sail smugly past the doorman and the counters full of overpriced glitz, straight to the lift.

The lift attendant is either very stupid or a CIA member fallen on hard times - possibly both. "Are you going up?" I enquire. "Are you going up?" she counters. There is a pause. We glare at each other. "Am I going down?" she asks me, her confidence evidently crumbling. Or maybe this is just a trick. "I don't know," I say, warily, "are you?" She looks confused. I take the stairs.

On the second floor, I skulk about in the Sterling Silver Accessories, scuffling in my paper bag. I have just bitten off a rather large piece of muffin when the man next to me shouts, apparently at me, "We never talk about our private lives!" I turn, startled, my mouth crammed with dry blueberries. He is holding a gun-carriage keyring in one hand and a small crystal owl in the other. Then the man behind him claps him on the pin-striped shoulder: "Neither we do, bud, neither we do," he bellows. I walk away very fast.

To escape the lunatics, I take a seat on an alarmingly upholstered sofa in the centre of the floor. It's time to take the breakfast bull by the horns. No more scuffling. I extract the bagel and the juice from the bag with a flourish and balance them on my knees. Within microseconds I am surrounded by about five assistants who would scare the Stepford Wives: "Excuse me ma'am, excuse me." How can you admonish someone for illegally eating breakfast in your breakfast-free store and still address them as "ma'am"? "Yes?" I say. "We'd rather you didn't do that in here oh no," one of them parrots. "Why?" They falter and cast uncertain looks at each other. "We'd rather you didn't do that in here," the ringleader repeats, and they all nodding-dog their heads, relieved to be back on track. I gather up my breakfast and sweep down the stairs, past the doorman and out into the street. I finish my bagel, glowering, crouched by the side of the street under the Tiffany's sign. Call-girl or no call-girl, Holly Golightly never got this kind of treatment