The city's creatures great and small

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Manhattan is a conspiracy designed to make you feel inadequate, unhip and socially unconnected. When I walk out of my apartment at night, it's usually to buy milk at the deli around the corner or walk the dog.

Manhattan is a conspiracy designed to make you feel inadequate, unhip and socially unconnected. When I walk out of my apartment at night, it's usually to buy milk at the deli around the corner or walk the dog. While I am scraping poo from the pavement, the passing limos are filled with giggling giraffes hustling to some glamourous velvet-rope reception. I am convinced of it.

Giraffes, if you are wondering, are what I call those impossibly tall and gorgeous young women that seem to get invitations to all the best clubs and parties, precisely because they are impossibly tall and gorgeous. Where do they all come from, I want to know?

And damn the Manhattan media, meanwhile, which seem intent on reminding the sad, not-so-fabulous, people like me what we are missing. The gossip column known as "Page Six" in the New York Post is a daily torture, describing every social event of the previous night that somehow you managed to miss. (The "invitation-lost-in-the-post" line wore thin sometime last century.)

Even the girls in Sex and the City, though I loved them, were in on the plot. Their Manhattan was not quite the same as mine. It rained champagne for them, while for the rest of us it just rains. And now we are subjected to Bergdorf Blondes, a new novel by Vogue contributing editor Plum Sykes (worse, she is British too) about the cosmo-shenanigans of not just giraffes, but very rich Park Avenue giraffes.

Bergdorf Goodman, of course, is a department store across the road from Tiffany's that sucks money from your pockets just for window shopping. I will just have to accept my diminished place in Manhattan's social firmament. Call me a Bloomingdales Baldy, if you like.

All right, so I am not bald quite yet and my Manhattan nightlife isn't quite the wilderness I make it out to be. But if I do darken the occasional celebrity event it is by nature only of my job. Foreign correspondents do get asked out with the stars from time to time.

Let me think. There was the awards night not long ago where I brushed shoulders with the Sex and the City girl herself, Carrie Bradshaw (aka Sarah Jessica Parker) and Ab Fab's Joanna Lumley. I have sat beside Cameron Diaz at a premier night (it was her movie - a comedy - so laughter was obligatory) and at another film opening I was able to introduce my star-struck son to Will Smith. A few years back, but the night is well worth remembering, I got very drunk indeed with Hugh Grant in Brooklyn.

These invitations come in waves and, depending on my mood, I sometimes succumb, retrieve my only suit or black tie from the back of the wardrobe and go along. I rarely end up writing a thing about them. But they offer an hour or two of free food and drink and I am as happy as anyone to brag the following day to my friends about the famous people I have met.

Last week was a fairly vintage one, in fact. On Monday I found myself backstage at Carnegie Hall after a recital by Bryn Terfel, the Welsh opera star. Among the guests at the after-party were the actor Alan Alda and someone you might not know yet but will very soon, Mark Burnett. He is the producer of The Apprentice, the reality show starring Donald Trump that has broken all records here. It has just been bought by Auntie and will air soon on BBC2. (What has happened to BBC2 in my absence?)

With barely enough time to catch my breath - but enough time to brag - I found myself the following night at the red-carpet opening of the new and seriously flashy flagship store in New York, on Fifth Avenue, of the Italian fashion house, Ermenegildo Zegna. Why so many paparazzi at the door, I wondered? Apparently, I was the last person on the planet to know that Zegna currently owns Adrien Brody - the Oscar-winning star of The Pianist - as its main model. Adrien was nice but what makes him such a stud I am hard pressed to understand. I will tell you this: he has the biggest nostrils I have ever seen.

My pug has just been de-balled

Have I mentioned my pug yet? He loves me rather less than he used to after his "operation" last week. He has just been de-balled. Literally. I had assumed that the vet would simply snip a tube or two. But no, he returned home bereft completely of everything that used to jiggle proudly between his hind legs.

At least I don't dress him up. They do this in New York. Last October, I took him to a pug-meet in the dog run at Madison Square Park, which I had seen posted on the internet. They happen monthly. I had failed to notice that the gathering was Halloween-themed. There were Satan pugs, bat pugs with wings and even a pug done up as a bumble bee. Mine was naturist pug.

But nothing prepared me for the nuttiness of the pet fashion show put on by Macy's a couple of Sundays ago in Herald Square to welcome the arrival of spring. Paraded on the stage were Barbie poodles, a pot-bellied pig as an Easter Bunny and a ferret in primrose bonnet. The prize for inventiveness surely went to the woman from Washington DC who had turned her Labrador into what at first sight looked something like a toilet brush flattened by a roller. In fact, his front half was meant to be a lion and his rear a lamb. You remember what they say about March: in like a lion, out like a bog brush. Poor animal.