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Park Life

sunny 31 °C

Today I had a much slower day in mind, instead of walking on busy streets I would explore New York City's parks.

Well before I could get to that I had a court appointment. No I hadn't done anything wrong. I was invited by a fellow race contestant, Jim, who is a member of the Newport Running Club who I had been running with the night before and a former District Attorney who now practices civil law as an Attorney, to tour the New York State Supreme Court in Queens where he now works. This court happens to be the setting for hit US legal drama The Good Wife.

I had been hoping to see an American court in action at some point so I grabbed the chance to be shown around by an insider. We put ourselves in one of the principal court rooms where a personal injury matter was being tried, note by a jury and not a judge. We spent sometime here and I was relatively stunned - it is how it looks in the movies! The theatre of a US courtroom is not created by the costumes the lawyers wear or by incisive questions and use of silence as we do back home. Here the theatre is manufactured by the lawyers themselves in the way they conduct themselves. "Objection!" to this or that. Arms flailing recklessly and in all manner of directions when a question is asked and endless pacing around a lectern. What is the effect of all this showbiz? Well whatever it is, it must have been lost in translation - I unable to keep pace with where the jury was being taken, questions being fired off so fast that the central message behind them was never explored and consequentially a case that was not advanced successfully. I was even taken behind the scenes to the chambers of The Hon. Roger N. Rosengarten, the presiding judge. My entry was preceded by Jim waving across the room, pointing at me and a casual wave coming from the bench. Jim may well have stuck his hand in the aim and yelled, "Yooowhoo, Judgey, ok if we come over?"

So how would I summarise what I saw? In one word: charmless - whether it was the lack of poise and timing in the delivery of questions or the chummyness with witnesses, but what personified it was the lazy and uninterested way some attorneys would address the judge and court slouched down at their desks. Far from it for me to take this critique further (I'll save it for the memoirs) - it's time to get to Manhatten

My first stop was the Highline on the Lower East side (http://www.thehighline.org/). The Highline is a public parks/art project, which when completed will have converted a former above-ground railway line into a public park. The idea is an excellent piece of urban redevelopment. The park principally consists of decking walkways surrounded by wild flowers and grasses, with original tracks preserved as a tribute to the park's former life. At the moment only ten streets of highline has been redeveloped, but if in New York, it is another great freebie worth visiting.

After a slow wander along the Highline I caught the Metro up to 103rd Street on the north western side of Central Park. Central Park is desribed by some as being New York's heart, by others its lungs. Whatever you choose to describe it as, it is a fantastic place to escape the city's urgency and unending pace. I wandered relatively aimlessly, my only chosen direction being south and stopped at the Jackie Kennedy Resevoir, the Lake and the larger open areas to rest my legs - for a moment, just a moment, I thought I had lost the city's noise, but it soon returned and with it I made my way down to Columbus Circle.

I've received endless advice whilst I've been here, all of which I welcome of course, but it I apply a filtering system otherwise I'd get nowhere. Well some advice I've received is that if I hope to avoid being a victim of crime in the city I should appear like a New Yorker and I've also been told that I should only approach women for directions. The reason I raise this is because it turns out I get asked for directions a lot. Am I playing the role of fearless, but super-knowledgeable New Yorker too well or could I do with prancing around just a little less?

M

Posted by MattOGrady 21:05 Archived in USA

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