New York lifestyle

Weekly drawings in The Times to illustrate a column by Joanna Coles about life in the Big Apple.

Considering I had no concept of New York life, had never even watched Sex in the City and had only about four hours from Joanna’s weekly briefing phonecall to the moment a messenger arrived to collect my finished drawing, I feel quite proud of this particular collection of drawings.

I was helped by the fact that, for a wordsmith, Joanna was remarkably visual. She helpfully described the details of style of every setting and attitude of every character I needed to portray.

The couple dining in the restaurant, she said, would be smart, gay, fortyish, in matching black polo-necks. The waiter would be a wannabe actor with ponytail and in-your-face dramatic style (since, who knows? these diners might be tv series commissioners) and the menu design would be equally extrovert. One diner might be totting up the prices on his blackberry. And (the point of this particular article) there, just out of sight, lurked the cockroaches and rats, as perhaps they do most of the world over, even in what I supposed to be a city of great wealth and glamour.

There seems to be a law of inverse proportions that apply to Manhattan mothers and their babies: the thinner the mother, the fatter the infant

Looking through these articles twenty years on, how clear it is that so many entertaining quirks we then thought of as American peculiarities have now become everyday throughout mainstream UK culture today.

Designer swimming pools now cost in excess of $1 million: the fad is for black gunite walls which make the water look inky. As for the garden, the latest gimmick is ‘backyard concepts’ – ie landscapers are paid to recreate a little patch of Ancient Greece or part of the forum in Ancient Rome.
New York networking: if your resumé fails to impress, the eyes cloud quickly, the lips purse with impatience to escape. The panic is not even subtle. The vein on his or her forehead pulses a distress signal: I should be talking to someone more important.
There is one commodity that NewYork parents must never run out of – praise. Your children must be lathered in it at all times, no matter how miniscule their achievement.
A staggering 40% of American homes with children also contain a gun
Men are the new single women. For the first time, men in their late twenties are experiencing ‘dating vulnerability’.