Helen Cox is a UK author. She made her on-screen debut in The Krankies in 1990. Given the choice, her Mastermind topic would be Grease 2 and when someone asks her if she is a god she says 'yes.' Oh, you want to know about her books? Best click some of the links below.
An extract from my travel journal, November 3rd 2015
The Skylight Diner on 34th Street has an almost identical name to the diner featured in my fiction work: The Starlight Diner. Today, I stumbled across it, quite by accident, and on seeing its blue, neon sign blazing at me, I nearly squealed.
Alright. I really squealed but it was a one time thing.
Inside, The Skylight Diner boasts an impressive amount of razzmatazz. The seats are upholstered in a black fabric with silver glitter woven into it. The floor is tiled rather than covered in tatty lino, and neon lights have been fitted to brighten the scene. Artistic, black and white photographs of various New York landmarks adorn the walls. All of the fixtures are silver – probably aluminium – and gleam in the light.
Such small, but dazzling, details are uplifting on a day like today. When outside the sky is overcast with the gauze of low cloud and a grey filter darkens the city. Is there anywhere I’d rather be than New York right now? No. But when you’re a stranger, alone in Manhattan on a dismal day, the clatter and rumble of subway trains and police helicopters can shake you that little bit harder. The relentless shove of people, time and bleating traffic can leave you disgruntled and dizzy.
I order a Diet Coke and a slice of vanilla cheesecake. The waiter, who has dark hair, bronzed skin and a warm smile, pays me a compliment about my accent that, right away, takes the edge off the homesickness I woke up with this morning.
While he’s fixing my drink, I close my eyes and remember that I’m perfectly fine with just the city for company. That my relationship with New York is one of the most significant relationships of my life and, even if she is looking a little bit ill today, I still love her. I never asked her to be perfect; I don’t need her to be perfect, and besides: she’s only reflecting my own loneliness back at me through her tall shop windows. She’s only showing me who I am deep down, like she always has, as long as I’ve known her.
The waiter brings my food over and, whilst devouring the cheesecake, I stare at a man slouching at the counter in a blue, chequered shirt. He’s clinking his spoon so hard against the sides of his coffee cup it seems like he’s about to make a speech. Instead he just checks the waitress definitely heard him ask for white toast when he ordered his eggs. She gives him a sharp nod while serving up breakfast plates to a handful of other regulars. It may be three in the afternoon but breakfast foods are available at any time of day or night in any half-decent diner. As this place is a 24-hour joint, that means you can eat bacon and eggs at 3am if you want to.
It also means the door is always open here. A comforting thought for anyone but particularly for me, today while I wander the sunless city by myself.
This extract is part of the travel journal I kept whilst I was out in America researching my first novel: Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner.
If you enjoyed this extract, you may also enjoy reading about The Westway Diner, 9th Avenue.
Further extracts and photographs that capture the atmosphere of diners around New York City will be posted in the coming weeks.