An accountant in New York: Entertainment and observations

Illuminated Broadway theatres on Times Square
Philip Fisher
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While the weather may be a challenge, a break in the Big Apple is always a pleasure.

America has become the land of the tax cut but these are early days so it is difficult to know how this will impact on rich, poor and accountants but one imagines that Philip Hammond is watching with interest. For tourists though, tax and accountancy should take second place to fun.

On this trip, I have already seen a great variety of shows from Broadway musicals such as Waitress (featuring a rather lovable tax auditor) to solo performances in small theatres. Oddly to our eyes, the two combine with popular favourites John Lithgow and Bruce Springsteen each spending a great deal of time alone on very large stages close to Times Square.

Springsteen on Broadway might well be fun but even with ticket prices between $200 and $875, the chances of getting one are virtually zero. There is a lottery at $75 but the odds must be the same as those for him to become the next President (now there’s an idea).

Elsewhere, the Brits are doing well, as The Play that goes Wrong is going right, while a Greenwich Village theatre has been turned into a pie shop for the benefit of Sweeney Todd, in a production that started life in Tooting. Ticket prices continue to surprise. Sweeney Todd is at Barrow Street, an Off-Broadway theatre that charges $110 (around £75) for tickets plus another $22.50 if you want to get into the spirit with pie and mash beforehand, and fills the house. An equivalent London venue might struggle to get £35.

Bruce Springsteen and President Trump may not have that much in common but they are good examples of what seems to be a given – New Yorkers do not retire.

These two are aged either side of seventy and appear very literally to be going strong and embracing new careers. The same seems to apply to everyone in the City.

Several friends 5-10 years beyond what we would regard as a normal retirement age have not only continued working but sought new opportunities.

A prime example is someone who has been a partner in a well-known firm for decades and has just severed ties. Even though he will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of qualification next year, he is on the lookout for a new challenge at another firm.

This longevity may be for an assortment of reasons. It could result from enjoyment of work, financial need or be merely cultural. In the UK, we have contracts that typically suggest (no more legally) stopping at 60 or 65 and many do. It appears that America works differently.

For those that do retire, there are many entertainments though not all are free.

The art museums are exceptional. The Met is gigantic with everything from antiquities to the very modern. The problem is finding energy to see everything, even in a couple of visits. MOMA deals with the modern comprehensively, while the new Whitney loves American work and is an homage to the great Edward Hopper, as well as featured contemporary artists.

Shopping has been less of a success, due to the plunging pound and the weather. The exchange rate has rallied but bargains are fewer and further between than ever. Gone are the days of $2 to £1 when even Apple products were affordable.

Weather wise, Central Park looks great in the snow and pavements get cleared miraculously but “feels like” temperatures in the region of minus 25C still make going out and about challenging but far from impossible.

This is a city that rarely closes, which adds to the excitement and exhaustion. For those that have never visited, there is nowhere like it. Even when you are freezing, it is the place to be.

About Philip Fisher


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