From my kitchen window I have watched a little boy grow up to be a man. I live in what Americans, with great economy of expression, refer to as a brownstone, actually a townhouse. It is on 71st Street off Park Avenue. My father bought it for us 30 or so years ago, and both my children refer to it as home. Although both have left, my daughter for Los Angeles and my son for Brooklyn, their rooms still feel lived in, with shoes lying around, old books, bric-à-brac and pictures of their parents looking less worn, to say the least. The house, I am told by neighbourhood historians, used to be a whorehouse, but a very upper-class one. Never a scandal, just a few gentlemen going in and out throughout the days and nights. I tell everyone that I visited it while down from school, but I’m not sure it was this one.
About 20 years ago I moved the kitchen to where my office used to be as the children were driving me nuts while I was busy writing the greatest Greek novel ever. Sitting in the kitchen and staring across the back garden into the lives of others is not my idea of fun, but it beats writing anytime. Which means I spent a lot of time in the kitchen looking into the apartment building across on 72nd Street. That’s when I first saw a tiny baby being brought home by his parents, and the nanny that slept next to the crib. My wife and I would look as the baby lay on its back and bicycled, his adoring parents standing over him — and a very good-looking couple they were, too — while he made gurgling sounds and strange noises.