Saturday, April 25, 2009

90210: Location, location, location 4/1/09

In London, I lived in NW3 (Hampstead), W1 (the West End) and SE1 (the South Bank). In Paris, it was 75006 (St Germain des Pres). So there was no way, when I came to Los Angeles, that I was going to stick myself in some suburb where I could only see the HOLLYWOOD sign on the hill on Google Earth. It had to be the right postcode, instantly recognisable to people in the know, and, only knowing one, it had to be 90210, after the TV series created by Sex and the City's Darren Star, Beverly Hills 90210 (recently re-branded 90210).

It was where I stayed when I first came to LA about 18 years ago, when the now defunct newspaper Today put me up in the Holiday Inn in Burbank. Warner Brothers, bless them, were so horrified, they moved me to the Beverly Wilshire at the bottom of Rodeo Drive, and it was there I returned when I re-visited the city in November 2008.

The aim had been to do a screen-writing course run by Hollywood scriptwriter Blake Snyder, whose book, Save the Cat, I had read, and whom I contacted regarding what was going to be my Hollywood blockbuster (he suggests, on page 19, that you get in touch if you have a great idea, and my bag was packed quicker than you could say, well, save the cat). I booked my Virgin Upper Class flight, but owing to my not knowing that OR meant Oregon, I arrived in the wrong city altogether, with no Blake, no course to go to, and two whacking great bills to pay to Virgin and the Beverly Wilshire.

But I still had a ball (you can read about my exploits in the blog titled LA November 2008) and returned in March, when I finally did the screen-writing course (which was brilliant) and decided that I wanted to spend more time here. That, then, is now where you find me: still writing for the Daily Mail, working on two books and a screenplay, and living in an apartment in Beverly Hills 90210.

For some reason, they love the English here (I am Welsh, but this gets you nowhere, so to all intents and purposes I am from Wales, a town in England), not least for our humour; well, one comic, to be precise. John Cleese. They love him. They loved Monty Python (you would think it only came on screen last week, the way they talk) and also Fawlty Towers. Robert, who runs my local hardware store, Pioneer, calls John the God of comedy, and when I tell him that I have met his hero a couple of times, I get four light bulbs thrown in for free with my order. He tells me that John lives not far away in Santa Barbara, and I feel him angling for an invitation to his house for tea, should I decide to further my acquaintance with the great man.

The hardware store is a great asset to my area, which also includes a Wholefoods, where I can buy one stock cube for $3.99 . I have joined Sports Club LA, where my exercise regime has already meant that I can squeeze into a pair of size zero jeans from Gap (I can't get out of them again, but you can't have everything), and when I am not burning fat off, I am acquiring it sitting in front of the telly watching back to back Law and Order and House. I swear they make another five of each in the time it takes me to watch one.

It's very different from Europe here: everything runs so smoothly - apartments, bank accounts, paperwork of any kind - and after France, where they are still dotting the Is and crossing the Ts in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, it is a blessed relief.

Talking of blessed relief: I have never seen so many remedies for cleaning out one's innards. Online, in pharmacies, TV commercials - you could lose a stone every half hour if you so chose. And as for feminine hygiene products, ye gods! They take up a whole aisle in my local Rite Aid store. I was in there for at least three hours on my first visit: it was like furnishing a small house. A small house in 90210, let's not forget!

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