Professional Brits abroad.
Doncha just love ‘em.
They save all year to have an experience of a lifetime, only to moan about it once they get there and then spend the whole time whingeing about how much happier they would have been, had they stayed at home.
So, yesterday, I was sitting in Il Pastaio, one of my favourite restaurants in Beverly Hills. It is always packed, but especially so on a Friday. The weather has been sensational this week, and yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far. Everyone was smiling. Laughter was contagious on the outdoor terrace of the restaurant. Inside, where I sit at the bar, I touched base with waiters I hadn’t seen in over a year and was welcomed like a long lost member of the family.
Then, THEY arrived. Two overweight, red-faced, sweaty Brits from the north of England, sighing heavily like two stab victims stumbling in from the street.
“Bad day?” I asked.
And they were off. “We hate this weather . . . just been on one of those open top tour buses . . . not really us . . . so hot . . . we hate this weather . . . wish we’d never come here . . . not really our thing . . . can’t wait to leave . . . not our thing at all . . . “
On and on and on. “So what is your thing?” I asked.
“The Grand Canyon.”
Then why don’t you just piss off to the Grand Canyon, I thought, but politely declined to say. Instead, I said: “Well, at least you’re now in one of the most famous, nicest restaurants in Beverly Hills.”
“Really?” said the female lobster. “You wouldn’t think so. It’s very crowded. And there are more waiters than people.”
Now, that’s not strictly true, is it, love? There are a lot of waiters because there are a lot of people. If there were more waiters than people, that wouldn’t make economic sense. It would be silly. And if you two shifted your fat backsides off to the Grand Canyon, there were would be room for at least another dozen customers, thereby solving the problem.
Having gleaned that the male lobster liked wine, I suggested that as they were staying in the Best Western in Santa Monica, they visit Wine Expo, about five minutes walk from their hotel. It is one of my favourite places in LA and, with daily tastings and a huge store, has the best Italian wine selection outside Italy. The lobsters showed about as much interest as the Pope in a brothel. As they were in LA for another three days, I went on to suggest other places that they might visit off the tourist trail. “It’s just not really our thing” was the response to every idea.
Brits in America make the worst tourists (second only to Americans in France, who are the rudest, most ignorant on the planet). Despite the great service, choice of restaurants, and, at the moment, prices that are way below those in Europe, they still find something to moan about. Back at home, they have doubtless been moaning since Christmas about the British weather, their mounting debts, the escalating fuel prices, and there being nothing on the telly. So, they plan a trip to escape it all, only to spend the whole time dreaming about the hellhole they have left in the north of England.
I love America, but I especially love LA. True, it’s odd in many ways – you never really know who anyone is. Unlike New York or London, where people tend to wear their hearts on their sleeves, in LA you’re never quite sure what you’re getting. People wear many faces, and you can never be sure which is the real one.
But I have found it to be incredibly friendly. I love the work ethic and the fact that it is the centre of the universe for film and television. I love everyone’s belief that anything is possible. Who cares if most of their dreams come to nothing; better to have a dream and live in hope than to look permanently to a black horizon.
I don’t care if it’s not your thing. It’s mine. So take your lobster flesh off to the Grand Canyon and then back home, where you can tell everyone about the two-mile radius you believe is LA.
Me, I’m off for a stroll on the beach, followed by a frozen Margarita and half an hour watching the sun set over the Pacific.
Safe trip home, lobsters.