Sunday, 5 July 2015

Santa Monica Boulevard

So here we are in Los Angeles, staying with my old mate Matt just off the Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverley Hills. He has the most beautiful house with a glorious natural pool with waterfalls which we've spent the past hour swimming in. This trip is his wedding present to us. I think it would be hard to imagine a more generous or exciting gift.

The flight here was probably as good as could be expected for a man so pathologically terrified of flying. There was a bit of gentle turbulence to keep me on my toes, but there were no delays, no engine explosions, no terrorist activity and very few stinky people. The woman in front of me reclined her seat almost as soon as she got on board, which instantly meant my legs were folded into a strange contortion and I felt crotchety for a full ten hours.

We did the proper thing, and to ward off deep vein thrombosis, got up to stretch our legs periodically. At one stage we looked down over Greenland where scores of icebergs were floating in the sea. I initially mistook them for clouds, which seemed so tiny that I thought we'd gone into space.

We watched The Imitation Game, the film about Alan Turing and the Enigma machine. It's a terrific movie which tells a tremendous story, and I could almost spit with rage when I think what they did to that genius of a man simply because he was gay. I mean chemical castration? It's barbaric. We robbed ourselves of a great mind, which could have achieved amazing things in the field of computational science. Mind you, at the end of the film they announced that 49,000 men had been prosecuted in the UK for "gross indecency." A staggering figure, which is meant to be tempered by knowing that the Queen officially pardoned Turing in 2013, in the process acknowledging his astonishing war work. "Quite right!" I hear you cry. But what about the other 48,999 men?

We were through customs in a matter of minutes, which is very unsettling for the U.S. where there's often a mega-long queue.

We were met at the airport by a chauffeur holding a plaque with our names on which felt a bit fancy.

He drove us along a 14-lane freeway which is my first experience of anything quite so epically American. The roads around here are lined with glorious flowers and palm trees. Just as you might expect, really.

It's July 4th today, which I understand is big news for Americans. It's terribly sweet of them to celebrate no longer being a burden to the Brits. The chauffeur told us that private fireworks have been banned this year in the city. It was a sudden and last minute thing which he puts down to a heightened threat of terrorism. There are heavy fines for anyone who breaks this particular law, which has apparently caused mayhem. Fireworks manufacturers are going bust.

On our way to Matt's we passed the Beverley Hilton, which is where Witney Houston died. We're told the street was covered in flowers for weeks afterwards.

Right. I'm going to have a little snooze before a party Matt's holding tonight. It's very late in the UK isn't it?

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