Well there is no getting away from the orgy of yuletide excess here- more tableaux and sets out side houses- this time with reindeer , Santas , lights covering every available inch of space on the house. Luckily we are the only non Jewish people in our street so we have been spared the campery. I have become used to a certain level of what would be considered "vulgar" in England. People seem to divulge the most intimate details of their lives here within minutes of meeting them and yet are strangely distant at the same time. Baby Esther was invited to a private Santa party the other day ...( santa was giving an audience to a select few toddlers at one of our friends houses) for those of us who did not want to queue at the local dept store.I was very excited by the prospect but poor Esther came down with a bug so it was stay at home. As Philip and I drove along Mulholland drive on our way to an xmas bash , oohing and arhhing at all the lit up houses we thought of how much sentimentality there is here. And yet the studio exec who does up his house with flashing reindeer might well have sacked his entire writing staff that day as the numbers were down .Sentimentality and Brutality are never that far away from each other.
The daily battle against Strike hysteria is on .. I spoke to my friend M. last night who told me 2 of her films had been grounded due to the strike- so it filters down into the general Californian economy..I am diverted by internet Scrabble courtesy of the highly addictive facebook - timewaster extraordinaire -it is an excellent divertion in times of anxiety . I never play scrabble -with a board but I have to confess I am having trouble drawing myself away from the pull of "Scrabulous", My dear friend Liza is the person responsible for my addiction- I shall call her the pusher .. she is so good at board games she was looking for new souls to anaihilate , so when she came here she found some transatlantic opponents.Whats more I am really bad at "words" and fail to get more than 4 letter ones - however what is great about this is you can make up words and maybe they exist-also play around . I have scored very high points by just winging it - who knew "Jotta" was a word as well as "Snell" and quoi ...I also now play with people I have never met.
It seems that my last post was a bit of a disaster area- I spoke too much about my children and also got the name of the gallery wrong..so I have deleted it. I am still getting to grips with blog etiquette-I have been told to be careful by fellow bloggers as to not mentioning names or too much personal stuff which almost leaves me talking about the weather.I am still conflicted about what to share and what not.I try to keep in to me . I have been the victim of a poison blog attack by someone I think I had only ever spoken to once , luckily I never read the verbal attack even though one so -called friend was eager to tell me its abusive contents.So it is Christmas in sunny California and lights and general campery are on display. I miss the cold and dark of xmas in england and the less aggressive festivities. I have told the children that due to the strike , pressies will not be massive, infact they may not be even medium and to keep expectations low. I also have to curb my own affluenza. I have acquired a lifestyle habit that is difficult to kick , I do not buy clothes , I do not go to snazzy restaurants but I do ride horses and even though it only amounts to a paltry 25 pounds a shot , it is a diffucult one to break. I find it theraputic and I am contantly looking for signs from the LORD Above that I am meant to continue- but alas no signs. The Gallery where my paintings are currently hanging is the Galerie Mourlot on Robertson and Rosewood www.galeriemourlot.com- run by the lovely Megan .Its a beautiful space .. I hope I have got it right this time
Yesterday I bumped in to my neighbour Laura who asked how we were and how the strike was going. She sympathised saying "So you have Bathrobe Man in the house. " She explained that she had had many phases of "Bathrobe Man " herself but luckily her husband was "Suit Man " at this particular moment in time.All hopes of an agreement went before xmas were smashed on thursday when it sounds like a revamped miserly offer was made to the writers. So we are back to phoning schools and explaining why we cannot pay the fees in full, organising loans and tryng to be in the moment rather than resort to panic and hysteria. Here are some of the good things that have come from the strike.. we have both taken a keen interest in our parenting techniques and spent more time with the children. A book called "Between Parent and Child" by Dr Haim G Ginott has changed the way we relate to our children for the better. It is a beautiful book by a man who died tragically young. It has made me squirm in parts as I have been doing just what the book tells me not to do . Another good thing is that I am forced to put myself "out there" in terms of my painting. In England it was such a huge part of my identity but it has been lost here as I have no connections to the art world .I have to become "go get " and "take Charge" -very alien to my nature. All our woes were put in perspectiive last wednesday . I went to do a talk at a womans group and just as I was about to speak a woman started having a fit and was apparently overdosing on meth amphetamine.It was truely tragic as this poor woman could have been any of us having made the 1 wrong decision. It showed me where the disease of addiction takes people. We all thought she was dying but luckily the paramedics arrived in 2 minute (God bless America ).
So Philip and I were out at the mass demonstration with our comrades on Hollywood Boulevard demonstrating last tuesday. There was a good turnout -about 4 thousand people and the atmosphere was cheery. We were all being art directed and choreographed for the worlds press that had gathered so that an visual impact could be made.We just missed Alicia Keys singing but were in time for the bongo players and chanting of an Amy Winehouse version of "they wanted me to do a rewrite but I said NO NO NO'. This made me laugh for a full 5 minutes- worth every plod I took. There was every description of man woman child and beast on the march and a selection of fine camera equiptment was on display. I was rather miffed not to have a groovy red comrade teashirt and banner to wave. I shall make a point of acquiring one next week when I accompany Philip on his circular picket plod.Hollywood being the small town it is we bumped into several other writers . After listening to 10 minutes of rantings against the "mAN" we left but had forgotten where we parked the car so I march turned into a marathon hike around hollywood. One thing I find odd is that many people say "but is it wise to go on strike" -AS if there was a choice in the matter. They dont seem to realise that 93 per cent of the Writers Guild voted for this strike-Hollywood is a union town and sometimes what is best for the whole "sucks" for the individual. The writers had to fight for their priviliges 20 years ago so that we could benefit and now we are the ones fighting.
We have been settling into "strike Mode" the last few weeks . Philip took Gabriel to the CBS picket line where he got cooed over. The panic and fear have lifted a bit and luckily I have had the distraction of my friend Liza visiting who is one of those I have really missed from London.She was here to launch her book which has the American title "A charmed Life". In England it was called "Title Deeds" which was too dark for here and the Pun was wasted. Poor Liza arrived mid strike drama and every where we went people were talking about it. It is always interesting to get a newcomers take on LA as I am now used to it and have ceased to notice the monster trucks and the enormous amount of waste here that initially appalled me. She was interested in the amount of "work" a great deal of the women have had done here and it has often baffled me that rather than make them look younger they just look like they have had "work" . I can understand that it is a pressure when everyone around you is doing it. LIza remodelled and resurrected my garden after I had murdered it , she hung my pictures on the wall ..and generally left a trail of order and beauty. One of the things that has scared me most about the strike is the prospect of going back to England . I realise I have been seduced by the life style here , the weather , the friendliness and I have become soft and not so cynical.
If Philip and I could have looked into a crystal ball we would have not gone on that holiday to ojai valley Inn or put our daughter into an absurdly expensive school. The writers strike is upon us and we have no savings , enough to live on for about 3 months and both of us waking up at 6 am in abject terror. There is no safty net here , no dole , no social security, no tax credits , but we are taking each day as it comes. I am taking a stand against my "maniana" attitude and making calls to various galleries and people in position to help but so far I am coming up against walls. worse still are the people who say " I am interested in a commission " and I say ok -heres what it will cost ( a fraction of what it would cost in the UK) and then I never hear from them ..Also I dont want to appear too desperate - such a turn-off if you are trying to sell something.I am considering painting pets even... meanwhile Philip has sore legs from 4 hours of picketting per day..most people are showing great solidarity for the writers and I truely believe thay are doing the right thing in fighting for more of the share in DVDs and digital technology. Most people think that the writers make too much money but his is not true . Most are like us - middle class people with children to support .
It seems the biggest event in the year here in CA is Halloween , people prepare months in advance, creating vast tableaus outside and making stagesets out of ther front yards.Life size ghouls and fantams are erected on pully strings , lights are hung ,fake cobwebs are hung on trees and costumes are planned to meticulous degree. There was clearly a case of "keeping up with the Jones " in our street as the family that usually reign supreme re Halloween campery were out done this year by the Scotts who live opposite them. For the last month each time I drove past these two residencies , each had added a new scary gimmick or sound effect. By the time halloween came along the scotts had turned their garden into a graveyard , along with mist and sound effects , moving creepy figures and dismembered body parts. Children were scared to go trick-or -treating there. My children had permanant outfit crisis for about a week and we had numerous trips to "arghhs" the costume shop and rite aid to add new bits to their costume so as not to feel "Less Than " on the big day. The big day ended up being a non stop sugar highs and a "Super market Sweep " along several streets- the general attitude being fill your pockets with as much as youcan as quick as you can. You can imagine the next day the level of crankiness was high . I was just releived it was over. Now we have the writers strike to deal with . Philip has down ed tools and is off to the CBS picket line . we dont know where the next penny is coming from, hey ho, more will be revealed. I may have to start painting peoples pooches.
With very high temperatures and strong warm winds -the Santa Anas , brush fires have been ravaging Southern Calfornia. We who live in west Hollywood have been lucky to escape the damage but malibu -only 20 minutes away has been hit badly-my friend Sara phoned to say the house next to her on the beach had been burnt to the ground and that she was not sure the portrait I had just done of her had survived the fire.Philip and i naively decided to go for a walk in Santa monica and Venice beach on monday believing the worst of the fires were over . the place was eerily empty and quiet with a huge yellow grey cloud blocking out the sun.we walked about 3 miles in this stiffling heat..Phil and I were blissfully unaware of the healthwarnings about the air quality the blanket effect the fires would have on the enviroment. I felt decidedly worse for ware after the walk -short of breath . we got home to find the fires had spread to Orange county and San Diego and that people were being evacuated.When I got up the next day I found a thin layer of ash on our car. never without a drama.
So this week we have been anticipating a writers strike here in Hollywood- its all the talk.. the producers are not paying the writers enough for things that are being downloaded. They threatened to do away with residuals and are being very hardfaced about the whole business. The last time there was a writers strike was in 1989-it lasted 22 weeks and many lost their homes . so it is bad news for us . Initially there is a ballot amongst the writers to see who wants to strike - Ironically most writers here are wating tables as only 10 % actually earn a living from it- so therefore 90% of the voters will not suffer the consequences of striking.Even though it will be uncomfortable for us we believe it is the right thing to do. Anyway the onus is on me to try and make some dosh which is quite hard work. I have to be very thick skinned as people seem gripped by enthusiasm and then we never hear another word. It is important to take out "flake Insurance " here as people with the best will in the world can often not follow through. So I keep trying and develope spiritual resilience.
wow , this must be a record amount of neglect for the old blog .. no I am not dead . We have had a series of mini dramas to deal with over the last few week and I just have not had that spare 20 minutes or so to devote to writing the blog--although my attentions have sometimes strayed to the highly addictive "facebook" which i joined by accident and now cannot leave alone. I name Mad who invited me to join in the first place as the pusher of an a class drug. Anyway must get my mind off the dreaded FB . Illness has been with us , a terible cough /fever bug kept the baby esther up every night , after 8 nights I was seeing double and having minor hallucinations. To top it all off I noticed a giant lice crawing across graces forehead alerting me to the grim reality that Nits were in town.I deloused the whole family with the strong pesticide found at the pharmacy. the nits did not respond, then I was told about hair Fairies - a hair salon devoted to the eradiction of nits. For a mere $75 you can have a consoltation and diagnosis, after that you pay to have your nite removed by the hour and if the nits are severe it may take 4 sessions. My friend Shelly spent $1400 dollars there in one week . I was content to buy their products and delouse myself.
I have finally finished the portrait of my old friend Sara Sugarman. She has a truely wonderful face and I painted her 23 years ago when we were both virtual teenagers, partygoers and hangers out at the Chelsea Arts club. I got the painting into the National Portrait competion. Imagine my great fortune when I discovered she was living here in Los Angeles... Its great to have someone here with whom has a history. She is a very talented writer /director / play write and my son Gabriel wants to marry her.we decided to repeat history . We like to compare notes on American culture. We both bore witness yesterday to an extraordinary thing- which was several republican Malibu inhabitants banging the drum in favour of global warming to to say how America was right not to sign the Kyoto agreement. Matthew , a fellow welshman and I kept mentioning our washing lines but were drowned out by one man saying that some people were lucky enought to be able to live in places that were "too cold for habitation" due to the gift of glabal warming . not to mention we could now take advantage of the huge oil reserves in antartica..well i never .. it takes all sorts
Having written about trivial issues for the last little while , house frau complaints and whinges about uncouth children I am now gearing up my committment to all things "green".While we remain one of the last people to have a Hybrid vehicle in our street , we are the first and only in the street to use a washing line.I am AMAZED that in this climate where washing dries within the hour Americans still put their washing in the drier!!! can you imagine how much energy is lost and while the californians make a big noise about driving Hybrids- putting washing on the line is clearly sniffed at and just a step too far in airing ones dirty laundry. One of the biggest differences between Europeans and the US is that we love a washing line , even drisley old England with its 15 hours of sunshine a year people still optimistically hang out their washing . Whats more spin driers not only wreck the enviroment but they also wreck and shrink your clothes. To be fair Californians are clearly getting a grip of some things .. There is an enormous march organised in Beverly Hills against bottled water - how we are not only getting ripped off but the land fills that are overflowing with with excess plastic. So I expect to see the well heeled taking to the streets in protest. So this week I have bought biodegradable washing liquid and various green accessories. The great excitement of the week is that Philip has discovered radio 4 online , so I have listened to Womens hour, the news , Jonathon Ross and Chris Evans... it makes the UK feel very far away ,and rather odd. I did not find Jonathon ross funny as I once did-am I becoming soft?!!!!
After the longest school holidays known to man-Gabriels lasted 10 weeks-its back into a gruelling routine of three differnt children at 3 different schools all of whom have o be there at 8am-so i have been in stratergy mode , trying to organise school runs and making a nuisance of myself to parents at Graces new school. I thought i had hit the jack pot with the car pool as one of Graces schoolmates lives litterally round the corner. I made an eager phone call and counted my many chickens before they were hatched. The Father phoned me back in raptures about saving the planet and what a good idea it was as their kid was an only child.. etc etc.. My prayers had been answered all was sorted but then at 8am the next morning the Mother called only to say that it would not work..for some reason I have taken this news very badly and I know these people who I have never met are perfectly within their rights to "Pass" on the car pool but I am certain that I am missplacing my new girl anxiety onto other areas-is that analytical enough for you?? I am trying to resist bitter and cynical retribution but I am afraid it is I who is back in the playground and not my 12 year old child. On a lighter note , Philip and i were priviliged to be asked to an early screening of our freind Bernard Roses new film in which I have a cameo appearance and Philip has a small talking part. It was clever and dark and and ripped along- Danny Houston the lead was very compelling. It was screeened in the location where it was shot , in the beautiful Beverly hills hacienda.Lets hope it reaches the big screen!!
We managed to sandwich our holidays inbetween hurricanes Dean and Felix in central mexico.Yet again we chose the very parent friendly Club Med which to our great suprise was very 5 star in Cancun.6 million had been spent on renovations . While my sportaholism let loose ( I was playing tennis, water skiing and doing water aerobics all within a 3 hour period) Philip prefered the spa. The water skiing consisted of being towed along in a crocodile infested lagoon -I JOKE NOT!!- I spotted at least 3 -which luckily for me put alot of people off and therefore no queues- Apparently the crocs are so afraid of the speed boats no one has been eaten for 20 years.The only downer was being pulled in by customs at 2 am in the morning on the way back due to my strange visa , they took me into a room full of uniformed people which made Gabriel very concerned "Are you in Jail , Mum" he asked
Another week of fun and frollicks. there was no camp for the children this week so I was the master of entertainments.Luckily our freinds Pete and Lila were visiting from England with their brood 4 CHILDREN-can you imagine!??..the thought of it gives me palpitations and sweats .So it was down to Santa Monica for surfing..errr boogie boarding-Our latest outdoor craze. The next morning I thought I smelt something odd in my six year old sons room..Odd-nastie-odd sewage...I started to search for the source of the smelly smell...under beds , in beds ,eventually I looked through his bedside drawers and voila! He had wraped a piece of his very own poo in some loo paper(considerate for those who would have to pick it up) and placed it in his drawer along with half a rotten lemon..this was the beginnng of my day.start as you mean to go on.Off to mexico tomorrow to bask in the debris of hurricane Dean..what fun
This week I got the flu while temps here rose to 105 degrees for several days on the trot. While I snivelled and sneezed I managed to dodge a liver Biopsy only to find out i did not actually need one after all and that my liver was like that of a 20 year old !! Imagine- if only that could be applied to the rest of my being..I was very hyped for this traumatic event and preparing myself for high drama not to say self pity. While i rejoice in my new found liver rejuvenation there are still other areas that need sorting.. i also pride myself on 22 years of being a vegetarian and not drinking coffee..This week also saw many preparations for Graces Birthday, which included a shopping frenzy, taking a gaggle of 6 girls for a manicure-pedicure (in England i would never have dreamed of having such proceedures -now it is second nature), then onto the cinema and then for the evenings finally - a sleepover! A good time was had by all.(except Gabriel who was heart broken at not being allowed to sleep with the girls)
I am going to be charged with blog abuse..I have left it so long..What a week I have had .. packed with mini dramas..In England we only go to the doctor if we are ill or in my case near death ( infact i have often left out the middle man and gone straight to casualty). Here health is big BIG business-The Americans do preventative medicine and yearly check ups . cat scans , cameras up the arse etc. I had a medical in may -the first one in my life I might add at the age of 43- if was rather invasive actually and highly unpleasant, but the nice doc kept it light talking about surfing school and Trader Joes (as one does while looking at someones Nether Regions) while I squirmed as he prodded and poked in awkward places.He tested me for every thing imagionable and the results arrived the following day displaying a series of nasties such as anemia , underactive thyroid etc.WOW..he told me I should be injesting iron by the gallon.So as a result of the over zealous medical profession here I am due to have a liver biopsy next friday and am in a medication quandry ..martyr and nothing or full "freelapse" and sedative???we will see.
I have been very slack with the poor old blog and neglected it for over a week..oh dear...Alot of the week has been devoted to sporty actvities which are unavoidable in CA. I ride once a week and my teacher David persuaded me to take part in a dressage competition ( the lowest level of course) He said it would be good for me.(humbling certainly) With much resistance I put on my white shirt and breeches (compulsary attire at the Equestrian Centre) not to mention gloves and half chaps and braced myself to compete against various 6 year olds. Mercifully I was spared that humiliation as the other competitors were adults. We were asked to do a simple routine around the paddock , two circles at a trot and to bow to the judges.Luckily i managed to get round the track withut a major mishap and the judge said she liked my blouse which she thought "cute' I knew this was a bad sign as the shirt was obviously better than my riding.Any way i was then presented a with a rosette for 4th place( i think there were only 4 in the competion) but did not ask so that I could fantasise about being 4th in 20 or 30. My next competative encounter was with my friend Shelly who is so gentle and sweet but turned out to be a fiend on the tennis court. She is one of those people who plead incompetant and turn out to be A1 athletes. (Was she in the 2001 Olympics?)We had a "friendly" game of tennis where she proceeded to wipe the floor with me.My teeth gritted throughout muttering to myself that I was raising my game..
We have just come back from the spactacular Ojai (pronounced OH HI ) an hour and a half north of LA situated in the hinterland near Santa Barbara. Philip generously booked us into the absurdly swanky Ojai Valley Inn and Spa,, an ultra lux 5 star residence where everyone speaks in hush tones and cell phones are banned. Set in about 4 square miles of manicured grounds and golf course with spanish archiecture it looked just like Andalucia. We were all set with kids clubs booked and part time nanny hired to enjoy spa treatments varous luxuries and tennis but things went very pear shaped with the childcare . The nanny we hired (who unfortunately bore a striking resemblence to Tony Sopranos sister Janice) arrived hung over , telling us she had had a rough night and that she and Esther would be spending the morning in front of the TV or in repose. Philip said that if anyone would be neglecting the children it should be us, so we sent her packing. The kiddy club was equally disastrous with both elder children refusing to go, so Philip and I were forced to look after our own children . What a shocker it was as i realised how spoilt I have become not to say lazy..so it was very good for me , I ended doing alot of sun creaming , coaxing food and rescueing "floaters" just in time from the pristine Ojai swimming pool.All good bonding stuff..Our neighbour John said the other day that you know when you have truely aclimatised to Californian life when you have become dependant on the Hispanic population.
who's that pretentious git in the porche covertable? Its the same pretentious git posing in the Bently ! Who the hell do they think they are! Here the car is king , people do all sorts in their car , I have seen eating , shaving tooth brushing ..we who live in this city spend alot of time in the car. you would think nothing of travelling the equivolent of Chelsea to Brent Cross here , infact it would be considered no distance, but most roads here have 3 lanes and although the los angelians complain about the traffic , it is nothing ,NOTHING like the traffic in London. I have started to be very grateful for many things about living here- I realise that to park my car in the central Los Angeles area on a meter it costs me 50 cents per hour or 25 English pence- Now what would the equivolent cost in London? 8 or nine pounds perhaps.I realise now that I would spend at least 45 minutes a day in london driving around the Royal Boruogh trying to find a residents parking bay and end up parking some two miles away due to the lack of such spaces. Yes it is a hard city to live in and one becomes used to the stress. We had a laugh with our friendn Bernard the other night who has lived here 13 years and tried to move back to England but found it very hard He said he felt it is a country fuelled on Shardenfrauder and that the government is thinking "how can we make life more difficult? I know we will invent a new tax or parking restriction or both if we are lucky !" Not to say I dont love England and despereately want to go back for a visit...I wonder how I would find it?
Ten minutes drive from us in the Hollywood Hills and in the center of town is Runyon canyon...and a favorite local walk or Hike as they say here offering spectacular views over the city and san Gabriel mountains -you can also see the sea I mean ocean.It is a popular haunt of the severe body fascists , he-men , manorexics, bullemics and people with small dogs for accessories--the pekonese is a favorite here. There are three walks - Runyon light is a gentle path over the rolling hills for the physically challenged( i was hyper ventilating the first time i did this ) I often see odd sights here... people running backwards or carrying rocks in rucksacks...then there is Runyon meduim which a slight mountain climb..but this week I have conquered the face of Runyon Hard two times...this path is worhty only of the hikers with the worst of eating and exorcise disorders. I was practicaly begging my companions for mercy the first time i did it , longing to get back to the wimp trail..I thought I felt a heart attack coming on. Never the less i made it and with great smugness and satisfaction .. I made Philip do it today. One of the best parts of walking on Runyon is listening to fellow hikers "my agent really sucks..I havent worked for six months.." "My agent is sucky too..." one very entertaining exchange..." When i first saw him from a distance I thought 'are you a model'but when I got up close I thought "i hope not!"..he would have needed photo shop 6000 to get rid of those flaws "
Well today is July 4th which means very little to us Brits but for Americans it can be a touchy point, with long histories of July 4th baggage--" I was alone on July 4th" or it was my first "July 4th in LA" Independence day is a day we Brits will not be celebrating. if you are an american you dont want an empty diary on this day..or you maybe considered "a loser'.It is ironic that there is uproar about Bush granting clemency to Scooter(many less informed americans think this is a dog or a forties movie star) who lied about the war under oath..many of them are now terriefied to visit Britain after the bombs and even more horrified that the bombers were doctors.for us it is not that shocking after living with IRA bombs for all those years. So back to trivia - this is my favorite house in LA - it makes me smile even on the darkest of dark humour days. The neighbours tried to get the owner evicted but failed-there are twenty four miniature michael angelos Davis outside and owned by a rapper.Anyway the other day I was lucky enough to meet its occupant with his dog which he had dyed purple. He told me his other dog was pink but not around..It was a red letter day for me as I often do special detours just to look at the house...
So I had my first mixed exhibition last night which was a mixture of buttock clenching shame ( the way thay were hung and the actual gallery) and relief that it was done and that quite a few loyal friends showed up not to mention the entire street in which we live...so i was not standing alone and destitute . Although i felt a little shame about being double hung and next to the fire exit i did not feel bad about the paintings ..I must be positive as it was a start and I dipped my toe in...people seemed to respond well to the pics..i very much miss my gallery in London and its stark white walls. it ended up being a really fun party and I realised what truely great people I have met and was very touched by the big turnout. Today Philip and i celebrated 1 year of wedded bliss and harmony. A year ago Elvis married us in a pink cadillac in vegas, it was a very classy event as all those present will testify.The marriage has lasted... No 1 on my to do list is to get wedding photos...
I was severley chastised the other night about not writing the blog every night and that it is quite a serious misdemeanor in blog terms. Only single people with no job children must find the time . My excuse is that it i the beginning of the summer holidays, the children are at their most cranky and are decompressing after school--last week there was some quite spectcular bad language and petit crime going on in this house..and we had Grandmas visit. Grandma flew from England for ten days of LA glitze and out door life which she seemed to enjoy..The latest in our outdoor activities is riding- I loved riding as a child and was pretty good at it ..but as an adult in London toomuch of a hassle not to mention the patronising bossy teachers who no matter how good you are always seem to ask "have you riden before?' Here in LA riding is serious business and service with a huge american smile.Half an hour away from us in the vally at burbank is the sprawling and posh Equestrian Center One and a half squre miles of paddocks barns polo grounds and dressage centers. No mess .. all very slick and no riding unless equipted with jods hat gloves etc. the children are learning and so are Grandma and I...
Where I live now in West Hollywood, just above Little Ethiopia, there is a Starbucks every two blocks it seems. They have reached such a saturation point that they will soon have to start opening Starbucks inside the toilets of the bigger Starbucks.
The other oddly ubiquitous business here is the psychic. “Walk ins welcome, Chakras Cleansed, Karma changed, fortunes told, career advice, loved ones returned.” There seem to be more psychics per square inch than anywhere else I have ever lived. I suppose it’s a reflection of the uncertainty of the business and the flakiness of the people.
My mother grew up in Rutherglen and they had a neighbour who would come in and read the tea leaves for them. You drank your tea then swirled around the dregs into some kind of shape that she could read.
I’m not sure how accurate she was but seemingly she always started off the reading the same way no matter who it was. She would look down into the cup and then into the face of the person and with all the solemenity of an Aztec priest would state , “Sometimes you’re happy and sometimes you’re no !” This would have whoever was getting the reading nodding furiously at her uncanny accuracy.
Like so many her job fell victim to new technology when the tea bag came along and did away with the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup. At first she hoped it was just a fad. Who saw that coming?
It reminds me of the story of the tabloid editor who called up the Mystic Meg on his newspaper, and told her, as you will no doubt have foreseen, your services are no longer required.
The Scots are hard to avoid in America, there is Carnegie, who came here with nothing, made a fortune in steel then gave most of it away, endowing, among other things Rutherglen library. Eleven presidents were of Scots ancestry, there are eight Edinburghs here but only seven Glasgows.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to be an extra in our friend Bernards film which was very exciting. I have never been on a film set ,let alone in a film. I had seen some of Bernards films in England and loved them noting what a talented director he was with a slant towards the seedy which I like. Philip landed an actual part as the "master of ceremonies" and as the whole thing was improvised had to prepare a speech and meet the head of an actual charity for whom he was campaigning.Philip assured me I would hate being an extra( low boredom threshold) and that the will to live would drain out of me after about half an hour of sitting around. The more Philip tried to divert me from the set , the more determinded I was to go on it. My part was being one of the Beverly hills well-heeled at a fund raiser concert. It was very disconcerting as we arrived only to be greeted by the main lead actor danny and to be followed around by a camera. we thought it might be a documentary about the making of the film, NO it was the film... We were asked to mingle in the garden by the pool with people we knew already -other friend /extras- there were no intrusive lights , no retakes just a camerea letting people be and do their thing. Philp made a good speech by which time we had forgotten we were in a film. Before the concert i noticed a scrum and sudden panic to get to the comfortable seats, the old hands knew that they would be sitting there for some time , I ended up on half a stool..The concert was fantastic , we got an impromto sonata from the director who was not only doing sole camera work but was piano coach too. There was a total crew of six. Th e whole thing was over by three and we left the incredible beverly Hills hacienda . I have not written specifics because I am unsure of blog etiquette. If I mention names will a lawsuit await me ?
Its all very well having a blog if you have time to write it , which I dont seem to ..I also average around 20 words per minute and anyone reading this will have noticed the spelling.Anyway to sum up , school ended on wednesday infact Gabriel "Graduated" from Kindergarten in an extraordinary ceremony where he had to wear one of those Scholar type hats and recieve a certificate, along with the other 20 six year olds in the class.It was very sweet and Gabriel enjoyed posing for Photos with the lovely Miss Kim. " I would like to marry she" was what he said on his first day at school .So i am now head of entertainment until summer camps begin next week,.Noses are turned up at my many ideas of eduacational interest like parks , museums, etc and suggestions always go back to the same place -theme parks and shopping malls.I am having none of it . Yesterday we had a forced excursion to the beach( we are lucky enough to live 20 minutes drive away) there were moans and groans all the way.A year ago the beach was a novelty and was greeted with great excitement but has now become so "whatever" ..so "5 minutes ago" They loved it despite themselves and the moaning stopped. Philip phoned to say Avril Lavigne was playng on the show so it was a rushed journey up to CBS with Grace in a state of near extacy.we saw her walking up and down the corridor, she was tiny but when she performed what a huge voice! I am in a frenzy of multitasking as i am in a mixed exhibition in two weeks ,so as I childmind, I finish off paintings, I vanish,, I write invitations, I fill out forms , I change nappies, I pay bills,I water the garden,the list goes on -are you feeling exhausted yet?This all gets put into perspective after watching "persuit of happiness"...I shall not complain, i am very grateful for my lot.
Yesterday as I took Grace to our very wonderful dentist Dr Gold (he looks like Valentino) the cheery assistant greeted me with "you look tired""-like I really needed to know this..why do people feel a compusion to tell you you look "tired" What do they think it will achieve? "Tired " is a polite way to say "you look terrible" If you feel bad and tired it will make you feel worse (not only do i feel crap I look it too) If you feel fine which I did its great to know you certainly dont look it so dont be too smug.This brings me to the dilemma when is it ok to tell someone they are piling on the beef, getting a spare tyer or two? A couple of months ago it was a grim day for me when Sara Silverman as US commedienne informed me via TV that soy Chai Tea Lattes had about 2 thousand caleries per cup.These were indeed my comfort drink and staple diet. Since giving up the ciggies it was the highlight of my day.Unlike England they use vanilla flavored soy milk here making it unbelievably sweet and sickly just my kind of drink. I was on first name terms with the staff of our local starbucks who would have my chai tea waiting for me. Even though we live in the body facism capital of the world and I go to a gym where every one is over sixty so there is no "compare and despair"It suited me to blame my tight and shrinking clothes on our wonderful housekeeper Aricelli ( much maligned) who was putting the clothes in the spin dryer .Philip said nothing about the growth of my girth. But the grim reality took shape when I saw a photo my friend Anna had taken of me. I had indeed developed a "muffin top" fat spilling over the edge of trousers. I decided then and there to detox from chai tea lattes and prevent myself from becoming obese and diabetic. I have made a consderable dent in starbucks revenue and the staff now think I am dead. The good news is the weight has gone off..It was very hard to walk past a starbucks for a while but I am back on the PG tips. Philip has said that it is part of my job desription to inform him if he is getting fat, a sackable offence not to although he said nothing about the muffin top as not to hurt my feelings
This is one of the few family photos of us as I hate having my photo taken as I usually always look like an active hysteric. Grace my eldest daughter is helping me with the blog- her techno knowledge is immense and mine miniscule so it works. I dont know why I have started the blog as does anyone really give a monkies. It entertains me though which is the most important thing, also helps me make a record of our life here which is far from dull, I am inspired by my sister Lizzie who has written about her life in Lausanne and is moving to Uganda. we have been here for 15 months and experienced a very different culture to Europe and different values, I have to confess when I heard we we moving here I was horrified as it opitomised every thing i loathe about modern culture, showbiz,celebrity worshippers, captitalism , proposterous ostentation ,monster trucks and waste on a spectacular level. In England i had such a hatred for the SUVs and 4 wheel drives and got here to find this was the world center of large vehicles, This is also the place where it is necessary to optimise yourself, to the extent that many women are severly "over restored". The anti aging work ranges from making people look like they have had a mild stroke to full on wind tunnel with trout pout stuck on.
Also i have seen another side to los Angeles, the people are kind, friendly even gentle.I feel pretty safe here , ther is a sense of community, very little snobery( noone cares wher you come from) or what class you are.People are eager for others success and new wealth is celebrated.
Its the weekend -Phew, no getting up at 6.45 and manic search for childrens shoes and arguments about teeth cleaning.Last night I went to see Graces performance of Sandy in Grease , she was wonderful, only 11 and very at home on that stage. I love watching childrens performances, they dont care , no luvvie self conciousness and they are not worried about reviews and what people think. As I sit here with no children I am at a loss- I am so used to having multiple small hands attached to my apron that being alone feels like being on mars. I went on a fantastic walk with My friend Xan this morning up into the St Gabriel mountains-it was like being in the alps but with no people .Spectacular pine forests and mountain trails. One great thing aqbout living in LA is being able to get out of it so quickly , Xan is a hikeaholic and has all the gadgets like poles and proper boots and knows every hike in Los Angeles. Philip is in Seattle shooting a Ford commercial wearing a kilt and a ginger wig , He says he is having fun. back tonight at midnight.