Can I tell you what the hardest thing about living in California is? It's not the constant fear of the next earthquake, the riots, the bushfires, it isn't even an obscure weather condition called El Nino. No, the most difficult challenge is dealing with one's untalented friends, who in spite of all evidence to the contrary, think they're going to "make it" here.

For as long as I have known Tracy, she has been threatening to play me a cassette of her singing. She's a lovely girl from "back East" - smiley, pretty, an extremely talented masseuse and hell-bent on becoming a pop star.

But at what point does one stop making soothing noises of encouragement and start to be a real friend? When the cats put their paws in their ears seemed an appropriate time to me. But it didn't go down too well and now I have to pay for my massages.

The point is that Americans are very optimistic people. And there is no finer testament to that than the city of LA itself, made up almost entirely of transplants from every state in the USA who have come here to find fame and fortune. As the old Burt Bacharach song goes: "Every waitress wants to be a star". And it's true - in LA they really do.

But it's not just waitresses. Ever since Quentin Tarantino found fame as a director and let slip that he once worked in a video shop, anyone who has ever rented a movie now appears to feel qualified to write a movie script. I mean, what are you supposed to say when out of sheer loyalty, you decide to forego a night at the movies, to stay in to read the most pretentious piece of flannel since the LA Times?

Going on past mistakes, it seems you're meant to say how much you enjoyed it. It only takes a few trips to the movies here, to know that there is a market for pretentious flannel anyway. But sometimes it's hard biting your tongue. Last week I found myself saying to my friend Jim "No, I'm not going to start calling you `Potentate'. Do you really think changing your name is going to help you become the next Prince?"

And what of Sean, who is thinking of giving up his well-paid job as computer technician, all because he thinks he's got his first big break - playing a singing hot-dog in a TV commercial.

And shouldn't someone tell Belinda, who insists on performing at the free-for-all stand-up comedy theatre each week, that when the hecklers get the only laughs in the room, it doesn't mean she's a success? Someone should tell them. But I fear it's not going to be me.