It's hard to imagine Tom Cruise, plunger in hand, furiously unblocking his toilet. Or seeing him wait 10 minutes for hot water to appear from his shower. But I know he must have done it, because it's what I have to do every morning.

I should reveal here that I live in an apartment which he lived in years ago. They say that everyone brushes with the stars at some point when they move to Los Angeles. Sitting on the same toilet seat once used by Tinseltown's most coveted derriere was not necessarily what I'd had in mind. But in the town where connection to celebrity is everything, I quickly learned there was value in even the dodgy plumbing. This is, after all, the town where Demi Moore needs only to buy a pair of gym shoes, and there is a mass buy-out across town.

My neighbour was beside herself when I first I dragged suitcases into what I thought was just a cosy "one bedroom". "You mean you didn't know?" she exclaimed. "Jeez, you couldn't hope for a better start in this town. You can throw a party any night of the week and people will always come ... I used to live in Kevin Costner's old place, but then he did Waterworld, and no one's been interested since. You'll get all Cruise's old mail. Do you know how much that's worth?" I've yet to find anyone interested in purchasing his pile of Reader's Digests. And I like to think that my dinner guests come for my dazzling conversation rather than a glimpse of the socks that I pretend Cruise left behind.

But there is no denying that the previous tenant did bequeath me an insight into the mechanics of this town. Not only am I the fascination of my neighbours, who'll bring cookies for a glimpse of my peeling paint and rusty pipes; but I've also had cocktail parties suddenly deaden to silence and all faces turn to stare as an overbearing host publicly proclaims, "Guess what, everyone, do you know where this girl lives?"

Four years on, though I'm grateful to Tom for the intro, and feel rather disloyal in admitting this, in the interests of faithful reporting I should reveal that overall it has been Darren Star's one-time residence in this apartment block that gets more "oohs" on the cocktail circuit. The creator of Aaron Spelling's hit TV soap Melrose Place may not have his face recognised out on the streets, but thanks to the rise and rise of the show, which is a huge hit here and is aired on BSkyB in the UK, I at least can be sure of a chair and preferential treatment at parties, just by mentioning where I live.

I'm sorry, Tom, but in the celebrity connection stakes, you've been thrashed by a TV soap.