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It was about this time last year that I recall being woken in the middle of the night by the most extraordinary screeching, coming from the communal patio beneath my apartment window.

Now, a lot of the residents keep cats as pets in the complex. But no cat fight that I could recall had ever sounded quite as vicious as this. As I stumbled to my window to join the league of other curtain-twitchers in the apartment block, I should have guessed what it was all about. It was that time of the year, after all, when all Angelinos start to get fiercely jealous and rather twitchy.

As anyone who has ever been in Los Angeles on Oscar night will know, the city divides into two on what is simply the biggest night of the year here: those who get invited to the ceremony - and those who don't.

Those of us who usually don't, use the excuse for a bit of a piss-up in front of the TV. There's no point in trying to do anything else - the traffic is a nightmare, the shops close early, restaurants close, and no one has any other conversation other than the Oscars for weeks afterwards, so it's useful to keep up.

The cat fight on that balmy night was over an invitation to the "do".

One of the residents in the complex had been nominated, in a minor, behind- the-scenes category. I promised I would not write his name here, even though he probably deserved what he got. He says he is too embarrassed. The gent in question was a bit of a womaniser; the kind who was so proud of his conquests that when he was trying to sell his sofa he included all the names of the women he had seduced upon it as a selling-point in the classified ad.

Anyway, his mistake had been to invite two of his conquests to accompany him to the Oscars - and as everyone knows, nominees can invite only one guest.

"You bitch, he invited me first," screamed one of the young ladies up to the window of his apartment, where the other was already in situ.

"Listen, you slut, he bought me a Versace gown to go in - and shoes. So he obviously meant me to go," the other spat back.

"Well, we'll see about that," huffed the former, and marched up to the apartment of our friend, who was keeping a remarkably low profile, for once.

Loud screams followed loud voices. Then footsteps down into the courtyard again, more screams, and then a big splash into the swimming-pool.

I don't know which of the two he eventually took on the night itself. But whoever it was, she didn't bring him much luck.

He didn't win.

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