I've been stuck in LA all week – another victim of the volcano that nobody outside Iceland can pronounce. Every time I thought I was getting out of here, Twitter or the BBC would warn me about bigger, better volcanoes getting ready to blow. Eventually, like many stranded Brits here, I started to make it my home.
Every night we all meet at the extraordinary new Soho House and cry into each other's mojitos about how much we miss our families and the British weather. I'm now convinced that several movies will come from unintended volcano get-togethers. I was here for one meeting and have now notched up my 20th – Armageddon is good for show business.
In between roaring around town in the smallest car in California, I have been watching a lot of American TV. I love TV over here, although I'm sure I would tire of it after a two-year eruption. But, for the moment, I'm hooked. Everything here is designed to reduce your "life effort". I actually saw an advert with people having nervous breakdowns over having to deal with cat litter. "Never deal with cat litter again!!!" boomed the voice-over. The ad showed a nervous-looking cat entering what looked like a small white spaceship. Then a close-up showed a hand hitting a blue button. "Wham – it's all gone!!!" said the proud voice-over. It was unclear whether it was just the litter or the cat had gone as well. It was equally unclear where it all went. My guess was somewhere in Mexico. LA: the city where you get a new cat every time it takes a dump.
Then I watched an ad warning about household germs. The worst place for these was... the handle of the hand-cleaning dispenser you put into your home when the last ad warned you about household germs. The solution? A no-touch, hands-free dispenser for hand-cleaning goo. Someone has too much time on their hands.
I know LA is a one-industry town, but it's absolutely extraordinary going out and eavesdropping. In the Chateau Marmont, I sat right behind a very bored-looking Johnny Depp who was being pitched some terrible movie by an absolutely insane-looking director. He actually used the words: "As you know, I've always been a huge fan of the French new wave."
In less famous surroundings, while having a Tex-Mex lunch, I was spoilt for choice. To my right was a man who was on a date with a much younger and rather stunning blonde (men seem to only ever lunch with younger women here). He was a producer and was playing the vulnerable line: "I'm of Cuban descent, both parents, but I can't do Cuban – I can't dance, I got no rhythm. I have a Cuban attitude to women, however."
I longed to know what this was, but my attention was now going left to where two huge fat men were interviewing a stick-thin girl. "So what do you want to do, eventually?" asked Fat Man Number One. "I either want to run a studio or be an actress," said the girl, who was not lacking in confidence. "For the moment, will you be content with PA?" asked Fat Man Number Two. "I guess so. I'm writing all the time, so something could come out of nowhere at any time."
Confidence is key in this town. Everybody is bullshitting. "Nobody knows anything," is William Goldman's favourite line about the place – and he is so right. You can't be British out here for very long. After a couple of Hugh Grant-like fumbling meetings (I don't mean with women; I mean business meetings) I became ridiculously self-promoting and "in your face". I would have been so embarrassed to do anything similar in the UK, but over here you reinvent yourself. I guess that's the attraction of the place.Reuse content