Next month I’m leaving London to go and live in Los Angeles.
There are lots of reasons for my move, but I’m afraid I can’t go into any that are particular to the job I do. I am staying with the same company, but beyond that, the many NDAs I’ve signed prevent me from revealing more.
So what about the other reasons?
I’m a big fan of LA as a city. My parents took me there in the early 80s and there was something about the heat and sunshine, in such stark contrast to London’s fifty shades of grey, that I missed when I returned home.
When we took further holidays there in 1986 and 1987 I caught the movie bug pretty hard and spent many hours watching films like Robocop, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Untouchables in their natural habitat (for some reason I’ve always found watching movies in America to be more exciting than in London. This might be a throwback to the days when they were often released six months earlier in the US, and thus remained in my mind as unattainably exotic, pregnant with possibility. In subsequent holidays my brother and I would hoover up all the movies we could find for fear that we might not get the chance to do so for half a year, and then in rainy Golders Green or grim Hendon).
So my love of LA was intertwined with my love of movies, but then in the early nineties we entered a great period for hip-hop and, considering myself pretty fly for an extraordinarily white guy, I popped over again. Although I didn’t venture into Compton, I did meet some interesting junkies in the Greyhound depot Downtown. Anyway, it was all jolly good fun and I didn’t get killed at all.
In 2000 my wife and I holidayed to LA, got married in Vegas and took our honeymoon around California. Fortunately Gabi took to LA to the same extent I did and we always felt we’d end up returning. In 2005 we both came over for something I had spent my career dreaming of: an LA shoot (ie: going to LA on business class and staying in the Sunset Marquis). When I was at Y&R my friend Lee Goulding had gone over to shoot the Steve McQueen Ford Puma ad and returned with tales of convertible Mustangs and some other stuff I probably shouldn’t mention on a family blog, so the idea of going over there without worrying about the expense was ridiculously alluring, and the experience did not disappoint. Waiting outside the hotel one afternoon, John Voight walked past, still looking as cool as a Midnight Cowboy. In London John Voight has never walked past me, but I once had a nice chat with Jarvis Cocker after sneaking into the Groucho Club.
In 2006 my dad moved to LA (Pasadena, actually; no self-respecting Angeleno would tell you they lived in the indistinct sprawl of ‘LA’; they all belong to one of the towns that bleed into each other to make up the wider city) and took to it like a Brit to LA, which might have given me a subconscious impression that making that move would definitely work out for the best. In addition to his job with the Sunday Times he took up stand-up comedy and screenwriting at the age of 59. This is what California does to some people: from the movie business to Silicon Valley there’s a clear home for the creativity that you just won’t find a reception for elsewhere. I think it’s because California must have been populated by the people who wanted to go further west than anyone else. That kind of attitude, of seeing how far you can go, feels present in the optimism and positivity of many people who live there. Then again, that might be bullshit.
In recent years I’ve had to visit many times for work, and my love of the place has only increased. From the beaches to the canyons, from Ralph’s to Sugarfish, from the feeling I get when I’m driving down the PCH and Zeppelin comes on the radio to the massive sunsets that turn the Pacific Ocean pink, there’s always something else to make me think this is the place for me and my family.
So here we are in 2014, and the move is on. I love my job, and am very much looking forward to taking it on in an office 5500 miles away from where I currently work, but fortunately I also love LA. If any of you live over there or are popping over temporarily and would like to go for a kale smoothie, don’t hesitate to get in touch: the email address is the same, but the real address will be in Laurel Canyon.