Some things are sent to test you

Yes, given where I’ve just flown back from, you might have worked out what the song is tonight, for the last ‘double’ blog for a while. You might not guess who’s singing it, unless you look though. Thats right, not Albert Hammond!

Yesterday morning, I had a text (well actually they sent me 2, for some reason?) they moved my shuttle time forward by 15 minutes, because we folk who share shuttles tend to have to fit in with others in the area, to save them cost, which is fair enough. Anyway, irony, just as I’m about to shut down the laptop, pack it away, and get ready to go, the phone rang. Yes, you guessed it, the shuttle driver, saying it was actually back to the original time. Yes, stop laughing, there was a good reason, incident on the freeway, or so he told me.

Anyway, at the newly agreed time of 12.30, I’m stood outside, when the shuttle pulls up. That was when the fun started. He’d managed to get hold of me, and warn me, but had no joy with the other 2 he was meant to be picking up, phones not connecting or something, probably given the wrong number? Anyway, as we were heading off in the right direction, his phone rang. Yes, one of them was contacting him, to see where he was. Thing is, we went to the address he’d been given for her, not there. So now, he rang back, and she gave him a totally different address, thankfully not too far away. Even then, she couldnt tell him where she was, as she didnt know the name of the road she was on! We found her, eventually, so one to go…? No joy, no one at the address he had, so off we headed to the airport.

As we were getting close to the airport, his phone rang. Seemingly the woman we’d never found had rung them to find out where he was. Anyway, he got ‘ticked off’ for not telling them, but for whatever reason, he didnt seem to care too much, part of the job I guess? Finally, as he was dropping us off at the airport, he checked for his next job. Now whether this was just the luck of the draw, or someone at head office was feeling vindictive, but apparently it was 66 miles away from the Airport!

I booked in, and was directed to an escalator to get to the security gates. Fine, except when I get there, I get told no, and get directed to the other end of the building! After that, everything went fine, until this morning.

One of the beauties of premium economy flight, is that your case gets a priority tag, so should be one of the first on the baggage carousel at Manchester. Well…It doesnt appear, and when the dreaded sign, delivery completed, comes up, off I head to the rep’s desk, along with a few others, in similar position. However, just when I fear I’m not getting my case today, lo and behold, she finds a few cases that somehow missed the carousel, and were sat out the back. Yes, my case was one of them!

After that, and with the assistance of a lovely lady, with a mobile phone, I firstly warned the taxi driver about the delay, and then sorted out where to meet him. From there, journey home was straightforward, thank goodness.

Oh, one last thing. For September, I had noted that Expedia had a nice price for a Virgin Premium Economy flight into Boston, and back out of JFK was being offered a couple of weeks back. Of course, by the time I’ve got things sorted, back in the country, price has shot up £200! Thankfully, much to my surprise, and delight, Thomas Cook Airlines wasnt as basic as I expected, albeit I was in Premium Economy, but anyway…

To cut a long story short, they have flights to fit, and its about £150 cheaper than the economy Virgin price is now! I know, I’m hoping the leg room in economy is reasonable, but I’ll take my chance, especially as it will be a much shorter flight. In truth, the outbound flight is a better time too, but yes, only some of their flights have premium seats, and this wont be one of them! Ah well… It never rains, but it pours.

Which leads me to the video. Found this Barry Manilow version of said song, and actually, I think I prefer it!

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I will take all the memories home with me

So this is it, the last blog from LA for a considerable period of time at least, if ever again. I know, I could come back again, and may even need to come back again sooner than that, but being practical, I have many other places to see, some for the first time, some for repeat visits, so its going to be a while, if ever again. And yes, at my age, with the distance involved, and I’m sure the deterioration of my physical health, which is far from perfect even now, I’m sure I wont be able to do as much then, as I can now, anyway. I’m already suspecting that delights like walking up the long hill at Forest Lawn might be beyond me by then at least, but we will see.

To be fair, if you’d told me back in October ’15, that my next holiday would be back here, I would have laughed at you, but its happened. I guess I just wanted to show this city that I’d battled through everything that life had thrown at me, and got here again. But now thats done…?

In some ways today has been a light day, I havent actually left Hollywood. However, I spent a lot of the day on my feet, walking, so maybe not as light as all that? It was actually interesting going on a guided walking tour of Hollywood, where I knew the guide! I know, end of holiday, but in truth, it didnt matter, as I got to visit lots of old buildings that I’d never have got into myself. Oh fine, the one that amused me the most, has to be Musso and Frank’s! Yes, I finally got to go in there, if only for coffee, but at least I now know what it actually looks like from the inside. Of course, for works of fiction, thats a mere technicality, but at least I’ve made it there now. Yes, its every bit as impressive as I’d been led to believe. So if I ever want to use it in a story again lol…?

The other thing I’d already decided was where my last big meal in town would be, and though its not bargain basement, its cheaper than that legendary place. So I settled for the 50’s feel of Mels Diner, for one last time. After that, a couple of final, final goodbyes, at the star, and prints of Jean Harlow, before heading back to base. I do wish there was a star to the uncredited chorus girls/bit part actresses of the world, but no, there isnt, so I just said goodbye to Clara Johnson generally, as I turned off the Boulevard for the last time, on foot at least.

What can I say? You can take a woman out of Yorkshire, but you cant take Yorkshire out of a woman? Yes, I stopped off at a gorgeous, quirky, vintage clothing store on the way back, and saw the most gorgeous, silver flapper dress, really looked the part. Had my size too, but I didnt get it. Why? Because I cant justify spending $65 (plus tax, I’m sure) on a dress I have no idea when, or where I would ever wear it. So yes, I know I’ll regret it, but it stayed in the shop. I could get it in the morning (shop opens at 11, I have to be ready to go at 12.30, and its about 5 minutes walk), but I know I wont.

The only walk I’m planning at present to do in the morning, is a short trip around the block, so that I can walk a little way up Beachwood Drive, looking at the Hollywood sign, one more time. No, I’m not going as far as Verbena though, thats far too far for the short period of time I have left ‘in the sun’ of LA.

Yes, thats it for here. Pretty sure you’ll have to wait until Monday for the next blog, I’ll have too much catching up to do on Sunday for that.

The video. I’m surprised I havent used this Elaine Paige classic before, but seemingly I havent (well, on 1 blog at least), so lets use it now

The number 1 actress all over heaven, and it might not be Harlow?

Trying to work around other potential events, which now look like they’re not going to happen, I took the chance yesterday to visit Glendale, and most significantly Forest Lawn, where someone I have a bit of a link to is buried. Strictly, yes, I mean Jean Harlow, at rest there for now fast coming up on 80 years, but call it a feeling, or otherwise, whenever I visit, I just have this instinct that Clara Johnson may be at rest somewhere in those large grounds as well. As I say, no evidence, impossible given I dont know her married name, but just something calls me when I’m there, and though that might be Jean, I do just wonder. But anyway…

As for all the best laid plans…The 2 previous visits, I’d found a pleasant little fast food restaurant near to where I get off the bus, and therefore I planned to go there for lunch, before going on to pay my respects. Only snag is, sometime in the last 18 months or so, it closed! Anyway, I knew I’d seen a few shops on the road leading to Forest Lawn, in the opposite direction at the junction, so hoped I’d find something there. Yes, I did. Its not glamorous or anything, but I found one of these roadside buildings with a few tables, and took my chance. To be honest, under $9 around LA, for a burger, fries, and a drink is hard to find. To find it cooked to order at that price, even more so! If anyone around that area wants to know the name of it, shout, and I’ll work it out on Google Maps, if I can.

After that, I walked down to Forest Lawn, to see a stunning layout of US Flags in the grounds, for Memorial Day on Monday. I gather something is happening there then (think it was 1.00, but check?) to respect the occasion. Fine, not for the first time, I entered the actual grounds, hoping for 2 things to happen. Firstly, some signal from ‘above’ that would lead me to Clara’s resting place. The second, that the gate in the mausoleum where Jean is at rest would be open, as it was the first time I visited, but not the second.

No, neither happened! I didnt really expect the first, somehow, and no, the gate was very firmly shut across the passageway where Harlow rests. In truth, I think the first time was sheer fluke, whether that was divine intervention, or just Jean ‘fixing it’, I have no idea? But yes, shut is the norm, according to everything I’ve read online about the place.

So fine, I said a few words, from as close as I could get, and said my farewell, as I’m pretty sure this is my last visit here for a number of years, if ever again. And whether at that point my body will be capable of climbing the hill up to the mausoleum, I doubt it somehow! Also, at the top of the hill, before dropping down to the exit, I did the same to Clara, not knowing where she was in that huge area, or strictly, if she really is there, but job done.

Then finally, as I passed back those flags, all set up for Memorial Day, I paid my respects to all those brave military folk, who had died in our, and other generation’s service.

Today, really not much to tell, so lets throw it in briefly now. Really just a stroll up the Boulevard, to do some souvenir shopping, for me, and others at home. One gift I couldnt find, so tripped off to Universal Studios to get in the shop out there, which I knew would have it. If she reads this, she’ll know whose gift that was! Tomorrow, I get to walk along Hollywood Boulevard again, this time on a guided walk, run by a friend I know from Twitter, and have met before. Should be fun, especially as she knows the whole Harlow thing with me! I think I have the place planned for my last big meal in town, unless someone wants to treat me to Musso and Frank’s lol?

After that? No idea, in truth. I’ll sort of say goodbye to an old friend on the walk in the morning, so where I go after that, will think on it at the time. I will get out at some point Saturday morning, but wont get far, thats for sure. I have a feeling I might do a little walk along Beachwood, just for old time, and admire the famous sign, one last time, without annoying the locals!

Right, video time. Not that Jean could sing (well proven), and though Clara was a decent dancer, she was no star. Besides which, this group is from LA, and the song fits in from yesterday. So all in all…

To the Pacific, and back, via public transport

Oh fine, I know, a lot of catching up to be done, so lets get things nicely up to date here.

Sunday

The main event of note on Sunday was a trip along Sunset Boulevard, to a lovely bookshop serving the acting industry, for a series of short pieces written, and directed by women. No, before the men reading this start muttering about rabid feminists, a number of the actors reading were men! Though fine, one of the funniest was a spoof about make up just for lesbians, and if you werent one already, and you wore it, well, you might soon be one! Met up again with some delightful ladies I met just over 2 years ago, had a great time.

Monday

Due to some good news, I had to start changing plans on my days out, more on the news, probably in next blog. So I headed out to one of my favorite coastal places around here, Pacific Palisades. Its funny, I’d normally groan at the thought of nearly 90 minutes on a bus, without comfy seats, but for this route, especially the last part, I can make an exception. Had a nice stroll around, though I passed on walking down the canyon to the beach, because I knew I’d see the ocean again, plus you limit your bus options back, if you do that. But yes, I’m going to miss that place.

Tuesday

Known now as the day that if anything could go wrong, it would. A lovely man I know purchased me a nice seat for the Dodgers game that evening, snag was, I had to get the ticket printed off, and obviously my apartment doesnt have a printer, and I dont have a smart phone, so…I walked to a Fedex office in town, got on their internet, to grab the email, print off the ticket, and… Hotmail decided it was suspicious activity, and so wanted me to get a code sent to another email address. Fine, except that when I tried to get into that box, to get the code, it wouldnt let me in, and wanted to send a code to the other address it wouldnt let me into!
Fortunately, he’d sent a copy of it to my Facebook messenger page, assuming I could save it on my smart phone which I dont have, but I printed that off, and it got me into the game. Snag was, I didnt notice at the time, it didnt give all the details of my seat number! More on that later…

Finally, about an hour later than planned, I headed to Venice, the California one! You know, with the beach, and the muscles, and…a certain statue! Back in 1922, a shy(?) student named Myrna Williams posed for a statue that was to stand outside the high school. Oh, you might know her by her acting name, Myrna Loy! Unfortunately, with everything, I arrived in the school lunch hour, which made getting to her trickier that it might have been if the students had been in class. Anyway, having given my regards to her, I set off back to the bus stop, to get a bus to the beach, and waited…and waited…and waited. In the end, 2 buses more or less came along together!
After a stroll along the boardwalk, I set off to find the muscle, on the beach. Yes, it might be lively at weekends, but on a Tuesday afternoon, grand total of 3 guys doing their thing! Fine, it was something, but…I suspect a weekend visit is more, err, fruitful in that sense?

Given that I needed to get back at a reasonable hour to get to the Dodgers game, I set off to get home, which should have taken 90 minutes max! Actually took just over 2 hours. Not traffic mainly, just crazy passengers delaying things! Which meant I ended up leaving here late, hitting the crowds trying to get into the stadium, and then…

I normally sit up ‘in the Gods’ at baseball games. Yes, your view is limited, but the seats are cheap! And when you’re on a budget… Last night, I was down at field level, which is a long way down from the entry area at Dodgers stadium. No idea where I was going, took the wrong turn, got there eventually, though I missed the first half of the first innings, ah well…Yes, thats when I found out my ticket didnt actually give seat details. Anyway, at the second attempt, I found a seat no one else wanted, and watched most of the game.

Yes, one of those games that goes on forever, I left at the 11th innings mark, and headed for the buses back into town, to head home. Unfortunately, despite the bus being very full, the driver wasnt keen on leaving while the game was still going on. Eventually he did, before the Dodgers finally won, after 13 innings! Snag was, there were a lot of very drunk, very loud youngsters on the bus, screaming and shouting at regular intervals, but eventually we arrived at Union Station, and… There is meant to be a train at that time of night, every 20 minutes. 25 minutes after arriving on the platform, a train finally turned up! Given there were already people waiting, I would guess, at least 30 minutes, if not more, after the previous one.

I’ll save today, as this is far too long already! I need to thank Sarah for finding this apt video for me. Looks like Madonna was trying to portray a few golden age actresses, but warning, it is Madonna, and some of it might not be suitable for children, just saying…

A group of actresses

Though I must admit Harlow, Johnson and Brooks could very easily sound like a firm of solicitors!

In truth, there are very few places left in Hollywood that you could trace back to their days in town, but yesterday I managed to visit two of them, though one is no longer used for the purpose that they knew it for. Oh, and I passed a couple of others too, the Chinese theater, and Musso and Frank’s being the famous ones.

I always planned to visit the Hollywood Museum on this trip, seeing they’ve got a special Jean Harlow display this summer, and yes, its really good, if you get the chance, which I suspect a lot of my readers wont! Back then of course, this was the Max Factor building, the man behind the movie make up of many famous actresses, and judging by the pictures there, a few chorus line dancers too! Its a well known fact that Harlow would have gone there, and ‘supposedly’ thats where the platinum blonde look was created. That I’ll question, but anyway…? Kept going, quite possibly. Created, hmm?

In truth, I always assumed that Factor only did the make up for the stars, but yesterday I saw a few pictures of chorus line dancers, waiting their turn to be made up by him, and thoughts turned to Clara. Was she one of them, who knows? Did she at some point have her make up done by Factor, seemingly almost certainly. One thing is for sure, they wouldnt recognize the building today. Not just because of the change of nature of the building, it lost its front seemingly when Highland Avenue was widened.

There is one seriously wonderful helmet type thing, that was seemingly used to measure imperfections in faces, which I would love to have used on me, but it would find plenty of imperfections lol.

Oh, one fun moment, signing the visitors book in my name, especially given who the main display was about, though I doubt they even look!

The evening was spent in the company of the last of our trio, Louise Brooks, at the Egyptian Theater, which is 5 years short of its centenary! I wonder if you’d told Grauman that, back in 1922, whether he would have believed you that it would happen? Looks very different in places now, to then of course, but so much remains, though mainly restored, but all the same…

I found out shortly before coming here, that there were 2 of her films on last night there, neither of which I’d seen before, beyond glimpses of one. Beggars Of Life is probably one of the better known Paramount ones that survives, with ironically Louise playing a girl pretending to be a boy. Some of the shots were amazing, especially when you think there was no CGI back then!

The other was the second film she made in Germany, Diary Of A Lost Girl. I’d seen brief scenes from this, but that was it. Personally, for all the fuss made about Pandoras Box, I found this the far superior movie. The cast seems stronger, in deeper roles, and benefits from that. In modern eyes, its amazing how much censorship was used on this film originally in US (Yes, I saw a restored version), as some of it is daring, but not extreme. But its not hard to imagine that in 1929, things were seen very differently to that. Oh, and the ending is delightful.

So yes, yesterday was a look back to Old Hollywood for me, this afternoon I’m off to see some new, at a female playwright festival. Just watching, nothing more, unless…? No, I doubt it somehow! More on that in next blog, I suspect.

The video. Well, I couldnt think of anything more apt on a California Sunday Morning. Cant believe there will be many who know this already.

The glaciers of Greenland, and other entertaining moments

I will start with a word of warning for those shrewdies who read both blogs, that for the next 10 days or so, unless something, err, weird happens, that I dont want ‘vanilla’ folk to know about, both blogs will be the same while away. The chances of that happening, very slim, I would say!

Right, before we get to the LA stuff for the next 10 days or so, lets start off somewhere cooler, Greenland! Because of the route to fly to the West Coast of the US being a more northerly one, than when heading for the East Coast, I had the privilege of flying over the southern section of Greenland yesterday. To see all those glaciers, and the like, perfectly white, even at this time of year, truly something. Fine, the glare off the ice eventually got too much, but you get my drift? And no, no sign of humanity whatsoever.

The sad thing is, 100 years from now, or possibly even less, people just wont get that view, unless climate change gets stopped. No, I’m not getting all political about it, so please dont either, just stating a fact. Besides which, unless I’ve been turned into some sort of robot that lives forever, I wont be around to know, or care by then, anyway. All the same, I’m glad I got to see it once, in my life.

Right, most of the rest of the flight was nothing exciting, until we’re about to pull on to a gate at Los Angeles, about 5 minutes early. Then we stop, and wait. According to the pilot, he was given the wrong gate number, and we had to be towed back out, and then do a lengthy journey to where we should have been. Then they could only get the entry portal thing to connect to the door partway down the plane, so more delay. So fine, now 35 minutes late, finally off the plane.

Now in the past, I’d been told that the first time you use a passport, even with ESTA, you have to go through the full process. Yes, my first time, with new name. No, I get directed to the ESTA kiosks, which rejected me, as I thought it would. So finally, into the standard queues, and wait, and wait…in truth, about an hour from entry, to getting through Immigration, not awful, given everything.

Then finally, get the case, and get met by a huge queue to leave the building. I have no idea what was going on, because all of a sudden the queue went from tortoise pace, to quick, and finally through.Handing over receipts to allow you in, but why this suddenly sped up, no idea?

Ah, the shuttle. I finally got there about 5.00, and she said one would be along shortly. 20 minutes later…and then we did a lap of the airport terminals, slowly, being rush hour, so finally got out of there about 5.45. We then had a nice guy in the shuttle, who knew where he wanted to go, but had no idea where that was. And the shuttle drivers GPS seemingly didnt want to help either! But anyway, finally about 7.15, I got here.

Yes, apartment is nice, and all I need. Bed is very comfortable too. TV is being moody, but landlord says he can solve that today, so…not that I want it much, beyond baseball, but… First thing today, get the phone active, then head out, probably Pasadena, but dont quote me on that. And that, dear readers, is about it at present. Been a lot of helicopters flying overhead this morning, so who told them the actual Jean Harlow is staying here, no idea, lol?

Right, finally, the video. What I would like to say to those amazing glaciers in Greenland, in truth. Though one or two might think its a subtle hint to a woman in Bailiff Bridge, but anyway…No!

Tell me that you’ll wait for me

I would add, “Babe, I hate to have to go.”, but I’d be lying, badly! Yes, to add to the corniness of all this, and give away the song in tonights video, then yes, tomorrow, I will be leaving on a jet plane.

And yes, after 19 months without flying anywhere, I’m returning to the same area that I flew back from, all that time ago. In fact, I’ll be staying in an apartment less than a mile from where I stayed last time! I only wish that place on Verbena Drive was still available, but the place I’ve got looks as good, for sure, and maybe even a little larger?

I know, I really must go somewhere other than Hollywood sometime soon, and in fact, in September, I will, heading for New England, New York State and that area. Thats going to be fun, not only going to a wedding, but being a bridesmaid for the first time in my long life! Yes, cant wait! And no, even if I do catch the bouquet, I doubt anyone would be crazy enough to want to marry me lol!

I know I said it last time I was there, and I probably did just over 2 years ago, when I was there before that, that I suspect this will be my last trip to LA for a long while, unless a miracle happens. And hey, this isnt the Golden Age of Hollywood, when women were plucked off the streets, and into the movies, lets face it. So yes, I’m pretty sure, unless…?

I’m not saying I will never be back again, I suspect that just before my ancient old body tells me that I can no longer travel that far, that I will do one last trip to that crazy town. Of course, in the interim, something could happen to me, and I wont get back. But yes, that would be the plan, at least. But fine, just in case, I have a few places to visit this trip, and say goodbye, just in case. There is one place I’d love to go, if only I knew where ‘she’ was buried. Regular readers will know who ‘she’ is, and if you dont, look back a couple of blogs to a very big clue!

The thing that worries me in a sense tomorrow, is the length of the flight, nearly 11 hours! Yes, its lovely getting a direct flight, but I’m certain its the longest flight I’ve ever done, though whether London to Seattle direct, 14 years ago, was just under 10 hours, or more, no idea? Just hope the joints havent seized up too much by the time I get to LA!

Right, I’m not expecting a kiss, but if you want to smile for me, feel free. Regardless, tomorrow I’ll be leaving on a jet plane, though I do know when I’ll be back again. Until then, for those who read both blogs, they are very likely to be exactly the same, just saying…