We are in LA for three months. If you’re on holiday, three months is a luxurious stretch, but if you’re living, it’s nothing. It’s one third of your friends’ innumerable pregnancies. One third of the time it takes to grow a human – a little or a lot depending on how you look at it.
I’m not on holiday and I’m not living either. I’m old enough and boring enough to know I need to keep working, but old enough and surrounded enough by pregnant people to know I need to make the most of this time or regret it forever.
The best thing is I get to do things I’d never have or – more honestly – make time to do at home. You can look at more art and watch more movies when you don’t have any friends to hang out with and you’re not riding the great grimy wave of London that has you working from breakfast to bed.
And that’s how we ended up where Sunset meets Figueroa at 9am on 9th December 2016.
We’d walk to the sea. We’d follow big, wide, silly, ugly Sunset until we reached the sea, and when we got to the sea – in time for the sun to actually set – we’d raise a couple of glasses to the most meaningless and meaningful day we’d ever spent.
Almost immediately, Rich needed a wee. Quite soon after that, I wanted a snack. Then, I was chilly. Chilly but sweating, wondering if I was ill. Sunset raged on – wide and grotesque and usually devoid of anything to look at. Sometimes devoid, even, of pavement to walk on, and never, ever devoid of maddening, smelly, grotesque cars, charging up and down – hurtling to Figueroa or the sea.
We started inventing gibberish lyrics to She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain.
We said: “This isn’t a good activity”.
We thought about giving up. But then, what would today be? “We walked a few blocks and ate lunch at Chipotle” (because that’s what we did, by the way, we couldn’t stray from Sunset, so that’s what we did).
Nope. That couldn’t be it. If we didn’t keep moving, we might not get hungry again later, and then Chipotle would be it. No way. So we kept walking. We just walked. We stopped talking to each other. The road surged round bends and the sea got further away and closer and further away and oh my God would we ever come round the mountain wom bee wah?
I was counting paces. I counted to 1500 paces knowing there’d be thousands more paces after that. This was so stupid. This was bananas. We were slavishly following this stupid street and we couldn’t see a way out of it.
I heard sirens and my imagination pranced off into the wriggly distance, like Sunset Boulevard. The policemen would surround us, with their machine guns. They’d yell through a cone: “We’ve had reports of two British people pacing Sunset’s grassy verges singing She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain Zum Bee Jum, put your hands up.”
We got to the sea. It smelled of drains. I took my shoes off and couldn’t get them back on again.
This is the story of take-away pizza. Can you imagine what it was like, when – two hours later – we found ourselves on the couch under a fleecy blanket, Home Alone on the TV, two pizza boxes on the coffee table?
The pizzas are quite small, because they’re 20 dollar pizzas from Pizzeria Mozza. They have a blistery crust that reeks of money. One bianco: fontina, mozzarella, sottocenere (truffly guy) with fried sage leaves on top. “A lovely cheese pizza just for me”, says Kevin McCallister. One rosso: just tomato sauce, cherry tomato and oregano, but with a beautiful catch – a whole burrata for us to disperse between slices as we see fit. Keep the change, you filthy animal.
A bottle of red wine that Rich walked to the shop for, you’d better believe it. And a butterscotch budino, which is a humble plastic pot filled to its lid with butterscotch pudding, salted caramel and a dollop of cream.
RIP the wet bandits. RIP all other pizzas. This is the life.
Which isn’t to say I would ever walk that walk again – not for all the formaggio in Rome.
[There’s no pizza pic, for obvious reasons.]