Life is for living – Hoorah for Hollywood!

One year on…

Sometimes the best decisions are the craziest…

Betty White’s star, Hollywood Blvd

A year ago today I was returning from Los Angeles.

3 days before I was departing Heathrow.

19 days before that I learnt that I was going – Drunk Me purchased the flights on Hallowe’en and Sober Me found out the next morning.

Non-refundable flights, of course – at least Drunk Me was considerate enough to commit me to the cheapest.

So yeah, I woke on November 1st to British Airways confirmations and a ticket to be in the audience of the Friday 21st taping of Hot in Cleveland – I was going to see Betty White, it seemed. In 20 days.

Now, I love Betty White – she’s a great girl. I’ve loved her since I was young, since I first discovered The Golden Girls and met Rose Nyland, but all this is another story.

That eve, whilst accosted by no trick-or-treaters, I sat aghast in the knowledge that Hot in Cleveland was soon to conclude, and with Blanche’s words of “Eighty-something’s got’a go” ringing in my ears, and knowing that Betty was very much older, and with my 9-5 instilling in me the conclusion of time, Drunk Me decided that now was better than never to see my idol.

The plan was to arrive on Thursday – visit CBS Studios on Friday – and Saturday, the first leg home.

51.5 hours in Hollywood.

Who said a long weekend had to be local?

Hoorah for Hollywood!

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The Hollywood Sign, I think

As the T-Minus days counted down to zero the sheer insanity of my commitment infrequently hit home.

Most those I told felt vindicated that indeed I was as doolally as they’d suspected; you could see them wondering if 999 was the number to call for a staight jacket.

I didn’t care – I was off to see Betty White!

I wrote her a note – a quick letter penned from the heart – and I set about finalising the details, which proved a challenge because I’d never done anything like this before.

The visa thing – a hotel – how do I get around Los Angeles? Money! I needed money. Time off. Insurance.

Before long it was the night before the night before departure and I was doing my final at-home checks. I didn’t sleep well that night , I was too full of anticipation.

Work – train to Heathrow – have I got everything? The frequent panics, the drunken night – I met a couple from my home town in the hotel bar who suggested sambuca…

Yes, sometimes I do jump.

The POD to Terminal 5 – Security – and a nice hot chocolate whilst I waited for my flight to LA.

On board – meh, it was 11 hours that passed very quickly – and soon I’d arrived! I was free to explore Studio City.

Los Angeles river & CBS Studio Centre

Now, I’ve looked into why, I’ve also discovered why, and I still wonder why they concreted their river. It isn’t quite ‘romantic stroll’, and the ducks seem out of place…

Over on the right, on the furthest shaded bench is where I sat with others waiting to be led along a misplaced suburban street to the stage.

I was the only British man in the audience and I was invited to the front so the comedic entertainer could do impersonations of my accent. I didn’t think he was very good, besides I thought my impersonation of his accent was much better. I received a branded cap for my trouble.

The set was much smaller than I’d expected, and it was great to see the stars at work – Betty White entered and she was marvellous, she was frail, she still had her twinkle, and the very moment she appeared made the journey worth it.

Would I sit in the audience of another show? No, probably not – the gentleman sat beside me had sat in something like 20 tapings of Hot in Cleveland, and numerous other shows, the list was endless, and I can see the attraction. The lady beside him had a day off work and was at a loose end, and I thought it wonderful that she had this opportunity. The most I have is a trip to the shop and maybe the cinema.

It was a very long winded process, around 5 hours for the filming of the 30 minute sitcom. Retakes and rewirites based on the audiences’ reaction to the jokes, downtime as the audience waited, as the comedic entertainer kept the audience distracted…

The next day, with my first flight not until 9pm, I strolled the 4 miles to Universal studios to have a poke around the shops, and then I jumped on the Metro to hunt down Betty’s star on Hollywood Boulevard…

I later discovered the joys of the airline lounge before flying to Boston and then on to Heathrow.

Heart in the sky, Union Station

I discovered the joys of jet lag ready for work the next morning.

Sometimes the best decisions are the most spontaneous and the most outrageous to others.

Sometimes we must do what we must do to hell with its insanity, to hell with expectations and our conformity.

Sometimes Drunk Me does good…

Tomos James