The flight from Glasgow, Scotland, across the Pond to Los Angeles gives me ample time to reflect on why I made the trip from Caledonia to California in the first place, some eight years ago . I'm a screenwriter by trade, and as a fellow scribe once said of the Hollywood studios: "They ruin your stories. They massacre your ideas. They prostitute your art. They trample on your pride. And what do you get in return? A fortune."
But the money is only part of it. California is fascinating in all its aspects - its technology, its climate, its ethnic mix and, yes, even its culture. When Team USA flew to Los Angeles after the 1998 Olympics, President Clinton pointed out that every nation on earth has a significant ethnic population in California. America is the great melting pot, and California provides a great deal of the heat. Disembarking at LAX and gazing at the great ethnic variety of Angelinos milling around I realise that already I am swimming in the gene pool.
This is not just a journey through 5000 miles of space, it's a journey through time. In California the future has already happened.
Santa Monica is where Los Angeles meets the ocean. It is always a special moment when I arrive here, open the shutters of my apartment and see the palm trees stretching into the distance along Ocean Avenue. Gazing out on the infinite blue of the Pacific, it's hard to believe that less than 16 hours ago I was locking up my Glasgow flat on a dreich Scottish morning. Linguists will note that already I am reprogramming my vocabulary. In the USA you do not live in a flat - you live in an apartment. A flat is what happens when your tyre is punctured. Make that your tire.
Dreams can be punctured here too, unless you are one of the lucky few chosen for success by the great dream factories which are the Hollywood studios. In this blog I'll be sending a regular tickertape from Tinseltown, letting you know whether its streets really are paved with gold, or Goldwyn. Meanwhile, to all of you back home - missing you already.