Whilst the spirit has been willing (after all, there has been a certain amount of time to sit and contemplate the world in a blog on some coach trips of truly epic proportions in the last few days), the technology has been decidedly weak, so I find myself with rather a lot of catching up to do, in a very short space of time. It is just before 8am and the boys are currently observing a boys’ choir rehearsal at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, before we jump on the coach (again), for a tour of what looks to be a very exciting city.
I think I’ll work backwards, so, yesterday was completely uneventful, consisting of a ten-hour coach journey across wilderness in pretty much all its forms: arid desert, endless plains, lush green hills, more arid desert…with the odd comfort break and an old episode of Midsomer Murders, entitled ‘Death in Chorus’(yes, really), in which the Dean and Chapter get up to all sorts of dastardly deeds and half the choir die horrible deaths, much to the boys’ amusement! There; you have the measure of our journey between Palm Desert and San Francisco…..
Some of this road-trip was inevitably spent recounting events of the evening before. Palm Desert is a strange place in many ways, with the name being a very accurate description; it is a large, elegant city of palm-lined avenues and fountains, chic boutiques, resort hotels and gated communities, plonked in the middle of the most desolate environment you can imagine. Its luxury lifestyle and climate (in the nineties during our brief visit) inevitably appeals to a certain section of society; our arrival reduced the average age of the population by a considerable amount, even allowing for the advanced years of some of our lay clerks…. I would say that, the boys and David Newsholme aside, I was probably the youngest person at the concert, by a few years at least. The church was rather lovely, with picture-windows giving onto mountain scenery, and a beautiful garden with humming-birds! The concert was very well received and, albeit to my inexpert ear, sounded pretty perfect. After the concert and a champagne reception, we were whisked away to what were, by all accounts, amazing hosts. Next morning’s stories seemed to have a certain swimming-pool/hot-tub theme!
Los Angeles has 17 million inhabitants and traffic and pollution to match. Fortunately we were spared much of the latter by virtue of the fact that we arrived on a Sunday, amid relative calm, blue skies and a cool breeze. We were given a tour by an English guide called Nicola, and although L.A. was not my favorite place, I could nevertheless see what had managed to lure her away from Redditch, which on balance probably says more about my opinion of Redditch than anything else (I’ve never actually been there, so I’m happy to stand corrected, if anyone feels inclined to try and persuade me otherwise). We admired the ‘Hollywood’ sign from a rather odd shopping mall, which had an Egyptian theme going on, although quite why enormous stone pillars covered in hieroglyphics were topped with gigantic white plastic elephants is anyone’s guess. We trod, literally, in the footsteps of stars such as Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie, and had our photos taken with Michael Jackson and Superman look-alikes, whist Mrs Knight was stalked by Darth Vador! Then it was off to Beverly Hills (frankly, Cartier, Chanel and Louis Vuitton stores are the same the world over, aren’t they? (She said nonchalantly!!)) Lunch was found on Santa Monica Pier, with enough time to admire the Pacific, though not to actually dip feet in it. It looked rather chilly anyway. I have to stop, as we are off now, so this WILL be continued at a later date…..