V6 029 A star is born – Hollywood beckons

Volume 6 part 029 Ignore holiday advice from Gays

We decided to return to the Villa Blancas resort which had replaced the “Magnolia” for the stay in 2005. Nothing stays the same but generally the changes were for the better. Blancas now featured a refurbished bar area not unlike that at “Island House”. Taking over the adjoining complex gives access to two pools as well as a newly installed giant hot tub and four man sauna.

Our chalet was in the original complex but convenient for the bar. We monopolised the two sun beds guaranteed to get sun all day for the whole week. Out of the sun, the island was uncharacteristically chilly. At night, downright freezing! Extra blankets, light sweaters and Rioja helped. Peter became an expert on Chateau Briand. We dodged the pygmy who pimped tables and the Centro Steak House only twice to access Bei Leilo further down the terrace. The head waiter at Centro was originally Bolivian but spoke English with a Derbyshire accent he learned working in a friends restaurant in my home town of Ripley of all places. Bei Leilo now used bought-in sauces and had expanded too far to be comfortable. Considering that we had bought both front seats of her “S” class Merc complete with computer memory and massage capability over more than a dozen years Leilo chose not to remember us.  We satisfied ourselves with the Chateau Briand at the Centro for the rest of the week. Hummel-Hummel is literally, now only half the bar its once was. Only the aging half is left. I felt quite young! The fluorescent green strobe lights that once illuminated the streams of piss hitting the back of a three metre long urinal are a distant memory. Piss now rarely hits the back of the urinal. The Bear cave had new Bears on the walls and ceiling. It was only half the fire trap of its glory years. Peter, the barman with the Pony tail inherited when Michael’s boyfriend followed him to hell. Years of cigarette smoke and dirty gays had taken their toll on both the original bears and the bar staff. Peter “the bar-keep” looked surprisingly well considering trade was insufficient to employ more than one additional waiter per shift. Since Michael, smoking had been banned inside. Peter “the Pony tail” was likely to last longer than his predecessors as he rarely played around.

Comparing notes with a couple of free loaders from Rotherham who now lived near Brighton and had an angle on all the best spots in the world to visit on a budget with the assistance of coupons and an OAP discount we discovered that Mykonos was the place to be seen. Regular budget flights from Gatwick have made it popular with the London set.  In the face of this overwhelming recommendation we resolved to give Mykonos a miss for my Sixty Fifth Celebrations.

Palm Springs was said to be the most up-and-coming gay resort. Its proximity to Los Angles made it a sporting ground for the rich and famous. Icons in the gay community have long been associated with Palm Springs albeit under the cloak of heterosexual hedonism.

All quite mad – maybe its the medicinal cannabis widley available without prescription?

I fixed on Los Angles for my birthday-bash followed by a ten day stay in Palm Springs. BA won the prize. For a little over five thousand pounds, fully reclining business class beds from Manchester via Chicago would return us overnight on an uninterrupted eleven hour A380 airbus flight to Heathrow. Pot luck got us a deluxe suite overlooking the waterfall and plunge pool at “Vista Grande” following the four nights booked with ocean views at the Erwin on Venice Beach.

A remarkably uneventful BA flight to Chicago on an American Airlines code share offered typically mediocre BA food and entertainment. Headsets were collected before I could catch the end of a film called “Serena” featuring some crazed pyromaniac. Across the snaking lanes of the fast track immigration queue a Mancunian enquired from an acquaintance the fate of “Serena”. Pete had seen the film previously and without invitation or hesitation launched in with the punch line that she had committed suicide by setting fire to the place!  Perplexed but strangely calm the recipient responded with a …” Rather extreme behaviour just for losing a tennis match!…”  It was ladies day at Wimbledon. Contrary to Pete’s untimely interjection, Serena Williams had won Wimbledon without striking a match. The man in front had NOT been watching a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence as Serena Pendleton.

How we laughed!

The connection from Chicago to LA was devoid of bed or entertainment. Wider seats and free booze didn’t make up for the noisy, fat guy across the aisle who downed eight double whiskeys in the three and half hour flight or the five kids he was travelling with sitting behind us and who had an unhealthy relationship with the public toilets. A fat child monopolised the starboard cubical whilst his siblings paraded back and forth like models auditioning for a bit part in a remake of “The devil wears Prada”. Never once did any of them actually close the toilet door. I can only assume they were using the mirror but to little effect. The baggage-reclaim at LAX terminal 3 is amongst the worst imaginable, by far exceeding the incompetence of the Old Queen Alia and comparable with the chaos in Goa. A provincial airport in the Yemen could beat LAX, hands down. At least, in Yemen you would have known from which carousel the bag was being stolen. The lack of signage reinforces a general absence of civility. As arrivals go, LAX outclasses the Heathrow experience where staff are formally trained to frighten off foreigners. In LAX indifference is inherent.

We eventually discovered the bags and after another twenty minutes oscillating back and forth along a clammy sidewalk, found the shuttle bus for the car hire depot. Despite having pre-registered we still had to go through the whole re-registration process to claim a car. The car hire crew were as helpful as the LAX land-side team. A piece of paper covered in microscopic print, a pointing finger and incoherent instructions which approximated how to pick your own car from a selection strewn across a twenty acre car park was the nearest you get to a human contact. Tourists instruct each other with quick-start self-help lessons in how to open “trunks”, lower seats and packing suitcases into multiple-option key controlled undersized luggage compartments. Those full of fold down roofs present particular problem solving challenges. An armed security guard on the exit gate checks you’ve collected the right make and model before dispensing the take-away, pre bagged, satellite navigation systems and opening the riot proof crash barrier to launch you fresh from a thirteen hour flight immediately onto the open highway on the wrong side of the street.  A private car park, next door offers the opportunity to safely set the sat- nav’ and take a driving lesson.

LAX to Venice beach is a mere seven miles. Long enough to switch lanes several times guided by a GPS that operates considerably slower than the Chevrolet Camaro that was hired as a Ford Mustang. I’d invariably passed the junction by the time the system ordered a right turn. A short-cut across oncoming traffic propelled us directly under the canopy protecting the main entrance to the Erwin. Horns blaring from irate locals displaying little appreciation for my unorthodox driving skill, announced our arrival. Valet parking did the rest.

The Erwin is to be recommended. It costs more than its corporate competitors despite them being able to prove that they are four star but has the location. The ocean view was just that. Our room was on the top, fifth floor with glass fronted balcony located centrally in the elevation that fronted Venice beach. Muscle beach was only a hundred yards or so to the left. It was Saturday evening and busy. The roof top bar did a roaring trade with the younger well-to-do’s congregating in time to see the spectacular sun-set over the ocean in the direction Malibu. The beach side park teamed with buskers and skateboarders. Joggers and Gymnasts dodged bikes and scooters. Dog walkers scooped poop.

The sun set on Venice beach as I raided the contents of the mini bar. Eight hours’ time lag was beyond trying to outwit the body clock. An early night would give us an early start. There was much to be seen.

By two in the morning even the jet lag failed to combat the boom-banger bang-ghetto blasting from the floor above. A polite call to reception seeking advice on when the night club closes, revealed that they didn’t run a disco in the world renowned rooftop bar which closed at midnight. It transpired that we were not actually on the top floor. Between us and the bar was a penthouse rented for the night by a gang of Bling-boys entertaining a herd of female groupies. The music revealed their ethnicity. After a couple of attempts at being courteous, “Security” did their duty and shut the party down by serving an eviction notice at three in the morning. The floors are as thin as the walls!

As an apology, the manager supplied complimentary red wine for me and tonic water for Pete. The final bill also deducted the costs from the mini bar.

They like to paint things in LA

After taking instruction from the valet parking on how to unhook and motor down the roof the rest of our first morning in LA was largely wasted. Malibu is a disappointing string of rear-ends to beach houses monopolising the ocean frontage. Grey scrubland tumbles down grey hills onto the coastal Highway, useful for a driving lesson before heading into the LA heartland. Canyon Drive isn’t actually a canyon. As a drive it is also fairly pointless. The roadway ends in a dead-end, merging into the start of a walking trail. The views are less than impressive. A back-track to find the cross town highway using “Hollywood boulevard” as a direction marker punched into the Sat Nav’ somehow dumped us in Pasadena. People in Pasadena must be zombies. I could not believe that anyone actually chose to live in Pasadena.

Downtown from Griffiths park and a world away

For the most part, Los Angeles is a sprawling morass of low rise inconsequential thinly built boxes huddled in clumps, interconnected by clogged tracts of concrete disguised as highways. This is a city with no heart. A city with no heart cannot fail. However sick this organism, it will never die. A self-perpetuating vacuous hinterland of excess and division with no apparent purpose other than to fuel the over-indulgence of those lacking intellect or self-control.  However disappointing, LA is one of those places that has to be seen to be believed. This logic does not extend to Pasadena.

Seeking solace in Griffiths Park is not to be recommended on a Sunday when a further twenty million people have similar motivation. A traffic jam mostly made up of tourists gingerly steering hire cars, snakes its way along a hill top road where parking restrictions are strictly enforced. The car park is logically located in the valley. An uphill walk to the Griffith Observatory gives a photo opportunity of down town and also the Hollywood sign to the rear.

 It’s all so much better on the TV.

Gripping a steering wheel, observing the convention not to change lane and trying to take in the sites through the spokes of forty ton eight wheelers is barely fun. The response from the Sat-Nav remained woefully inadequate lagging well behind the speed imposed by the accompanying traffic. One incorrect exit ramp and it takes four more to get back on track. Only tourists could choose to endure the “The Hood” down in skin-peeling temperatures well in excess of ninety Fahrenheit, whilst risking permanent hearing loss by driving at fifty miles an hour at the same level as the exhaust of an American articulated truck.

LA drivers offer no concessions.

I don’t recall where we ended-up after Griffiths Park. Venice beach was a welcome destination although dark by the time we arrived and the sand, off-limits. The “boardwalk” was deserted except for the occasional drunk enjoying a night cap of medicinal cannabis. A half mile walk south along the promenade finished at a side street boasting three restaurants marginally more “linen” than “plastic”. None displayed food photos. We chose the Mediterranean. The complimentary garlic pizza bread dough balls were plentiful. The wine list pitiful. The menu, a strange mix of Mediterranean meets Middle East was switched to a Mediterranean meets Central America alternative for the second evening. The food was dismal, the service non-existent, the bill extortionate and the Maître Di, an actress in waiting with an Apple “I phone” implant, came from Ipswich… which said it all.

Reverting to a planned approach to pre-determining destinations with a pre-mapped itinerary would hopefully reduce the amount of time spent on freeways. Ten miles of traffic between each city district is a modest estimate. With satnav primed and roof lowered, Disney Hall in Down-town LA was first on the list. Frank Gehry at his best! Spectacular, literally blinding contortions clad in stainless steel are complemented by the typically poor stateside lack of attention to detail. The bits of cladding and trim that are missing allows an unexpected insight into how the building is constructed although this is a misplaced benefit for a primary elevation. The interior design is lumpy and discordant. Apparently the acoustics are to be applauded. The whole creation is something of a Schonberg but crude and with less finesse.

Using the address for the “Capital Records” Building the satnav actually got us to the “stars”. Head-butting lampposts and fellow tourist all intent on reading as many brass stars as possible set into the mile long side-walk in an afternoon stroll is a fair trade for warning against pre-emptive strikes by piles of celebrity dog-shit.  There are 3 “Lucille Boyles” and a couple of “Desi Arnez”. Our target was “Judy Garland” but she too, came in multiples, as did Michael Jackson. A piss in a “pub” requiring the purchase of two sparking waters was served with a complimentary fifty-five-year-old Essex boy with sunken eyes and skin resembling a much used antique leather, chesterfield two seat sofa.  The bar was his local and had been for the best part of twenty five years. Two sips into the mineral water and we already knew he was semi-retired but on his second wife making it impossible to repatriate.

This one individual personified for me all that was LA. A post–surgical con-artist with no friends craving the attention of strangers with larger than reality bull-shit stories of a life that never was.

All very sad and he smelled.

Rodeo Drive is supposedly part of a golden triangle. The only thing triangular is that Rodeo Drive is a very short, one-way street to nowhere special and to take a second look necessitates going around the block onto “Wiltshire” to turn left, back on yourself. Top down in a silver Camaro is no competition for top down in a Bentley or Ferrari. Being at the bottom of the food chain we had little to lose parading the Rayban’s unlike the man in the red Ferrari who looked well pissed-off that he’d arrived on Rodeo Drive just ahead of a bright yellow Lamborghini making twice the noise and securing all the attention. Being cut-up driving a soft-top Bentley by the bimbo in a white two door Rolls-Royce must be the ultimate put-down.

We didn’t stop to shop and before we knew it we were hurtling through the lower part of Beverley hills being swept along by local traffic in a great hurry going nowhere, hitting a curb or two at high speed due to the steering wheel being on the wrong side of the car, before dropping down through what is euphemistically labelled “the Pacific Cascades” and back into Malibu, arriving at Venice Beach in mid-afternoon.

my very own Baywatch babe…….

Not a pop star or celebrity in sight! Peter was left numb by the whole experience.

Day light on Venice beach was worth a walk. We did the skate boarders and the market stalls the buskers and the bars. One bar to be specific, with beer served in bottles and a customer on the next table doing a runner without paying for his burger and beer. A Hostel located on the opposite corner provided a steady stream of replacement clientele of highly dubious intent. Walking back to the hotel via the main road showed even less promise for entertainment or a place to eat later on.

The restaurant at our hotel displayed the most interesting menu for the whole beach front yet Pete had made his mind up on the first morning that we hadn’t come all the way to LA to eat in the “Hotel”! We bought souvenirs, he snoozed till late into the evening, we ate half a mile down the beach at the quasi Mexican. The maître-de hailed from Milton Keynes. She operated her I-phone with astonishing dexterity. The service was shite! We had been there and done that at the “Mediterranean-meets-Central-America” the night previous… Maybe she was acquainted with the girl from Ipswich?

Jumping into the car for dinner and drinks was not an option. We didn’t know where we were going, where we could securely park or what time it all got going for a gay couple, one of whom wouldn’t drive and yet didn’t drink!

What do you do with only a morning to while away in LA? We weren’t checking into Palm Springs until three pm so no need to head for highway 101 early. I re-packed. Pete did the beach then repeating the Beach with me in tow. There were life guards in red shorts, a party of Chinese School children dressed as if off for a day trip to a catholic shrine and a group with learning disabilities who had given their carer the slip. The courtyard around the public conveniences was being fumigated with high pressure hoses blasting drums of disinfectant in all directions without any attempt to first move on the squatting hobo’s.

I didn’t like LA but “I’m glad I went”. I’m not so glad I saved it for my “sixty fifth”. I would have probably had more in common with the place for my Twenty Fifth. I should have undertaken exhaustive research and prepared a characteristically precision itinerary instead of experimenting with relaxing by relying on going with the flow. Spontaneity has never been my strong point. The only thing flowing was the traffic. I never saw the sun set from the roof top bar. Altogether a much wasted sampler to a much wasted city.

LA is not so much tiring as “Tiresome”, unfortunate rather than regrettable, disappointing as opposed to being boring. Boring is not an appropriate description for this innocuous part of California unless you were stupid enough to visit twice, in which case it would be truly, down-right boring.

The “natives” appeared to share similar characteristics.

Hire an open top car to admire the view…..

If you’ve paid for a sun roof, it makes sense to make the most of it. It is one hundred and twenty miles of highway 101 all the way direct to Palms Springs. Anticipating images of tumble weed and cacti, desert sands and deserted Diners I was seriously disappointed that it’s actually semi’s all the way. “Semi” is slang for sixteen wheel articulated trucks belching out half the world’s carbon emissions at an ear splitting volume. There are no diners. There is no desert until about ten miles from Palms Springs, half of which is a giant wind farm. The nearest thing to a secluded service station are the multitude of shopping malls and casino enclaves that line both sides the inter-state. With the hood down it was a gamble as to whether heat stroke or irreparable hearing loss would strike first. A Starbucks franchise inside an enormous supermarket provided respite. Sitting in the shade of a logia we struck up a conversation with an elderly black lady also resting from the by-now hundred-and-four-degree summer sun. She just loved the English… so polite, so articulate, so well-spoken and ever so pink! The suitcase on the back seat was the perfect excuse to close the roof whilst away from the car. In the searing heat and following the black woman’s advice that “Yo;s berrnin”,  there was little incentive to lower the roof again as we set off after coffee.

Uneventful would be exaggerating the exhilaration of the riveting road trip along highway 101. Palm Springs, similarly does not live up to its reputation.  One-time remote ranches owned by the LA elite have been overlain by a two storey, grid-iron settlement of retro 60’s chic measuring, possibly five miles square. For so many reasons this is not a place to walk. Regrettably when accepting the advice that Palm Springs was the up and coming place for Gays to be, I had omitted to enquire of the Canaria’n octogenarians on what constituted the “Season”. It transpired that no one visits Palm Springs between mid-June and early October. Selecting Mid July is not the optimum period if you want to meet people. July is Hot!

Welcome to Palm Springs

In direct contradiction to Fire Island and Key West, Palms Springs virtually closes for the summer. A few die-hards who enjoy evening meals on the terrace in temperatures in excess of thirty degrees “C” brave the forty degrees and above, day time temperatures. Of the four highly recommended restaurants listed on our itinerary, three were closed for “The Season”.

Despite the aid of satellite navigation, we missed the “Vista Grande” three times. Constructed around three interconnected pool areas the main entrance to the resort carries the name of each of the former courtyard developments it replaced but not the name of the whole complex. Unhelpful signage was complimented by unhelpful staff. Check-in left me feeling apologetic for ruining their day. I destroyed my own flip flop by trapping it under a 26Kilo suitcase while negotiating the lobby unaided causing me to slap rubber all the way to our deluxe bungalow.

In selecting a vacation destination, expectation, dependent upon your motives will vary tremendously.

It is easy to see how Palm Springs offers a legitimate Oasis from the interminable monotony of LA. Where New York buzzes, LA drones. For the most part the only perceptible difference between Palm Springs and vast swathes of LA is the density of the traffic but then again, we were off season. Featuring its own brand of single syllable architecture on a grid iron of four-lane, one way streets the “City“ of Palm springs represents a laid-back refuge for anyone residing within a two hour drive or preferably a one hour flight. Although a week-end sanctuary for the local gay population, for European visitors Palms Springs is hardly worthy of the inter-continental hike. My Optician and his wife rave about Palm Springs as their favourite world destination. Maybe selecting the right season would change my perception however, the east coast provides a great balance between the quasi civilisation of the New England Colonies to the North and the sleaze available for the less discerning in Fort Lauderdale or Key West in the South.

refrigerated waterfalls ????

If its concrete you want, stick with the Canaries and that’s only four hours away.

Maybe the answer to surviving Palm Springs is being straight?

The “Vista Grande” epitomises the American Malaise. For all its resource and ingenuity, the USA lacks the patience and diligence to provide finesse and attention to detail. I have no reason to believe that all of the other resorts in Palm Springs, and particularly the “Gay” ones do not share these attributes. The web site suggests that the “Vista Grande” excels in the standards of its gardens and accommodation. It is true that this resort is altogether less “bunker” like than many of its prefabricated competitors.

Reception services were simply a first impression. The majority of the staff try to be friendly and accommodating and even the ones that can only muster a morning grunt somehow manage to be more gracious than the surroundings would be expected to deliver. The ground workers deliver the most determined grunts maybe because they expect late night revellers to stay in bed while they get on with cleaning up the debris from the previous night’s home spun festivities unhindered by spectators prematurely occupying sun beds that have not yet been rearranged into their formal ranks. The hole in this logic is that there was rarely late night revelry. The daily round by the under-manager dispensing complimentary ice lollipops was a very unsubtle way of conducting a head count, checking-up on whether there had been any losses or illicit gains in the night. Escorted tours by prospective residents’ eager to check out what was on offer were regular intrusions in an otherwise monotonous day. They were more intent on investigating the talent rather than the bed linen.

I managed two books, one of which was a “History of Journalism” for some inexplicable reason other than it had been a gift from Pete. The other book was about a dysfunctional adolescent who lived with an extended family and until the age of fourteen delighted in the habit of taking a dump in hiding places such as behind the living room cabinet or under the dining room table and left in a pile wrapped in the offending underpants. The book was on loan from one of Pete’s mates which says a lot about Pete’s mates I thought.

Unlike LA and Palm springs, “Vista Grande” is not tiresome. It is simply tired. Ok for a drop in on the way somewhere else but a stay of more than twenty-four hours allows for a level of scrutiny that exposes a relatively grubby environment. This may be in keeping with a national indifference but could take a few lessons from the incomparable Island House, with the exception of its questionable network of external cabling tying the whole place together. Gay resorts spawn as many retrofit power cables as Gay bars. It’s all part of the Gay scene.

Pleasantly laid out, exotically planted tropical gardens are marred by cracked paving, scrubby undergrowth, rotting leaves and a total absence of dead heading.

The Humming birds are a delight.

Anti-slip mats served little purpose, in being so caked in decades of dried mud no one would possibly be possessed to walk on them. Instructing the hired help how and where to clean offered an element of distraction when any other forms of entertainment was sadly lacking. A Jacuzzi so hot you could boil eggs was complimented by a water fall so cold it could cool the ardour of the horniest Mexican degenerate on a day pass from “Down Town” LA. Boasting two pools was a bonus despite the one described as “the fun pool” being decommissioned on the day of our arrival and taking five days to refill. Equally unfortunate was the stripping of the lawns around the same pool as an alleged water saving device. The dust bowl it created was the source of the contamination that had closed the pool. The water used to refill the pool could have irrigated the lawn for a year. Blue painted hoarding encasing three bungalows, closed for renovations failed to give a lift to the stark expanse of grit. Gossip alleged that the middle one of the three decommissioned cabins had exploded one night incinerating the occupant who had been found dead in the shower where, in vain he had attempted to douse the flames. Apparently, the guy had developed the munchies after boiling up some crystal but failed to light the stove when he turned on the gas. Signs of scorching were certainly evident on the bungalow soffits and would also go some way to explain the loss of the grass patio. The week degenerated into a plant-your-own-palm-tree-festival where skulking Latino gardeners, patently from across the border appeared daily with a new specimen or two to re-landscape the black ash dust bowl.

Given the choice, take a suite. There are only four of the deluxe models. They are spacious, individually decorated and well-presented although I remain unsure exactly what look there were going for. Modern-Retro meets baronial-colonial, best describes number 42. A door into the bedroom would have been appreciated.  An open-plan, “L” shaped lounge-dining room wrapped around a well-equipped open-plan kitchen. The bath room was modest but adequate. An unfortunate incident when all four deluxe suites were disabled by a blocked main sewer was resolved within half a day. Standing in the bath to take a shower lost its appeal after witnessing it welling up half full of well ripened bodily waste. Peeing in the waterfall offered a back stop until the drains were unblocked, I was glad not to need a poo. Shabby-chic may excuse the exterior featuring mildly corroded sixties period-style steel windows, seriously dodgy homemade metal artwork, and liberally applied multi coloured wall wash where the poor cutting-in reveals four generations of exterior fashion. The distressed look is big on the Gay scene adding character to an otherwise tropical version of a 1957 Butlin’s holiday camp.

The principle attraction of a deluxe suite is that they are located in the courtyard where the boys come out to play. The four suites exclusively take up two sides of the tropical garden housing the hot tub, cold waterfall and a smart steam room curving with glass-brick walls. Our private patio gave a great view of the mating rituals of the common, Southern Californian sleaze bag, and their attempts at interbreeding with the odd European or out of town domestic sex tourist. The “ornamentals” added their own dash of spice! One junior slave model, in particular resembled a disrobed Buddhist monk. In his early twenties, wearing nothing but a leather bike jacket and a cock ring to compensate for his wholly unremarkable male member he was on “rent” to a Tattooed Muscle-Mary from San Francisco who used a dog collar and lead to keep his boy in check. Being bought and paid for didn’t stop the young man from playing the field on any and every occasion the minute that his sugar daddy was out of sight. The San Franciscan regularly snoozed in the afternoon.

Being hit-on by a twenty-nine-year-old Mexican Manager of a budget furniture outlet within eight hours of arrival, strangely did little for my ego.  A Texan with an older boyfriend proved less of a challenge but more of a conquest if only as a mutual tease. For teachers, the Texans turned out be air-heads who, according the Pete after they left, found me to be “self-opinionated” for condemning their politics and slamming a no-hoper purportedly running for the White house called “Donald Trump”. Regrettably, I believe that they didn’t understand the definition of self-opinionated. Neither did they understand the potential lunacy of endorsing Donal Trump. I convinced myself that the Donal Trump Thing was a Fox News publicity stunt and that if the two Texans were his typical supporters… it would all have gone away by autumn … How wrong was I? There are an awful lots of air-heads in the mighty US of A

There is nowhere to venture during the day but just in case anyone of the twenty percent capacity crowd considered leaving the complex, breakfast and lunch was laid on courtesy of someone called “Alehandro” and the local Sub-Way franchise. We took a tray for breakfast whilst politely declining the Sub-way. For somewhere located in the middle of a desert there are an annoying number of flies. Eating al-fresco wasn’t an option. The two days of unseasonal tropical storms accompanied by almost continuous torrential rain so severe that they managed to wipe out a bridge on highway 101, replaced one biblical plague for another.

Suite forty-three, almost next door, was occupied for a short while by yet another elderly Mexican, this one shared with his bloated boyfriend and two quite obnoxious raucous twinks along for the ride as “wishful thinking”. It transpired, as expected, that the two mouldy oldies had given the youths a freebie holiday. The older one of the boys boasted being a senior executive in an underwear internet outlet he had founded to offset a shrinking modelling career. He was depressed, poor thing. The second twink was more innocuous than obnoxious keeping himself largely to himself and a select group of gropers in the hot tub. The free loaders lasted a long weekend annoying most of their fellow inmates in turn.

Following the departure of the boy-toys, the older couple moved into a cheaper bungalow, sized for two after first complaining they smelled gas. I didn’t suppose for one minute that this was a sick joke. How could they possibly know that someone had blown themselves into oblivion satisfying his midnight munchies only the month before? The management took the threat quite seriously immediately shutting off the supply, denying us hot showers in the process. I suspect the odour which passed for a gas leak was the residue from the blocked sewer. The inspection, engaging a swarm of hunky engineers was completed just in time for the arrival of a group of four spritely young men fresh from work and doing a stop-over on their way to the San-Diego Sunday Gay Pride. Their ring-leader looked like a plumber, wearing overalls straight off the shop-floor. He needed a wash. They weren’t fond of closing their floor to ceiling venetian blinds. Lots of mutual masturbation and heavy-rock sessions occupied their evening. By midnight three of the boys had headed for the bars whilst the plumber preferred being pleasured on a sun lounger next to the Jacuzzi by a string of eager abusers in town for a “Piss-fest week-end” convention at another resort close by. His propensity towards public adulation explained why the four had dispensed with the venetian blinds. They left the resort before day-break taking with them a quilt cover, a metal wall decoration and an assortment of towels. Apparently they had paid cash and done a runner! Who takes cash in this day and age in the great old US of A?

Forty-one was occupied on the Friday night by a similarly eager young man, also on his way to the San Diego Gay Pride but for the week-end. An all over tan corroborated my suspicion that he was no novice at a full frontal display. One of a married couple from Idaho took full advantage of the man’s generosity, taking satisfaction by pouncing on him the very same bed the plumber was too delight in on the following evening. Number 41 too, departed before day-break but took with him only his red Ferrari.

Idaho is not just famous for growing potatoes but also onions. They grow nearly all the onions consumed or exported by Americans! Amazing what you find out when, as a distraction engaging in conversation a man whose husband is giving a blow job to a sun tanned Adonis with a Ferrari on the adjacent sun lounger. The couple from Idaho moved into number forty-one for the rest of their week’s stay as compensation for the leaking roof in their budget Chalet which had become self-evident as a consequence of the once in ten-year deluge. The roof had probably been defective for the whole of the last decade. They had hired a nasty Japanese budget car and went on day trips to San Diego, the Joshua Trees, Frank Sinatra’s house and grave and up a cable car to a mountain top viewing-platform where they got stuck for six hours after a power cut.

We didn’t!

Why did we need to get dressed to venture out into the forty-plus heat of the day when we had perfectly adequate running commentaries over evening cocktails on the terrace detailing what we hadn’t missed?

A white forty-something professional type with a younger, long-time and highly educated Vietnamese partner enjoyed number forty-four for five days. Rarely seen during the day and never by the pool during the evening they were never-the-less a charming couple, always immaculately dressed when on their way to nowhere down town to indulge in some overpriced sustenance. They smiled and waved with the occasional “How-do”! Unlike most Americans, they were otherwise silent.

Eleven days is an awfully long time to be unaccompanied in purgatory.

Empty or full, Pete spent most of his time basking by the “Fun Pool”. He collected the odd “friend”, often nice enough but with limited appeal.

Given the demographics, “people of colour” appeared a rarity in Palm Springs. “Mexican” was the principle alternative diet to cow by the kilo. Avoiding the delights of a diner like “Lulu’s”, typified by photographs of the food they served is relatively difficult off-season. If they are not at Lulu’s the majority of white Americans are not eating, guaranteeing that any restaurant of repute is available without a reservation. The “Chop house” served Chops and Steak. The “Kaisers Steak house” served Steak and chops. “Johannes” recommended by Alehandro who moonlighted as a waiter for a rival restaurant “in-season”, served all things European. I had Viener Snitzel and a very fine pig it was. Wines started at about $35 for a bottle of “Dynamite”, a challenging little Red from Sonoma, to fifteen hundred dollar bottles of obscure French Vintages with the odd “Rothschild” label thrown in for good measure. How on earth can any red wine worth drinking be worth drinking when stored in-perpetuity in a five-meter square glass walled fridge in the middle of an urban desert? It would have had to travel as well as Cleopatra!

We didn’t do many restaurants. It was too hot to bother. Each evening Pete made use of the gym belonging to an affiliated company with a free pass handed out by the reception at check-in. Although listed as one of the facilities that placed our resort above the rest, the sales pitch failed to advise that the Gym is some five miles away, at the opposite end of town. Without a car you would be screwed! While he pumped iron with a variety of closet queens I shopped.

“Ralph’s” supermarket served everything from imported pates and cold meats to Barbecued lemon Chicken and homemade pasta. Wine didn’t cost a small mortgage. Jack Daniels was plentiful. Vodka could be purchased in two litre flagons for around twenty-two dollars a jug. There was a good supply of bottled Stella. I treated the twenty nine year old Mexican stalker to a drink on our patio who misunderstood the gesture trying to repay me with a blow-job before the Texan teacher got in first by pouncing on the boy in the steam room. How cheap are some people?

Lessons not learned we drove back to LAX in the Camaro with the convertible roof open to squeeze every last cent of value from the hire car.

Drop off went remarkably smoothly, a frequent shuttle service dropped us off precisely where we needed to be and British Airways lived up to their reputation of treating passengers like an unnecessary inconvenience. The upstairs bed on an A380 was my birthday present to myself. I hadn’t expected to have to share it with a complete stranger in the next booth having to scramble over my protruding legs just as they do on every other overpriced BA business class seat which is why we prefer American or at a push Virgin.

BA at its very best. So much grey… and plastic seats and plastic food served by plastic crew who sincerely believe they are doing their passengers a favour letting them on-board. The favour didn’t extend to seconds, not even from the bar trolley. A disappointing flight after a disappointing holiday was compounded by a packed executive lounge on the stop-over at Heathrow serving disappointing snacks to very disappointed customers. Labelling the whole experience tacky would be being just too polite. Etihad and Emirates really don’t have to try as hard as they do!

Been there, done that, didn’t bother with the tee-shirt and won’t be going back.

Sunset over Malibu July 2015

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