It happened in Monterey a Long time ago

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 24 July 2015

Good bye Santa Barbara, hello Monty. 249 miles, through changing temperatures, changing sound tracks and changing scenery. 249 miles and we would be in Monteray. We all knew we were going to have to film stuff, but after 249 miles in the wagon, sleeping and waking, eating, drinking and snoozing, the thought of getting out of my polkadots and into something film worthy was exhausting.

Still we arrived at the crew's hotel. A very pretty woman, size 28, tattooed, with fabulous makeup gave us the key to one of the rooms. We were all dying for the bathroom, clenching our euphemisms, and forming an orderly queue. I took the key, went outside and up one floor in the elevator.

The lift was a big tin box, grubby and slow. Did not bode well. Walked along an unappealing balcony. Unlocked Isa Billions door, and a huge, clean room stared back. A huge, clean room with a big clean bathroom and white towels. I dropped my polkadots to the floor and dressed in stripes, an easy blue and white nautical outfit that would carry me through a long shoot.

Now here is where it gets a bit hazy because my memory is either retrospective, episodic or just plain mud. I remember changing out of my polkadots in the back of the van, on the side of the road, whilst Eddie and Stewart went looking for locations. The back of a car, lavatories, the side of the road, wherever I was one dress replaced another and I was stripped, striped and decent.

The weather had changed from hot to 25 degrees cooler, I had goose bumps on my goosebumps.

So back to the crew's hotel.

The huge, clean room had a huge, clean bed. To the left of the bed, up three wide steps sat the huge, clean Jacuzzi. WHAAAAAT!

Yup, a huge, square jacuzzi sat on a plinth next to the big bed. Who, or what, was going to use it was beyond comprehension, but for one night only it sat there, in the huge, clean room inviting the occupant to slide in and bubble away.

I'd lost my hair clip, and for a moment my sanity.

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Myly Virus

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 20 July 2015

Six days down, ten to go and the virus hit me like a truck from behind. My head hurt, my chest hurt, every part of my body ached, the cost of a US doctor was prohibitive so I had to think laterally.

I felt like a Spanish, Jewish Princess - I didn't know whether I was Carmen or Cohen.

The way forward was to stay as still as possible. Keeping my eyes shut. Since my eyes closed involuntarily I was nodding off, like Alice's dormouse, between questions. I texted my Pranic healer in East Sussex, and my Theta Therapist in South Darenth. 'Help' I wrote. And it did. It really did. Instead of the top of my head blowing off when I coughed it was just my hairline that hurt.

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Volley balls.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 19 July 2015

It was Fathers day in the UK, they were with each other as I lollopped around my luxury 12th floor bedroom. Didn't want breakfast, didn't want to get dressed, but it was our one and only day off and Sybil was collecting me at 10.30.

Haven't watched any American telly at all, haven't wanted to. My head has been so full of research notes and the packing and unpacking of suitcases. Thought about putting the telly it on but couldn't face the news of shootings in Charleston.

I lay in bed thinking about the rest rooms/bathrooms/toilets and lavatories, and varied selection of loos that have made this trip so special. The airport seats, press a button and the seat moves round to the right. A new soft plastic sanitary cover is on the seat so that sitting down is extra dry. The lavatory seat in one hotel that was warm. I sat down and flew up in the air like a spring. Realised that the red hot seat was part of the luxury lavatalia. The Loo paper that now has the added benefit of a little sticker on the end of the roll. Unpeel it and you know that no human hand has been there before you. The myriad handles and buttons that you either pull or push, or the fancy ones that you have to wave your hand over. And then there are the fake vintage taps that are really sensory ones. I stood a full three minutes trying to turn a tap on, in the end had to call for help. In came the hotel manager and waved her hand under the tap. Whoosh went the water. I know that 'man' needs to develop and invent, I know that 'man' likes to conquer science, I also know that when you've got to go you've got to go and then when you've gone you want to get out as soon as possible. Is that too much to ask?

I crawled out of bed and slipped on my polkadot dress that required neither item of underwear. Went downstairs to wait for Sybil, my friend of over thirty years. Sybil is a soothsayer, mystic, healer and dyed in the wool progressive from Blackpool. Sybil has lived in 'Hollywierd' since 1993, Sybil still speaks full Rochdale.

I was being collected at 10.30. Figured since Sybil could see into the future Sybil would know that I was going to be ten minutes late.

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Hot Doggedy Dog

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 18 July 2015

How different is New Orleans from Los Angeles. The French Quarter with its genteel courtyards, people walking, a sense of its own history, and LA with its billboards, traffic and technology.

Outside my 12th floor window, a wonderful hotel for the young and hip, outside there were moving images of giant actors from 'Orange is the New Black' film stars and the edgy vibe of business that is running the show.

I woke with that raspy phlegmy thing you get when a chest infection is about to take hold.

The ironing board was still up from last night. One black dress, two undergarments, and a pair of fancy black and diamond sandals. I skipped breakfast and met the crew downstairs.

A huge lobby with loungers both in and outside where three piece sofas were dotted around to spread out on until your valeted car arrived. The Marriott stands central. The crew were round the corner in a hotel that was much less salubrious than mine but fancy and neat nevertheless.

We have been treated royally by our sponsors. It occurred to me as I went down in the spacious elevator that the old git and I could never afford to stay in the places they were putting us up in. Gratitude hit me as the doors opened on the lobby.

The runners arrived to walk Olly and I round the corner. Colton, with his hipster beard. He chewed on sunflower seeds and, like a parrot, spat out the husks into an empty water bottle. Kevin, with his hat on backwards, was amenable and VERY polite it was very un-English. A delicious boy who entered the film industry because of Wes Anderson's THE LIFE AQUATIC. We acted out scenes. And then there was tiny Kim. She had confessed to me over our Mexican meal that she suffered social anxiety. We worked on her and cuddled and kissed her, by the end of our LA run she was smiling and talkative. She was super efficient and quiet.

We all loaded up into the SUV's and set off for the Hollywood hills.

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Gator on a stick.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 17 July 2015

Friday 19th June, and our stay in New Orleans had come to an end. Impressions linger. Balconies, hospitality, beads and beignet sugared noses.

My big red suitcase, packed to the gunnels, was left by the desk in the suite of my bedroom. I emptied the complimentary plate of meat and cheese into the bin, and piled up all the sheets and underlays for the chamber maids. Still donning my nearly white dress, me and B Roll camera and AP were off to the market to pick up some more B roll shots.

B roll is vital in an edit. The footage is used for establishing shots, pictures to cover dialogue, think of it as televisions 'Elastoplast', covering a multitude of cuts.

I locked my case and put a change of clothes in my pink suede shoulder bag so I could change for the impending fight to LA.

Met downstairs for some clogged scrambled eggs and Early Grey tea.

Despite the hour it was hot and steamy, that's the atmosphere not the scrambled eggs.

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Big Easy Beignets.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 16 July 2015

Three days in and it feels like I've been away for a month.

Jim has been dealing with my little red car which failed it's MOT. Rust and a nail in the tyre, along with speeding fines and I'm thinking - whilst sipping iced water - thank the Lord I'm 3465.23 miles away.

Everywhere we travel we travel in miles. No kilometric calculations for us. America and my ancient brain prefer the old system, you can stick your metric up your mint Imperial. So for the last two days its been walking and mini drop-offs. This afternoon it's a 114 mile round trip to 'Houmas House Plantation and Gardens' through Baton Rouge and over Louisiana's historic River Road. The brochure said the plantation was less than an hour from New Orleans's Armstrong International Airport and less than a half-hour from Baton Rouge. I wondered what Einstein would have said 'Pull the other one...'

Juan and Lauren, both African Americans, felt uncomfortable about our trip to the Plantation, but as Lauren said.

'You're paying me to run and run is what I'll do.'

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Go Chigger.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 15 July 2015

So we arrive at the Wednesday in the Bourbon Hotel. June 17th. We had only been around for two whole days and it felt like we had been on a caravan through the Sahara.

Now here I am in the sizzling heat wearing my white dress and inappropriate under garments. Scrubbing out the stains and washing me smalls, well bigs actually.

My room had a balcony with two chairs and a little round table. It faced a wonderful bar with friendly staff and a playing fountain in the dining area. I wanted to open the door to hang my washing on the back of the chair. I turned the key to unlock the lock. I pulled and prayed. In the end I called down to the Concierge.

'I can't open the windows' I said.

'Your room doesn't have open windows maam' said the pleasant receptionist.

'No I mean I can't open the French doors.'

'Oh. I 'll send up an engineer' she said, politely with a hint of irritation.

I hung up and unlocked the door again. It occurred to me that we weren't in London and everything was on the other way round so instead of pulling I decided to push the door. Voila. There was the French Quarter, in the heat of the morning. I hung out my washing and called down to say that I had fixed the problem.

'Thank you maaaam.' said the trained concierge.

Breakfast taken, scrambled eggs and Early Grey Tea, and then the two crews departed.

Eddie - The mother of all producers, with her green back-pack and scripts.

Stewart - the Mighty director, with his furrowed brow and diagrams.

Orlando - the cameraman, with his own camera and box of lenses.

Delboy - The sound man with equipment that was worth more than my cottage.

Justin - Producer Director, I needed a kick step to hug him, with his youth.

Isa Billion Major Fim - a nickname obviously. Assistant Director. With her bag of goodies.

Olly Smith - presenter. With the best line in jackets since Sean Connery.

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Tuesday in New Orleans.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 14 July 2015

Waking up in The Bourbon Hotel was glorious. Clothes hanging neatly in the 'closet', clean white towels. Delicious bath lotions.

I chose a white dress for the N'awlins shoot. Great idea until I realised I had to wear spandex knickers in 100 degrees, then face the drips of red cocktails, red tomato sauce and enough brown gravy to stain a vat of ties.

I have loadsa little bottles of hair shampoo, conditioner, body gel and moisturiser from all the places we stayed. My bathroom shower is littered with tiny phials of memories.

The Bourbon is reputedly one of theeeee most haunted hotels in New orleans. Well I didn't see any apparitions but I did feel a kind of serenity in the building. It's lush and beautiful and according to the plaque outside, just behind where 3 young hotel helpers help you with anything from throwing away the detritus of a days filming, opening the doors into an air conned coolness or just smiling in that way that young men do in shorts.....the plaque revealed that in 1881 The First Order of Negro Catholic Nuns bought it and used it as a convent, orphanage and school. The old, opulent ballroom was transformed by 'The Sisters of the Holy Family Order established by four women in 1842. The order is now the oldest female-led African American order in America. The Sisters of the Holy Family helped the needy in the Bourbon for 83 years but had to sell the property to hotel interests. They moved to New Orleans East, where they remain, still dedicated to the community they have served for so long.'

I quote the plaque because you can feel a wonderful wave of goodness in the air. That's if you're a lunatic like me who bounces up against and into energy.

After meditating and doing me Dahn Yoga tapping I slid into my Spandex which enabled me to slide into my white dress to join the gang down in the dining room. Urns of flavoured water and a huge breakfast under heated tureens. Everything from sausage gravy and hash browns to scrambled eggs, my plate of choice. Scrambled eggs and Earl Grey tea.

Stewart the mighty director, and Eddie the mother of all Producers took me in hand and walked me, in the 85 degree early morning heat, to the big white Court House opposite which stands a restaurant that sports banana flambe for breakfast.

I had to taste it of course.

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