Musings of an Englishman who literally quit his life in Devon in mid-2012 to move to Tijuana to love a girl.
They ended up in San Diego where he became a TV anchorman (yes really...), they got married, and now they're living in England together.
Simple as that really.
Follow your heart, who knows where it will lead.

Crazy. Beautiful. Madness.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Wishing on a 'Starr'... and being left disappointed

RINGO STARR...? A bit of a douchebag really...
There, I said it.
I’ll no doubt upset a great many people with this opening statement but hey, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion…
Over the last couple of days since interviewing him I’ve answered a lot of questions from a lot people both in and out of work.
‘How was he?’
‘What was it like interviewing him?’
‘Was he cool?’
And so forth.
If I’m honest I’ve skirted around giving my honest opinion because, I guess, it’s hard to admit that a person you’ve held in such high esteem for much of your life – is actually just that… a bit of a douche.
I love the Beatles. I've always loved the Beatles. In fact, I distinctly remember singing along to the song, ‘Yellow Submarine’ – which Ringo actually originally sang – as a five or six-year-old at primary school.
It was probably the first real song that I truly loved.
And Ringo, the kind of goofy loveable character that he’s always seemed to be, was difficult not to love too.
But after meeting him at a red carpet event in his honor in Hollywood on Monday night, my opinion of him has changed somewhat.
It’s always the risk when you meet someone famous. That fear that whoever it is will never truly live up to the expectation that you imagined they would.
It’s an unfair test really.
Will they make you laugh? Would they be so friendly they’d act like a long-lost friend? Would they invite you for drinks to meet other ‘cool’ famous people?
Sadly these people are nearly always the opposite of what you think.
I’ve met a lot of famous people in my years as a journalist. I’m also lucky to have semi-famous friends.
My friends thankfully have remained so because they aren’t complete douchebags.
Anyhow, I digress.
On Monday night I was reporting on an event organized by multi-Oscar-nominated Hollywood director (Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart, Mulholland Drive), David Lynch, to honor the former Beatle drummer with the ‘Lifetime of Peace and Love Award’.

'Peace & Love' poster

The venue was the El Rey Theater in West Hollywood which looked like it was amazing – several decades ago.
That’s the bizarre thing about Hollywood. It's an illusion. It’s smoke and mirrors.
Through a camera lens it looks amazing. The streets could actually be paved with gold.
But this run-down theater – which was just about to play host to a member of arguably the most famous band the world has ever known – was a few doors up from a Starbucks and an Office Depot.
Anyway, as the hours ticked away towards the event, excitement grew and we took our positions.

Take your place among the stars

Large lettering had been placed on the building’s fa├žade stating what the event was all about and, no sooner had the magical rolled up red carpet appeared, so to did a flurry of photographers and autograph collectors who almost seemed to be hiding down the street, lurking until the opportune moment to pounce.

The El Rey Theater, West Hollywood

One very obvious fan camped out in a nearby doorway with no less than 30 vinyl albums by The Beatles and Ringo himself.
With an hour to go before the concert began the stars began arriving on the red carpet.
Legendary rock drummer Kenny Aronoff was first followed quickly by a couple of up-and-coming artists who no-one seemed to have heard of.
Cue awkward interviews as everyone asked every question under the sun apart from: “Er… and you would be…?”


Then came Ben Folds who was actually a really lovely guy and proper talkative.

Ben Folds

And then, the five or six camped-out photographers, quickly became 100+ (or so it seemed).
A blacked out car pulled up behind us and out clambered Ringo together with his wife and former Bond-girl, Barbara Bach.
Cue madness. The intense frenzy of camera flashes quickly turned night into day.

The 'Starr' of the show

After giving an interview to Access Hollywood and another local LA network, Ringo approached my cameraman and I.

We interview Ringo

As a bit of a joke I asked him – surrounded by dozens of cameramen, photographers, celebrities and fans – if he thought ‘Beatlemania’ was returning to the U.S.
I thought it was quite a witty shoe-in given the amount of attention being paid right now to Paul and Ringo performing as part of the Grammys.
"Well… no," he responded. Point blank.
To give him credit he did then answer my question about how honored he felt to be receiving the award, but then ended sarcastically saying "we’ve got a great show… pity you won’t be joining us..."
I felt like showing him my ‘press pass’ for the event, but instead I smiled and let him enjoy his moment.
And then he wandered on to have his photo taken several thousand more times.
My opinion of him changed there and then.
Maybe he’s bored of doing interviews seeing as he’s done more than most in his life.
Maybe he just didn’t like me.
Who knows.
But I guess when you’re the ‘world’s richest drummer’ with a net value of $300million you can say what you want, in whatever way you want, to anyone.
I guess I should be honored or just thankful that he stopped and talked to me.
However the experience left a bad taste in my mouth.
Within seconds my mood – and the general atmosphere on the red carpet – quickly became electric again with eight words muttered by an excitable woman standing behind me.
“Oh, my, GOD… it’s Jim FUCKING Carrey…”
All of a sudden a largely muso-focused event quickly became ‘A’ list.

Jim Carrey

Cue so many more camera flashes that David Lynch thanked the assembled press for the “cool light show” before scurrying inside.

Every the character

Carrey talked abut his love for The Beatles and how he sings his daughter to sleep singing some of the group’s classic hits.
Who’d have known it.
Jim even jokingly told off his publicist who was trying to hurry him along the carpet by saying... "you're always telling me what to do... I like talking!"
Some other familiar faces such as Joe Walsh and Peter Frampton - my absolute favourite on the night (and son and daughter) - then joined the line up before they all flocked inside for the show.

Peter Frampton and son and daughter

So there you have it. Monday night was my first taste of Hollywood.
My first trip to LA, my first time interviewing people on a red carpet, and my first real disappointment interviewing a star.
Of course I’ll keep listening to The Beatles but I’ll try and forget about that bloke at the back playing drums.

Twitter: @tristan_nichols

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The 'Britionary'

Note to self: When talking to American friends/colleagues, never, EVER say: “I’m just popping out for a fag…”
While my English friends will understand the true meaning of this sentence, people here will take an entirely different meaning from it.
And believe me, it’s not good.
Not a day passes when I – as a Brit – seem to say something which is deemed to be a). ridiculous; b). hilarious; or c). just plain weird.
For the past nine months living and working here in San Diego I’ve been a constant source of entertainment – which probably explains why I’m on TV.
Language is the very glue which holds society together.
Without it, things break down, so you have to adjust.
And I, hosting not one but two TV shows to an American audience, have had to adapt to survive.
It’s no good looking the part if no-one actually understands you right?
I must admit, I rarely get recognized out and about in San Diego but when I do those people often say something along the lines of “that’s that guy on the TV that talks weird...”
I can’t tell you how annoying it is, day-after-day, to be told that the way I talk, write or spell is “wrong”.
I’m a journalist – an award-winning one at that. I’ve been writing articles for like 16 years so I’m used to having my copy edited for print.
I’m not ‘wrong’ in the way I communicate, I just do so differently.
And I’m not just talking about the way I communicate in work. It’s at the supermarket, it’s in the phone store, it’s on the bus, it’s in a bar or in a Subway. It’s everywhere.
Sometimes I feel like pointing out that the ‘English’ language originally came from… (I’ll give you a clue – it wasn’t Mississippi).
But then of course I’d come across as being a typical Englishman thinking I’m better than the rest.
*swimming against the tide here pal.
Anyhow, like I said... I've had to adapt and incorporate certain 'Americanisms' into my own language.
So if you do notice me stumbling from time to time while reading the news, you'll understand that it's because I'm saying words I've never said before, in an order I've never said them!
It seems even my keyboard which I’m typing this very blog on, is against me.
With each new sentence or word it wants to correct me because it thinks the English words I’m writing are meant to be spelt in the American-English way.
Living and working in the U.S. is just not easy for a foreigner.
The British and the Americans are very similar, but we’re very different at the same time.
Everything I’ve ever known is almost the same… it’s just called something different or it’s labeled differently.
Here they have ‘T.J. Maxx’, not ‘TK Maxx’ as we know it.
'Nike' is pronounced 'Nikee'.
Firefighters ‘put down’ flames rather than ‘put them out’.
A house isn't 'burgled' here, it's 'burglarised'.
'Bangs' is a 'fringe' (as in hair).
A 'gas station' is the equivalent of our 'petrol station'.
An 'ATM' is a cash machine. 'ATM' is also... oh... never mind.
A 'cell phone' is a 'mobile phone'.
The date is written in a way that has the month FIRST rather than the actual day's date.
More often than not the Americans seem to pronounce them ‘vee-hickles’ rather than simply ‘vehicles’.
The term ‘scrummage’ in rugby is called ‘scrimmage’ in American football.
A hashtag, or ‘#’, is known as the ‘pound sign’ when of course we British know the ‘pound sign’ as being !@#$%^&*()_ - nope, my keyboard doesn’t actually have the pound sign installed as a key.
Another thing I’ve learned about our U.S. cousins is that they simply don’t understand the concept of ‘mushy’ peas.
“So… they are peas that have been flattened and ‘mushed’ up right?”
Um, yes… I guess.
“Why not just buy normal peas and flatten them with a fork?”
They’re not the same.
You know, I just don’t know.
In the States people also measure weight in pounds.
This led to a rather bizarre, but funny, conversation last month when someone asked me what we British weigh ourselves in.
“Stones,” I said.
“You actually weigh yourselves in STONES?!”
Er… not the stones you’re thinking of mate… we have progressed a little since the Stone Age.
I can imagine that the move to the States a few years ago suited David Beckham more than most as he never really had a grip on the English language in the first place...
"Our problem is our ignorance," an American colleague told me.
"Living in the 'United States of America' we don’t really need to adapt. Generally we all talk the same… We're just not really used to looking anywhere else but within.
"We don't generally deal with anyone else. And that makes us ignorant."
We laughed and joked about it, but he's ultimately right.
And the same can be said for the English.
In one of his celebrated shows the British comedian, Eddie Izzard, made light of the fact that the English are known to travel abroad to places like Spain and France and simply talk ‘English’ expecting the local people to understand and reply.
Of course when the local people don’t understand, the English response is typically “well, you’re just not trying are you…?”
In a bid poke a little fun at my own expense, and to educate a few people over here, I invented the ‘Britionary’ a little while ago.
We did a whole series of them on U-T TV.
Here are a few:

As frustrating as this language barrier can be, it is - like I said - a constant source of amusement as I and my American pals learn from each other.

There is also no end to banter, especially after a few drinks.
Or Salute!
Or bottoms up!
Or whatever the hell it's referred to here.

Happy new year everyone.

Twitter: @tristan_nichols