I’m in LA, at the pristine headquarters of one of Hollywood’s leading talent agencies. I’m looking out of the reception window at the Hollywood sign, just visible in the distance through the heat haze. From this air-conditioned vantage point, the city seems like a toy-town, my toy-town, ripe with possibilities.
A young man in a suit taps me on the shoulder and leads me through the office. It reminds me a bit of a ship: in steerage are the hapless employees at cramped windowless desks abutting the central corridor. They stare into screens and speak earnestly into headsets.
A narrow stretch of carpet separates them from the stateroom offices. These have leather sofas, guitars mounted on the walls, and windows with views of Beverly Hills.
I am welcomed into one of these offices and handed a drink. The meeting begins with pleasantries, but I soon realise I am being assessed.
First test: where am I staying? This reflects my status. I have been put in a suite bigger than my London home in a very flash hotel in West Hollywood. It has a tennis court and swimming pool on the roof. Only the thing is, I can’t remember its name.
Second test: who do I know in London? I fire some names – I’m not without my contacts – but none of them register as significant in this west coast world.
The third test is a general assessment. How cool do I look? How am I carrying myself?
I feel I am answering my questions reasonably articulately and am wearing Armani trousers and a white shirt. I have taken care not to spill my drink down my shirt front. Despite failing the first two tests, I feel in control; I feel pretty cool.
Then I look down. I realise my flies are wide open.