David Parkin on spring in LA and election fever

AS the early morning sun rises majestically over my neighbour’s loft conversion, leaving the wheelie bins dappled in a warm, amber glow, one’s thoughts turn, inevitably to spring.
We all have our own favourite ways of celebrating the arrival of this most hopeful of seasons.
Whether it is the rows of daffodils in the park, blossom festooned lanes or simply the stunning views on television of the azalea-bordered greens of the Masters golf tournament in Augusta.
I love all these sights, but they lead to a longing every spring.
Oh, to be in LA now spring is here.
Forget the Fall in New England, summer in Cape Cod or winter in the snow-covered mountains of Colorado. In April and May there is only one place in the world I want to be: Los Angeles.
Talk to most people and they’ll tell you they either don’t want to bother visiting the sprawling metropolis during a trip to the West Coast of America, or if they have been, they hated it.
That’s probably because they’ve done it the wrong way.
I made my way to LA for the first time in 1992. A student journalist, I’d written to a man who I thought had the best job in the world. John Hiscock was the West Coast correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and his beat included interviews with Hollywood stars and covering the major boxing title fights in Las Vegas.
He gave me the best piece of advice about The City of Angels: stay at the beach.
Forget downtown, Disney and Hollywood, base yourself in the seaside town of Santa Monica, said John.
And that’s where I’ve always stayed ever since.
Set on a cliff, with just the Pacific Coast Highway between it and the Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica is a laid back place with a long, pedestrianised promenade full of shops, bars, restaurants and cinemas.
From there it is just a short trip by cycle, roller skates or walking, to the more eclectic Venice Beach, just be careful to avoid getting sand kicked in your face at nearby Muscle Beach.
And you are only 20 minutes from Hollywood and Beverly Hills, as long as you avoid rush hour when the city’s freeways become parking lots for a couple of hours.
So why Los Angeles?
I suppose it stems from warm memories of a trip there just over a decade ago when I went to interview the then Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
(Forgive the self-indulgent photo above, but I discovered a CD with it on in a shoe box in my loft last week. I bet Arnie’s copy of the same pic is up on his wall in his Beverly Hills’ home).
Buzzing with adrenalin the day after the interview, I jumped in my rented Mustang convertible and headed up Sunset Boulevard to Beverly Hills to do some sight-seeing.
Given a morbid fascination in the history of the American underworld, I drove along beautiful wide roads in Beverly Hills lined with cherry blossom trees in full bloom, looking for the mansion where gangster Bugsy Siegel had been shot in the eye by a hitman in 1947 after the mob ran out of patience with his expensive Flamingo Hotel project in Vegas.
And now, every spring, my thoughts turn to how beautiful parts of Los Angeles will be looking in the warm spring sunshine.
And like a creature, awakening after a winter of hibernation, I yearn to be on that plane heading west.
It probably won’t happen again this year, but there’s always next year.
I chaired an Election Question Time for the Yorkshire Asian Business Association in Bradford yesterday and despite some trepidation at stepping into the unfamiliar political lions’ den, really enjoyed it.
The panel at the event at Bradford Bulls’ Provident Stadium at Odsal, was made up of David Ward, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East; former sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe, who is stepping down as Labour MP for Bradford South at the election; Dave Stephens of The Green Party, Owais Rajput of UKIP and Dayal Sharma, vice president of Bradford & District Conservative Association.
The audience wasn’t the biggest – I couldn’t work out whether we had more competition from the BBC’s televised leaders’ debate or Emmerdale on the other side.
Half way through the debate, one of the panellists scribbled a note on his pad and pointed to it. It read: “Am I doing ok?”
Given I was about to write a similar question down, I nodded enthusiastically.
YOU may have seen the publicity about the launch of our new events and travel business, COPA, this week.
It felt strange to be in the news, rather than writing it. The nice thing was that it was greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm and support from the business community.
Given we plan to run events in the North West, as well as Yorkshire, and one of our investors, Andrew Dick, is a well known figure there, the story was covered by a number of news organisations on the other side of the Pennines.
And despite me sending them a photo of the COPA team, they accompanied the story with a photo of me that dates back to the launch of TheBusinessDesk.com in 2007.
No sooner had the story appeared than a comment was posted on Twitter suggesting Tony Blair had been running for office when the photo of me had been taken.
One wag responded that it was more likely Jim Callaghan.
I swiftly closed my Twitter app before suggestions of Disraeli and Pitt the Elder were made.
Have a great weekend.

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