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.
We filmed and then Olly and I were taken to a different hotel round the corner
I admit to being tired, and I’m sure Olly was too, my cold had transformed into sneezes and my cough sounded liked I smoked 79 fags before breakfast. But the hotel had a strange atmosphere, I felt like I was in a Bette Davis movie.
Olly nearly snapped – the very first time I had heard his voice cut.
‘This…’ said Olly, ‘is the most bureaucratic hotel I’ve ever been in.’
And Olly has stayed in more hotels than Lenny Henry.
‘We are a family run business.’ retorted the receptionist…..Go figure!!!!
Olly and I met up with the others in a restaurant called Lallas, a big air conditioned room with wonderful waiters and BIG BIG portions. I ate yet another salad, without chicken this time, and Kim drove Olly and I back to our hotel.
Into my room, out of my clothes, I wrapped myself in a bath robe and organised the next day. Then I went to the fridge for some water. There was no fridge. Looked for the bar. There was no bar. Went into every cupboard, there was no aqua, ‘sin’ or ‘con’ gas.
So I called reception.
‘Please can room service bring me up some cold water?’
The over night concierge was of a certain age, think Julie Walters and her waitress spilling soup and you get the picture.
‘We don’t have room service’ she said flatly, ‘If you come down I can give you water.’
I tightened the bathroom robe, went down a small flight of stairs, which was more convenient than the lift, and stood by the reception desk. I stood.
I stood some more.
I stood and she slowly appeared from the back office. She slowly opened the fridge, with a key, and held up a small bottle of water. Her arm pointing backwards as she kept her head in the fridge.
‘I’ll take four.’ I said decisively.
Her body froze. You could here her silent scream. FOOOUUUR ????
My impatient body spoke volumes. Clearly Monterey is easy paced. I was about to combust. There I was hanging round in a public area wearing a small white bathrobe, the message from my body was clear I had had enough, I wanted my liquid relief now.
‘I’ll take those bottles NOW,’ my voice was clipped and strained. ‘I’ll take those bottles now, to my room, if that’s okay?’
The woman went either as slowly as she could or as fast as she was able.
‘Nothing moves without paper work.’ she said, sifting scraps of paper on the desk.
I had to print my name, write down my room number, and give her my signature.
I wanted to scream, ‘I’m buying four little bottles of mineral water not asking for a case of Napalm.’
Back in my room, I pulled the bottom mattress off the bed, using force that was fuelled with frustration.
My head hit the pillow my eyes shut – I had the sounds of 249 miles ringing in my head, pictures of confetti, made from headed hotel paper, rained over me. Monterey had started out strangely.
‘It happened in Monterey.’ Croons the old song. Well what ever happened in Monterey sure as hell passed me by, because whatever happened it in Monterey, I missed it.
Little did I know that the following day would be one of the most interesting of the trip.