‘Do I have time to watch another movie?’ Asks the Small One for the eighth time since we’ve been on the plane. The flight to LA has been the longest twelve hours of my life. ‘No,’ I say with relief. Luckily I’m telling him the truth. He has watched every single in-flight film suitable for a seven year old and I don’t want to let myself imagine a scene where he is un-entertained for longer than sixty seconds. The Eldest has been plugged into his iPod for the entire duration. I wonder whether his ears will still be working when we touch down or if Tinnitus will have set in and result in complaints at a higher decibel throughout the holiday.
The only way to keep the Middle One happy, other than letting her watch the most inappropriate films available, was to let her put braids in my hair. As we land I catch a horrifying glimpse of myself in the now-blank TV screen. I begin to subtly try to remove the glittery beads she has added to the tips. I vainly hope to return to normal again before rejoining American Mom at baggage reclaim. She has spent the flight knocking back Gin and Tonics in First Class and talking obsequiously to a semi-member of an ageing rock band.
By the time we reach the W hotel, I have never been more in need of a holiday. I am acutely aware, however, that there will be no relaxing time for me. On cue, American Mom sashays into the room I am sharing with the Brats, an enormous stack of Vogues in her arms and Chanel glasses balancing on her freshly blow dried hair. She looks at my braids and raises one eyebrow. ‘I’m going up for a massage and then to the pool. It’s such a shame but it’s adults only from 4pm onwards.’ Such a shame. I am instructed to drag the Brats to the nearest tennis club where I meet a coach named Brett. Brett has such dazzlingly white teeth that I find myself looking away from them and into the sun instead, to give my eyes a break. Brett embraces the challenge of Brat supervision with impressive enthusiasm.
I leave the Eldest aggressively practising his serves in the direction of the Middle One and sneak off for a quick stroll down the Walk of Fame. I buy a postcard with a picture of the Hollywood sign and standing on it, a man in very tiny fluorescent speedos. I’m not sure what the connection is between the two but it’s sufficiently shocking to give my Great Aunt Hilda a bit of mid week excitement.
That evening American Mom takes us all to Soho House in West Hollywood. In between convincing the Small One to have a shower after playing tennis and persuading the Middle One that braids maybe aren’t my look, I actually manage to make myself presentable for this meal. When I spot Jude Law across the restaurant, I think for a fleeting moment that my luck must be changing. Sadly, the sighting coincides with the Eldest’s earphone wire knocking American Mom’s enormous glass of wine into my lap. Still, at least it made Jude smile.