Hollywood, hooray for Hollywood, so the song goes, and having just spent a week there I agree with the sentiment. I arrived at Los Angeles airport at about 10.30pm and made my way to the car hire company which I had previously booked via web in the UK. My first mistake was to book with a company I had never used before.
Advantage cars gave me a great rate on the web but when I got there and produced my UK driving licence the rate trebled, the clerk told me because I had a foreign driving licence I had to purchase every insurance they had: I know this is a scam.
I usually book with Avis and they have never told me this or tried to sell me extra insurance after the initial "would you like this madam". I argued with the clerk who told me I either take the insurance or no car, by now it was eleven pm and I had been travelling for sixteen hours. I asked him to show me it in writing and he couldn't, so I paid the insurance vowing to fight it when I got home. I went into the car lot and found the car which had bad blue paint scratches on both the rear and front bumper, very noticeable as the car was white. I asked an advantage member of staff in the lot to note down the marks, he huffed but eventually did so. Am I being paranoid or had the clerk given me a car with paint damage so they could claim against the extra insurance I had been forced to take out?
LA was great, with seventy five degrees most days, although I spent every day in meetings and met some great people and some very large egos. Hey, this is La La Land, home of the beautiful, powerful and rich. Rodeo Drive was glitzy and not so expensive; the pound is great against the dollar.
I watched the news in my hotel room and saw a young girl from Florida; Carlie Brushca had been abducted whilst walking home from a friend’s house at 6pm. Surveillance footage from a garage forecourt showed the man grabbing her then going out of sight, she was only eleven years old.
So here I go again reiterating safety for kids! Please tell your children to telephone you for a lift home rather than walk if possible. Tell them never to take short cuts across parks and unlit streets, and if your child is going on a sleep over talk to the other kids parents make sure you are both aware how your child will get to their house and how the child will get home again.
Carlie had told her friends parents that her parents had said it was Ok if she walked home, but as it happens this was not true, and now that little girl is dead.
The home secretary, David Blunkett has authorised another one thousand operatives for MI5. This is great news, for the best way to gather intelligence is via field agents. Skilled trained operatives who are out and about infiltrating terrorist cells and crime gangs. Bill Clinton certainly learned his lesson when he pulled hundreds of CIA agents out of the field to save money, 9/11 happened and no one was aware.
Now if we could just get another few thousand police officers on the streets we start to win the war on crime.
Until next month