Acting is a migratory profession and it has taken me far afield, but there are two places to which I always return: London and Los Angeles. London is a comfortable, familiar place; its people, pace, habits of speech and thought are reassuring to me. I am English, and London will always feel like home.
I remember visits to London as a child. I was taken to museums, the zoo and to the theatre where I saw Peter Pan. I instantly recognized my future profession – flying. I have had to settle for acting.
I attended a ballet school in Camberley, Surrey, and we made frequent outings to London, to the National Gallery, and once to a ballet at Covent Garden. Later I went to a drama school in London at the end of Piccadilly, overlooking Hyde Park Corner.
By this time I had made several films and my first year at the drama school was somewhat interrupted by two prolonged working trips: to the Australian desert and to the Yorkshire moors. The school was pulled down upon my return to make room for yet another hotel. Naturally my education suffered; to this day my mathematics is atrocious, and I am cruelly reminded of this deficiency each year at tax-time.
I lived with my family in London until I bought my own flat. I stayed there for a full eighteen months before taking off for Los Angeles. Perhaps I needed to travel because of habits formed in early years. I had been working in the theatre for some time and wanted to return to films.
I went to LA as a visitor, found work and remained there. In a land where the earth itself is never completely at rest, it is difficult to feel settled. But the shock of change gave way to compensations of novelty and excitement; the sun, the mountains, and the sea are the background against which buildings, billboards, and passing fancies rise and fall. I found a house in the hills which became my home.
And so I find myself in the odd position of being a visitor in the place where I feel most at home and of owning a home where I am a visitor. Neither London nor Los Angeles is a simple place and I don’t presume to offer here definitive expositions upon their characters. As very different as the cities are, they are similar in one respect: they are rather more clusters of villages, neighbourhoods and towns than they are simple monoliths with definable centres and immediately recognizable characteristics.
My explorations naturally reflect my own interests and all I can hope to reveal in these ‘snaps’ are some of the things which have held my attention or aroused my interest in these vast, complicated places.