Day 5. In Santa Monica there is a mock Tudor building on the corner of a street that sells Heinz Tomato Soup for 4 bucks. You can get a bottle of Fairy for 7 or even a Yorkie Bar for too much. It looks like most of the shops in Stratford upon Avon in that it’s trying to look Tudor but isn’t, and it’s called “ye olde” something. In this case “Kings Head Shoppe“. It’s rather lovely to behold. I walk in and it seems to be doing a roaring trade. Santa Monica is where all the expat Brits tend to settle and I can see why. It’s got everything. It calls itself The City of Santa Monica and it sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. If you walk to the end of the pier you find a sign marking the end of Route 66. 2448 miles from Chicago, the road out west. You’ve made it pilgrim. This is the end of the road. Sit yourself down and have yourself a Jammie Dodger. That’ll be 4 dollars.
The town itself has a huge centre full of shops. There are pedestrianised boulevards, coffee shops, the first bookshop I’ve seen since I arrived, and chain stores. It’s like Milton Keynes with vomiting stegosaurus fountains instead of concrete cows. So I go shopping. There are no yoga mats for less than 50 bucks anywhere in Venice, but of course one for 10 in T (J?!) Maxx which I snag as I’ve taken to doing yoga every morning. When in Rome. Then I book myself a ticket for the matinee of Lalaland at 3.45. I call it research. And maybe it will cheer me up with the inauguration looming. Armed with ticket and mat I wander towards the ocean to prevent a shopping spree. The sun is blazing after a night full of rain, and I want to put my hand in the water. But I get distracted. There’s a bloody great big promenade with a funfair on it where Route 66 ends. Ferris wheels, roller coasters, fortune tellers, games. I burn 2 dollars in a ball shooting machine and get 500 tickets which nets me a vile fluffy pink tiger eating someone’s heart. Clutching it by the neck as a toddler would I become fascinated by the Pacific. I love the sea. Even in London I live by water. But this ocean… I can’t even contemplate the distances. I watch a man fishing at the end of the pier. He keeps pulling them in and chucking them back. Too small. But there are plenty of fish in this sea. My thoughts sink into it. I get out my phone and track ahead on the map. Page after page of scroll and then you barely miss New Zealand. I imagine striking out into it in a canoe. Vast.
Pulling myself away I go and immerse myself in Lalaland. I can tell you now after 5 days, it’s hard hitting documentary realism. Once again I’m lost in fantastic reverie. Here’s to the ones who dream. By the time I leave the cinema I’ve cried so much my beard is soaking wet. I was going to walk home, but I’m a wreck, and uber pool is 2.99. Trump gets in tomorrow. The cold is blowing in across the desert and tomorrow it will rain. My uber driver says “I honestly keep hoping I’m about to wake up from a terrible dream.” Ugh. Back to reality. What I wouldn’t pay for a comforting can of Heinz tomato soup.