Takin' a royal ride: William and Kate, floor it!
As someone who's covered the royals for a long time –- and, once, been covered by one of them, when Prince Andrew hosed down the press with white spray paint –- I am sorry not to be seeing the Cambridges, William and Kate, this time around.
(I can say that I have been aboard the royal yacht Britannia more than the new duchess of Cambridge has, back when it was exclusively a royal yacht -- the one William's parents honeymooned on -- and not the public tourist attraction that is now berthed in Scotland.)
The British consul-general's residence, where the Cambridges will be staying, is a classic Wallace Neff 1928 Southern California home. The dining room -- where I've had a few good meals and good conversations, thanks to the kind invitations of the consul-general, Dame Barbara Hay, and her predecessors -- is cozy rather than grand, and the garden is a fogbound Briton's dream of L.A., an R-1 paradise of swimming pool and flowers.
If I were stopping in to meet the Cambridges, here's what I’m thinking the conversation should go like, given that their Southern California visit is chockablock busy with duty calls and even the arguably fun stuff is relentlessly public.
"A pleasure, Your Royal Highnesses. Yes, the weather is lovely, which is why we don't spend much time here talking about it …. I know that's the kind of conversational gambit you have to use with people you don't know –- what? Hah, funny. But if I could just give you a little tip: Nobody here calls it La-La Land. Only New Yorkers and tabloid headline writers …
"May I say how sorry I am that you come to L.A. and have to spend time with gits like me, or even with other Britons; you've got plenty of those at home, am I right? I wish you could get an idea of what other newlyweds get to do when they visit L.A.
"So, look. You've seen 'Roman Holiday,' where the Audrey Hepburn princess runs off and plays princess hooky for a few days, just being a regular girl? OK, then. Here's my car keys. I'm parked down the street -– no, I didn't valet. I'll create a distraction so you can slip out –- like in that movie 'My Favorite Year.' You didn't? Well, you should. Peter O'Toole is fabulous. And British … hah, yes, you're right, it goes without saying.
"Anyway, go have some fun. The GPS is working. The gas tank is full. The petroltank. Go to Venice Beach. Skip the Dodgers. Drive up Beachwood and take your picture below the Hollywood sign. Go to Pink's; if you have the hot dog they named after me, I promise I'll have the one they named after you two. Maybe drive out to Two Bunch and try the mud baths.
"… Oh, you've heard about that? No worries -- Carmageddon isn't until next week.
"OK then. You two crazy-in-love kids get outta here and have a good time. Remember to drive on the right. And just text me where you leave the car!"
Photo: Pink's Hot Dog stand prepares for the coming of the duke and duchess of Cambridge with "Welcome Will and Kate to Los Angeles" banner as well as a "Royal Dog" special. Credit: Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times