Wednesday 7 December 2022

No cheers


It isn’t easy being an industrial spy. Only five minutes on the job and already I had been collared by a determined young assistant with a steely smile. "We would rather you didn’t write anything down, ma’am," she murmured as she took me discreetly by the elbow and drew me away from the evening gowns.

"But I’m a travel writer," I said, waving my dog-eared notebook at her. "I’m just recording a few observations. Surely you don’t think I’m a fashion spy?" And I pointed at the food stains down the front of my Ezibuy cardigan.

"You’d be surprised," she said grimly, letting me go.

That was how - way back in 2004 - I started a story about a visit to LA, doing something other than the usual Disneyland/Walk of Fame/Hollywood sign. I was reminded of it by reading about poor Kirstie Alley, whose death was reported yesterday. That was because, as I was taking my notes, as above, in the super-expensive Fred Segal shop, I saw Kirstie with her daughter - as I rudely described it in the story - "comfortably blocking an aisle in the children's department".

Accompanied by our own daughters, we did of course actually do all of the above clichés, but added on things like Universal Studios, the Melrose Trading Post, a farmer's market, the Queen Mary, the Page Museum, and many challengingly huge servings of food. We were there at around this time of year, so there was lots of Christmas fun added to it all - it was really good.

And the stall-holders themselves were just as colourful: not only multi-cultural, but laid-back and alternative, there as much for the vibes as the chance to sell some stuff. One dread-locked black guy drawled to a shiny-headed man in leathers he’d almost walked past, "Hey, man, you looked like you, but I didn’t know if you were still you ’cos, you know, you change all the time…" Perhaps that wasn’t just incense in the air.

Cheers also added an essential element to our first visit to Boston a couple of years later, when of course we went to take the obligatory photo of the exterior that was so familiar to us from the series. There were some unusual extras on that trip, too - like getting there by train from NYC, staying in a private terraced guesthouse with a composting toilet and an indoor cat, and following the Freedom Trail round the city. We did that again, properly, a few years later, with a red-uniformed guide who looked like Liam Neeson, slumming it.

Anyway, RIP, Kirstie. Thanks for all the laughs.


the queen said...

Really, no one expects you to eat all the restaurant food. You split half then take half home. It's like buying groceries you can taste first.
Kirstie was always a fat woman, just she was on cocaine during her Cheers days. I think she was much funnier than Shelly Long.

TravelSkite said...

Typical that she was given a hard time over her weight, when for so many male actors it is just who they are. Ditto being an avid Republican - like Kelsey Grammer, or a Scientologist, like Travolta.

the queen said...

KC - Oh, all the Scientologists get grief, male or female.


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