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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 64: 27 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysAnother man does a robot act, so good that only when he breaks sweat are you actually sure it's not a machine.

At Muscle Beach the bodybuilders work out, pulling 225 lbs on a single cable without apparent effort. Like everything else here this is a spectator sport. There are tiered benches beside the weights enclosure that could accommodate a couple of hundred people. The crowds wander by, barely commenting on our filming. In India they stare straight in the lens, in America they ask: 'Is this a movie, commercial or local news?'.

Though there's a crowd, there's never a rush. This is Sunday, in California. The sun's shining and no one's going anywhere.

Except of course the circumnavigators, who feel twitchy if they stay still for too long. So a couple of hours later I find myself in a quiet canyon off Sunset where Michael Shamberg, the American producer of Wanda, The Big Chill and other movies, gives a most un-Hollywood Thanksgiving lunch for me. No noise, no cameras (except ours), no one being paged to the phone, no live appearance of the Count Basie Band, not even a celebrity punch-up. A low-key get-together of sympathetic folk, who can't really comprehend what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. Jamie Lee Curtis comes by later and saves the afternoon for Passepartout, who had long since decided I knew nobody famous in this town.

By five o'clock I'm exhausted. Is it ship-lag or the hectic pace of life on land after the monastic days on the Pacific?

Buy the New York Times and Bonfire of the Vanities and retire to my 'stateroom' for an early night. The Times has a romantic piece in the travel section about Christmas in London. No mention of traffic jams and black plastic bags, but it does provoke a sharper than usual twinge of homesickness.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 64
  • Date: 27 November
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Los Angeles - California
  • Book page no: 205

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