Thursday, January 31, 2013

Judging Alex - Take Two (The Interview That Almost Came Back)

How many cops is it possible to talk to in lifetime? 

Since having my iPad taken on Sunday night in Miami, I have been through about five US states and a dozen officers, which is more than I have spoken to in over 50 years of living in the UK (that number, by the way, is three). If you add my court case against my LA landlord last year, I realise I speak to US law enforcement officers more often than I speak to members of my own family.
For the missing Blackberry, I had to go through American Airlines (no joy), Burger King and Chili’s restaurant at LAX, and half the LAPD, whose response was “Ma’am, let me tell you what we do and what we don’t do . . . “ In essence, that boiled down to: they don’t take details, they don’t take a report, they don’t give reference numbers and, as became abundantly apparent, they don’t like speaking to foreigners, even though I put on my very best British accent.
And so to the iPad loss and the Judge Alex interview stored in Voice Memos. Blimey, that was another tale altogether. Miami police don’t cover Miami. There’s Miami mainland, Miami Beach and any number of individual pebbles forces, each with its own people, and, as I not so quickly discovered, somewhere near La Goya Street up near Orlando, where my Find My iPhone told me my iPad had been located.
You can imagine my excitement. “Jaci Stephen’s iPad has been found” said the e-mail. I whooped with joy; I cried as many tears as when I lost it; my palms sweated, anticipating the joy of the black leather case back in my hands. But then . . . that was it. Nothing. I sent messages to it. I begged for its safe return. I even told them they could keep the thing – just send the Voice Memos to iTunes. I went to US White Pages and rang rather frightened strangers, demanding that they return my equipment.
But now it was located, I was back to square one. Which police force would have the unenviable task of going to go round to the address and beating up the person who has made my life a misery over the past four days? Certainly not Orlando’s “We have a lot of cases to deal with” force, and very much not LAX’s “Ma’am, let me . . . “ Yep, mate, I know. You ain’t gonna help me.
It’s certainly not like it is on the telly. There, I would meet with the lovely Olivier Benson from Law and Order Special Victims Unit (okay, that’s sexual attacks, but someone very much like her) and they would have my case sewn up, with me the victor, in about 43 minutes.
I tried Apple Support to see if they could extract the Voice Memos from the lost iPad. Well, they were about as useful as a maggot in a Granny Smith’s. 

I tried iTunes Support. Let’s just say a couple of contact lenses strapped to Katie Price’s breasts would have provided more support than the lot of them put together.

I even contacted Stephen Fry, who knows about all things Apple, and even he directed me back to iTunes or the Genius Bar. I forgive him; he has other work to do.
As the days go on, there are more bits of the interview coming back to me, although Judge Alex wants to check over what I print, as he thinks perhaps his memory might serve the piece better than mine.

Blame it on the sun. Blame it on the excitement. Blame it on the wine. 

Blame it on Apple, who hid the Voice Memo back-up I always use in my iPhone in something called Utilities. And also their ios6 system, which fails to store Voice Memos.
Blame it on the US police force. Blame it on iTunes. Blame it on thieves who go around nicking other people’s property with no thought as to how it might affect them or their livelihoods.
I know I’ll get over it; after all, nobody died, nobody got pregnant, and apparently that’s a good barometer these days (although both those things would have got me to Olivier Benson a darn sight quicker).
But it still galls me. 

Knowing that on 590 La Goy Street, Florida 32908, my iPad is sitting, lonely and depressed, in someone else’s arms. It was only an iPad 1 and I know I can buy a 2 or a 3 to replace it, but it’s those Voice Memos I’ll never get back. 

They say the apple never falls far from the tree; in this case, the Apple is an ocean away and I’m still heartbroken.
Cox’s Pippins to the bastard who has it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Judging Alex - Take One (The Interview That Got Away)

My screams could be heard above the sound of the waves crashing onto South Beach. 

The tears springing from the geysers that used to be eye sockets were producing enough salt water to fill South Beach twice over.

I sobbed, I begged, I grabbed anyone with a badge and poured my heart out.
Someone had taken my iPad. One minute’s visit to the rest room at Miami’s Fontainbleau Hotel was all it took for (according to the security cameras) a woman to rummage through my NATPE conference bag and make off with it – apparently telling staff she would return it the next day. She didn’t.
But the loss of the iPad is not the worst of it. My travel insurance will cover a replacement – just as it will cover the replacement cost of the Blackberry I had stolen last week. The horror, the horror, to quote Conrad, was what I lost on the iPad: my interview with Judge Alex. 

An interview that has been two years in the making and which filled over two glorious hours of Voice Memo. But thanks to Apple’s new IOS6, voice memos do not get backed up to the iCloud; it’s a bug, apparently, which doesn’t help me one little bit. 

As Voice Memo on the iPhone 5 I use as back-up mysteriously disappeared, I therefore was totally reliant on the iPad. And now have just the 35 minutes I managed to transcribe. It’s still over 4,000 words, at least 3,000 of which are me gushing over the man whose show became addictive viewing for me when I was living in LA; but Judge Alex’s gorgeous laugh has disappeared into the iCloud ether, and I am more than a little upset. 

I feel I have lost a limb. 

The irony is that had I not arranged to meet up with Judge Alex for a farewell drink prior to my returning to the UK, I wouldn’t have been in the very spot from where the bag was taken.
So, the interview is going to take a little longer to write than it would have done, and at the moment I am just trying to write down as much as I can remember about Judge Alex, who (for starters):-.

1.              Not only has a great laugh, but very good teeth. Very white. The kind of teeth you wouldn’t mind flossing if there was nothing on the telly.

2.              Has impeccable manners – standing up when I left/returned from the rest room (which, with my tiny bladder, was often; it’s a wonder he wasn’t in traction after all that movement).

3.              Is very funny, very smart and great company – just like the show.

4.              Has been a pilot, a cop and a judge. I like a man in uniform, so this was as if all my Christmases had come at once. I wouldn’t know which I’d want him to wear first, though. Sometimes a girl can have too much choice.

5.              Would really like to be on Dancing with the Stars.

6.              Likes red wine.

7.              Looks like a film star.

8.              In 2008 was voted the most trustworthy face on daytime TV and the second most trusted face of all TV celebrities (beaten by Dr Oz).

9.       Was once billed by People Magazine as one of the “sexiest men alive” (no arguments from me).

10.           Is not going to leave his family and come to live with me in Wales (he can be very mean).

These are just a few bullet points and there will be a lot more to come, once I am over jet-lag, and possibly even more if my iPad ever turns up, or if Apple ever solves what is apparently a big problem with this latest operating system. 

Otherwise, it’s just going to have to be a re-take, your honour. 

Or I’ll see you in court if they find the bastard that stole your laughter.        

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Globe In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Basket

An hour is a long time in a laundry basket.  

That was my concern when, looking for a secret hiding place to gatecrash the Golden Globes private party at LA’s Soho House, I started wishing I weighed the 50 kilos I was when I left the city just over a year ago.
The laundry basket in the Ladies’ rest room at Soho House is not very big. In fact, if I wanted to make it my hiding place, I had 120 minutes in which to lose at least two stone. With the club closing at 9pm for a private party with the show’s hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, I had very little time to case the joint and perfect my crashing strategy.
I used to be very good at crashing parties. I once crawled through somebody’s legs to talk to Stephen Spielberg, who had just won a Bafta for Schindler’s List. I told him I thought ET was the greatest film ever made. ‘D’you know,’ he said, ever so kindly, given that he had just won his first major award for the holocaust epic. ‘I was thinking about that film last week - and I think you may well be right.’
I once crashed the Evening Standard Film Awards in London and spotted a rather lonely looking Al Pacino. We approached in a romantic movie kind of way, but all I could get out were the words: ‘I am your greatest fan.’ 

I am not sure whether that, or the three things I managed to say to Bill Clinton when I fought tooth and nail to reach him, were the most embarrassing. Then, I managed to stutter: ‘This is the greatest day of my life’, ‘You are the greatest man who has ever lived’ and ‘Can I have your autograph.’

Then there was Leonardo di Caprio - "I really love your work." My friend had persuaded me not to say "Phew! You survived the ship!" which had been my first choice of introduction.
In London’s Groucho Club, I came face to face with a rather handsome man and, in my capacity as a TV critic, promised him a meteoric rise to stardom. ‘Have you ever done any acting . . . I can spot people . . . I could write about you and make you a star.’ On and on and on. ‘D’you know what it is . . . You’ve got that real kind of Ewan McGregor charisma. What’s your name?’ ‘Er, Ewan McGregor.’
So, I know how to get into places and meet the stars. Sometimes, they look a bit frightened. La Toyah Jackson, to whom I had kindly given up my favourite seat on an Air New Zealand flight from the UK to LA, introduced me to “Mini Me” Verne Troyer onboard. The 2 foot 8 actor shrank so far back in terror at my gushing approach, he all but slipped into the seat lining.
The day before the Golden Globes last week, I introduced myself to movie supremo Harvey Weinstein. When Harvey enters a room, people stand to one side – he’s like Moses parting the Red Sea. His stunned expression made it clear I had broken some Hollywood code, like an errant Israelite trying to steal Moses’s thunder.
Having dismissed the laundry basket as my temporary home, I turned to the cinema, which was still open, following the showing of a movie. Perhaps I could stand behind the curtains? But would my feet poke out? What if they locked the cinema and I had to spend the night trapped in red velvet?
Was any of it worth the risk, anyway? I have been member of Soho House since the first week and am now an Every House member. How awful if I had it taken away because I was discovered in a laundry basket and was being carried out on a stretcher, having dislocated my back among the damp towels?
I decided not to risk it. I had already had my picture taken with Bradley Cooper, Sally Field, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones and Josh Groban at the Bafta Tea Party (which I managed to crash, courtesy of British TV producer Nigel Lythgoe – another of our exports who has made it big across the pond). 

I had just flown from Miami, where I had interviewed the divine Judge Alex, whose name fronts the best reality courtroom series on TV.
There is only so much hanging on a girl can do, and well into my Fifties now, I realise that dignity must come first. 

One day, I’ll be a prize-winner and I won’t have to go scavenging for hiding places just to get close to the coat-tails of others. They’ll be begging me to market laundry baskets. 

Trust me. I’m a gate-crasher.