The stars come out before the sun even sets here. While Los Angeles is riddled with shameless star-struck tourists and paparazzi on a perpetual basis, it seems that celebrities have a better shot at experiencing a relatively normal existence in London. I stress “seems” and “relatively,” of course, as the British are probably a worse tabloid culture than Americans and certainly have their share of flash photography glittering London’s streets. Yet it just seems to me that there’s a significant difference from a city like LA that is primarily known for its entertainment industry, much like New York is known for Wall Street and D.C. for American government. London bears the burden of being all of this for the UK–it’s the centre for media, finance, politics, fashion and culture; basically serving the functions of every major U.S. city. Such is what makes it such a humming, thriving hive of activity and enrichment contributing more and more layers to the depth of its history.
In any case, this all comes to mind because last week as I was leaving work, I passed by Liev Schreiber on his way to the gym across the way. Then, just yesterday, a segment of my usual walking route to our Notting Hill office was in the midst of a “rain test,” serving as a set for the latest Woody Allen film starring Naomi Watts, Antonio Banderas, and Anthony Hopkins. Bummed that I didn’t get to catch a glimpse of Woody himself as my colleagues had upon walking back from their lunch, I was rewarded today in finding that I’d been sitting next to Maggie Gyllenhaal all during my morning coffee with a good friend at a local cafe. No huge hoopla, no gawking or begging for an autograph…we simply watched her and friend walk away looking like anyone else one would encounter on the street (except, of course, Maggie is as darling a doll in person as she appears on film). This same friend with whom I visited this morning likewise commented that this is how casually one might regularly encounter Paul McCartney or Jude Law at a coffee shop in her neighbourhood. I don’t know if it’s Londoners simply being more tactful about not infringing on one’s private life (again, the abundant tabloids call this into question), or perhaps because London is not thought of in the same vein as Hollywood, so people aren’t as alert in watching who they walk by in the event that it’s that elusive “Somebody” (deemed such by some arbitrary definition that renders the likes of the rest of us lowly “Nobodies”…), so we’re not as closely observant in distinguishing these gods and goddesses of the screen in the guise of their daily mortal forms. Either way, I do indeed hope that it’s the case that these celebrities can find some semblance of the ordinary so they can likewise enjoy the London that I’ve fallen in love with. We here at London Relocation Ltd. hope you fall in love with it, too, when you relocate here…we’ll have made the transition easier for you so you can just take a calming inhale, look to the sky, and bask in the celestial glow of the stars.