More than most I was pleased that Manchester has forged a link with Los Angeles. Richard Leese explains, here.
Back in 1999, when I'd had enough of London and had enough of my job, I had two serious options in front me - move back to the North West and get a job doing something completely different, or pursue a very serious opportunity to work in the new film office in Los Angeles as part of the British High Commission. Obviously, I took the former route, but was able to stay in journalism.
My first interview in London was on the day after Joe was born, I was asked if I wanted to carry on with the process (and I did have another interview), but the importance of family took precedence and I backed out.
I liked LA; it's fashionable to say it's all just freeways and false people, but I've been there a dozen times for work and for holidays - usually nesting in either West Hollywood or Santa Monica. There's always something new to do, somewhere unusual to explore. And there's something magical about watching the sun set from a dusty road up in the canyons, or at the Observatory at Griffith Park. It helped of course that I've got good friends there, Matt Diamond and Colleen O'Mara, who know the city.
A film that shows LA's layers so well is Heat, starring Robert de Niro and Al Pacino. There's a brilliantly atmospheric build up at one point, two thirds in, featuring the skyline, helicopters, freeways, that then prefaced the dramatic scene where they meet for a coffee (at Broadway Diner in Santa Monica, since you asked). The soundtrack to that build up was New Dawn Fades, a Joy Division track performed by Moby. Tony Wilson used to tell the story that he and Yvette were watching the film in a cinema on Sunset and sat up straight, exclaiming - "that's one of ours". The improved live version - featuring New Order with Moby - is on the 24 Hour Party People soundtrack. It always reminds me of that choice I made.