We Brits sure know how to have fun! Last night as the sun was settling down behind the mountains on the western horizon, in the gardens of Santa Monica’s very stylish Fairmont Miramar Hotel overlooking the beach, there was a promotion and celebration of all things British as it exists in the fair city of Los Angeles, California.

It was a kind of fancy dress party, inspired and themed by some members of the DOWNTON ABBEY cast who were present and being honored. This is Hollywood, after all. So we “expats” were invited to attend dressed up, if possible, in something suggesting the flapper era of England, circa 1920.

Since the story begins around the time of the S.S.Titanic sinking, and progresses on up into the twenties, there was scope for a wide choice of costume. The only other fancy dress ball I ever attended was as a child when my parents sent me as a choir boy and I won first prize. So I decided to be a man of the cloth, dressed in a cheap RC priest outfit (their robes don’t change an inch), and for good measure took a young friend who came dressed as a prostitute picked up on the way in, and whom I’d brought with me to convert. She was bursting out here and there, torn slip, retro French knickers, suspenders, seamed stockings and all. There we were, arm in arm, and quite a few heads turned.

And so the evening began, with Tin Pan Alley entertainment, tapdancing exhibitions, a lively banjo-led band, and touchy feely dancing. And we know how to enjoy being silly and sexy, as well as serious.

An Irish tourist came running up, fell to his knees, and begged me to hear his confession. He wanted to know where my church was. He was quite serious, if a little drunk on the great spiked Ginger Beer coolers. I told him I was a traveling priest, used a kind of modest curtained pope-mobile, and could come his way on prior notice. He scribbled me his motel address. It was only when I told him to bring his Master Card or cash, that he figured out that I was maybe not what he thought I was. Then I saw a couple of very attractive women sitting in a corner. I asked who they were, and they rather sheepishly confessed they were on the organizing committee, and were — Americans!

I found again many of my old and dear friends, and we duly swapped cards, past attitudes forgotten and forgiven. Attached to my business card is my California Notary card, designed unsubtly to let people know that I am able to 1. tell the truth, 2. keep secrets, and 3. uphold the law. This is Hollywood.

Famous British companies are well represented, Boots, Jaguar, Cunard and all, and I look forward to wandering around this week in search of having a good time while learning more of the business side of it, which in this economy gets to be the point. But as of this week, with the stock market at all time highs and employment improving, there is hope and a renewing spring-like step in the air. Entrepreneurship is budding.