Now, to those of you who are self-sufficient and self-contained the idea that a week spent tout seul could be life-changing in any way might seem ridiculous, but I'm different. Until last week I had never ever been on my own, on my tod, for more than a few hours at any time in the past 20 years. If I'm out, I'm running around town with a gaggle of girls or going to glittering parties half-way up the Eiffel Tower and if I'm in the house is always full of people.
At the moment, just to give you an example, half the steering committee for the establishment of telecommunications in the emergent state of Palestine is in my kitchen making toast. I really don't do much for myself either; all my social and financial affairs are handled by my personal assistant. I don't even know in which building society my money is kept - I think it's got a bee on its logo or a hippopotamus, or two blokes in kilts....
However, I'm faced with a huge amount of writing to do: I've got this column, a new comedy series and a sequel to the TV film that I wrote and starred in that was on over Christmas - Sorry About Last Night - and it suddenly struck me that it might be a good idea if I went and shut myself away in a hotel room in a town where I didn't know anybody and got down to some serious work. It also occurred to me that the experience in itself would be beneficial - a bit of solitude would do me good. After all, I was an intelligent, resourceful individual and a bit of introspection wouldn't do me any harm.
So I booked a suite at the elegant Royal Victoria Hotel, St Leonards, pocketed my little notebook and toddled off to the Sussex coast for a bit of thinking. What I discovered is that if you're the sort of person I am you certainly do a lot of thinking, but it's not necessarily good thinking. At first I was fine. On day one, I was thinking "here I am, the resourceful Mr Sayle doing all kinds of things for himself, buying matches, choosing fruit, trying on hats. I'll do a bit of writing and I'll go to a posh restaurant and have a nice meal and I won't feel even the least concerned about being on my own."
By day two I was eating my evening meals in a sad fly-blown cafe on the rain-beaten promenade along with about six other solitary slightly lupine- looking middle-aged men and the thinking wasn't good thinking - I wasn't thinking "I wonder if Plato's interpretation of Heraclitus as having posited constant and universal physical change was derived from Cratylus's exaggerated account of his teachings? Must look into this interesting speculation further." I was thinking "Are those other men looking at me? Do they think I'm like them? I'm not like them. I'm not a sad git, I'm a friend of Angus Deayton's!" To prove that I'm an important columnist and writer I decided to take out my notebook and jot down some pensees. But as soon as I took out my note-book all the other men whipped out grubby notebooks as well and so we all sat there over our congealing gravy dinners, scribbling, but honestly I was the only one who was making notes for an important new comedy drama series while all the others were writing long rambling letters to the late General de Gaulle about cricket balls. I knew that, though a casual observer glancing through the steam-grimed windows would not have noticed the difference.
By day three I'd stopped working. And by day four I was talking to myself and it seemed perfectly reasonable that if I fancied a lunchtime snack I could rootle for it in a dustbin. By day five I was wearing half a grapefruit for a hat and my wife had to come to collect me and take me back to London after frantic calls from the hotel management concerning the number of stray cats in my suite. I am now more or less restored to my pre-sojourn state by intensive sessions of socialisation therapy involving huge gangs of friends shouting late into the night in Turkish restaurants. I suppose the conclusion I have to draw is that if you're a people person you're a people person and you can't change that. But at least I did get a bit of work done, although Sorry About Last Night is now called Sorry About the Cricket Balls, Mon General.Reuse content