I am back home for a week, having managed to avoid being lynched in the American Deep South. I did very nearly get tarred and feathered, but that's a long story and one that you can see when my TV travel series comes out in June.
Getting home is weird. First off, I was astonished to find that I was father to two lovely looking children. Sadly, their names escape me for the moment, but they seem to have accepted this tall, dark stranger into their lives as their dad. I had to insist that Stacey ask Pedro, the Spanish handyman whom she installed as a live-in lover while I was away, to move out immediately. It was nothing personal. It was just that my kids kept greeting me with, "Hola, hombre!" and it started to get annoying.
Driving around America with a film crew makes coming home very difficult. For a start, I didn't carry any money with me. Wherever I went - restaurants, hotels - there was someone to cruise in behind me and pay for everything. This, unfortunately, made me start to behave like a minor member of the royal family. I would find myself becoming affronted by anyone in a shop who'd dare to ask me for anything as vulgar as money. I'd look around for someone to help me, until I'd remember that I had a day off filming and no minions. I'd then be forced to put down whatever item I'd chosen and storm out, as though I'd been grossly offended. I'll have to readjust before venturing into Tesco in Cirencester.
When you start living in hotels, it's amazing how quickly you become accustomed to the wonderful world of room service. On my first night home, my wife Stacey was very much not amused by a call down to the kitchen with a request for: "Two Coronas, a club sandwich, and could somebody come and run my bath, please?" All I did get was a large flea in my ear, something that I had certainly not previously noticed on the menu.
I can really understand how musicians get into trouble when they come back off tour. Wrenched violently from an endless voyage of discovery, with an instant gang of new friends, to a sudden return to nothing to do all day and enforced domestication, makes heroin seem an extraordinarily appealing option. My situation is slightly different, as I do actually love coming home to see my wife and kids, plus I've got my in-laws staying at the moment, which is a double bonus.
Also, when I'm filming, it's actually slightly more akin to a typical job than anything I ever do at home. Usually I film all day and then go out in the evening to celebrate, and to work out where the hell we actually are. Because I've been making a series about alcohol, evening celebrations have tended to be a little different. Normally, I'd blag a trip abroad so that, after filming, we could all go out and get very pissed in some exotic location. This time, the work basically involved getting pissed, which means that, come the evening, I was normally after a large Diet Coke and some aspirin. It's work Jim, just not as we know it.
I'm off again next week on a road trip into eastern Europe. My first stop en route is in Belgium, to sample its extraordinary range of beers and to attempt to prove to the world that the Belgians are not a boring race. I'm actually very pro-Belgian; I love Hergé, Magritte and Jacques Brel, but they have such bad PR that it's going to be an uphill struggle. I'm also going to visit Nuremberg where, in anticipation of England's World Cup fixture, they have banned anti-German jokes. So I'm going to have a "don't mention the war" day there. That should be tricky.
Then it's on into the great wide open for God knows what... Must go, as a small child is tugging at my trousers and waffling on in Spanish about "Papa" and how he wants some "jamon jamon". I have no idea who he is or what he wants. I think I'd better ring the concierge - I'm sure that he'll sort it out.