Dom Joly: I could play for England, now I hang around hotels

Click to follow
The Independent Online

I've been on a tour of the North this week promoting my book (The Dark Tourist ... thanks for asking). Having never done stand-up, I've not really toured before and wasn't prepared for the mind-numbing nature of it. Obviously I am not remotely trying to compare it to a day down the mines or spent trudging the streets as a traffic warden – I love giving the talk and showing my dark holiday snaps, but that takes up one hour of the day. The rest is empty.

Thank God for Twitter. Not only does it allow me to while away the time tweeting but it allows locals to recommend things to do. In Nottingham, I was guided away from the rougher areas towards a fabulous restaurant. In Leeds I got some valuable retail therapy assistance as well as the address of the nearest Wagamama.

Despite all this virtual kindness, I now understand what The Rolling Stones's drummer, Charlie Watts, meant when he said that playing with the band was one hour gigging, 23 hours hanging about. Obviously, The Stones probably had some extra entertainment to keep them busy. Me, I have to make do with lying on my hotel bed watching The Wright Stuff and knowing that Jeremy Kyle and Tricia are up next ....

It's no coincidence that most bands' second albums are rather introspective, neurotic affairs. For the first album, you have your entire 20 years of life experience to chuck into the lyrical mix. The second album, normally written in a hurry while touring the first, inevitably features subject matter as diverse as deserted train stations, looking out of rain splattered coach windows and the aching banality of hotel room décor.

As it happened, I was in Manchester (well, Salford, actually) staying at the Wayne Rooney Hooker Hotel (not actual name) on Thursday night. Someone on Twitter suggested that it might be best that I scan the room with one of those UV blue lights before making myself too comfortable, and I have to admit that there was a weird vibe to the whole establishment.

This was a five-star hotel that definitely looked after its main clientele. As I checked in, several statuesque blondes were lounging around the reception area, one clutching a nervous-looking tiny dog. Tinted Range Rovers were the vehicle of choice, and one screeched up to deposit footballers every few minutes.

Having "freshened up", I headed for the restaurant. Everywhere I looked young men in shiny suits and big shinier watches dined with one, sometimes two, bottle-blond women who laughed hysterically at anything a big-watch wearer said. The wine list had several bottles at around £20 to £30 and then made quite a stiff jump to several in the £600 region. The maitre d' oiled his way around my table and started talking in a most peculiar accent. "Mossier ... wuld ... comftable ... desree an aperrrtif..." I eventually worked out that it was a mix of French and Manc although further investigation revealed that he was from Sri Lanka.

Breakfast the next day was very different. Many of the young men in shiny suits were there again – this time in expensive sports casual attire and all eating alone while skimming the tabloids, presumably checking to see whether their exploits the previous evening had made the news. Once satisfied that there were no kiss-and-tells concerning them that morning, they returned to their bacon and eggs. And they all looked rather tired. No wonder we did so badly at the World Cup.