Dom Joly: I'm a West End star, but keep it under your hat

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The Independent Online

My tour has started with some preliminary warm-up dates in the West End of London. As someone has pointed out, the normal thing is to warm up stuff miles from nowhere and get a show "ready" before bringing it to London. I seem to be doing it the wrong way but then, that's sort of the story of my life.

I have to admit to a tinge of excitement at seeing my name up in lights as I hobbled through Leicester Square on crutches trying desperately to keep my exposed foot out of the puddles of urine and vomit that adorn London's tourist mecca. This initial but messy challenge was eclipsed by my efforts to get through masses of tourists standing around limply, waiting to be led towards every overpriced venue around them.

I'm staying in a hotel on Leicester Square, and this is about the most touristy thing that I've ever done in London. You can probably work out which one it is if you know the area, but don't bother trying to call me there. I have an experienced tour manager who, before me, has toured with U2 and Bon Jovi. (You can imagine how excited she is to be working for me.) She rang me to ask what assumed name I would like to use for my hotel bookings. I got stupidly excited, and spent ages thinking of the perfect one.

This sounds like fun, but it is actually a total nightmare. When I checked in under my assumed name, the Russian girl behind the desk refused to accept my credit card for "extras" because it had my real name on it. I then had to spend an incredibly confusing 10 minutes explaining that I had checked in under an assumed name. She kept asking me why I was booked under my assumed name if it wasn't my real name? I answered truthfully that I wasn't really sure and that I just assumed this was something everybody did on tour. Surely hotels knew more about this than anybody? Not this Russian. She wasn't having any of it and I eventually had to check in with my real name but then my fake name in brackets, which made it totally pointless.

Once in my room, I had a great view out over the square... except it was all sealed off and, seemingly like the whole of the rest of the capital, in redevelopment. Someone told me it was something to do with the Olympics. The mind boggles as to what event will be held there. Maybe standing still like a statue while being sprayed head to toe in silver paint is a new Olympic sport? Or is it competitive portrait painting in which art athletes from rival countries compete to be the first to draw a ludicrous head of Sylvester Stallone? My favourite would be groups of European schoolchildren competing to see who could purchase the most expensive slice of dry, inedible pizza.

The phone in my room rang. It was my wife, in the lobby. The Russian woman behind the desk was not allowing her upstairs to come to the room. I had warned her that I was using this secret name and she had asked for a card to allow her to use the lift. It seems that the Russian girl had gone the whole way from not understanding the secret name system to now believing that I was now an international top celebrity who must be protected from voracious women at all costs.

I got Stacey to pass the phone to the Russian, and I persuaded her that the lady in front of her was not a member of the infamous Plaster Casters, but my wife. She seemed quite disappointed by the news, but allowed Stacey access to the lift and the inner sanctum of my touring world. Not easy, this rock'n'roll lark.