Who doesn’t enjoy a really big poo?
Truly – a clear out of the bowels is one of life’s great victories, only marginally eclipsed by a clear-out of the house. And this being a time of annual renewal, many of us will have completed a decluttering catharsis between Christmas and New Year. Of our homes I mean and not our bowels although some of us might have enjoyed both.
During our clear-out I came across a number of items that posed dilemmas; to retain or to chuck, including a brochure of the PFA Awards from the 2004 season. PFA is an acronym that will mean nothing to many of you. The Professional Footballers Association and to my many American readers, this refers to real football or what you call soccer.
Football being the biggest sport on earth and so it’s a big deal… The best professional football players in England being feted and celebrated at an awards ceremony. Held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, Mayfair and staged in the Great Room, the most famous ballroom in London. The evening always features a comedian and this year in question, a certain Dominic Holland was booked to perform.
With a packed room, I was feeling particularly vulnerable. I had worked out a set with the football players in mind and with all things new, the pressure only mounts. The ceremony that year followed a criminal incident at the same hotel involving a bunch of professional footballer players in what is known as roasting.
Er, this is group sex to you and I. Anyone? No, me neither. And roasting involves more males than females, meaning players must wait their turn, watch and I expect to goad each other on. And although everyone is adult and complicit it was all very unedifying and controversial.
And so to my opening line…
‘…well here we are – six hundred professional football players back at the Grosvenor House Hotel – if you’re all staying in the hotel tonight lads, you’ll need what… about, ten rooms between the lot of you…’
A joke/jibe at their ethics, morals and expense. A high tariff opening then. Risk and reward.
But I needn’t have worried.
The room erupted in to laughter. Some players even leapt to their feet and clapped above their heads in the way that fans greet a goal. After my set I felt confident enough to approach certain players to ask for their autograph.
I rarely get star-struck and particularly in show-business, where lady-luck often has a larger hand to play than ability. But this is not the case in sports and why Tom was practically speechless when he recently met Lionel Messi – the Argentinian star and practical deity to any sports fan.
In 2004, Arsenal had completed the season unbeaten and for this unique feat in the modern era they became known as the “invincibles”, spearheaded by Thierry Henry. A mixed-race Frenchman and a thoroughbred of a human being.
I was nervous approaching someone so illustrious but he was happy to meet me and duly signed my programme to my young son, Tom.
Flicking through the programme now with the various “To Tom’s…” I think of Tom now and two words come to mind – who knew?
Tom was 8 at the time and just a normal little boy but for whom everything was about to change when he was spotted for a West-End show…
Now he is 25 and a perfectly normal young man, only he isn’t normal of course, not really. The morning after the PFA awards, I was excited to show him my programme and all the signatures dedicated to him. But now of course, it is Tom’s signature that is so coveted.
Who knew, indeed?
I wrote about a recent evening in the Great Room with another peerless athlete – Usain Bolt. Indisputably the fastest human who has ever lived, he makes compelling company.
The Great Room looms large in my life – in my stand-up and my fiction. It is the hotel where Milly works (Only in America) and where Hobbs, a London tramp has dinner in Hobbs’ Journey – a short story I publish this week on amazon as a quick read for 2022.
And, finally, the PFA brochure was not the only thing I unearthed.
This is the first publicity shot in the illustrious and heady comedy career of yours truly. Looking at it now I think of all the things that lay ahead for this young man – and most immediately, the hair loss.
Who knew, indeed.
Happy New Year everyone.
The DH Book Club is a GO and already a success with many of you joining and receiving your FREE copy of Takes on Life – you can join here – everyone is welcome.