I sit in the hotel bar drinking my pint of Stella, a beer punched in the face until it agreed to chill-out at a more moderate and conscientious 4% alcohol. My last night in the Holiday Inn Express in Pride Park, Derby. In a sense, it’s the end of a very short era; an era of four days. My era’s too small to be an era. How inadequate it is.
I do not mind my own company, but sitting in your hotel room has a loneliness that overwhelms, that empties your entire vision and replaces it with a colour that failed the audition to become beige. And that’s why I sit in the hotel lounge, with my newspaper amongst tables peppered with the tired, who are all having ‘just one more’. The television keeps us warm.
The television has dedicated itself to ITV. It’s just finished showing us a programme that had everybody guessing; trying to work it out. What was the concept? All it was (I promise you I’m not deliberately concealing nuance or deliberately deconstructing it in an attempt to piss-take), was celebrities on boats. Richard Madeley and a few others on boats against no time limit, with no challenge or danger, on boats. There weren’t even waves.
That really was it, nothing more, nothing less. I say ‘nothing less’, the only way of having something less would be to have a camera fixed on an empty boat for an hour, or maybe me on a boat. A whole programme with me on a boat; I like it. It would be called ‘Me on a Boat’ and I would do the first series for not much money, before demanding fifty-grand an episode for the second series in which I would be on a better boat. Then I’d write a book about boats. I say write, I’d get it ghost-written, for I know less about boats than I know about you.
‘Did you write the book?’
‘Well…’ I’d stutter, unsure whether to lie. A smug grin would begin to build upon Jeremy Paxman’s spongy face.
‘It was ghost-written wasn’t it?’
‘Yes! But by a fucking ghost, Paxo; a real fucking ghost.’ And I’d have proof: a picture of me stood next to some woman who was murdered in a Yorkshire bakery in the eighteenth century and Paxman would disappear from shot, shaking and crying underneath his desk. They’d cut to an advert break, even though this is BBC 2, and the first advert would be for a sequel to my book, ‘Me on a Boat’ called ‘Even More of Me on a Boat’, which would be exactly the same but with 'out-takes' consisting of wrongly spelt adjectives.
So, that’s been my week in Derby.