At least I think it is what the great man said. His words were somewhat distorted by a cannon going off in my lug. Incidentally, this is the last time I ever book an adventure holiday at Waterloo.
But Nappy (his unfortunate personal problems have been ignored by the historians) and his sayings came back to me last week when the sports editor was sending me off on the summer campaign. "An army could march on your stomach," he said poking my midriff with the Tazer he normally uses to speed production. "In fact, an army could use your stomach for exercises given its vast range and rather impressive swell."
I took all this in the manner it was intended. That is, as gratuitous, vicious and personal abuse. Or as a pep talk, as HR have insisted on calling it.
The sports editor was completing the forms for sending me on the road. "I would rather stay in a hotel," I whined, "as the tarmac is playing havoc with my bag and Church Road at Wimbledon can be a tad busy at this time of the year."
In truth, though, the hotels the sports editor has booked have never been that hot. Except, of course, in 100° New York when the room was once reviewed by Dante under the romantic title of Inferno. I asked the receptionist if the hotel had air conditioning and her long, deep laugh served to cool me just a little.
This hotel was in Jamaica, Queens. This is a spot that makes Possil look like Monte Carlo.
They do not have drive-by shootings in Jamaica because all the cars are burnt-out. I once started when a loud bang went off. A local comforted me. "It is only someone being shot," he said.
I replied: "Phew what a relief. I thought it was a car back-firing."
The hotel had a grill. I do not mean the cooking implement. I mean it had a grill on reception. I had to maintain eye contact with the receptionist as I backed to the lift, always keeping my hands above my head. It was a tough spot. When I asked for my room key on arrival, the receptionist, chewing tobacco and delicately inspecting the chamber of a revolver, said: "Do you feel lucky today?" I told her 'no'. It so happens that I was, and I survived my stay.
Other bookings include one for the French Open in Paris that was so far from the action it was barely in France. I needed to show my passport every morning before I boarded the train.
The best gigs have been in London. One hotel made Fawlty Towers look like the Ritz. It had its own entertainment every day. This occurred every morning when a census of Tokyo and Munich was taken in the breakfast room. This vast, swilling crush of humanity waged a relentless war over the toast machine. It took so long to brown a piece of bread that one would have been quicker leaving it out in the sun.
The lack of speed and confusion over whose bread was under the toaster sparked fights that warmed the very cockles of my heart. These cockles were then sold as a substitute for toast.
But my lovely assistant, The Fisher King, and I have now become regulars at a hotel in Earls Court. It was once as eccentric as a one-man band singing Straight Outta Compton in a cockney accent.
Of course, there was no air-conditioning but one could hire a fan that did not work. Or a West Ham United supporter as I insisted on calling him. Breakfast was marshalled by an Irishman who could have played Hitler in Downfall if he turned down the aggression ever so slightly. He did not so much show you to your table as challenge you to sit down.
This year we returned to find, well, a hotel. The rooms are beautiful, the bathroom is so good one could wash in it. There was a small inconvenience in that one has to travel to the first floor, walk the length of the hotel and go down two flights of stairs to arrive at the room. They call it refurbishment which is a posh London expression for taking the mickey.
Anyway, it is great. "I love life on the road," I said to The Fisher King. "Yeah, it's smashing, but let's head for the hotel," he said, pulling me from the gutter.