Steve Colman: A trip abroad and a catch up with Bob

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SOMETIMES things just fall into place - Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen.

So easy to get to from the North East, arrive and with a £8.40 ticket to travel for 24 hours you can be in the city centre in 15 minutes.

Even when it’s snowing and -6c - they don’t have the wrong kind of snow there.

I then checked into my hotel which I’d booked within 10 minutes of the Champions League draw taking place.

It was relatively cheap and I found out why. Trains were passing by my window about eight inches away from the glass. But they were reasonably quiet ones which were not arriving at the station at break neck speed.

As it happened I was woken the next morning by the arrival of the 7.45am - perfect.

Again, the hotel was just a 15minute walk to the football ground and probably the same to where the Mermaid statue is, although you have to go through a maze of a park to find it.

You have to hunt the Mermaid out and it makes it all worth while. I was amazed to see the poor girl there with no clothes on in sub zero temperatures but I’m sure she’s used to it now.

The football was pretty good too and some good banter from the Chelsea fans.

We had a net strung up across in front of us and one wag stated that it wasn’t to stop us throwing things onto the pitch but to stop Jesper Gronkjaer’s crosses.

He is a Dane, who although brilliantly fast and skilful when playing for us some years ago, we had to let go as the ball never found it’s way into the penalty box. Chelsea won 2-0 and I returned to the hotel happy.

Something I like doing whilst travelling is catching up on the books I have lined up to read.

I had begun Bob Monkhouse’s autobiography a while ago but had not had the chance to get it finished.

I knew that Bob had owned a nightclub in the region years ago which had gone bust, but it was brilliant reading the full account he gave in the book setting out all the reasons. Ron Markham and his wife Louise had befriended Bob and his wife on their regular visits to the North East club circuit and subsequently used to stay with the couple at their Darras Hall home. Over a long period of years Ron suggested the ownership of a nightclub which Bob could fund and he could run the operation. All was pretty good until some years later, after a further cash injection paid into the joint bank account which disappeared at the North East end. Ron and his wife did a runner, reappearing in South Africa and the states as hypnotist act, The Great Romano.

Bob was amazed he could do a runner as they had been incredibly close and would play practical jokes on each other all the time.

Bob was doing a midnight gig at Wetherells in Sunderland and there had been an earlier gig in Darlington before hand, so Ron offered Mr and Mrs Monkhouse his Rolls Royce to make the trip. After Bob came off stage, no doubt giving you a cracking time at Wetherells he was told by the bouncer that there were a couple of people who’d broken into the car and wouldn’t come out. As Bob says “Sprawled across the back seat were two of the filthiest human beings I’ve ever seen, their torn overcoats bound with string, battered hats pulled over balaclavas , faces caked with grime” There was a pool of technicoloured yawn freshly made just out side the rear passenger door and glancing in Bob and his Mrs saw that the smelly pair were off their heads with a bottle of turps providing their refreshment. After some time of initially trying by coaxing, then cajoling, then threatening, Bob came up with the idea of saying that it actually wasn’t their car, it belonged to the local magistrate. The pair of stinking tramps dissolved in laughter and had to own up to being Ron and Louise in disguise.

Another time, Bob and his wife were greeted at Newcastle Airport by a Mother Superior and a bunch of nuns from their convent in Jesmond and after arriving with his newly presented Bible with his name embossed in gold on it, for his services to charity, at Ron and Louise’s, there was a whole houseful of the sisters to welcome him there. Amazing fun which makes it totally odd that Ron would subsequently shaft Bob. It’s a funny old world.