Francis Rossi: ‘In Romania, I had two bodyguards – who came to the toilet with me’

A chauffeur in Paris told me a great story about Tommy Cooper

I was in Paris with my first wife and two eldest children in the 1970s. He had driven the comedian around and, on the last day, at the airport, Tommy shook his hand and said: “You’ve been really good, lovely work.” Then he put something in the chauffeur’s top pocket and said: “There’s a drink for you, for later.” “And you do not look, you know?” the chauffeur told me. “It is rude to look.” So he gets home and goes to show his wife – and it’s a teabag! He thought Tommy Cooper was the living end and found the whole thing hilarious, so he keeps that teabag and tells that story.

We stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris on that occasion

We were there for a week, in an amazing suite with four or five rooms. We had our own maids to press our clothes and look after us, and the chauffeur who told us that story.

I went everywhere by bike in Amsterdam

In the morning I’d go swimming in a lovely old building around the back of Leidseplein. The pool was huge – one width was about a length of a normal pool – so I’d swim 40 widths, then at lunchtime I’d go to Burger King (they did a lovely fish burger!), and in the afternoon I’d go out on my mountain bike. I’d get a train 40 miles out, and follow a trail back to Amsterdam. Every night I’d eat at an Italian restaurant, called Sette Bello, which looked like it had been there since the late 1930s. I loved it there. The guy who owned it reminded me of my dad. I’d order gnocchi with arrabbiata sauce and it was like being at home, eating food from my nonna.

The best night’s sleep I have ever had was at the Address hotel in Dubai

This was five or six years ago and I still can’t forget it. I tried to buy one of the beds from there, but they’re made in California. It was when Status Quo were playing at the Dubai opera house. It’s fantastic – all the balconies can move. It’s so over the top there.

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