I'VE never been one to have dealings with moving sports. They have always struck me as being both dangerous and unnecessary.
Cyclists have strong legs and weak hearts, footballers get arthritis of the joints, the man who invented jogging dropped dead. That is warning enough for me.
However, a new sport, which has emerged in the last couple of years, has caught my attention. It is called fantasy football and has spawned the offshoots of fantasy rugby and now fantasy cricket. The rudiments are that you pick your team from real-life stars to make a fictitious superteam.
I am inspired to come up with another variation on this, to be called the fantasy hotel league. The rules are very simple and the game is open to anyone. Locate the site, transplant the hotel you most admire and staff it with the best hotel operators you know. To start the league off, here is my fantasy hotel and its staff.
The site I've chosen is an odd one at first glance. I want a 30-acre site inside Buckingham Palace Gardens, overlooking the lake but with the back of the hotel facing the palace. That way, the palace would be there if my guests wanted to see it but, being round the back by the hotel's dustbins, it wouldn't disturb the lovely view down to the lake.
The Americans and Japanese would adore it - they could go for a stroll with their camcorders glued to their shoulders and see the Queen out walking the corgis. I'd probably put a picture of that in the hotel brochure.
Rather than build a new hotel, I would have Sharrow Bay brought down the M1 on a low-loader. I like the place, but sorry, Brian and Francis, I need an aggressive management team. My general manager has to be a dynamo, someone who has some fizz, able to motivate the staff and cope with rich foreign businessmen and their demands. For that post I would appoint Garry Hawkes - Gardner Merchant would have to become his day-off job.
Food would be important in my hotel and I like the idea of getting a megastar chef. Trouble is, I can't be doing with madmen in the kitchen, so head chef would be Delia Smith, a lovely lady who makes very nice cakes.
In view of the swish location and the upmarket neighbours who are bound to stroll into the restaurant for lunch, I'll need a real smoothie for a head waiter, somebody debonair and dapper. Sounds like just the job for hotel supremo George Goring - and he would be able to walk to work every day. I suppose he'd want to keep all the tips, but I'm sure Delia wouldn't mind.
Sales and marketing manager was a tricky choice. Mount Charlotte Thistle's Peter Bates was an obvious front-runner, as was his boss Robert Peel, renowned for his enthusiastic pitches at travel shows.
In the end, I went outside the industry (that's allowed in the fantasy hotel league) and appointed HRH Prince Edward as sales and marketing manager. He's already done a bit of selling for British Airways and if he's going to get married he'll need a proper job.
Every good London hotel needs a streetwise concierge, someone who can fix anything from front-row seats for Phantom of the Opera to having parking tickets torn up. No question, that's a job I'd give to Terry Holmes - it's time he made a career change from the Ritz anyhow.
So there we have it - my hotel to beat all other hotels in the fantasy hotel league. Would anyone care to come up with a superteam that could beat mine? o