Noble thoughts

Ross's funny old world

As Ross Noble embarks on new series of Radio 4 travelogues from around the world, he reveals a few favourite anecdotes:

What was the best place you visited for this series?

Brussels. It was a real challenge making the show as there were cafés and restaurants every couple of metres, which hampered progress. I also attempted a personal challenge to eat my bodyweight in Belgian chocolate. After the first couple of kilos in the art gallery, the Magritte pictures appeared to be moving. After a few more, in a chocolate haze, I heard the voice of Tin Tin telling me to kill the Smurfs.

What was your worst travelling experience?

Tavelling with an Egyptian airline. They seemed to have no concept of customer service, manners or organisational ability. They wouldn 't let us on the plane because they thought it was full, then left us stranded in a hotel that was either being built or pulled down. Their slogan should be: "Fly with us: If you don't, the only option is a camel, scumbag."

What was your most amusing travelling experience?

In Adelaide, there's this man called Johnny who wears nothing but Speedos and wellie boots and walks up and down the main street. I thought this was a one-off - until I mentioned it on stage and, to my amazement, discovered that everybody knows him and that he is not only known around Adelaide but also around the world. After the shows, I received a barrage of photos of him and e-mails with links to various websites in his honour, the best of which has a "Where 's Johnny?" moving map, tracking his movements around the city.

What was the most interesting thing you've seen this series?

The tattoos and body decoration in honour of car manufacturers by motor sport fans in Adelaide. I don 't know if I could have the word "Ford " in permanent letters on my back.

What is the strangest souvenir you've ever bought?

In Singapore, I bought a musical pickle fork holder with the body of a fish and the face of a lion and, at the flick of a switch, its eyes light up.

Name five things you always take with you when you travel.

A selection of bags in various sizes, my portable DVD player, a good book, loose-fitting slacks and a picture of Her Majesty The Queen.

In your experience, what is the most overused English phrase aroundthe world?

"Lovely jubbly ". It seems that shopkeepers who speak very little English have adopted this phrase to lure you into their shops. I would be more inclined to go in if they picked different phrases from classic British sitcoms like: "It 's only Sonia, " from Fresh Fields with Anton Rodgers.

What do you miss from home when you are travelling?

Bean-bag furniture - a must in the home as an antidote to aircraft seats and hotel chairs.

What was the strangest meal you've eaten on your travels?

It was in China where I ordered by pointing at the indecipherable dishes on the menu. When the meal came, the centrepiece was a whole pigeon battered in an upright position.

What was the strangest mode of transport yo 've used?

In South Africa, I attempted to observe the beauty of the flora and fauna by jet-ski and quad bike.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

On the flight to Australia, I fell asleep on a stranger's shoulder and woke him up by snoring. Luckily I didn 't fall into a deep sleep and start dribbling.

What is your all-time best travel tip?

If you end up in a Turkish prison, don 't sign up for the ballroom dancing classes.

* Ross Noble Goes Global starts at 11pm on Thursday May 15

First published: May 2, 2003

Published: 22 Mar 2009

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