Getting into Elvis Costello's dressing room was the hardest thing I have ever done. One of The Inmates was going to help but then suddenly decided that Elvis wouldn't write them the hit single he'd promised.
About to independently cross the hallowed threshold, a weighty security guard tried to throw me down a steel stair-case. Effecting a deft side-step, it was the boiler-suited one who came a cropper, thereby appropriating the expression "The pen is mightier than the paunch."
Eventually the dressing room became so full of assorted syncophants that the Big E left, little realising he was about to confront a journalist from a music paper his manager for no apparent reason particularly dislikes.
"Well," he declared, "that's the end of the German tour, maybe we should go to Finland for five weeks, that'll give us something to wings about."
I asked him what was wrong with Iran.
"That's just it," he cordially agreed, "nothing. Right, I wanna play Kabul." (Geographical note: Kabul is the capital of Afghanistan; maybe his manager should buy him an atlas.) "Yeah, if the fucking Police can play Bombay, I can do a gig for the hostages."
By this point sundry promoters, record company people and would-be groupies looked ready to pass out. In for a Deutsch Mark, in for a pound, thought I and carried on regardless. Presumably, I suggested, you'll perform a cover of the Sly Stone classic "I Wanna Take You Higher (Tollah)."
Costello threatened to smile. No, he actually did smile; then he laughed.
"You know," he concluded, "already in America there's a version of that Knack song, 'My Atollah'."
Next week: What happened when Elvis Costello invited yours truly back to his hotel for a drink.