The comedian with wanderlust reports from Cheltenham

I’m in the middle of writing my new book and, for research purposes, I took Stacey off to Helsinki for a three-day break. My new book is about conspiracy theories and one of my favourites is that Finland does not exist.

I thought it would be fun to go to try and prove that it did. This turned out to be harder than you might think.

But all that is for the book... and you can read it when it comes out.

What was Finland like? (plot spoiler – it does exist).

It was dull. I’m sorry, I’d love to be more excited about a place whose national dance is the Lap Dance (Lapland… Geddit?), but there really was very little to see.

We wandered aimlessly around Helsinki in search of something to see or do. We visited a rubbish art gallery, ate some dodgy salmon soup, drank pints of beer for about 12 pounds a pop, and eventually decided that we were so unenthused that we would take the ferry over to Tallin, the capital of Estonia.

Tallin had been described to me by a friend as being like ‘visiting the set of Shrek.’ He was not far wrong.

The stag party days have receded, and the capital is now a kind of mini-Prague with cobbled streets, overly enthusiastic restaurant owners who try to force you into their establishments, and a lot of anti-Russian sentiment.

The Russian embassy is covered in abusive messages, and the Estonian government have changed the name of the street it’s on to Vaba Ukraina (Free Ukraine) which is a rather lovely touch.

Then we stumbled upon the Depeche Mode bar. This is a bar that does exactly what it says on the tin. It is entirely dedicated to the Basildon electro poppers, and is very odd. Whoever runs it is clearly an obsessive, and the band themselves have been known to pop in when touring the Baltics.

If somebody were to to open a Dom Joly bar (unlikely, I know) then I’d also be very tempted to visit it. But it would be a slippery slope. I’d start demanding free drinks, I’d sit under photographs of myself, and eventually I would become a rather sad, permanent feature sitting at the bar, getting high on my own supply.

But, if somebody insisted on opening a Dom Joly bar (even more unlikely), they could do worse than to open it in Helsinki. The place is so crazily expensive that you could charge pretty much what you wanted for the signature cocktails.

  • The Big Mobile: €30
  • The Giant Snail: €40
  • Windowsh: €50

Not only would it be a profitable venture (I would have to take a cut), but it would then give me a place to go to in Helsinki. As Finns are obsessed with saunas, the Dom Joly Bar would have one right in the middle of the place. Having demolished a row of theme cocktails, I could slip off the bar stool, strip naked and pop into the sauna to sweat out the alcohol before starting all over again.

For a further fee, visitors to the bar could sit in the sauna with me and I would give amusing and pithy messages to punch up their Instagram output.

Actually, I think this is a really good idea. I’m onto a winner. If any potential investors are interested then get in touch and I’ll get my people to call your people and we’ll do lunch… maybe The Stone Roses Bar in York?

The only thing to stop this exciting business venture is if Finland doesn’t exist. There’s always a catch.

Follow Dom on Twitter: @domjoly

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