Distractions – Read chapter 6 of our #Eurovison novel

Our continued serialisation of What’s The Deal With Europe?  The novel that inspired the comedy movie Transatlantic Smash.

CHAPTER 6 – DISTRACTIONS

Lifting weights is all well and good but no matter how buff your body is, without gigging, you’re never going to be ready to conquer Europe.  They needed gigs but nobody really wanted to book a band that only had two songs at a push.  They desperately needed to promote themselves in an attempt to get gigs, but also to raise their profile generally if they were going to stand even the slightest chance of winning A Song For Europe.

They’d tried the shameless lies on the website and that didn’t seem to be getting them very far.  A more ambitious tact was called for, and that’s how they came up with the idea of writing their own TV show.

They could write a fictional TV series about being in Taurus and that would help promote the band.  Well, why shouldn’t they? S Club 7 had a show and that seemed to work for them.  And what about North and South?  They’d had one too.  What?  You don’t remember North and South?  They were a boyband who had a hit single with
‘I’m a Man Not a Boy’ and their TV series was called…actually you probably don’t remember much about them either, but that’s not the point.

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The point is that having your own TV series is a good way to promote your band and that’s just what Taurus needed.

The general format of one of these series goes that there’s some over elaborate plot that lasts twenty-five minutes, with the remaining 5 minutes available for working in a performance of a different song each week.  This trend started back with The Monkeys in the sixties and it’s still a relevant form of band marketing today.  Taurus were going to exploit it.  They just had to write it.

So Robert sat down at his computer in his bedroom and began.  Ashley did the same in his room.  Patrick, not owning a computer of his own flitted between the two rooms, and in between shouting out set pieces, situations, one liners and anecdotes to crowbar in to the vague ‘plot’ that Ashley and Robert were coming up with, would proceed to distract the two of them.  This comprised of: (a) in Robert’s room, Patrick stripping down to his pants and getting in to Ashley’s bed and asking to be tucked in, or (b) in Ashley’s room, Patrick stripping down to his pants and doing a particularly unfaithful homage to the Lisa Scott-Lee poster he had on his wall.

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Between them, they got a few pages done and the odd joke written down, but to be honest, Mr Terry’s habit of providing the others with regular strip shows was slowing them down somewhat.

They tried a new method, where they took it in turns to sit at Robert’s computer and type whilst the other two came up with ideas.  Coming up with ideas is another way of saying pissing around.  It was in a moment of pissing around that the idea for Ecu came about.

“Why not audition a backing dance troupe?” said Ashley.

It was not a bad idea all things considered.  If Taurus were to grace the stage in Istanbul in May 2004, then they would need a group of sexy backing dancers to help with the male vote.  The boys had altogether sleazier ideas in mind though.  The name Ecu was inspired by the early name for the European single currency, the European Currency Unit; a misguided, unnecessary and somewhat behind the times attempt to get the European vote.
The idea to form a female dance group got noted down and did make a draft of the pilot episode script they worked on, however it wasn’t long before the boys were thinking that they could actually form Ecu in reality.

Something had to be done about it.  It’s all well and good saying that it would be great to have a female Taurus, but someone needed to find them.  There are three moments that spring to mind where they had a chance and blew it.

The first chance was only really half a chance and to his credit, it was completely manufactured by Patrick.  The three of them were on the way in to town one Friday night (in fact it’s amazing how many of Taurus’s early adventures started like that), when not far from their house they passed a group of girls, roughly sixteen years of age, sitting on a wall.  By the time they were about fifty yards past the girls, in mid conversion, Patrick suddenly turned round and began to jog back towards them.

“What’s Patrick doing?” Robert asked Ashley.  It was a question he asked quite regularly.

“I’ve no idea.” Ashley replied.  It was a reply Ashley used in equal regularity.
By this point, Patrick had already struck up a conversation with the girls and whatever he was planning was taking far too long for the others.  The problem was that Ashley and Robert were being pulled in two directions.  The attraction of town and pubs and beer and better-looking women was pulling them one way.  But they simply couldn’t help getting dragged towards the conversion that Patrick was having on a wall, near their house, with average looking girls. Eventually they were within earshot.

“I got sacked from Kwiksave today”, said Patrick.

“Oh darling” said the girls in unison.  Now even though Patrick had made a blatant lie here, he’d done well.  The girls were sympathetic with him.  In fact, it was a very clever line because they were probably empathetic. These girls had all probably been sacked from similar jobs in their short lives.  Also, these girls would probably relish the opportunity to be in a girl band and the promise of meeting famous celebrities.  They probably lived for celebrities.  They’d probably spent their last pay packet on ten Lambert & Butler, a Lottery Scratchcard and this week’s copy of Heat magazine.

There was just one problem.  Patrick was going to let the conversation (and lies) flow and when the time was right casually slip in the fact that he was in a boyband.  It just doesn’t sit right though does it?  How many boyband members do you think are simultaneously employed by Kwiksave?

Before Ashley and Robert had managed to casually stroll (their boyband strut was still in development) all the way back to where Patrick and the girls were sat, the attraction of town and pubs and beer and better-looking women was suddenly pulling them a lot harder.  In fact, the girls were now beginning to repel in equal measure.
Patrick stood up which was definitely the cue for them to leave.  The boy had done well. His only mistake was he’d used the Kwiksave line on them instead of the Boyband line.

Rule 1 was broken. Never be afraid to use the Boyband line on them.  It’s the best one you’ll ever have.

The second chance they got was on the way in to town on a different Friday night.  This time it was only Patrick and Robert and they were on their way to meet a couple of female friends of theirs in a pub and they were running late.

About ten minutes away from the destination, they came across a group of pretty girls, aged about eighteen.  The girls asked the boys for the time.  They told them.  The girls asked the boys where the Spread Eagle pub was.  They told them.  The girls told the boys that they were going to be in the Spread Eagle all night if they fancied joining them later.  The boys thanked them.  They never joined them.

Rule 2 was broken.  Never let a group of young girls down if you can avoid it.  Get on their good side and they might be mouldable in to the girlband you’re looking for, or at very least they might make good groupies.

In an effort to please their female friends, the boys had lost their best opportunity to form Ecu.  Later on that night they attended a student party, which didn’t help to alleviate their frustrations either.  Despite the fact that their “We’re in a boyband” line actually worked with some of the women at the party, they were never going to be Ecu material and certainly not groupie material.  You have to remember that the average student hates boybands or pop music in general.  Once they’ve got alcohol inside them it’s a whole different story and they’ll admit to owning Take That’s entire back catalogue.  That’s why the Taurus line was working on them.  But even so, they were never going to be Ecu material.

Also, the presence of Robert, Ashley and Patrick’s female friends had once again prevented them from scoring.  It’s at this point I must warn anyone thinking of forming a boy/girl band in the mould of Liberty X or S Club against it.  You’re probably thinking that being in a band with good-looking girls is going to allow you to sleep with them.  It’s never going to happen.  Ok, Lee from Steps has almost definitely seen his bandmates naked.  There’s no room for modesty when quick costume changes are called for.  But there is no way he’s ever had an inkling of a chance with the three lovely ladies he shared a dressing room with for five years.  In fact, he probably cries himself to sleep every night, thinking about the numerous TV interviews where his bandmates said that he was “like a brother to them.”

By the time the third and final chance to form Ecu had come along, the boys had hit desperation levels.  It was a hot summer’s night, two months after Jemini’s horrendous Eurovison failure, the catalyst for Taurus, when Ashley and Patrick decided to go across the road to the local park and look for any young females hanging out who might be suitable Ecu candidates.  They asked Robert if he wanted to go with them and he declined their offer as he simply couldn’t be arsed and he knew they wouldn’t be out there for long anyway because they’d get bored.
Robert was right about the first bit and wrong about the second.  They weren’t out there for long; in fact they were back sooner than anticipated, despite not breaking either rule 1 or 2.  The problem was they’d broken rule 3.
Never go out desperately searching for young women to be in your band because you don’t know what kind of trouble you might find yourself in.  Leave that kind of thing to Simon Cowell.

Patrick and Ashley’s reason for the early return home was not due to boredom or even down to a lack of success with the girls they’d pursued.  It was down to the fact that the girls they’d pursued had big mates.  Big lads!  Simon Cowell probably doesn’t have to worry about big lads.  He’s probably got bodyguards who are even bigger big lads.  And anyway, it’s been said before that Simon Cowell enjoys taking care of big lads himself.

Eventually Taurus gave up looking for Ecu.  Actually, that’s not true.  They’ve never given up looking for them; they’ve just given up trying to form them.  There is never a day goes by where they don’t spot a potential “unit” as they nicknamed them.  You don’t even have to look that hard.  Actually, if you’re as gifted in Internet chatrooms as Patrick is, then potential units end up sending particularly graphic photos of themselves to you.  Only yesterday, Patrick emailed me some photos that he’d just received from a potential unit.  Now it goes without saying that that person will remain nameless, however it makes you realise what kind of fan-mail successful boyband members receive on a day to day basis.  That’s not to say that Taurus weren’t successful in some way.  Just because they never actually had the initial support or recognition that crap like
One True Voice had.  Actually, Taurus were probably equally successful as One True Voice.  You might want to read those last couple of sentences again and insert your own favourite successful boyband’s name?

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Hopefully by the end of this book you realise that success is a relative thing.  In whatever you do in life, take some time to enjoy the process and learn something from it.  In anything you may endeavour, try and grow as a person.  In fact, those last two sentences encompass the moral to this entire tale of three boys (men?) enjoying themselves and quite possibly should have been the final two sentences of the book.  You might want to take those last two sentences and re-read them when you come to the end of the book.  Or if you’d rather, don’t ignore the fact that you’ve just read the moral and simply enjoy reading the rest of the story.  Be part of the euro-journey and not give a shit about the moral.  Or, if you think that the moral was the only reason to read this book, put the book down now, because the rest of the story if pretty immoral to be truthful.

Anyway, the boys achieved a draft copy of a pilot episode of the Taurus TV show and now they needed a production company to take note.  In order to explain the characters contained fully, they produced an accompanying document containing all the character backgrounds (i.e. lies) from the website and a summary of a six episode TV series and what songs would be featured in each episode, not that they’d written them yet.
It’s a shame that they never got to make the series but with no production companies snapping up the rights to the show, Robert had to get back to the music – what the band should have been about.  You should have realised by now that it never really was though.  You’ve only got to consider the premise of one of the episodes which bluntly put was a lame attempt to persuade a TV company to provide the boys with attractive naked ladies in the name of ‘art’.  The guys were certainly in need of some new inspiration to carry them to glory.

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