by Spencer Vale and Andrew Melladay
CHAPTER 18 – EUROPE! IT’S BEHIND YOU!
What do celebrities get up to when they’re no longer in the public eye? There is a tendency, as I’ve displayed on many occasions, to believe that once they’re out of the public eye, they have ceased to live. But ignoring my usual “aren’t they dead?” faux-pas for a second and the conclusion that you’re likely to form is panto.
With autumn well underway and Christmas approaching, and with overdrafts stretched to the limit, it was the inevitable conclusion for all the Taurus boys. However it took Michael MacGee, who was suddenly back on the scene to suggest it.
“There’s always panto!”
“No way, I’m not doing that!” Ashley was firmly against it, as he always was with suggestions from his Dad. Ashley always suspected the worst from Michael and wondered why he was suddenly taking an interest in the guys again.
“There’s some good people do panto!” said Michael.
“I’ve seen a few over the years. Darren Day! Paul Shane! You know, the big fella from Hi-de-Hi. Gary Wilmot!”
“Who’s Gary Wilmot?” Patrick asked.
“You know, did Copy Cats with Bobby Davro and Andrew O’Connor.”
“Gary Wilmot. Not a name you hear often enough in my opinion. Especially since the cancellation of Showstoppers, his early Saturday night TV show,” said Robert.
“Yeah, Gary Wilmot as Captain Hook. Who else? Er…Constable Habib from the Thin Blue Line. One of the guys from 911,” continued Michael.
“Yeah I saw someone from 911 in panto,” said Patrick. “It said his name on the poster, but then it had to say ‘from 911’ underneath it. And I still didn’t know who he was. So even after explanation as to who he was I was still none the wiser as to his celebrity credential.”
I can just about remember one of the guys from and he looked like a young Michael J Fox. I know that’s a really odd thing to say, because Michael J Fox has always looked young and will always look young. He’s got what I like to call Suggs syndrome. Suggs never appears to age. He looks the same as he did on any Madness album cover from the Eighties.
So it was looking like panto for the boys this year. If they were lucky! And they were still reliant on Michael coming up trumps with his various connections.
All they could think to do to keep them occupied whilst they waited was to continue writing the new material that they’d started before they were dropped by their label. Robert suggested that they try a new direction. Maybe Taurus could be less of a pop act and even try their hand at playing their own instruments. Ashley and Pat were quick to point out that they couldn’t play instruments and Robert’s response was to get in some more members.
“Well how many will we need?!” chirped an exasperated Patrick. “You play keys, if me and Ash sing, then we’re gonna need a drummer, a bassist, possibly two guitars. That makes seven.”
“Can you have a seven piece band?” said Ashley.
“Wizzard thought they had enough manoeuvring room to have two drummers!” said Robert. As always his default motion was to revert back to being an instrumentalist. It was always so easy for any of them to forget why they’d formed Taurus in the first place. When arguing their point, they always took their eye off the bigger picture.
“Two drummers?! That’s just cheeky though. It’s glam rock overkill. If you need anything, it’s not two drummers. That’s the kind of overkill that Wakeman would be proud of!” said Ashley.
“You’ve got to admire the timing,” Robert was not deterred by this glam rock accusation, “to have two drummers and still sound alright. The synchronicity is fantastic!”
“Pub?” I chipped in in an effort to distract them from their self-indulgence. And it worked. Temporarily.
Rather than just popping down the local I suggested a longer walk into town to make an afternoon of it. I think that the boys needed to clear the air and get some perspective on things – even if we were pushing it financially. It wasn’t long after the first pint before things returned to what I would call normality for the four of us. It had been a long time since we’d had a proper chin wag and bantered about nothing of any use. I suppose you could argue that the recent ideas of how pursue a post Taurus career were not really of any use, but what I mean by a banter is a social repartee – over beer. Yes this pub based banter started where we’d left off prior to my pub suggestion, but it ended far from here. Far from reality; where all good banter takes you.
“We still haven’t decided on our four new members,” said Robert, picking up from where we’d left off.
Thankfully Patrick’s serious side had been put to bed for the day. “We have! We’ve got Roger Moore on drums. Des O’Connor! He’s been there, done that. He fulfils every quality!”
“Can he play guitar though?” said Ashley, running with the idea. And we were back to Bantersville.
“He can go up front!” Patrick said.
“It’s not a five-a-side football team.” I said.
“They’ve also got to be a five aside football team.”
Robert had realised that now was the time for pleasure not work. “So they’ve got to be nimble.”
“Oh Roger Moore though, surely he’s in a wheel chair by now. You know, with one of those tartan blankets over his legs,” said Pat.
“Roger Moore on drums, Des O’Connor up front. Err…Des Lynam.” And we’d returned well and truly to the days of the recording sessions for the album.
“How about Des Lyn-up!”
“Brilliant! How many Deses can you think of?”
“Des O’Connor, Des Lynam, Desmond who owned a barber shop…”
“Des’ree! And Des from Neighbours.”
“What about the ultimate Neighbours line-up?” asked Robert.
“Des, Lance…” said Ashley.
“Why Lance?” asked Patrick.
“I miss Lance. I hated having to put up with sub-Lance Connor-isms. If you want a buffoon, get Lance in.” Ashley clarified.
“Is Connor actually Irish or is he an Australian doing an Irish accent? Because his accent has got better as he’s gone on, where I’d have thought it would have been the opposite.” I said. “He should have less of an Irish accent by spending more time away from his home by being
“So, we’ve got Des, Lance, Connor…”
“No, I don’t want both!” demanded Ashley. And so it continued for many a beer.
As afternoon turned into evening, Patrick told us about the stalker he’d got. Actually, that sounds a bit grand. He was less of a stalker and more of an obsessed friend of Hey-Jimmy’s who had decided to keep pestering poor Pat. For some reason when they’d met at some party
months previously, maybe even a year earlier, this guy, who I’ll call Nigel just to protect his identity, had taken a shine to Patrick. Ever since then, Nigel had become obsessed with Taurus and had been making a nuisance of himself.
Unfortunately some time ago Nigel had managed to gethold of Patrick’s mobile number from Hey-Jimmy. It’s not that Hey-Jimmy had just given it to him. Pat had specifically told him not to. But when Hey-Jimmy had left his phone lying around one time, Nigel had looked up Pat’s number in his phone book and then persistently texted Pat from then on. When Patrick had mentioned this to Hey-Jimmy, Jimmy’s advice had been to ignore any texts that he received from Nigel and eventually he would get bored or think that Pat had changed his number. It’s not that Nigel was a bad person. Far from it. It’s just that his social skills were somewhat lacking – and he didn’t have the ability to take a hint. What Patrick told us this night in the pub was that Nigel had now started emailing him.
“Yeah I was aware that he had e-mail now, and also aware that he was planning a trip to York, however this trip has been cancelled now as the train tickets were too expensive for him,” said Robert. “Thirty-Six quid is a lot to poor old Nigel.”
“It’s a lot for any of us these days,” replied Pat.
“Anyway, he’s now started claiming he’s putting some kind of Taurus ‘Best of’ CD together.”
“What on earth is on it?” I asked.
“Clips of me on the radio, snippets he’s recorded off the TV. That kind of stuff.”
“Weird!” said Ashley.
“Apparently Jimmy has had words with him about this on several occasions and he’s made it clear that anything he does, which I doubt will be much, must be expressly approved by us and on no account must feature his voice.”
“I think you have a fan, stalker, slasher movie premise there. Can we write a film script and sell it? Maybe that will be the answer to our problems!” said Ashley.
“I thought he’d knocked this on the head,” continued Pat. “I made it clear, via Jimmy, to him that anything he tinkered with would have to be expressly authorized by us. I doubt he’ll actually get anywhere with it though, especially considering that he hasn’t done anything with his own album yet, let alone someone else’s.”
“He’s got his own album?” I asked.
“Well according to one of his emails he has. I believe he plays guitar.”
“We should get him in the band!” Ashley joked.
“I suggest you get a restraining order!” I said.
“Why not just kill him, and when you eventually do, make sure that when you check the body after knocking him out of a loft window that it’s still there! You know howthey come back in the movies.” said Robert.
Suddenly Patrick’s phone beeped with an incoming text message.
“Is that him?!” shouted Robert rather too excitedly.
It wasn’t Nigel though. It was Michael. There was no news about their potential panto appearances, which you would think under the circumstances would be disappointing. But in this case it wasn’t. It was much better news.
God only knows how he’d done it, but Michael had managed to get one of Taurus’s unreleased tracks, Snapshots, used as the opening theme tune to a new US teen drama show called At Your Leisure. Not only that, it was going to be shown on a major US TV network and they were
going to be given an option to make a guest appearance in the show. Michael had come up trumps again. Why they don’t show faith in Michael more often I don’t know.