by Robert Williams
"What was that noise?!" said Mrs Greasy, as she was giving Des, Mick and Clive their orders for lunch.
"Was it the local oil refinery exploding?" said Des.
"No, it was too loud for that," said Mick.
Mick was right - it wasn't the local oil refinery exploding, it was Mike the Manic Mechanic exploding. At that point he was down the road at his garage, having just taken the one phone call he hoped he would never receive. And no, it wasn't a Noel Edmonds wind-up phunny phone call.
Seconds later Mike burst into the cafe, his face aghast.
"Was that you?" said Mick.
"Yes it is me!" said Mike. "And I've just had the worst news EVER!!!"
"What, Dale Winton's leaving 'The National Lottery - In It To Win It?!" said Des.
"No, worse than that!!" said Mike. "My record company had threatened to drop my band, Mike and the Mechanics X, if our new single doesn't get into this week's Top 200!!!!!"
"Oh dear what a shame," said Mrs Greasy. "Now how do you fancy a sausage sandwich?"
"I didn't even know you had a record deal," said Mick.
"It's with Bones and Whoson Records," said Mike.
Bones and Whoson Records was the record company that those ace detectives Sherlock Bones and Dr Whoson set up as a sideline due to a lack of crime - or rather, a lack of crimefighting ability.
"Oh, so not a proper record company then," said Mick.
"What are you talking about, Bones and Whoson Records have got some of today's biggest chart stars on their roster!!" exclaimed Mike. "Rick Astley, Chaka Demus and Pliers, The Goombay Dance Band, Kevin the Gerbil..."
"WOW!!!!" exclaimed Des.
"But what am I going to do?!" exclaimed Mike. "The midweeks put our latest single, 'Llangollen Calling' at number 4,156!! We'll never make it to the Top 200 by Sunday!!"
"Downloads," said Clive, suddenly.
"Downloads?!" said Des. "What the heck does that mean?!"
"Are your records available as downloads?!" said Clive.
"What?!" said Mike.
"Can you download your tracks as MP3s from iTunes?" said Clive. "(Other music download sites are available)."
"I have no idea," said Mike. "In fact, I have no idea what you are talking about."
"Yeah, is he talking in some bizarre foreign language??" said Des.
"You lot are really stuck in the stone age, aren't you!!" said Clive. "No one buys physical singles any more! Nowadays all the kids download their favourite tracks off the internet to listen to on their iPods! (Other MP3 players are available)."
"Riiiiiight," said Mike. "What's an iPod?"
"Dunno, but I think I bought some down the greengrocers yesterday," said Des.
Clive then launched into a lengthy explanation about computers, technology and downloading.
"Oh!!" said Mike, as realisation finally dawned upon him.
"I still don't understand the first bit," said Des. "What's a computer?"
"One of these!!" said Clive, tutting, getting his laptop out and putting it on the table. Clive logged onto the internet, and surfed onto a popular music download site.
"Hey, look at this!!" exclaimed Mike excitedly. "Mike and the Mechanics X is all over this!! Every track we've ever recorded is on here!! So Clive, you say that downloading tracks off here will boost our chances of getting in the charts?!"
"Yes, god help us," said Clive.
"Hey, just imagine!" said Mike. "If I downloaded all our tracks multiple times, the entire Top 20 could be made up of Mike and the Mechanics X songs!!!"
"Oh my goodness!" said Des.
"Oh come on, as if any of us lot care what's in the charts these days," said Mick.
"I'd better get downloading!!" said Mike, grabbing Clive's laptop.
"Never mind that," said Mrs Greasy, coming out of the kitchen with their din-dins. "It's about time you lot downloaded your lunch to your hard drives straight away!!"
"Oh I'd rather not, I don't want to risk catching a virus!" said Des.
An hour later, Des and Mick had finished their lovely lunch, but Mike was still frantically downloading endless copies of all his songs.
"Do you realise you're having to pay for every track you download?" said Clive. "Are you sure you can afford it?"
"Yeah, no problem!" said Mike. "I'll just keep conning Des!"
"What?" said Des.
"Oh yes, that reminds me Des, I've been having a look at your car and I'm afraid I'm going to have to install a new engine," said Mike.
"What, AGAIN?!" said Des.
"'Fraid so," said Mike.
"That one you put in last month was expensive enough!" said Des. "And it didn't look any different to the old one! Well anyway, could you do it today then, I need to drive down the recycling centre and pick up some jokes for Wayne."
"No chance, I've got to keep downloading!" said Mike. "If I can get us high enough in the charts, we'll be guaranteed a spot on 'Top of the Pops'! In fact, we could even take over the entire show!!"
"No you won't, 'Top of the Pops' has finished!" said Mick.
"Well...'The Basil Brush Show' then", said Mike.
"What's wrong with Wayne, anyway?" said Des. "He hasn't said anything all morning! In fact, he hasn't even eaten anything all morning!"
"That's 'cos I'm skint!" said Wayne, who was sitting in the corner. "I can't even afford any of Mrs G's lovely nosh! Can't yer just put it on the slate, Mrs G!"
"Do me a favour, I don't have a slate!" said Mrs G. "No dosh, Wayne, no nosh!"
"Why didn't you say, I would happily have donated you my bacon and eggs!!" said Des.
"How are you going to raise some cash then, Wayne?" said Mick.
"I dunno, if only I 'ad my own band like Mikey...WAIT!!!"
Wayne suddenly leapt out of his seat and rushed out of the cafe.
"Where's he gone?!" said Des.
Seconds later he rushed back in again.
"'Ere Mikey, can I borrow yer computer for a min?!" said Wayne.
"It's my computer, actually!" said Clive.
"Oi, but I'm trying to download!!" said Mike.
But Clive whipped his laptop away from Mike, and gave it to Wayne.
"Hurry up Wayne!!" said Mike. "What are you doing, anyway?!"
"I'm tryin' to track down me ol' mates Pat and Dingo!" said Wayne. "I'd also try to track down me ol' mate Jack as well, but there's no point as he's dead!"
"Oh," said Des.
Half an hour later, Wayne was still surfing the internet, and Mike was getting rather agitated.
"What are you doing?!" said Mike. "Haven't you found them yet?!"
"Oh sorry, I got sidetracked lookin' at some funny pictures!" said Wayne. "Look, it's a cat with a doughnut on its head!!"
"Your funny cat pictures are going to cost me my record deal!!" exclaimed Mike. "Get a move on!!"
Finally, after another two hours, Wayne finished searching the internet, but with no luck. However it was much to the relief of Mike, who quickly resumed downloading copies of his songs.
"So now what are you going to do, Wayne?" asked Mick.
"I know!!" said Wayne. He rushed out of the cafe. Five minutes later, in he walked again, looking very happy.
"Found 'em!!" said Wayne, excitedly.
"How?" said Mick.
"Looked 'em up in the phone book!" said Wayne.
"Who are these mates anyway?" said Des. "Why are you so keen to meet up with them?"
"It's a secret!" said Wayne. "But we're 'avin' a meetin' this afternoon!!!"
Three days later it was Friday, and Mike was still sitting in the cafe, crouched over Clive's laptop.
"Haven't you finished with my computer yet?" said Clive. "I've got some spreadsheets I need doing, urgently!"
"Sorry Clive, but I've got to make absolutely sure I'm in the Top 200 on Sunday!" said Mike.
"You're going to get repetitive strain injury at this rate!" said Mick.
"Where's Des today?" said Mrs Greasy.
"He's got a prior engagement," said Mick.
"What could possibly be more important than lunch?!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy, incredulously.
"He's gone for an audition or something," said Mick. "He said he read in the paper that they were bringing back 'Eldorado'."
"What, that rubbish nineties soap opera set in Spain?!?!" exclaimed Clive.
"Yes, and he's gone to audition for a part," said Mick.
"What on earth makes him think he's going get a job in a soap opera???" exclaimed Clive. "On the other hand, Shane Richie did..."
It wasn't long before Des arrived back from the audition. He looked in rather a bad mood.
"How did it go?" asked Mick.
"Fine," said Des.
"Why do you look so grumpy then?" said Mick.
"Because I had to go on the bus, didn't I?" said Des. "Using public transport always puts me in a bad mood. I could have gone in my car if a certain individual had finished putting my new engine in!"
"Sorry, can't talk now," said Mike, staring intently at the computer screen. "If you've got any problems then could you please communicate with me via e-mail."
"So how was the audition then, Des?" said Mick.
"Rather odd," said Des. "I was expecting it to be at BBC Television Centre, but instead it was at Sherlock Bones and Dr Whoson's flat! And even stranger, they wanted me to sing!! Funny, the advert never said anything about it being a musical!"
Just then his mobile phone rang.
"Hello?...Yes?...Yes?...FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks a bunch!! Bye!!!!"
"Did you get the part?" asked Mick.
"Durrr!!!" said Des. "Course I did!!! They said I got it because no one else applied. What a resounding seal of approval!!!"
And so later that day, Des popped back to Sherlock Bones and Dr Whoson's flat at Carol Vorderman House in Romford.
"Hey, I can't wait to get started with rehearsals!!" said Des, as he met the dynamic duo. "When do we fly out to Spain?"
"Spain?!" said Whoson. "We're not going to Spain!"
"Oh," said Des.
"He's no fun, is he?!" said Bones.
"So where are we going?!" said Des.
The answer was Bones and Whoson's recording studio in central London, much to Des's bewilderment. He was even more bewildered when they arrived and saw Wayne waiting inside, along with a couple of other blokes he had not seen before.
"'Allo Des, it's yer ol' mate Wayne 'ere!!" said Wayne.
"Yes, I can see that," said Des. "What are you doing here? In fact, what am I doing here?!"
"You're our new member!!" said Wayne.
"Member?" said Des. "Member of the cast, you mean?"
"Naaah, you're the new fourth member of Eldorado!!"
Des just looked confused.
"Eldorado was the boy band I used to be in, back in the nineties!!!" said Wayne. "And now we've reformed!!! These are me mates, our other members, Pat McCarney and Dingo Spar!!"
Still looking confused, Des shook Pat and Dingo's hands.
"But I don't understand!" said Des. "I thought 'Eldorado' was a television programme!"
"Yeah, and we named ourselves after it!!" said Wayne.
"Oh god," said Des. "I think I've made a terrible mistake..."
"Can we hurry up please?!" said Dr Whoson. "We've got Brother Beyond in here later recording their new album!"
"You never said you were in a band," said Des, as they walked through to the recording studio.
"Yeah, we were 'uge!!" said Wayne.
"That's right, we even had a number 57 hit in Belgium!" said Pat.
"But then we split up after our fourth member Jack Linen was shot dead after signing an autograph for a crazy fan," said Dingo.
"They must have been crazy to be a fan of a band with Wayne Coach in it," said Des.
"No regrets though, we had our time in the limelight for a good three, or was it four?, weeks," said Pat.
"But now the time has come for Eldorado, Britain's 43rd biggest boy band, to rule the charts once again!!" exclaimed Dingo.
"I still don't understand what you need me for," said Des.
"We needed a new fourth member, to replace Jack!!" said Pat. "And you applied!!"
"We did have some ultra-rare recordings made by Jack just before he died that we were thinking of incorporating into a new song," said Dr Whoson.
"Yeah, but they were rubbish so we chucked them away," said Sherlock Bones.
"Now can we get on?" said Whoson. "This is your comeback single, it's a ballad called ''The Way Back Is Always To Go Forward, Probably'. We originally wrote it for Chas and Dave, but they turned it down."
He handed out the lyric sheets to the band members, who sat down on some stools.
"Now remembers lads, to sing in harmony!" said Whoson.
"Sing?!" said Des. "He wants us to sing?!"
"That's normally what happens in pop groups!" said Pat.
"Can't we get someone else to sing for us?" said Des. "Then we could be the Milli Vanilli of the new millennium!!"
"Try saying that when you've had a few," said Dingo.
Eldorado then proceeded to sing their song over the pre-recorded backing track, and Bones and Whoson made sure they kept Des's awful singing as far down in the mix as possible.
"It's a wrap!" said Whoson, at the end.
"No it isn't, there wasn't any rapping at all!" said Des. "As far as I can remember, anyway."
Although they had now recorded their comeback single, Eldorado continued to be busy over that weekend, what with having their image made over by none other than Tolworth's top fashion guru, Scott the Scatty Stylist, and posing for various publicity photos.
Monday morning, and the band were given the day off. So Des decided to go change his image back to how it used to be, and then he popped down the cafe. Mike was there already, and he was cock-a-hoop, having received details of the brand new Top 200.
"I am delighted to announce that Mike and the Mechanics X's latest single, 'Llangollen Calling' is this week's number...200!!!!" exclaimed Mike. "My record deal is safe!!!!!!"
"What was number 199?" asked Mick.
"The comeback single by Timmy Mallett."
"So how's your weekend been then, Des?" said Mick.
"Oh, fine, fine," said Des, vaguely.
"Started rehearsals yet?" said Mick.
"Yes, well, sort of," said Des.
"Met the other cast members yet?" said Mick.
"Yes I have," said Des.
"Any big stars?"
"So when do you start filming?" said Mick. "When are you flying out to Spain?"
"Well we're not actually..."
Just then Mike's mobile phone rang. He answered it, and as the conversation went on, Mike's face turned from delight to horror.
"I don't believe it!!!" exclaimed Mike. "That was Bones and Whoson Records!! They've dropped us anyway!! Even though we got into the charts!!!!"
"Oh dear what a shame," said Mrs Greasy. "Now how do you fancy a sausage sandwich?"
"But why??" said Des.
"To stop you feeling hungry of course," said Mrs G.
"Not you!!!" exclaimed Des.
"Apparently, we've been dropped in favour of a new signing to their record label!!" said Mike, angrily. "Some obscure boy band from the early nineties that I've never even heard of have decided to release a comeback single!!"
"What are they called?" said Mick.
"Eldorado," said Mike. "What a stupid name for a band!! Sounds more like some old soap opera..."
"That's a coincidence, isn't it, Des?" said Mick. "You're acting in a new series of 'Eldorado', and that band's also called 'Eldorado'!!!"
"Ummm...well..." said Des.
"What?!" said Mike. "What is going on here?!?! Do you know something about this, Des?"
Just then Wayne burst into the cafe.
"Hey Des, sorry it was supposed to be yer day off, but Dr Whoson says we've got to go and make the video for Eldorado's new single!!"
"DES!!!!!!!!!!!!!" yelled Mike.
"Sorry, got to go!!" said Des, hurrying away.
After making their video, which consisted entirely of the four members of the band sitting on stools in matching white suits, things were looking up for Eldorado. Unfortunately though there was a hold-up in the release of the single, due to unforeseen delays due to the amount of time it took to airbrush out all the wrinkles from Des's face on the cover shot. But eventually the single was released into the shops, along with a download available from all good online music retailers.
"Now what was that thing you were doing Mike, to make sure you got into the charts?" said Des.
"Getting in the charts is no guarantee of keeping your record deal," said Mike, who had just come out of hospital suffering from repetitive strain injury.
"Can I borrow your laptop, Clive?" said Des.
"Oh good grief, not again," said Clive. He showed Des how to download his song, and Des got to work, downloading endless copies of it.
"I'm not going to have any room left on my hard drive at this rate!!" moaned Clive.
Des spent the rest of the week solidly downloading, apart from on Wednesday morning when Eldorado were booked in for an star interview on Britain's top radio station, Cirencester FM.
The following Sunday evening, the charts were released - and Eldorado were number 201.
"HA HA!!!" laughed Mike.
But Eldorado were not about to be dropped by Bones and Whoson's record company - indeed, they were due to record their follow-up single the very next day. However, there was one major problem. Des woke up the next morning with massive pains in his arm and neck.
"Repetitive strain injury," said Mick. "You spent far too long crouched over Clive's computer!!"
"Got us in the charts though!" said Des. "Well, almost."
"And now it's going to get you in hospital!" said Mick.
"How am I going to get there though?!" said Des. "My arm is stuck, I can't drive! Plus the fact that Mike still refuses to fit that new engine in my car, out of spite!"
"Call an ambulance," said Mick.
"And how embarrassing is that going to be?!" said Des. "A member of Britain's 43rd biggest boy band, being carted off in an ambulance?!"
But needs must, and Des was indeed carted off in an ambulance. When he was discharged from hospital a week later, he was dismayed to find that Eldorado had already recorded their second single.
"Without me?!?!?!" exclaimed Des.
"Yup!" said Mike. "I agreed to fill in for you at the last moment!!"
"YOU?!?!?" exclaimed Des.
"Yup!" said Mike. "And Bones and Whoson were so impressed with my performance they decided to give me a new record deal for Mike and the Mechanics X!! They said they really regretted dropping us!!"
"Oh well, as long as that means I can have my place in Eldorado back," said Des.
"Naaaah!!" said Wayne. "We've split up!!"
"Split up?!?!?!" said Des.
"Yeah!!" said Wayne. "Pat and Dingo's fault, they said they 'ad artistic differences or summin'!!"
"Oh great," said Des. "So this has all been a waste of time! Can I get my money back from all those downloads?!"
"No, and I've deleted them all off my hard drive!" said Clive.
Just then Mrs Greasy brought Des his lunch.
"Oh...I've got to go now!" said Des, looking at the plate of soggy baked beans. "I've got to go and watch an old video of um...'Eldorado'!!!"
Copyright © Robert Williams