Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas, Everybody 

Let's have a sing-a-long shall we? Join in if you know the words.

You know Nadine and Sarah
Cheryl and Kimmy
Those pretty young ladies
Who are always so skinny
But do you recall
The most fabulous pop star of all...?


Nicola the red haired pop star
Had a very shiny mane
But you probably never saw it
As she was cut out of the video again

All of the other members
Used to laugh and make V signs
They never let poor Nicola
Get a single solo line

Then one foggy outdoor gig
Their manager came to say
"Nicola, with your hair so bright
Won't you sing the lead tonight?"

Then all the members loved her
And they shouted out with glee
"Nicola the red haired pop star
You'll go down in history!"

Ahem. That's it from us for 2004, we'll be back in the new year with everything you've come to expect from us, and by "Everything you've come to expect", we mean exactly the same jokes we used last year, but with the names changed. Until then, thanks for visiting and have a very merry Christmas.

Slash! Aah-Aaaaah! 

It may be cold outside, but here at TiaPL we're keeping the temperature dial pointed at H-O-T with our very special tale of festive fumblings. So, ladies and gentlemen, grasp a mince pie in one hand, do whatever you feel necessary with your free one and join us as we tell you this tale that we, with absolutely no imagination whatsoever, like to call A Christmas Carol...

It was Christmas Eve and in the drunk tank, otherwise known as V's popstar flat, an old man, otherwise known as Antony, said to them "Won't see another one". He looked miserably into his glass of mulled wine, downed it in one and threw it violently against the wall. It didn't smash. They could only afford plastic ones.

"Oh, don't be so defeatist", said Kevin, "Just because our album didn't do quite as well as expected, it doesn't mean that we're going to be dropped."

"Oh yeah?", retorted Leon, who was sitting in the corner, "Do you remember what happened when we were supporting Busted last week?"

There was a pause. Kevin's face dropped as the memories flooded through his mind. "Yes.", he said, softly.

"So what happened then?", asked Leon, forcing the issue.

"It doesn't mean anything!", cried Kevin, it was just a one-off.

"What. Happened?", repeated Leon, a thin, stressed tone creeping into his voice.

Kevin sighed. "We asked everyone in the audience who had bought a copy of our album to make themselves known."

"And then what?"

"Few stood up". Kevin's voice cracked, perhaps down to emotion, or perhaps it was down to the sheer awfulness of the punchline, who can tell? "But they wouldn't drop us! Not at this time of year, what about poor Tiny Aaron, he's only little, he doesn't understand!", he gestured towards the miniscule popstar, who was sitting cross-legged in the centre of the room, pretending that a pair of salad tongs he'd found were a set of hair straighteners.

Mark walked over to were Kevin was standing and put his hand on his shoulder in a gesture that was both reassuring and homo-erotic at the same time. "Don't worry about it Kev, it's out of our hands. It's all down to the label now"

Kevin wiped away a tear, turned around and looked Mark in the eye with a gaze that was full of love, passion, and a deep longing for bum sex. "I know, I know". He let out another sigh, broke the gaze and looked around the decrepit, damp-ridden flat that they now called home. "But they wouldn't drop us at Christmas though, would they..? Would they..? Would they..?"

And as Kev's words echoed around the tiny walls of their flat, we find our focus leaving their pre-Christmas fun and games, just as Leon suggests a game of spin the bottle to lighten the mood, and find ourselves landing in the offices of Universal Records where the label boss is carefully weighing up the lads' future.

"Fuck 'em", he said, tersely, "They can go to hell for all I care, they've sold fuck all records and I want them off the roster."

"But sir", his pretty young secretary pleaded, "It's Christmas! And besides, given that your name is Evan Caesar Scrooge, do you not think that this whole chain of events is mighty coincidental and might lead to some hilarious and erotic escapades involving ghosts should you go through with it?"

"Do I fuck!", Mr Scrooge shouted, knowing full well that as this is a TiaPL slash piece hilarity was the last thing he had to worry about, "Drop 'em, they're stinking up the roster worse than Katie Melua"

The secretary realised there was no point in arguing further. Scrooge had made his decision and that was that, but while Scrooge's heart may have been made from coal dust, her's was made from diamond, so she made one last plea: "OK sir, it's your call, but please, don't tell them today, not on Christmas Eve, it'd be too unfair"

Scrooge pondered on her plea. "You're right, I can't tell them on Christmas Eve", the secretary breathed a sigh of relief, but he hadn't finished yet, "I'll tell them on Christmas Day instead! That'll really fuck them up as they tuck into their sprouts"

"But sir!" cried the secretary as Scrooge got up from behind his desk to leave, "That wasn't what I had in mind at all!"

"No buts!", said Scrooge, grinning wildly, "It was an excellent idea and I'll make sure they know that you came up with it. Now, I'm off home now, see you in the new year! You'll find your Christmas bonus in my desk. Bye!" and with that he swept out of the office.

Shocked and ashen-faced, the secretary got up and went round to the desk drawer, feeling slightly guilty that she was being looked after while V were being thrown onto the scrap heap. With a heavy heart she pulled open the drawer and looked inside. She started crying. The drawer contained hundreds of unsold copies of V's album. "You bastard", she sobbed.

* * * * *

Scrooge arrived home. It was now late in the evening, he'd taken a circuitous route to his abode, dropping in on the homes of a number of young children who he suspected of downloading music to demand menaces. Sorry, not menaces, unpaid royalties. Feeling satisfied with his haul of pocket money and repossessed Christmas presents he took himself off to bed for an early night, partly out of his miserly desire to avoid wasting money on electricity, but mainly in an attempt to get the plot moving along, mired as it currently is in a thick sludge of banal set-up.

He yawned and looked at his watch. "Ghosts, my arse", he said sleepily, "Just because my name is Scrooge and I'm a two dimensional character with a penchant for swearing it doesn't mean that this is some pop related parody of the Dickens story.", he gave a throaty laugh, "Though maybe if I'm lucky this'll end up as a Dick in story", Proud of his wit in much the same way that a cat is proud of its litter tray, he rolled over and started to doze off with a smug grin on his face...

"Werrrreugh!" came a wailing from the chimney and Scrooge woke up with a start.

"What the fuck was that?!", he cried, as he pulled his bedsheets up around him self in a quite frankly futile attempt at self preservation. "Show yourself!"

"Scerewwwwwwwgeugh!", came the ethereal wailing once again, this time from near the bottom of the bed.

"It's the cat!", he said brightly to himself, "She must be in heat or something like that. Yes, that must be it.", he closed his eyes and started to drift off again, before opening his eyes and shouting "I haven't got a fucking cat!". He sat up on the bed, his eyes wide with fear. The wailing started up again and began to intensify. It seemed to come from all around, but wherever he looked there was no sign of what caused the noise. He leaped out of bed and grabbed the hammer which he slept with in case of burglars. "Who's there!", he shouted, trying to hide the tremor of fear in his voice. He opened cupboards, looked behind curtains and under carpets, all the while getting more and more wound up and stressed, the wailing getting louder and louder, mocking him in his search. Scrooge intensified his search, madness beginning to creep in as he began to smash things up in his search for the evil source of the noise. He began to wonder if maybe it was inside his own head. If so, he reasoned with the sort of logic only available to the insane, the only way to get rid of it would be to smash open his own skull. He raised the hammer and just as he was about to strike the fatal blow the wailing stopped.

Slowly, Scrooge lowered the hammer, his breathing heavy and laboured. "What the fuck is going on", he thought. His heart was thumping away in his chest, slowly began to return to normal. "A dream", he thought, "just a silly dream". He relaxed and started to head back to bed, trying to ignore the remains of his hammer-based battle with his furnishings.

"Hey mon!", came a voice behind him, "What's with all the hammer hammer?"

Scrooge spun around. "Arggggh!", he screamed, as before him stood an entirely transparent tall black man with dreadlocks, wearing a gold red and green t-shirt. He dripped ectoplasm and had an unusual aroma surrounding him. He was floating a few inches above the ground and had the smile of a man who had either communicated with God and knew all the answers to the mysteries of the universe or, as was slightly more likely, one who had spent most of his life smoking ridiculous quantities of marijuana. "Arggggh!", said Scrooge again, though this "Arggggh!" was a different Arggggh and resulted from the pain caused by dropping a hammer on your foot due to abject fear.

"You look stressed mon!", said the apparition, in a Jamaican accent. "Here, have a toke on this, it'll came you down.". He handed Scrooge a hand rolled cigarette which seemed to be the source of the strange aroma. Scrooge reached out a hand to take it, but his hand passed straight through it. He jerked it back as if he'd just received an electric shock.

"Y-y-y-you're a ghost!", said Scrooge, his body shaking and his pajamas soiled.

"That be right, mon", said the ghost, "But not just any old ghost, don't you know who I be?"

Scrooge looked him up and down. "Oh my god!", he said as realisation struck, "You're Bob Marley, nicknamed 'Tuff Gong' who was born on 6 April 1945 in Jamaica and died on 11 May 1981 in Miami. Your compilation album 'Legend' is the biggest selling reggae album in the UK and US with combined sales of more than 12 million!"

"That be right!", said Marley, grinning hideously.

"So if you're Bob Marley", said Scrooge, things beginning to become clearer for him, "That must mean that the noises I head before were caused by... were caused by..."

"That's right!", said Bob, finishing off Scrooge's line of thought for him, "They were me Wailers".

Scrooge groaned.

"Anyway, I can't stay here for long, mon. I'm just hear to bring you a message. I've bin ordered to tell you that I am not the only ghost who will be visiting you tonight. You have three more visitations to come, from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. They have much to show you and you have much to learn.", he said. "Babylon", he added, realising that his accent had, as often seems to happen fallen by the wayside.

"No this can't be!", shouted Scrooge, "This must be a dream or something, this can't be true"

"Oh, but it is", said Marley as he began to disappear. "I have left a gift on your bedside table to prove it." He continued to vanish as Scrooge looked at him with fear and confusion in his eyes. "Bye mon!", he said as he shrunk down to the size of a pin prick and then, just as suddenly as he'd arrived, he was gone, leaving only the half heard sounds of someone singing "We're haunting... We hope you like haunting too". Darkness descended around Scrooge and he suddenly woke up once again in his bed. The memories of what had just happened floating around his head.

"A dream... it must have been a fucking dream", he murmured as he reached out to turn on his bedside lamp. As he did so his hand brushed over an unusual object. Flicking the light switch he looked around the room and saw that all the furniture he remembered destroying was back to normal. He looked satisfied, but then he remembered the object. With mounting horror he turned and looked to see what it was. Sitting there was a silver object, with a flat, triangular metal base and a handle moulded into the shape of one of Africa's best known big cats. His eyes widened as he realised what it must be. There was no denying it. There, on his bedside table was an iron like a lion in zion. "Oh fuck!", he shouted, before sitting up in bed and waiting resignedly for the ghosts to come.

He didn't have long to wait, there was a sharp flash of light and a spirit stood before his bed. While rocking the same transparent and ectoplasmic look which Marley had sported, there the similarity ended, for this ghost looked remarkably like Bing Crosby and was happily sucking upon his pipe and smiling upon our protagonist. "Hello!", he said, cheerily, "I'm the ghost of Bing Crosby, hence the resemblance, and I'm the Ghost of Christmas Past. And I'm here to take you on a trip, so come with me as we travel down the Road to New York"

"Fine", said Scrooge grumpily as he got out of bed, "But that wasn't you"

"I'm sorry?", said Bing, confused.

"You didn't do the Road to... films. That was Bob Hope."

"Oh. Right.", he looked crestfallen for a moment. "But I was in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, wasn't I?

"No, that was David Crosby"

"One Foot in the..?"

"Annette Crosbie. It's not even spelt the same."

"Oh, well who am I then?"

"You're Bing Crosby, King of the Crooners. You released 2,500 tracks, 299 of which reached the US top 20 with estimated sales of more than 300,000,000. Your hit White Christmas is the No.2 all-time best seller, which is presumably why you've been shoe-horned into this already tortured plot. Look, can we get on with it? We've been going for ages and there still hasn't been a sex scene yet."

"Ah, now that I can sort out for you". Bing started smoking hard on his pipe, and puffs of smoke began to fill the room. Soon everything was obscured and Scrooge lost all sense of his bearings. As it began to clear he soon realised that he was no longer safe at home in bed, but somewhere else entirely. "Bing", he asked, "Where are we?"

"When are we might be a more suitable question", replied Bing. It's 1973 and we're in a New York studio watching Slade recording their most famous track."

"Cum on Feel the Noize?", asked Scrooge, excitedly, "I love that one!"

"No", said Bing, "It's..."

"Ooh, ooh, is it Mama Weer All Crazee Now?", interrupted Scrooge.

"No, it's..."

"It must Be Coz I Live You Then, mustn't it?"

"Do you want a slap?", asked Bing tersely. "No? Well shut up and listen. This is them recording their Christmas anthem Merry Christmas Everybody, but they're having some problems getting it right, watch..." Bing made a gesture with his hand and suddenly the studio was heaving with excitement and activity.

"Right lads", said the producer, "We've got it all pretty much down pat, but it's just this 'It's Christmas' bit that you lot won't to put in, I just don't think we've managed to nail it yet. The others can go home, but Noddy, I'd like you to stay behind and lets see if we can't get something a bit better"

"Sure, thing boss", said Noddy, in a Brummie accent. "Are we recording? Good, lets go." Noddy adjusted his sparkly silver top hat and stepped up to the mike. "It's Christmas!", he said in a chirpy brummie accent.

"Nope, still not got it", said the producer, "Let's try again"

"No probs", Noddy focused looked deep inside himself for all the primal emotion that Christmas brings up, stepped up to the microphone once again, took a deep breath, opened his mouth and once again chirpily commented that it was Christmas time, in much the same manner that he might to the keeper of the local shop.

"Let's go again...", sighed the producer. It was going to be a long night.

7054 takes later and they still hadn't got it right. The producer had walked out of the studio in disgust muttering about unprofessional brummy twats leaving Noddy all alone, still trying to get it right, knowing that the whole success of the song lay upon this one hook. Frustrated, he eventually stepped back from the mike, held his head in his hands and felt the hot pricks behind his eyes that meant that tears were about to come. "If only someone could help me", he yelled desperately, "All I want for Christmas is a hit record"

In the distance there was the sound of jingling bells. "Ho, Ho, Ho!" came a booming voice as a figure dressed in red and white magically appeared in the studio, "It's funny you should mention hot pricks as I think I might be able to help you out"

"Santa?!", squealed Noddy, excitedly, "Is it really you?!"

"Of course it is little boy, now I know all about your little problem and I want to solve it for you"

"But how? I want to scream down this microphone about it being Christmas, but every time I try it just comes out in a friendly way. What can I do to make it more emotional?"

"I have an idea Noddy", said Santa, winking slightly, All you need to do is step up to the microphone and drop your trousers and pants", as he said this Santa began fiddling with his own buckle.

"You mean be half naked? But why...? Oh, I get it, you feel that by removing the shackles of modern clothing I may find it easer to get in touch with my inner self and emote more clearly how I feel about Christmas? What a good idea!"

"Umm, yes", said Santa as Noddy undid his belt and let his trousers drop to the floor, "If you like" Noddy finished stripping and stood, half naked in front of the microphone and began performing some vocal warm ups. While he did this Santa dropped his own red trousers and started muttering to himself and began singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" to himself, always forgetting to include the last two words. "Are you ready, Noddy?", he asked.

"Sure am Santa, lets go". He took another deep breath, checked the record light was on opened his mouth and began to sing:-

"It's Chri..."

As he started the second word Santa quickly stepped up behind Noddy and forced his way up his anal passage.

"Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiisssssssstttttttttmmmmmmmmmmaaaaaaaaaaaasssssssssssssss!" screamed Noddy as Santa bummed him.

Santa pulled out from Noddy with a satisfied smile on his face. Noddy, on the other hand had an expression of shock on his face. "Santa!", he said angrily.

"What?", whistled Santa, innocently as he pulled his trousers up.

"We've been through this before, you know I prefer to be the bummer, rather than the bummee", he said, crossly.

"Yes", said Santa, "But it is Christmas time and I just think that it's better to give than to receive"

And with that, Bing magicked Scrooge and himself out of the recording studio and back to the flat. "So, have you learnt any lessons from what you saw?", he asked.

"Nope, none whatsoever.", said Scrooge, who had definite signs of arousal.

"Oh well", said Bing, disappointedly, "Still, it was a bit of a laugh, wasn't it"

"Certainly was. Now fuck off".

The ghost of Christmas past vanished, leaving Scrooge all alone with his thoughts and what thoughts they were. "Santa bumming Noddy Holder", he mumbled to himself as he slid a hand down his pajama bottoms. Just as he was about to do the nasty with himself, the wind began to howl and he realised it was time for his third visitation of the night. "Might be even hotter", he thought to himself hopefully as the spirit began to manifest itself.

"I am the Ghost of Christmas Present", came a spectral voice that sounded as if it came from the very depths of hell itself. "Come with me, for I have much to show you"

"Yeah, yeah, I know, I know.". Scrooge looked the ghost up and down. "Do you know who you look like?"

"Don't say it!", said the ghost angrily, "I know what you're going to say and I look nothing like him."

"Yes you do, you're the spitting image of Noel Edmonds"

"No I'm fucking not!", shouted the ghost. "People only say that because of my beard, perhaps I should shave it off"

Scrooge looked at him critically. "No, it's not just the beard, it's the fact you have the same hair, wear the same clothes, are the same height and look identical to him. Oh, and the fact that you're being followed around by a pink and yellow spotted creature isn't really going to help matters"

"Blobby, blobby", said the ghost's familiar.

"Oh, shut up", said the Ghost, "Let's just get this over and done with." The ghost pulled a lever and a torrent of gunge suddenly washed all over them, washing them down a dark passage until they eventually ended up at familiar looking recording studio.

"Ooh!", said Scrooge, clapping his hands excitedly, "Are we going to see the Noddy/Santa thing again?! Cause that was hot!"

The Ghost looked at Scrooge with disgust. "No, we're not. We're in London, and this is the present day. We're here to witness the recording of the most important record ever made. Watch..."

It was early morning and the first participants began to arrive. Chris Martin entered the doors with a cheery grin on his face, swiftly followed by the great and good of the world of British music. And Turin Brakes. Wherever you looked there was a famous face, looking slightly nervous, yet proud that they'd been asked to take part in such a momentous occasion. Over there were the Sugababes, trying desperately not to start slapping each other, next to them were Busted and Rachel Stevens, with Charlie trying to sneak off and join the 'real' musicians on the other side of the room. Dizzee Rascal was discussing field harmonics theory with Thom Yorke, while Joss Stone was working the room, telling everyone exactly who she was and making sure that someone would notice she was taking part. Even Danny Goffey from out of Supergrass was there, oblivious to the fact that even as he stood there, the organisers were racking their brains, desperately trying to think of a more well-known drummer that they could replace him with, and still putting calls to Stuart Cable's people to find out if he might be able to make it down.

As they all gathered and chatted in the main recording room, a hush suddenly descended as two men entered the room. Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, for it was them, strode firmly to the centre of the room and looked over the various stars that were gathered in front of them. They looked at each other, nodded and smiled, before Midge took a step back and let Bob take the stage.

"Thank you all for coming", said Bob, in an Irish accent. "Now, I'm sure you all know why we're here, but I don't think it'll do any harm to remind you all, so I'd like you just to take a few minutes to watch this video so that your minds are fully focused on the task ahead of us.". The crowd murmured assent and turned their eyes to the TV screen as Midge pressed play on the tape recorder. As they watched the screen filled with such shocking images that many became quite emotional. Joss, the youngest of the participants, looked the most shocked and her eyes filled with tears as she watched the events. Her eyes were opened to sights that she'd never seen before so naturally she was quite effected by it.

Midge Ure stepped up and began to speak as the video came to an end, "And there you can see Siobhan Fahey being spit roasted by Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt of Status Quo. Now, that was the first Official Pop Orgy 20 years ago, but we want this years one to be bigger and better. Remember, there are no limits and, quite frankly, the filthier the better, but before we get down to the business at hand, we do have the small matter of the cover story as to why we've all gathered here. Unfortunately the media would take exception to us all getting together to satisfy our kinky desires so we have had to once again tell them that we're all teaming up to do a charity single". Midge paused to allow the laughter to echo around the room before continuing. "Yes, yes, I know! But the downside is that we do have to come up with some product at the end of it, so if I could just ask you all to keep your clothes on for a few minutes more and spend five minutes knocking out a lazy cover of a terrible song we'll all be able to get together again to do this in a few more years. Thanks, lets get started, then".

They spent five minutes knocking out a lazy cover of a terrible song.

"What do you reckon, Bob?", said Midge Ure.

"Passable, Midge", said Bob.

"That's good enough for me, now bagsy me first on Rachel Stevens", said Midge, pushing his way to the front of the chorus line and taking hold of her maracas.

"OK, but I'm going to break in Natasha then", said Bob, "Everyone else just get involved as and how you see fit."

Without needing to be asked twice the massed collective of pop stars quickly removed their clothes and got down to business. Some stars proved to be more popular than others, with Joss Stone eventually having to turn people down for a second shot to allow other people to have a go, telling them "You had me". Tim Rice-Oxley from Keane, on the other hand, was unable to get anyone to go anywhere near him, and found himself standing on the back wall, forlornly masturbating alongside one of Snow Patrol and half of The Thrills. Alas, for all the popstars all good things must come to an end, and even Justin Hawkins had to give up eventually, and the finally collapsed in a sweaty, messy, tired but happy heap.

Bob was the first to disentangle himself from the myriad arms and legs and stood in front of the group once more. "Ah, excellent", he said, smiling broadly, "But we do now need to start collecting the cash you owe us for your ticket for this event. In other words, give us your fucking money". And with that, Scrooge found himself once more tumbling through time and space and arrived back in his bedroom, even happier than before.

"So", said the Ghost of Christmas Present, "Did you learn anything this time?"

"Damned right I did!", said Scrooge, rubbing his hands together in glee, "Did you see what Will Young did with Daniel Bedingfield and Beverly Knight? I've definitely picked up a few tips there, and that Lemar? Wow! Who'd have thought he had it in him. Oh, and..."

The Ghost interrupted him. "No! Not about sexual technique, I meant anything about the true meaning of Christmas?"

"Umm, well no", said Scrooge, looking confused, "Why, what should I have learnt from that?"

"Well", said the Ghost, "You should have spotted the moral that...". He thought for a second and tried to work out what the moral was in a tale that was pretty much all sexual free for all and little else. "Obviously it was that... You should have realised that... Ummm... Well if you can't work it out then there's no point in telling you."

"That's cause there wasn't a moral, was there?", taunted Scrooge.

"There was! But I've not got time to explain it to you because I've got to go now. You have one more visit to come. Pay more heed to his tale otherwise things could be worse for you", and with that he vanished, just as quickly as he arrived, leaving Scrooge once again alone with his thoughts, and once again his hand found itself slipping down into his pajama bottoms.

Alas, as before, a nightmarish vision appeared before him, and it wasn't just the image of Robbie Williams and Bono together which he'd been having trouble shifting. This was clearly the Ghost of Christmas Future, but unlike the others it lacked any form of humanity whatsoever, merely being a tattered and grey cloak, draped in chains and giving off a definite aura of evil, even more so than the Noel Edmonds one earlier.

Scrooge was now beginning to enjoy these manifestations and was looking forward to seeing what it was that this Ghost was going to show him, but as the spirit stood before him, he began to feel more uncomfortable as the chill that surrounded it began to take hold. "Ummm, hello?", he asked. The Ghost remained silent. Despite it having no noticeable sensory organs, Scrooge started to feel like it was looking at him, and looking at him with disgust. Slowly he took his hand out of his pants and said softly, "Is that better?". Whether it was or not was hard to tell, but it certainly seemed to spur the Ghost into action, as with a swirl of the cloak, Scrooge felt the familiar blackness and realised that he was once again leaving his flat to go to places unknown.

He looked around. This time he wasn't in a recording studio. He was in a graveyard. The Ghost stood behind him, exuding menace like The Noise Next Door exude desperation. "Why have you taken me here, Ghost?", asked Scrooge, "There doesn't look like there's going to be much opportunity for sexual shenanigans here, I mean, it's a Graveyard for fucks sake."

The Ghost held it's council on this matter, but just as Scrooge looked around, the moon, previously obscured by a dark cloud, came out and it's light illuminated the buttocks of a young man in congress with his lady friend on someone's grave. "Hey, hey!", said Scrooge, "This is more like it. Someone shagging by a gravestone, that's what I like to see", and with that he walked up to the gravestone and watched them as they went at it with the sort of wild abandon that only young lovers can muster. With all the excitement of the night, he could take it no longer and wanked himself off in a fury as he spied on the couple, eventually exploding all over himself and the stone. Ah, he sighed and watched as the lovers, perhaps having performed for him and him alone, took their leave once he'd satisfied himself.

As he got up to leave he noticed that the Ghost was stood in front of the grave. He moved uncomfortably in his soiled PJ's as he walked round to see what was so important about. "Hey Ghost", he said, chattily, "Which poor fucker is buried here? It must be someone that no-one respects whatsoever if people are happy to shag all over their grave. I mean, I've just spunked all over their tombstone!" he laughed, but his laughter quickly subsided as one chain moved and indicated the inscription carved into the stone. "Fuck...", he said and read the name out loud, "Evan Caesar Scrooge... it's me!", he fell to his knees and began to beat the ground with his fists "I've just wanked all over my own grave! I'm the poor fucker!"

The Ghost moved towards him and wrapped him in his cloak and spirited him away, back to his flat. As Scrooge found himself once again lieing in bed, all he could hear was a gothic timbre intoning "In more ways than one, Evan, In more ways than one..."

It was 10AM on Christmas Morning and Scrooge, in what was becoming a habit, awoke with a start. Was it real? The events of last night now seemed like a dream, perhaps he didn't need to heed the warnings he'd been given. But then he lifted up his bed sheets, his pajamas were encrusted with dried semen and, as he realised as he looked to his bedside cabinet, the Iron was still there.

"I must put things right!", he shouted, and without even getting changed, dived out of his house and round to V's popstar flat, stopping off only at the butchers, which just happened to be open on Christmas morning, to pick up the biggest turkey that they had, which also had somehow failed to be sold, despite the popularity of said beasts at this time of year. He got to the front door and banged a tattoo upon it. "Let me in!", he shouted, too impatient to wait, "It's me! Evan Scrooge, I've got important news!"

Slowly Antony opened the door, "Umm, Mr Scrooge, hi. We didn't expect to see you today. You can come in if you want, but we can't offer you any food I'm afraid. We only have five individual microwavable turkey meals and we don't have much to spare. Tiny Aaron doesn't like his sprouts so you could maybe have those I guess."

"I haven't come here for that, and I have no time to stay, but instead I give you this turkey", he handed it to Antony, "and to tell you that you're not going to be dropped! We'll let you have one more single to try and turn the tide around!"

"Oh thank you, Mr Scrooge!", said Antony, his face creased with joy as the news sunk in. "But why the change of heart? We thought you had it in for us!"

"Well, last night I was visited by four ghosts and they showed me the error of my ways."

"Four ghosts?", said Antony, thoughtfully, "Well that explains the dried up ectoplasm on your trousers."

"Umm, yes", said Scrooge, realising that perhaps he was better off not explaining what had happened, "But I must be off now, I have more good deeds to do and I really must find out Rachel Stevens phone number"

"So that you can tell her she's not getting dropped either?"

"Uh, yeah", he said, "If you like", and with that he turned on his heel and ran back to his flat, wishing all who crossed his path a very merry Christmas.

Antony walked back into the flat, a stupid looking grin on his face. The other guys were all waiting in the dining room for him, so that they could all peel off the plastic covering to their Christmas meal together. When they saw the turkey in his hands their jaws dropped. Antony just smiled even harder. "You think this is good, wait til you hear the rest of the news. We've got another single!"

"Hooray!", went the four remaining V boys in unison, "We've got a last ditch gamble!"

"You know what", piped up Tiny Aaron, as the boys celebrated their luck, "There's only one way we can celebrate this, and I think we all know what it is"

"Five way bum sex in front of the telly?" asked Leon.

"Exactly!", smiled Aaron.

Kevin looked at his watch. They had time before the Queen came on the telly.

They had five way bum sex in front of the telly.

There was blood, sweat and tears.

"Ooh, you stood up!", said Leon

"Can you feel it?", asked Mark

"Ooh", said Kevin, having run out of innuendos based on V's song titles

"Aah", said Aaron, continuing the unimaginative theme.

"Just a little bit!", said Antony getting entirely confused with what was going on.

The queen came on the telly.

They finished up, Kevin looked at his watch. He was happy, there was still half an hour til Her Majesty gave her Christmas message.

They all sat back happily, if gingerly, and giggled. Tiny Aaron raised up his glass and gave a toast. "Merry Christmas to all, and God bless us everyone"

The End

Sunday, December 19, 2004

It's Cliched to be Cynical at Christmas 

Or so sang Half Man Half Biscuit in their musical tirade against miserable buggers at Christmas time. It failed to make it into VH1's recently published top 20 Christmas songs of all time... ever! But various other tracks, some worthy, some not so worthy, did. We're miserable buggers all year round, but even so, lets see if the Christmas spirit fills us with some more positive thoughts as we take a look at what they believe to be the finest songs ever to trouble the novelty laden Christmas charts.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Friday. If were a member of much maligned and entirely unmissed glam rockers King Adora, we'd be banging on about how it's all quite exciting because tonight is the night when everything explodes, or something like that anyway. Of course, we'd also be partaking in the least convincing attempt at androdgyny since a brickie thought that going to a fancy dress as David Bowie was a good idea, so maybe it's all for the best. Still, Smoulder was quite good. Anyway, instead we watched Top of the Pops. Here's what we learnt:-

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Collette Me Entertain You 

After much deliberation, cogitation, exasperation and perspiration we've finally decided on what the 22nd Acest Thing in the World... Ever! is and... it's Collette! Woo yeah. Wait, what do you mean who?

To be fair, we're not exactly up on her career, but we are reliably informed by the lovely ladies who run CFB Goes Pop! that she is very ace indeed, and who are we to argue, given that we nicked this idea off of them in the first place. To help you get an idea of the sort of quality we're talking about here, lets have a look at a picture of her, shall we?

As we can see, she looks a lot like an eighties Britney Spears, which is quite appropriate as she essentially was an eighties Britney Spears, only more Australian, less successful and in possession of a more noticeable pro-arson stance than that of Miss Spears. She's best known down under for her hit, Ring My Bell which reached the heady heights of number 3 back in 1989, but for some reason failed to ride the wave of Oz-Popness over to the UK which brought Kylie, Jason and, ummm, Stefan landing on our shores. Maybe she's not that good at surfing, which, if true, would lead to us questioning her Antipodean credentials, so perhaps it's best not to go down that road.

The main reason for mentioning her, not that we're against giving a boost to forgotten pop stars from the Southern Hemisphere, is that by doing so we show our support for Collette Around the World Day tomorrow, and our support, along with that of all the other sites who have mentioned her, means that the aforementioned Pop ladies will be sponsoring an African child and will generally be a lot nicer and more charitable than we'd ever be, but we'll claim this as our good deed vicariously anyway. Also, as we're partly responsible for the better life this child will now be leading, we'll be able to lay claim to 2% of any future earnings the child makes, which can only be a good thing. So, Hooray for charity, Hooray for CFB Goes Pop, but most of all, hooray for Collette!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Mr Blobby, All is Forgiven 

Despite it seeming ridiculously early, the race for the Christmas Number One starts this week, and by "Race for the Christmas Number One" we mean "Entirely foregone conclusion" as the odds of Band Aid 20 not being number one are only slightly less than those for Steve Brookstein having a long term career. Not that it's stopping people from having a shot anyway, most notably Ronan Keating, who's desperately hoping that, by promising to donate any profits to the Band Aid appeal, he might still be in with a chance of hitting the top spot with his version of Father and Son, recorded with known terrorist and leader of the Al Qaida network, Cat Stevens. We would actually prefer this, mainly for the simple reason that it's not Band Aid 20, but also because Father and Son is a really good track. It wasn't ruined by Ronan caterwauling over it when he was in Boyzone and he's not managed to ruin it now.

There seems, quite optimistically, to be a lot of indie in the new release racks this week, with Blink 182, The Concretes, Damien Rice, Elliot Smith, Jetplane Landing and My Chemical Romance all guaranteed to provide disappointment should one of their releases turn up in your stocking on Christmas morning. Morrissey also throws his hat into the ring by releasing I Have Forgiven Jesus, which we're sure is a great weight off of Jesus' mind, while The Zutons release Confusion, which is quite appropriate as our opinions on the band are quite confused. On the one hand their music is quite clearly godawful nonsense and they should not be allowed anywhere near a recording studio, but on the other, saxophonist Abi Harding has fantastic legs, thus making it hard for our shallow mind to entirely hate them.

While there might be a touch of realness in the releases, that doesn't mean there's no room for novelty, after all, what other time of the year can a bunch of untalented fuckwits demonstrate their hamfisted ability with a casio keyboard and complete lack of wit and get paid for it. So it is this year as a number of idiots once again hope and pray that people leave their good taste at the door when they enter HMV at this time of year. First up is Avid Merrion who's releasing another Bo Selecta Christmas single, presumably not realising that there is only a handful of people left in the country who believes that swearing in a northern accent and being faintly homophobic while wearing a rubber mask is actually funny. This time it's a cover of Sonny and Cher's I've Got You Babe featuring Davina McCall and Patsy Kensit and is pretty much as awful as you'd expect.

Filling up the comedy ranks we have Electric Six, who finally get around to releasing their cover of Radio Ga Ga. It was originally pencilled in for last year, but due to them bein too lazy to make a video, it never made it. This year they have bothered, and it's this video which is the song's main selling point featuring, as it does, Dick Valentine quite literally dancing on Freddie Mercury's grave. Bringing up the comedy rear we also have Goldie Lookin' Chain with You Knows I Love You, Hot Pantz and Give You One For Christmas and, finally, Westlife with their hilarious demolition of the rat pack classic Smile.

Basically, this year's selection is pretty uninspiring - when you're considering Cliff Richard for the pick of the bunch you know that you're in trouble. Ultimately everyone is pretty aware that there's not a great deal of point in releasing anything, Band Aid 20 is going to crush anything in it's path, so no-one's actually bothered. Even X Factor are waiting until the 20th to release Steve's guaranteed number one - and will no doubt claim when it hits pole position on Boxing Day that it's the real Christmas Number one - such is the all-stopping power of the charity behemoth. We'll half-heartedly back Ronan, in much the same way that'd we'd back breaking a leg over full-body amputation, none of the choices are exactly appealing, but at least it's the least painful of the lot.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Who gives an X Factor? 

The trouble with democracy, as someone very wise who's name we've forgotten once said, is that every bugger gets a vote. The problem with TV talent contests is similar, but made worse as every bugger gets multiple votes and invariably votes wrongly. So it was last night when Steve beat off G4 - a pairing which was somewhat unexpected by ITV, judging by the break-bumpers used throughout the week featuring a cartoon Sharon and Simon fighting it out - in a result which can only be described as utter nonsense, but serves as a reminder that you should never underestimate the power of a bored, middle-aged housewife, unless that middle-aged housewife is Verity, of course.

Given the general rubbishness and dullness of Steve, you'd be forgiven for thinking that he'd pulled out all the stops and produced a masterful performance, filled with excitement and energy and pizzazz and all sorts of positive adjectives, to secure his victory. Did he bollocks. He produced the same competent, level boat maintaining, hotel bar performance that he'd given throughout the contest. First up was a rendition of Jackie Wilson's Higher and Higher, which started off rubbish, but improved dramatically at exactly the same point that the choir joined in. Hmmm... He followed this up by redoing Smile from earlier in the series, which was nice enough, but he might as well have had someone parading up and down holding a banner proclaiming "Look ladies! He's got a nice smile! Please vote!", which was clearly the blatant underlying message.

G4's first song choice was a bit more interesting - Nessun Dorma, from the famous opera Italia 90 - but was clearly chosen to remind the public that "Hey, these guys are proper singers, you know". This was followed up by them redoing Bohemian Rhapsody which, given that it was only last week that we'd heard them do it, probably wasn't the best choice in the world. If they were desperate to do Queen, then they should really have redone Somebody to Love, but that's all somewhat academic now.

After an initial judging session - all very positive - and more filler material than the plaster section of B&Q, the acts performed what, if they were the winner, would be their debut single. Steve did Against All Odds, his second song of the night that had previously been covered by Westlife. Indeed, given that Westlife tracks were also used as backing music for a number of the VT segments, the whole show seemed to be a subliminal advert for the Irish irritants. Had G4 done a poperatic version of When You're Looking Like That we'd be screaming "conspiracy" from rooftops throughout the land. As it was, however, they did Radiohead's Creep, as seen during their time in the Boot camp, and it was all quite impressive, even Simon found himself unable to fault it during the final judging. Sharon also loved it, much more, as it turned out, than she loved Steve's performance. After his first two songs, Sharon had asked, apparently rhetorically, "How can you not like Steve?", by the time of his last song, however, she'd clearly given it a bit of thought and had come up with a number of reasons, most notably that he's a cocky twat who puts on a fake humble attitude to win over the public. This onslaught, while not reducing him to tears, did nearly reduce him to swearing, but fortunately for the censors - though unfortunately for us - he managed to hold back on telling her to "Fuck off", which is a shame as we might have actually wanted him to win, as it would have been the first time he'd have demonstrated that he actually had some balls.

Alas though, by the time the results show came around - and Kate Thornton committed the cardinal sin of not changing her dress for this, remaining in a sparkly, silvery, netty number which did little for her chest throughout the evening - it was quite clear that the public had once again made the wrong choice. Despite Kate's usual attempts to build up the tension by pointlessly announcing how many people had voted and excitedly lying about it being too close to call, in the end we all knew what the outcome was going to be and, when Steve's win was officially announced, our jaw remained resolutely undropped. He seemed quite chuffed with it all though, laughing his way through the second performance of Against All Odds while G4 were unceremoniously shuffled off of the stage to let the winner take the limelight. Confetti swirled, the choir appeared again and we were all left ultimately with a nagging sense of disappointment and the realisation that once again we'd wasted 15 weeks of our life.

What happens now then? Well Steve has his '£1,000,000 Record Deal' - and if anyone would like to explain to us exactly what that means, we'd appreciate it - and will no doubt foist two singles and an album on us, before vanishing into the relative obscurity of the cruise ship circuit. G4 will undoubtedly get a record deal as soon as they're contractually able to, though despite our support for them, we get the feeling that an entire album's worth of their music would prove to be somewhat grating. As for the other finalists, they have the tour to look forward to before returning back to their day jobs and will, at the very least, be able to look forward to a future of sitting drunk in scabby bars telling anyone that'll listen that they could have been someone. The only people who can really claim to have won in this contest is the judges, who rake in their pennies no matter what. One thing's for sure though, no matter who may officially have won, the ultimate loser in this show is pop music itself, and that's probably the saddest thing of all.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Final Reckoning... 

It's the X Factor Final tonight, and you lucky, lucky people get to choose between

or .

So, what's it going to be then, Great British Public?


Friday, December 10, 2004

Thoughts of the Pops 

Hasn't it been a quiet week in pop? And by "Quiet week in pop", we mean "lazy-arsed week at TiaPL". Still, it's Friday night. If we were Sarah Blackwood from vastly underrated dreamy synth-pop masters Dubstar we'd be walking past your house and we'd think about your face and we'd wonder what you'd think and we'd know we missed the time we tried, we'd go racing down the road and we'd face the truth again and we'd wonder where you are cause we know it's you who changed the tide. But we're not, so all that introspection was left for another day and instead we watched Top of the Pops. Here's what we learnt:-

Monday, December 06, 2004

Heart and Poll 

Over at Popjustice.com, they're seeking your ballots in their yearly poll. Now, seeing as we rarely have an original idea to call our own, and are essentially a less funny rip-off of their site, we thought we'd use it as the basis for a post of our own, telling you what we're voting for and encouraging you lot to go for the same choices. Not because we don't trust you to have your own opinions - we're sure you do - but we don't trust you to have the right opinions, hence the need to give you this cheat sheet:-Polls close on Wednesday and you can submit your own choices here.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Letting the Cat out of the Bag 

...and by 'bag' we mean the show, rather than a veiled reference to Sharon Osbourne, but that would work too. Tabby actually very nearly won us over last night. We really enjoyed his version of (Pride) In the Name of Love, which is quite impressive given that not only can we not stand Tabby, but we also hate U2 with a passion that can only be described as extreme. Fortunately for us he managed to undo all the good work that he'd done with that song with his performance of We Are Fucking Sailing with a pipe band dressed in full highland regalia which had us nearly wetting ourselves with laughter, and clearly had much the same effect on the rest of the audience, who found themselves too busy holding together their splitting sides to actually get off the sofa and phone in a vote for the ugly hobgoblin, so he found himself ejected from the competition. And about time too.

So what of the other two acts and now finalists for the show? Steve got dressed up in his best job interview suit for a passable version of Have I Told You Lately That I Love You, before getting changed to croon his way through The Greatest Love of All. In this he happily claimed that no matter what they take from him, they can't take away his dignity, despite the fact that his deckchair-esque green, blue and black striped shirt was doing it's very best to prove him otherwise.

G4, who cynically went to visit some sick kids in hospital for their opening VT, then even more cynically went on to perform a Christmas song, O Holy Night, for their first performance of the night were clearly overjoyed to stay in the contest. When Kate - this week stylish in a black sparkly dress - asked them how they felt about being in the final, one of them happily told her that "I can't even speak", quite clearly contradicting himself. Their second song was their version of Bohemian Rhapsody, first seen in their auditions, which was decent, but served mainly to prove that trimming a 6 minute song down to fit into a 2 minute slot isn't necessarily the best of ideas.

And so, next week this circus finally comes to an end, with a final that features the band versus the bland. It should be a foregone conclusion, but since Pop Idol 2 and, for that matter, last night's Record of the Year result, we've long since given up trusting the public to make the right decision when confronted with a telephone vote. We can but hope, however, we can but hope.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Thoughts of the Pops 

It's Friday. If we were Justin Hawkins out of joke, and hairline, worn thin 'rockers' The Darkness we'd be out dancing tonight, having spent Monday cycling, Tuesday at Gymnastics, Bridge Club on Wednesday and Thursday practicing our Archery. Of course, we'd also have a worrying penchant for catsuits and the sort of face that you'd never tire of punching, so perhaps we should be grateful. To celebrate our luck in that regard we watched Top of the Pops, here's what we learnt:-

Live Girls Show 

It's the news we've all been waiting for, Girls Aloud are finally going to stop hanging around the kitchen in their underwear and are going on their first UK tour, hitting 17 theatre venues all over the country next May and no doubt being the most exciting thing to hit the stage since they made the car fly in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Full details of dates are available here and tickets go on sale next Friday at 9AM.

At this point it's traditional to say something along the lines of "See you down the front", but due to various court orders that restrict us from going within a certain distant from Nicola we're more likely to be found nearer the back. Oh well. See you in the vague vicinity of the stage area, anyway.