ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

A sad saga by Martin Fry — The genie of the Chelsea boot

She was out there somewhere. Frank knew it.

Theyd agreed to meet under the clock at the Bus Station at 8. Hed arrived on the dot. In fact, if truth be told, hed been there since half seven, chewing gum — approximately four pieces — coolly glancing up and down the precinct forecourt looking for That Dame.

8.05: still no sign. Frank sighed and muttered nervously. She said 8 oclock. She said carry a copy of Smash Hits. She said be there on time. Theyd been pen-friends a short while now, but a meeting?… in the flesh? …face to face? Who knows where it might lead?

Hed been hoping for the dream date for such a long time now, but all he ever got were nightmares.

8.15: shell still be washing her hair.

8.30: shes got to be cutting her toe-nails.

8.45: must have missed that bus. By now all the other dates had met up. Frank watched as lonely people made their connections, left the department store doors where theyd been waiting in the rain and stepped off into the bright neon lights of the night.

9.15: Frank was anxious. Very anxious. He was desperately searching for an excuse for being there alone. He pretended to read the timetables but his eyes couldnt focus. He must have got the wrong day, wrong time. Wrong precinct.

10 oclock: still clutching the crumpled magazine. Ink running down his fingers. He decided to pack it in. Another day gone wrong. Just who — who — am I trying to kid? Sheeesh! What a disappointing night. Stood up once again.

Walking back to his bus-stop home, Frank heard the sounds of a familiar refrain drifting from a nearby public house, a Watneys Red Barrel watering-hole for handsome dudes with gold medallions and car keys. He sighed to himself. “Who broke my heart? You did, you did. Bow to the target, blame Cupid, Cupid. You think youre smart… stupid, stupid”. Frank whispered the last two words under his breath.

“Stupid… stupid”. He sighed again and considered his lot. “Shoot that poison arrow”. ABC. That guy — whats his name? — Martin Fry. Now theres a man whod know how to pick up a girl if ever there was one.

Walking further on down the damp dark streets he remembered all his pathetic attempts to make himself appear a more attractive proposition to the tender gender. Hed gone for voice lessons, but what Frank really needed was a new script.

Clothes, hed thought, were his main problem.

Scanning the newspapers eagerly hed spied an advert that could find the answer to his wildest dreams — “Mail Order Outfits!” A series of crumpled packages had arrived in the weeks that followed, piling up in the privacy of his bedroom. Monday was Mod-day. Sliding down the Vespa Club in his fur-lined parka, Carnaby trousers and stripey shoes. Tuesday — The Cave. Skinhead skull cap, bleached Levis, Doc Martens, tough-looking tattoos inked on with a biro. Wednesday — The Roxy Rendezvous — famed New Romantic hot-spot. Nothing romantic about staring at a beer-mat all night ‘til your false eyelashes fell in your beer, Frank thought. The headache was bad enough; the heartache was worse. Thursdays was Dannys Rockin Diner. Frank was a rockabilly guy, greased-up quiff and crepe-soled shoes. Friday was The Trocadero — a leatherette kilt and “as-worn-by-Adam” redskin breeches and doublet. Saturday was down to the Spikey Saloon in de rigeur barbed wire T-shirt and zip bondage 17-inch bum-flap. On Sundays he even swanned into Hectors in velveteen loon-pants and a T-shirt with stars all over it.

Frank had tried the lot: a zoot suit with armpit-high trousers, the white dreadlock look, cuban revolutionary. Hed gone mohican, hed gone folk-dancing. Theres got to be a dame out there and I dont mind smartening myself up for her, thought Frank. He was going crazy but he was getting nowhere. He gazed forlornly at the 17 trendy Afro-rhythm LPs and the Beatle wig in the corner and felt about as up-to-date as a hula-hoop.

And there on a shelf, gathering dust, was another complete failure. His chest-expander lay limp like a concertina. He just about had the strength to lift it, but as for turning his body into a bronzed Adonis — forget it.

That night Frank realised he was back to square one. Whatever he wore, they laughed at him. Openly. Or fell asleep over their Babychams. Or left with another guy. Disaster, like a shadow, like an unwanted friend, seemed to follow him wherever he went.

As he lay back on his bed, that familiar refrain came back to haunt him: “Shoot that poison arrow to… thats the look, the look of love… tears are not enough…”. That guy — that Martin Fry — if only I could have one molecule, one iota of his vast experience, maybe I could meet the girl of my dreams. If anyone could teach me the rules of The Mating Game, hed be the one man.

Frank began polishing his new Chelsea Boots, thoughtfully. Theyd just arrived and were his current pride and joy. But, suddenly, as he applied the polish to the black leather surface — shazam! pam! pop! wham! zap! In a blinding flash a figure appeared out of the mist. Was it bacofoil? Was it bird? A flame?

A man in a gold shimmering suit stood before him.

Frank was aghast. “Wh-who are you?” he stammered.

“Martin Frys the name. The Genie Of The Chelsea Boot your wish is my command/Especially if you seek the girl that meets supply with demand. The sweetest melody is the unheard refrain! It may sound ridiculous but this boot is my domain/Dry your eyes, sink or swim/Im here to serve your every whim. Sounds like youre in grave trouble, Frank. Now spit it out. I know your kind. Meet ‘em once, meet ‘em a thousand times.”

Frank was speechless. He rubbed his eyes and looked again. He pinched himself to see if he wasnt dreaming. “Genie of the WHAT??” he cried.

“Genie Of The Chelsea Boot,” said Fry. When they find you beached on the barrier reef/Dont look gloomy — Cheer up, chief/Loves on the horizon lit by the sun/So come on lets scarper and have a bit of fun. Button yer lip. Keep it 100% zipped!”

“B-but,” said Frank, incredulously. “You — Martin Fry! — have been reduced to a Genie. You who have conquered summits.

You who have scrambled your way to the top of that glass mountain called Showbusiness, won five Oscars, been Tony Blackburns ‘Record Of The Week. You the first man to have entered uncharted solar systems and been on Top Of The Pops. And you — you — are my humble servant! What gives, Martin?”

“Well,” shrugged Fry. “If you dont want my advice, Ill be on my way…”

“No, No!” Frank shouted, tugging his sparkly sleeve.

Fry turned. “Well, Frank” he said, “its like this. Beneath this myriad of golden threads beats the heart of a regular guy. Believe me. Inside this gleaming exterior there lurks a small man who knows only too well the trials and tribulations of that game called ‘Love. I, too, have my private moments.” Fry winced as if wracked by painful memories. “But, come on,” he said. “We have but mere hours for our quest. Seconds to find that Elusive Vision of Love. Everything is temporary, written on sand/Lets nip down the local and check out the band. Ya with me?

Fry pointed out of the window at the fairyland of glittering lights spread beneath them.

“Were on the doorstep of a New Dawn,” he said. “So cmon, Frank, Lets go!”

Together they headed off into the numb suburb Frank chose to call home. Down Dead End Street, Anywheresville, No Hopeshire. Past The Vespa Club, past The Cave. Past The Roxy Rendezvous. Trudging on and on through that neon world known as Nitelife.

They entered Rockys, a club that Frank had never even seen before. Even to call it as a “club” at all was pitching it a bit high. More like a place for bruisers than a place of retreat. A place where redecorating meant fresh sawdust. A place where the mice carry truncheons. Rockys was packed with the meanest, cruellest, toughest, evillest characters Frank had ever seen.

“Are you sure we got the right place, Martin, oh Genie?” said Frank, dismayed.

“Cool, co-ool, Master,” whispered Fry. “This is the one. ‘X marks the spot. Shes here, your Dream Date. I can feel her in my bones, Master.”

Frank edged nervously towards the bar. “The drinks are on me, Genie.” he said, surveying the dismal scene before him.

“Make mine an orange,” snapped Fry: “Strictly no alcohol. We gotta be razor-sharp tonight — lazer-sharp! — if were gonna carry this out!”

They glanced around them. Overweight, overworked, over-the-hill disco patrons were feverishly trying to do the Frug, The Pony, The Hitch-Hike, The Go-Go, The Mamba. Dances from yesteryear and beyond. The grisly deejay was positioned right of the dance floor inside a purple fun-fur cage. “Heeey! This is dedicated to a little lady I leeeerve so so fine!” he slavered. “And that little lady might just be YOU!” The deejay stabbed a finger at a frumpy girl in sequinned party frock and white plastic knee-boots. She got up and started twisting frantically to the sound of the Danish World Cup Squad.

Worse was to follow. The Goombay Dance Band. The Tweets. The Smurfs. The Wombles. Hurricane Higgins. Kelly Marie. The deejay span a Joe Dolce 12-inch and waddled to the bar. Drunken Romeos hit the dance-floor spinning round giddily in the flashing disco lights.

“This is awful,” said Frank. “The deejays in a time-warp.”

“Trust me, oh worthy Master,” said the gold-suited one. “Things will work out… for it is SHE!” He pointed at where the spotlight was falling on the dancefloor. “Like a pearl in an oyster bed. Like a diamond in a sewer… there is The Girl Of Your Dreams!”

Franks eyes fixed upon her, and locked into place. This vision of radiant beauty was dancing a crazy wig-out routine. Shed invented it especially for Rumanias entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. Their record blared from the loudspeakers.

“Talk to her.

Go ahead, talk to her,” Fry implored. “A sunken ship with a rich cargo/Dont just sit there, give it a throw!

Frank got up. Frank sat down again. He was trembling. “I cant do it. I cant. What if she doesnt want to know me?”

Skip the hearts and flowers, skip the ivory towers. Jump on in or well be here for hours. Nothing ventured nothing gained, me old fruit,” grinned the Genie of the Chelsea Boot.

“I implore you, oh, I implore you to show me how,” gasped Frank, chickening out.

“Listen,” said Fry. “There aint much I dont know about wooing the heart of a Dame.” And with that he leapt upon the dance floor, broke into a wild routine and glided suavely to rest before Franks dream date. She seemed transfixed, totally motionless. Fry — a brilliant strand of dazzling amber light — doffed his quiff and began a parallel wig-out right beside her. Shafts from the disco lights dazzled off his silken threads. The music pumped louder. And louder. She stood there, agape, seemingly stunned by this mirage of manhood weaving its way closer, closer…

She could feel his hot breath on her cheek. His lips were moving. They spoke. “If I were to say to you can you keep a secret? Would you know just what to do…

“Certainly would, creep. Id say drop dead! Shape up and shove off, Fishface. And anyway,” she glanced at Frank, with a look of disgust, “…whos yer friend?