We asked ironclad foe of Eurovision Stephen James to talk about, well, Eurovision. This is what we got; Gonzo fiction from a parallel universe. The drugs are strong on Tyneside....
‘Snooty Syrian’s coming over here, monopolising our diminutive dancers,’ stated Mario, stuffing wilted salad into stale pita.
‘Bloody Asthma al-Assad. She was in here with Wayne Sleep. Demanding I was beheaded cause we don’t have any za'atar or fattoush,’ he replied, launching a large bolus of phlegm onto the grill. ‘We’re a kebab shop not a deli.’
‘That’s the one,’ he said, placing my lunch on the counter. ‘He’s teaching her to dance next door. See ya tomorrow’
Something smelt rotten, and it wasn't just the kebab. Like monkeys, Sleep and dictators weren’t welcome in the UK’s Detroit. Rumours aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, but cold hard facts would clarify the situation. And they’d be found in the Paul (sic) Abdul Dance Academy (No Relation).
‘Any celebrities studying here?’ I asked the porter, with nonchalance aforethought.
‘Client confidentiality’, he replied without looking up.
'Asking the same thing twice ain't my style toots,' I screamed, yanking him off his stool by his tie, and pulling him close enough to smell Scotch egg and bitter.
‘Okay. Okay. No need for any rough stuff,’ he blurted. ‘Wayne and Asthma. She’s entering some competition.’
‘That wasn’t hard was it,’ I said stuffing a Godiva mouth and letting gravity deposit him unceremoniously on his gargantuan ass.
Mario was right, but what next? Having served under Murdoch’s cosh the solution was simple: hack Assad’s email.
Initially, he'd been chatting to Stuart Hall, right up to the point he was arrested. Then Johnathan King. Discussing an illicit entry. The only concrete lead was a mail from the latter, blaming his failure to arrive on being arrested at Heathrow. An event verified in the press. A few quick phone calls and a sizable bank transfer later, and the officer involved agreed to talk.
The second whiskey was nearly empty when she arrived. Chewing gum walk and the sort of smile you felt in your wallet. A real piece of work.
‘Thanks to the Toad of Gove Hall people don’t travel abroad to get radicalised,’ she said sipping her Lambrini without getting her lips wet, ‘they just go to school in Birmingham. So when we spotted some decrepit old guy in a badly fitting burka, well, it broke the tedium.’
‘What was his excuse?’
‘Couldn’t bear a life of ignominious anonymity, and had decided go out with a bang. Become a suicide bomber. Want to be remembered as something other than a nonce. Didn’t believe him. He had a return ticket.’
‘But why would King risk going to Syria when he’d be jailed returning?’
‘He’s done five years hard time. Jail holds no fear for an old lag. Just an occupational hazard. We got lucky, but it’s only a matter of time before he succeeds. You wanna buy an autograph? I’ve got a box full. He’s a vile pervert, but he’s still a celebrity.’
It stank of paedo pageant. But I'd met enough short eyes in the big house to know they ain't too keen on publicity. Underwear-clad Internet antics in their mum's spare room was more their style. I was missing something. There must be another link. Maybe four fingers of liquid inspiration would help?
Five glasses in and nothing. I couldn't even make up my mind about whether to go home or have another. When bam it hit me like the blast from a concealed explosive vest. Making your mind up! Buck's Fizz. Eurovision!
Hall had spent twenty years presenting Jeux Sans Frontières providing unparalleled knowledge of pan-European spectaculars. Whilst King not only had numerous hits – all of them catchy novelty songs of no artistic value; the sort Eurovision judges adore – but, more importantly, he produced the Great British Song Contest in 1997 won by the truly dreadful Katrina and the Waves. The last UK act to triumph in the world’s most important song contest. The self-appointed ‘King of Hits’ was being paid to secure Bashar’s victory. How many times had that femme fatale lured the deluded to their demise? And now she was singing her siren’s song for Assad.
This whole scenario seemed incredible. David Icke would have been sceptical. But what if I was right? The Assads couldn’t be allowed to enter Eurovision and besmirch the pristine reputation of such an august institution. Something would have to be done. However, even a man with my brutal rep would have to tread carefully. The fearsome right hook that knocked out Wee Jimmy Krankie wouldn’t cut the mustard against a chemical attack.
Next issue: Beyond the looking glass
With thanks to Dom and Dave.