This story

THE SINGING VICAR

by Robert Williams

Dickie the Vicar walked into the cafe one morning to say something he had never ever said before.

"Good morning everyone, just to let you all know I'm holding a groovy charity disco tonight to raise money to fix the church roof!"

Actually, I was lying.

"Are you ever going to raise enough to actually fix the church roof?" asked Mick.

"We're making real progress!" said Dickie. "We've now reached 5 per cent of our target!!"

"Any live bands this time?" asked Des.

"No, but I'm expecting a special guest appearance from Tom Bradley the local milkman!"

"Oh WOW!!" exclaimed Wayne. "I'm his greatest fan!!"

"I'm not, he delivered me semi-skimmed milk once when I wanted ordinary," said Des. "So for that reason I feel it would be inappropriate for me to attend the disco this evening."

"Me too!!" exclaimed Wayne.

"What about you Clive?" said Dickie. "Or are you going on another one of your long walks? Funny how your long walks always seem to coincide with my discos."

"Sorry Dickie, going for a long walk tonight," said Clive.

"On a short pier, hopefully," said Des.

Des fully intended missing the disco. He devised as many believable excuses as he could think of, such as he was visiting the Millennium Dome, or he was rearranging his collection of Bob the Builder memorabilia, or even he was washing his hair.

That evening he was watching 'The National Lottery Sad Losers' on television (mainly because he was expecting to see himself on it, since he loses the lottery every week and gets sad about it) when he remembered he hadn't taken the bins out for the dustmen, so they could redistribute his rubbish up the driveway the next morning.

As he moved the bins round the front of his house he was alarmed to see a Montego estate with a spire sticking out of it coming along the road.

"Oh no!!!!" he exclaimed. He started running about in blind panic. "He's come to get me! What am I going to do? What am I going to do?!"

He leapt inside his Fiat 126 and hid under the steering wheel. He heard Dickie walk past and then stop.

"Uh-oh..." said Des. Dickie peered through the car window, and Des meekly wound it down.

"Oh hello Dickie, just, er, checking the, er, got a problem with the er, steering, well, pedals actually, won't be able to make it to your disco I'm afraid."

"Don't worry about that, I can give you a lift!" said Dickie.

"Oh goody...ouch!" said Des, banging his head on the steering wheel.

They picked Mick up, and drove along the road, where they saw Clive walking up to The Laughing Pig pub. Dickie stopped the churchmobile.

"Curses," groaned Clive, looking round.

"Hello there Clive!" said Dickie, winding the window down. "So this is where you go on your long walks then, is it?"

"I was, er, just stopping off for a breather!" said Clive.

"You can stop off at my disco instead then!" said Dickie. "Hop in! Well, you don't have to hop if you don't want to."

Clive reluctantly got into Dickie's churchmobile and they drove on to the church hall.

Wayne was already there when they arrived, eager, as ever, for the free crisps. Dickie donned his back-to-front baseball cap and stood behind the decks - which was actually a tape recorder on a table with a microphone and lots of flashing coloured lights around it.

Dickie took to the microphone, complete with plenty of feedback.

"Ouch! Turn that down a bit...right, before we start, I'd just like to let you know that Tom Bradley the local milkman who was due to make a guest appearance tonight regrets he is unable to attend, due to the fact that he is washing his hair and then he's rearranging his collection of Bob the Builder memorabilia. I'm sorry if anyone is disappointed by this news."

Everyone looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders.

"So let's get under way! Um... Yo dudes!! DJ Dickie's in the mix, getting ready to roll out some fat ones big stylee to all the posses in a area!" This was a 60 year-old vicar speaking.

"Good grief," sighed Mick. "He's been taking lessons from Wayne,"

"So get ready to large it to the latest groovy track by one of today's younger artists!"

"Don't tell me he's playing something newer than 1960!" said Des.

"Yes, it's none other than Daniel O'Donnell!" said DJ Dickie. "You know the score!!!"

Dickie switched his gramophone on and the strains of the Irish singer filled the hall at maximum volume.

"Turn it down, Dickie!!" yelled Des. "I can't hear myself think!"

"Yeah, and I can't hear Des think either!!" exclaimed Wayne.

"Grooooovy!" said Dickie into the microphone. "Big shout goin' out to the Oakleigh Avenue posse! Smokin'! (Well, actually no smoking if you don't mind)."

"Dickie, please turn it down!!" yelled Mick, with his hands over his ears.

"Wasssssuuuupp!!!!" said DJ Dickie, ignoring him.

"Hey DJ Dickie, do some scratching!" yelled Wayne.

"Eh?" said Dickie. He shrugged his shoulders and started scratching himself all over.

Des wrote something on a bit of paper and took it to Dickie.

"Just had a request in from the dancefloor!" said DJ Dickie. "Nuff respect in a area to the Des-meister! It says, er, please turn the music down, it's too loud. Oh..."

He turned Daniel O'Donnell down, but then they were surprised to come across something even louder - a disco outfit worn by Farmer Files.

"Oh my gawd!!" said Mick to Des. "It's Farmer Files! What's he doing here?"

"Oh no, it's that pink silk shirt and unfeasibly wide trousers!" said Des. "Botherations, I didn't bring my sunglasses!"

"The Noise Abatement Society have complained about Farmer Files's disco outfit!" said Mick. "Look, he's coming over."

"Ooooooh arrrrrrrr!!!" he exclaimed in his own inimitable style.

"Evening Farmer Files, unusual to see you here!" said Mick.

"Oooooh arrrrrrr!! Oi've come 'ere talent spottin'!!"

"Here??!!" said Mick.

"Well I don't think you need to look any further," said Des. "By the way, could you turn down the colour control on your shirt?"

"Oooooh arrrrrrr!!!!" exclaimed Files. "What be you talen'ed at then, Des?!"

"Umm...well...." said Des. "Think of something, Mick."

"Errr....um..." said Mick.

"I must be talented at something..." said Des. "Err..."

The three of them stood around for several minutes trying to think of something. DJ Dickie then came over.

"Why aren't you all getting down to the fab music?" said Dickie.

"We're trying to think of what Des is talented at," said Mick.

"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" said Files. "Oi be talent spottin' for moi new PIG record label oi be settin' up!"

"My, that does sound interesting," said Dickie.

Suddenly, the music of Tony Bennett that was blaring out of the speakers faltered and stopped.

"Oh dear, my tape recorder must be playing up again," said Dickie. He went up onto the stage and fumbled with the tape recorder, but without luck. So he took the microphone and made an announcement.

"I'm sorry to announce," said Dickie solemnly, "that the tape recorder has broken beyond repair. So it gives me no pleasure at all to have to close this disco early."

A cheer went up amongst the five people on the dance floor.

"Hey Farmer Files, I've thought of something I'm talented at!" said Des. "I can play the piano!"

"Fab-tastic!" said Dickie. "That means I won't have to close the disco after all!"

"Eh?" said Des.

"You can play the piano and I'll sing!" said Dickie.

"Oh well done Des!!" exclaimed Clive. "You've really done it this time!"

"I didn't know you played the piano," said Mick.

"Well um..." said Des.

He reluctantly took to the old upright piano which was sitting on the stage.

"Right Des, take it away!" said Dickie.

Des immediately launched into playing 'chopsticks'. He played a few notes - badly, then stopped.

"Sorry, hit a wrong note there," said Des, grinning.

"Carry on Des!" said Dickie.

"That's all I can do," said Des. "Sorry."

"Well...just repeat it!" said Dickie.

So Des started playing the same piece over and over again. He hit the right notes approximately 10 per cent of the time. And if that wasn't bad enough, Dickie started singing 'Oh What a Beautiful Morning' over it.

Mick, Clive and Wayne put their hands over their ears.

"Oooooh arrrrrrr!!!" said Files. "Stop!! Stop!!"

So they did.

"Thanks, Files!" said Clive. "I couldn't take much more of that!"

"That be fantastic!!" said Files.

"What?!" said Mick and Clive.

"Oh thank you very much," said Des. He tickled the ivories some more.

"No, no, no!!" said Files. "Not you! Your piano playin' be appallin'!! Oi mean that voice!! That there vicar 'as natural talent! Carry on!"

"Oh what a beautiful moooorning, oh what a beautiful day, I've got this wonderful feeeeeeling, everything's going myyyyyy way!!"

"Sign 'ere!" said Files, giving Dickie a piece of paper. "It be a five year recordin' contract to PIG Records!"

"This is disastrous!" said Des to Mick, Clive and Wayne. "Dickie the Vicar could be the next singing sensation!"

"Do you honestly think so?" said Mick. "A singing vicar is hardly going to connect with today's youth! He only thinks he does!"

"Ooooh arrrrr!!!" said Files as he shook hands with Dickie. "Don't forget everybody, oi be still on the lookout to sign up more fresh talent!!"

"Hmmmm," said Des to the others. "What's popular at the moment, musically?"

"Tedious boy bands who sing dreary ballads wearing woolly jumpers," said Mick.

"Right, we've got me, you, Clive and Wayne. And we could get Mike in as well."

"Don't even think about it!" said Clive. "I'm having NOTHING to do with it!"

"That's your catchphrase isn't it," said Des. "So you really want to miss out on this fame and fortune our new boy band is going to have?"

"Um..." said Clive.

"So that's five of us," said Des. "What shall we call ourselves?"

"Six!" said Wayne.

"We'll meet in here tomorrow to practice our dance moves!" said Des.

So the next day the five of them turned up at the church hall to sort out their new boy band.

"Welcome everybody," announced Des, "to the first rehearsal for our new band, Get-a-life! I've got Mrs Greasy to knit us some matching jerseys. Unfortunately she also threw in some sponge cakes."

He gave them each a flimsy beige-and-brown striped jumper, and handed out some song sheets.

"What style of music are we going in for?" asked Mike. "Are we going to ROCK out?!"

"No, no, it's a ballad," said Des. "We're going for the teeny-bopper market. We didn't really need your electric guitar after all. It's called 'I've Got a Brand New Pair of Trousers'."

"I'm NOT wearing this jumper!" moaned Clive. "I'd rather eat those sponge cakes!"

"No electric guitar?" moaned Mike. "You can't have pop music without an electric guitar!"

"I don't really want to do this," moaned Mick.

"Oh for goodness sake everyone, cheer up!" exclaimed Des. "This is a one-way route to stardom! Right everybody, let's get started! And remember to dance about."

They put their baggy jumpers on over their normal clothes and they all started singing half-heartedly.

"I've got a brand new pair of trousers, I'll give you the receipt! Come on let's go down the carpet shop and see some lovely rugs..."

"Ooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files walking in. "Can you lot keep the noise down?! Dickie and moiself be tryin' to lay down some tracks in the back room!!"

As they listened they could hear Dickie singing 'We're in the Clergy Now' very badly.

"Not really, Farmer Files, we've got to rehearse for our new band! Would you like to sign us up?" said Des.

"Ooooh arrrrr!! You must be jokin'! You sounded loike a bunch of deranged moggies!! Oi loike your jumpers, though."

Despite continuing rehearsals from the apathetic (or rather, just pathetic) members of Get-a-life, Files still refused to sign them to PIG records. He did, however, sign Mrs Greasy up to make PIG jumpers.

To everyone's horror The Singing Vicar's new single, 'Rockin' All Over the Nave', shot up the charts. Meanwhile Get-a-life's single stalled at number 1279.

"I can't understand this," said Des. "Why have we entered so low?"

"Maybe because our track was only available on cassette from a stall at the back of Tolworth market?" said Mick.

"More likely because it's total rubbish," said Clive.

"Did you hear Dickie's going on 'Top of the Pops'?" said Mick.

"That does it!" said Des. "I have an idea! I wonder if Dickie needs some backing singers..."

The answer from the vicar was no. But they went to the 'Top of the Pops' studios anyway.

"I'm sorry, members of the audience aren't allowed backstage," said an official man as they tried to get in the building.

"We're not the audience, we're performing!" said Des.

"Yeah, we're Get-a..." said Wayne.

"Boyzone!!" said Des quickly, in an Irish accent. "Top of the morning to you! To be sure, to be sure!"

Clive and Mick buried their heads in their hands.

"Oh, I'm sorry Ronan, go on through," said the man.

"Tee hee hee," said Des.

They went into the backstage area where some of the biggest names in music had gathered, as well as Status Quo. Dickie was busy getting autographs off the Quo.

"I'm sorry, we really don't need any more band members," Francis Rossi was saying to Dickie.

"Oh dear," said Dickie. He turned round and to his surprise he saw Get-a-life walk in. He went over to them. "What are you all doing here? You're not in the charts!"

"We are!" said Des. "We're in one of the less high positions. Now does anyone know any Boyzone songs?"

"What did you have to say that for?" said Mick. "We're more like OAPzone!"

"Oi, speak for yourself!" said the ever-youthful Clive.

"Do I really look like Ronan Keating?" said Des.

"You do if I close my eyes," said Mick.

"Right, when are we due on then?" said Des.

"How should I know?" said Mick.

"We'll just have to wait for the call," said Des. So they did.

Various chart stars, from one-bloke-with-a-keyboard-and-two-dancers, to Westlife, to another-bloke-with-a-keyboard-and-two-dancers, to Status Quo, to yet-another-bloke-with-a-keyboard-and-two-dancers, were called into the studio to do their performances. Des got increasingly frustrated.

"Why aren't we being called in?" whined Des.

"Des," pointed out Mick. "Did it not occur to you that Boyzone might not actually be in the charts this week?"

"Oh," said Des. "Well, it was worth coming for the free drink of orange squash."

"Singing Vicar!" someone called round the door.

"A-ha!" said Dickie.

"No, not A-ha! The Singing Vicar, you're due on now!"

"That'll be me!" said Dickie.

"Oh no," groaned Des.

They watched on a small television screen, as The Singing Vicar, along with the Vicarettes, performed Dickie's latest hit, 'Rockin' All Over the Nave'. When Dickie had finished, he returned backstage to a standing ovation. Some, however, were not so impressed.

"I think he's sold out," said Mick. "I much preferred his earlier work."

"So we're not actually going be on this week?" said Des, as they watched that week's number one, A Bloke With A Keyboard And Two Dancers, being performed.

"No!!" exclaimed Mick.

"Well..." said Des. "At least we got a free orange juice."

In a shock move, The Singing Vicar, opted not to follow up his hit single. He decided that fame was too much for him, and returned to being an ordinary vicar in an ordinary parish.

"Great, that means we might have a chance of getting to number one after all!" said Des.

"Oh get a life," said Mick.


Copyright © Robert Williams
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