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Like a Rolling Stone

by Patrick O'Connor

IT was great to get away from the chip shop.

Standing in the fresh early morning air, waiting for his two mates to join him, Mick could hardly conceal his excitement.   He fingered the three tickets in his pocket. Never won a raffle before in his life. And to a Rolling Stones concert as well - unbelievable.

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AFTER a train journey to St Pancras, Mick, Keith and Charlie caught the tube to Richmond, where a fleet of double decker buses was waiting to transport thousands of fans to Twickenham Rugby Stadium which was staging the event.

All three middle aged men were diehard Mansfield Town football supporters.Charlie was a grave digger, Keith had just started up a mobile fruit juice round and Mick worked at the chippie.

They didn't go down to London that often - usually to watch their beloved Town play at places like Leyton Orient and Barnet - so Mick decided they ought to pop into a trendy wine bar before the concert to sample a bit of sophistication.

The three men sat down in a swanky looking alcove, reclining in red leather seats. Mick was mpressed, apart from the fact that they didn't sell cheese and onion crisps.

"Hey, feast you eyes on that," he said, eyeing up a young brunette at the bar. "Or that, cor look at that redhead."

"Yeah, not bad, not bad," replied Keith. "You're right Mick, Twickenham's a bit smarter that what we're used to on a Saturday night."

Mick, a portly man with red, rosy cheeks and a wild, uncontrollable mop of brown hair, beamed and took another sip of the very expensive wine he ordered for the lads. Not his normal tipple but what the heck, you only live once. Would have gone down nicely with cheese and onion crisps though.

"This is the life, fancy bars and fancy birds. Bet Mick Jagger's in here every night on the pull. Bet he has the pick of the bunch. That's what happens when you're a big star. All the birds fancy you," said Mick.

"That's it then Charlie, Mick's problems sorted," laughed Keith.

Unlike the other two, Mick was still single and looked like staying that way.

Opportunities rarely presented themselves at the chip shop or watching Mansfield Town.

"Pack up working at the chippie and become a rock star," added Keith as he nudged Charlie playfully.

"Jobcentre should be able to sort that out youth," said Charlie, a pasty-faced individual with two missing front teeth, who rarely wasted words.

"Hey you two, I'm here you know, right in front of you. I ain't on another planet," said Mick.

"Mick you're always going on about how you're going to pull this bird or that bird. The only thing you've been pulling all these years is yourself," replied Keith.

"He's right youth," said Charlie.

"You're only jealous because I've got animal magnetism," stated Mick. Despite his virtually non-existent love life, Mick was convinced women found him attractive. He always felt sure that out there was "the one", that meeting her was just a matter of time.

Keith told him he was no Mick Jagger and never would be.

"Hey, there's nowt wrong with pretending, is there," said Mick.

"No mate, I suppose not," said Keith. He pointed at Mick and shouted: "Look everyone, look who's here, it's Mick Jagger!"

Nodding towards Charlie, Mick shouted: "Yeah and he's Charlie Watts."

Charlie raised Keith's arms and added: "And Keith Richards!"

Fuelled by the wine and the joy of their companionship, all three, resplendent in their Mansfield Town shirts, stood up, faces beaming, to exclaim: "We're The Rolling Stones!"

 


AFTER Keith returned from the loo, smelling a lot sweeter than when he went in, Mick informed him that a woman at the bar had been giving him the eye.

"The classy looking one with the long blonde hair. Just look at her, she's so cool. How many Mansfield women do you see puffing away with a cigarette holder?"

"Don't be daft," said Keith.

Charlie told Mick he had no chance. "She's way out of your league youth, must be a model or summat and probably a Chelsea season ticket holder."

The woman continued to stare directly at Mick with a sultry, smouldering gaze. Mick couldn't believe his luck. Was this the one? She was certainly stunning and there was an air of danger about her.

He felt it was now or never, burped, wiped his face, stood up and, before striding over to the woman, said: "Wish me luck lads."

Five minutes later he returned and could barely get his words out.

"Get out of it!" said Keith.

"No, it's true. She wants all three of us to go with her to some do. Said we sound like good company. Said it would be out of this world," said Mick breathlessly.

"Is she kinky or what? You know, into threesomes, God, no foursomes. I ain't sharing no bird with you Mick," said Keith.

Charlie nodded before adding: "And I ain't doing it with anybody watching youth."

Mick said that the only kinky sex in Mansfield was "When they let you do it BEFORE you buy them chips."

"So where is she now?" asked Keith.

Mick said that they were to meet her outside in the back yard.

"What's her name youth," asked Charlie.

"Marianne," replied Mick as they trooped through the door.

 

 


THE moment the trio went into the fresh air they were overwhelmed by a cacophony of sounds and flashing bright lights. All three of them felt swept away by a whirlwind of amazing energy. Then there was nothing.

Mick was the first to regain his awareness. He felt light headed but otherwise okay. He looked around and realised they were lying on the floor of a circular, featureless room.

Slowly Keith and Charlie began to rouse themselves and were equally perplexed.

Suddenly the walls parted to reveal a sliding door through which walked what appeared to be - a Bay City Roller!

A collection of strange sounding noises emitted from its mouth before Mick recognised the words which were being spoken in a rather camp style.

"Ah, that's better, English at last," said the Roller.

"What's going on? Where are we?" said Mick, who although totally bewildered, did not feel threatened.

"Apologies, oh little red roosters, it has taken me some time to get the language co-ordinates correct. Not sure if you will find this one appealing, you gorgeous boys. It was formulated on the basis of some rather strange Earth transmissions. Are you aware of the Earth creatures called Julian Clary and Graham Norton? I found them quite appealing."

Mick, Keith and Charlie stared at him open-mouthed. To say they were gobsmacked would be putting it mildly.

"And then I had to convert to an acceptable humanoid external shell," said the Roller.

Keith asked: "Who the hell are you - what are you?"

The creature said his name was something unpronounceable which none of them could understand and that he was from the planet Loog.

"Can't pronounce that youth - we'll call you Tharg," said Charlie.

 

 


THARG told them that he was on a mission on behalf of his Emperor, who should be addressed at all times as His Holiness,The Snoop Bopper.

The mission was to collect, as Tharg put it, "the cream, the exquisite, the elite."

"But why are we here?" asked a very puzzled Mick.

"Come, come, Mick, you are too modest," said Tharg.

Mick wanted to know how Tharg knew his name.

"Come now, you know, Honkey Tonk!" was the reply.

"Oh my God Mick he thinks...." said Keith before an excited Tharg continued: "It's all over now, get off my cloud, oh boys, it's so great to meet The Rolling Stones."

"The Rolling Stones?" said the men.

"Yes, after several attempts, I've at last acquired The Rolling Stones. His Holiness, The Snoop Bopper will be delighted.

"Our drone appropriated you - Mick, Keith and Charlie - ahead of your concert. It reported hat one of the Stones was absent but that is a minor inconvenience."

Mick could hardly believe what he was hearing. "You idiot! We're Mick, Keith and Charlie, we're Mansfield Town fans."

Tharg looked puzzled. "Mansfield Town? No reference in our data about Mansfield Town."

That really annoyed Mick. "What do you mean no data? We won the Freight Rover Trophy at Wembley in 1987."

Charlie suggested that Tharg needed to get an I.T. man in.

The Bay City Roller looked aghast. "Oh no, the drone must have malfunctioned again."

What drone? Asked Keith.

"It's a collecting device replicated in human form. It was programmed to find The Rolling Stones. It was experiencing some technical difficulties but we thought they had been corrected. Oh dear, what will His Holiness, The Snoop Bopper say? He won't be happy, he may even banish me to run a bingo hall on the edge of a black hole."

Despite the situation, Keith couldn't help chuckling.

"Well, Mick it looks as if you've drawn a blank again mate. All the way to London and you cop off with a robot!"

 

 


THARG left the trio alone for a while whilst he went off to "change his co-ordinates." When he returned, he looked like one of The Rubettes.

He explained that the Emperor was a massive fan of Earth music. When he was young he used to listen to his radio scanner under the bedclothes at night.

Tharg's brief was to scour Earth over many years and 'collect' performing artists to store on his spaceship before eventually returning to Loog for a talent show.

"We've collected Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and many others and now, with our collection complete, we've just landed back on our planet."

The realisation that they were on an alien planet left the men wide-eyed.

"But those people are all dead," said Mick.

"Oh no, we appropriated them. Our replication programme wasn't as advanced then so people thought they had died. But now we usually leave active drones behind. No-one can tell the difference, " said Tharg.

"So some of those acts that appeared on Top of the Pops were really alien drones. Wow!" said Keith.

That would explain many things, said Mick.

"Yeah, The Stonk by Hale and Pace, Shadap Your Face by Joe Dolce, " said Keith.

"And almost certainly Chirpy, Chirpy Cheep Cheep by Middle of the Road youth," added Charlie.

Keith wanted to know who else was on the list. "Cliff Richard?"

"Oh dear no," exclaimed Tharg. "We did zoom in on him once at a place called Wimbledon. It was raining heavily and a crowd of people started singing with him. It was not what His Holiness, The Snoop Bopper had in mind."

"Robbie Williams? " asked Keith.

Tharg said they returned him to Earth very quickly.

"Why?" asked Mick.

"He frightened us," said Tharg, who then added:"But Ozzy Osbourne had been a big success."

"Ozzy? Is he here?" said Keith.

"Ozzy is employed as what you earthlings call a lifestyle guru for His Holiness, The Snoop Bopper. You may or may not get to see him, it depends, but you will certainly recognised the impact he has had on the Emperor, "said Tharg.

Mick then asked: "Okay Tharg what happens now?"

"I really don't know. His Holiness, The Snoop Bopper, was really looking forward to hearing Jumpin' Jack Flash."

"Well, he ain't going to get that from us youth," said Charlie.

Mick was looking pensive and suddenly said: "Hold on Charlie, I've got an idea.

 

 


THARG, now looking like Alvin Stardust, was not convinced. "Hmm, interesting this tribal thing of yours."

Keith quickly corrected him, pointing out "it ain't tribal, it's football."

The alien requested a second hearing so the three men huddled together, started swaying and then sang at the top of their voices:

We hate Nottingham Forest

We hate County too

We hate Chesterfield

But Mansfield we love you

Still no response from Tharg so they continued with:

Oooo me lads you should have seen us cumin

Going down to Field Mill

You should have seen us cumin<

They then finished off with The Stags Are Going Up and You're Not Singing Anymore. Mick asked Tharg if that would be enough to impress the "Emperor fellah".

"Oh dear, oh dear," replied Tharg.

 

 


WHEN the Emperor entered the room, he was the spitting image of Prince and the Mansfield men quickly realised the influence Ozzy Osbourne had on him.

"Ah Mick my man, give me four! Welcome to the ******* planet Loog," said the Emperor. I am so ******* delighted man to meet up The ******* Rolling Stones. Hey man, years of ******* sex, ******* drugs and ******* rock and roll have certainly taken its toll on your ******* looks."

"You can certainly say that again youth," said Charlie quietly.

"But you ******* guys have still managed to maintain your ******* artistic integrity by continually searching for new material. That's ******* great. Tharg tells me you are working on a new album to be called Live On Loog."

Mick shifted on his feet uneasily. "Er, yeah, that's right your Highness. We just need a bit more time to rehearse."

"That's ******* fine man," said the Emperor. "Do you need any assistance?"

"Well, yeah, that would be great. Could I borrow that drone you sent down to collect us, the one called Marianne?" said Mick.

"Of course man, but will the drone be of any ******* use to you," said the Emperor.

"Oh I think so," smiled Mick.

 

 


COME the day of the big talent contest and the Loog National Stadium was packed to the rafters.

Backstage Mick beckoned his colleagues: "Come and listen to this, I don't think Elvis is going down too well."

They could hear someone sounding as if he was on helium singing Ain't Nothing But A Hound Dog.

"What's that other noise?" asked Keith.

"That my son is the Loogian version of booing - and you're going to hear a lot more of that as the evening goes on," said Mick.

He triumphantly informed them that all the acts were going to sound like that - all except 'The Rolling Stones'.

Keith and Charlie looked puzzled.

Mick revealed that he had persuaded Tharg to allow him out of the artists' compound. "I told him I needed some relaxation so that our performance would be perfect. He was so petrified that the Emperor would find out we're not the real Stones that he agreed.

"And that's where lady luck - or more precisely the luscious Marianne - played a part. Tharg insisted that Marianne accompanied me so I didn't get into any trouble. I told her I wanted to go somewhere lively and boy did she come up the goods."

Mick explained that they ended up at the Loogian equivalent of a party.

"There were some pretty weird creatures there. It looked like a Star Wars convention for psychopaths but boy did they know how to party."

"No fruit juice then," said Keith.

No, said Mick, but plenty of 'riffwoogie.'

He explained that it was a sort of weed, "you know the stuff those Rastas smoke. When the Loogians take it, it makes them go really funny. They turn purple, roll over on to their backs and start to snort but with humans it makes you sound like that comedian Joe Pasquale but far worse."

"Is that why Elvis?...." asked Keith.

"Elvis and all the other acts," replied Mick. "I told them it's top quality Loogian weed but didn't mention the side effects. They've all had a smoke."

They were then stopped in their tracks as the PA system burst into action and Tharg announced: "And now fellow Loogians and Your Holiness, The Snoop Bopper and esteemed judges, the final act, the fabulous, the fantastic Rolling Stones!"

 


ROY Wood from Wizzard (actually Tharg) was gushing.

"I love you, I love you! Oh my darlings, you're so talented. I think I'm going to cry. How odd, I've never done that before. How stupendous."

The 'Stones' had won the talent contest by a mile.

"His Holiness, The Snoop Bopper was so impressed with your new work, especially your rendition of 'Premier League, Having a Laugh'. Is it going to be the new single?"

"Do we get to go home now?" asked Keith.

"Oh no dear boys, you have to enjoy your prize first," replied Tharg.

"Which is?" queried Keith.

"A world tour of Loog performing in all major cities - and, of course, there are the 12 moons and 16 off-world mining communities. I think you'll go down very well out there."

Keith and Charlie looked horrified.

"Oh come now, it will be fun and anyway Mick has already agreed," said Tharg.

Mick looked a bit sheepish. "Come on lads, it'll be a laugh and anyway Elvis was runner-up so e'll be coming on tour with us as our support act."

"Please, pretty please," begged Tharg. "We've allowed Mick to take his companion with him."

Keith and Charlie eyed their pal suspiciously.

"Mick feels he can't perform at his best without his personal assistant, the drone called Marianne. Despite its malfunction back on Earth it still has its uses. Indeed Marianne did sterling work a while back on a very special project on Mars," said Tharg.

Mick explained that when the tour was over they would be 'time warped' back home, whatever that meant.

"The Emperor says it will appear as if we've never been away and as he finished runner-up, Elvis can go back to Earth as well."


THE social club was packed as usual on a Saturday night. Despite Mansfield's six goal defeat that afternoon Keith and Charlie were in good spirits.

The barmaid Angie asked Keith if they enjoyed The Rolling Stones concert.

"We never got there," he said.

"What! Why not? Those tickets were worth a bomb," she said.

Keith said: "We got sort of sidetracked. Mick got off with this posh bird."

"Mick and posh bird?" she gasped.

"Yeah, difficult to believe ain't it," said Keith.

Angie asked where Mick was.

"Working at the chippie youth," replied Charlie.

"That reminds me, my hubby popped in there at lunchtime."

"And?" said Keith.

"Says there's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis."

© Patrick O’Connor 2009