When he was young, in his teens, Ernest learned to strum a guitar. He got the hang of a few chords, just the basics like C and F and A minor. He also sang a little, usually B flat! Anyway, he used to bowl up every Friday night at a local pub when most of the regular drinkers were three sheets to the wind and treat them to his hardly recognisable renditions of the big hits of the day. He strummed and sang and swayed and screwed his face up to show how deeply he was feeling the emotion of the words he was crooning. They always said that he was Ernest by name and Earnest by nature! They always appeared to be enjoying his performances; after all they laughed a lot and even joined in if the song was recognisable. All this apparent adoration gave Ernest the false impression that he was on the way to becoming a major force in the recording industry; one mega break, that’s all he needed. Little did he realise the reason for his popularity.
Thirty years went by and Ernest never did get that break. His performance tended to be in his bedroom, or the garden shed if his wife insisted he stopped making ‘that awful racket’ in the house. His favourite piece to play was Those Were the Days My Friend, his personal anthem. He had a stash of beer in his shed, or studio as he called it, from which he drowned his sorrows. The more he drank the better he seemed to play, or at least that’s how it seemed to him. He felt that he was misunderstood and one day he’d show the world that they had been deprived of his talent for a generation.
Then one boring Sunday night whilst watching a repeat of a repeat of The X Factor he mumbled something under his breath. He’d had an epiphany, a sudden realisation that the perfect way to reach his deserving audience was via Simon Cowell. He looked around the room at his wife and kids and proclaimed that he was going to win the next series of The X Factor. There was a look of amusement on his wife’s face and looks of horror from his teenage daughter and son. Their expressions spelt out like OMG very loudly! What on earth would their friends think if their Dad popped up on the screen; they'd like LOL!
To cut a long, very long story short, he applied to The X Factor the following year and was duly summoned for the auditions. He spent the next few weeks getting himself a new look. Much to his kids embarrassment he now sported spiky balding hair and greyish fuzz on his lower face. When he experimented with wearing his jeans fashionably half way down his back-side, the family said he’d gone one step too far, in fact when he took one step into the street they dropped down around his ankles. He also felt he need a catchier name to go with his new youthful image and he duly re-christened himself Eric; if it was good enough for Mr Clapton it was good enough for him!
The day arrived. He had expected to be standing in front of the judges for his first performance; it hadn’t occurred to him that there would be a preliminary panel whittling down the many thousands to the chosen few. And of course, the selected acts which were to go forward to the TV auditions were chosen as much for their Cringe Factor as their X Factor. Clearly his act went down well, and when he was told that he was to be appearing in front of Simon and Louis and those young ladies from so called girl bands (what did they know about real music?) he assumed that stardom was only a few songs away.
One of the judges (a pretty girl with a Liverpool accent who he knew was once married to millionaire footballer and sang in a band he thought was called No Girls Allowed or something like that) asked him what he was about to entertain them with. Those Were the Days My Friend he muttered. Simon asked him to speak up and he bellowed the title down the microphone causing the assembled thousands to jump off their seats as one! He was a couple of minutes in, and he thought it was going down pretty well; after all the judges were pulling faces at one another and the audience were laughing just as they did all those years ago in the pub. Louis shot his hand up into the air and the backing track fell silent as did Ernest – sorry, Eric! He had expected rapturous applause and to see the judges on their feet clapping their hands in utter amazement. But all was quiet. It was time for Plan B. He had another trick up his sleeve if only they’d let him try it. This time the audience were on his side and they started calling E-ric, E-ric, E-ric. Eric of course didn’t realise that they were more a baying mob than an adoring audience desperate to hear more. Well, he was given a second go, and Plan B turned out to be a more active version of Plan A with Eric attempting frantic dance moves and even failing to perform a hand stand.
Eric – sorry, Ernest didn’t make boot camp, in fact the only boot he got was being booted out of the auditions. His kids asked to go to a different school and his long suffering wife has been shopping online rather than making her weekly trip to the supermarket. But he hasn’t given up. He’s still convinced that he has a talent deep within him which will someday emerge to enthral and entertain the nation if not the world.
Carry OnTuesday prompt is Those Were the Days my Friend
SundayScribblings is Plan B
(Fiction)Friday) is Drown your Sorrows