36. Selling out to musical theatre.


What to drive in London, without looking ostentatious

I really need to expand the EP audience beyond its current sophisticated and beautifully formed readership. Luckily I just had an utterly brilliant idea, that came to me in a dream.

Some ideas are so monumental, they will make the person who dreamed them up instantly famous. Such as genetic fingerprinting, or the Tetrapak, for instance.

Or the four foot eight and a half inch railway gauge and the gummed postage stamp, the two breakthrough concepts that made the British Empire so large and pink.

I just had such a brainwave, and I am writing it down as quickly as my trembling fingers will allow.

It’s an idea for a film / musical stage hit, starring singing superstar James Blunt. Readers will know that writing a hit musical is hitting the literary jackpot. Even Ben Elton sold out all his credentials, of every kind, to create the Queen and Rod Stewart musicals that everyone seems to hate, apart from the millions of people who pay huge amounts of money to see them.

Remember that James was a tank commander in a former career. This is the key to it, its an action thriller, but with music, and romance. It starts with James, looking the worse for wear, in his designer Mayfair pad, strumming a few chords miserably, looking for inspiration. There is a pile of unpaid bills on his kitchen table. The landlord calls in to remind James the rent is overdue.

His agent rings to say his Blackpool and Skegness gigs have had to be cancelled due to lack of ticket sales. Finally the agent says, wistfully, ‘ we just need another ‘You’re Beautiful’ James. That’ll get you back’.

Enter a man from the ministry of defence, or that’s what he says. Lets just call him The Colonel. James doesn’t want to let him in. Cue flashback memories of the Balkans, with helicopter effects.

‘We’ve got a proposition for you James’, says the colonel, ‘but you may not like it. The truth is we need you back’.

It turns out that the mission involves James’ former tank squadron, but this time behind enemy lines in North Korea, or possibly Iran, like Argo. It’s a mixture of concerts, spying and technical sabotage.

Initially James refuses, until the Colonel threatens to destroy Atlantic Records, and in the explosion, all trace of Moon Landing, the forthcoming album. Plus a sweetener: ‘you get your old tank back, the Challenger Two. This time to keep’.

James stares at the Colonel for a long moment. ‘I want cup holders this time though. And a proper stereo’.

The mission goes wrong half way through when James insists on rescuing a beautiful spy – played by Miley Cyrus – from a hellhole prison military base, during a concert interval, escaping in a top secret stealth tank, like Clint Eastwood in Firefox.

OK, I’m not giving any more of it away now. You can guess the title and closing musical number. I’ll just wait for the phone to ring itself off the hook, as we writers say.

The message here is when you wake up with a brilliant idea, write it down straight away but don’t tell your psychotherapist. He’ll try and steal it.