The Bus to Stardom (Almost)

An approaching double decked bus on a street — destination Stardom via hard work
thar she blows

Back in the heyday of punk rock I had aspirations of being in a band, churning out high-powered tunes with lyrics that reflected the negativity of the genre. The only snag in this plan was the fact that I have no talent for playing any musical instrument and my singing voice is pretty useless, even for a punk band. I faced up to this reality and set about earning an honest crust working in a local factory.

Good fortune did shine on me one day though while out shopping, when I came across a possible chance to fulfil my dream. A poster outside a community centre in my home town advertised an audition that was taking place between noon and 3.00 pm that very day. The Fusspots, no less, were about to embark on a nationwide tour and they were seeking to achieve a fuller sound with the addition of a small orchestra. The Fusspots were a rather particular new wave band from Newcastle who’d had a couple of minor hits with Finicky in the UK and Generation Exacting. I scanned the list of instruments I couldn’t play, wishing now that I’d taken my dad up on his offer to send me to violin lessons as a kid. Just as I was about to leave, however, one word at the bottom of the list caught my eye.

Triangle

Now I did have some experience of playing this instrument at infant school and, as far as I remember, I made a pretty good job of it. I mulled the prospect over in my mind. How hard could it be to play the triangle? Surely it must be the easiest instrument in the world after the paper and comb.

I checked my watch. I had an hour and a half to come up with a triangle and get back to the community centre for the audition. I knew of a musical instrument shop in a nearby town, so I hopped on a bus and set about realising my dream. How cool it would be, I thought, to be a member of The Fusspots, tousle haired and dressed in a black shirt with a slogan daubed on it. I pictured myself standing alongside the others on the cover of their next album, proudly holding my triangle.

I went into the shop and came back out ten minutes later and twelve quid poorer, but what price stardom? I had 40 minutes to get back to the community centre; cutting it fine, but I had every confidence that I’d make it.

I sat upstairs at the back of the bus and took my new purchase out of the box and I immediately fell in love with it. The wonderful reflective shine had become dulled with my sweaty fingerprints so I wiped it clean with my handkerchief and I decided to get a bit of practice in right there on the bus. I hit it, gingerly at first but then as my confidence grew I managed to make it ring out perfectly.

“This is a doddle!” I said aloud as I let each strike resonate to silence before hitting it again. I couldn’t wait to play my new instrument at the audition.

While I was completely engrossed in my playing, what I didn’t realise was that every time I struck the damn thing the bus stopped. I finally got to the community centre at twenty past three. The doors were locked, the shutters were down and the audition was over.

Another dream shattered.

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Joseph Yossarian

Joseph Yossarian

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Freelance writer and blogger from the north-east coast of England, specialising in true crime, childhood memories and whatever takes my fancy.