Chapter 6

As the knocking grew louder, Phil Collins broke away from Alison’s embrace, with a frustrated growl. He picked up his smoking jacket, and strode towards the elevator doors. It was clear from the drum legend’s face that the interruption was as welcome as an off-key backing vocal at a sold-out arena show.

In the distance, thunder rumbled, and a few drops of rain pattered on the glass of the penthouse.

“Who could that be, Phil Collins?” Alison asked timidly, hooking the strap of her dress back over her bare shoulder. “It’s so late. And the rain is so fierce.”

“I can’t understand it,” replied Phil Collins, jabbing at the elevator button. “This mansion is protected by a mile of razorwire fences and quicksand pits. There’s no way anyone can just walk up to the door, without perishing in a bloody mess. ”

“But Phil Collins,” said Alison. But what if a hungry homeless person is passing? I always assumed, from the lyrics to ‘Another Day In Paradise’, that you would welcome them in.”

Phil Collins was silent. The elevator rose into view, and the pair stepped in.

As the doors closed, the multi-platinum adult rocker suddenly leant close to Alison, and before she could gather her thoughts, he was kissing her passionately.

His grey-stubbled face sanded her damask cheeks with a percussive rasp. His body, so taut and muscular for his 61 years, pinned her girlish form to the elevator wall. Wave after wave of desire surged through her, as she grappled with his smoking jacket, inhaling his rich aroma of Old Spice and drumming-induced musk. She felt herself being swept into – to quote the 1986 Genesis hit – a ‘Land of Confusion’.

Suddenly, the iconic sticksman pulled away from her, and looked at her.

“Alison,” he said, “if we are in danger, I want you to have something.” He reached into his smoking jacket and produced a small envelope, sealed with a personalized FROM THE DESK OF PHIL red wax seal.

“This is not to be opened,” whispered Phil Collins, “except in the event of my death.” And with that, he crushed her face into his lustrous chestwig. She sighed and placed the envelope in her cleavage, listening to the beat of Phil Collins’ heart. She half-expected the beat to feature his trademark ‘gated reverb’ effect, but it did not.

As they descended to the grand hallway of the Mansion, a huge thunderclap issued from outside, and the walls were illuminated by a great sheet of lightning. Seizing an antique swordstick from an umbrella stand, Phil Collins strode to the mansion’s great mahogany door, from which the rapping continued.

“Who’s there?” demanded the ‘Sussudio’ hitmaker. There was no reply; but the knocking seemed to speed up, then slow down again, then speed up again. It was as if the knocker had no sense of rhythm whatsoever. It stopped, then started again, erratically.

“I warn you,” shouted Phil Collins, as the thunder struck anew, “I am armed.” And with that, he flung the door open.

A great cloud of rain blew over Alison and Phil Collins, temporarily blinding them. As they squinted against the deluge, they could just make out a short, bearded figure in a souw’ester and gumboots on the doorstep. In one hand, he held a pair of drumsticks.

The figure raised a hand, and removed the sou’wester, shaking out a luxuriant, greying mane, and revealing a distinctive profile, topped with a large pair of prescription dark glasses.

“Hello Phil,” said Ringo Starr, in his drole, instantly-recognisable Liverpudlian tones. “Are you going to ‘Dance Into the Lightning’, or are you going to let me in?”

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