Chapter 10

It came as no surprise to Alison: Phil Collins’ garage was stunning.

As befits a man who famously flew on Concorde between London and Philadelphia for Live Aid, the vast echoing space was a shrine to luxury transportation.

Everywhere you looked, the legendary sticksman’s immaculate taste – and canny tax arrangements – were in evidence. Rows of gleaming sports cars. Motorcycles that crouched like metal tigers. A Cessna plane, bearing the words IN THE AIR TONIGHT on its golden fuselage.

Alison ran an admiring hand over the bonnet of a glittering purple Aston Martin. She noticed, with a shudder of pleasure, the words PHIL COLLINS emblazoned on the windscreen over the driver’s seat.

For a second, she shut her eyes and let herself imagine her own name, lovingly spelt out in pink Brush Script MT on the passenger side. An impossible fantasy, she knew.

And yet – what had passed between her and the Buster star in the Peter Gabriel Suite, seemed more than a moment of idle lust. Casting her eyes towards the sometime Genesis sticksman, she swore that he seemed ten years younger than the man she had met while dusting fax machines.

His eyes seemed brighter, his movements keener; she would have hardly been surprised if he were to suddenly sprout a head of hair, like the magnificent one featured in the video for ‘In The Air Tonight’.

She was startled from her reverie by the gruff, assertive tones of Phil Collins.

“Come on,” said the Face Value megastar, rattling a large set of keys impatiently. “There’s no time for fannying about. We must leave before Ringo Starr wakes again.” A distant clap of thunder sounded outside.“What about Abu, the Monkey Butler?”

There was a roar of engine noise, and a chattering sound. Alison turned and saw Phil Collins’ simian manservant. He was seated at the wheel of the largest tour bus Alison had ever seen. Its tinted windows twinkled, hinting at the bacchanalian delights they doubtless concealed.

As Phil Collins stowed their luggage, Alison noticed that the bus’s flank was covered with a vast recreation of the artwork for her famous paramour’s sophomore effort Hello, I Must Be Going. Phil Collins’ youthful profile, rendered in ten-foot high photo-realistic detail, gazed into the distance, lost in the promise of the road.

“It seemed appropriate at the time,” laughed Phil Collins, resting a hand on her girlish posterior and surveying the bus with a proprietary satisfaction.

“After all, those were the words I’d leave the ladies with, when I was on tour. After we’d had our fun, I’d drop them outside the bus with a goodie bag: a used pair of drumsticks, a sandwich, and enough money for the cab ride home.”

“It sounds like you were quite the ‘Easy Lover’ in those days, Phil Collins,” said Alison boldly, a coquettish smile playing round her full lips, as she realized she had not alluded to this particular Phil Collins classic until now.

“Number 5 in Finland, that song,” replied Phil Collins, a faraway look in his soulful blue eyes. “And used as the theme music at the inaugural Wrestlemania in 1985.

‘But there’s no time for this now,” he added, his expression hardening. “Get into the bus.”

The engine roared, and Abu’s hairy hand pushed a button on the bus’s winking dashboard. The garage’s vast door eased up, and before Alison had time to draw breath, they were flying into the dark, stormy Swiss night. She turned and gazed longingly at the receding lights of Phil Collins’ mansion.

Phil Collins had settled himself on a red satin bucket seat next to Abu, and was flicking anxiously through the glove compartment. Over his muscular shoulder, Alison glimpsed some of the contents: a tin of travel sweets, a copy of Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman, and a ‘400 Greatest Drum Solos’ CD. Her breath quickened at the thought of the incredible percussion work it must contain.

“Luv a duck,” muttered the ‘Sussudio’ hitmaker. “It’s not here.”

“What is it?” whispered Alison, moonlight playing across her alabaster skin. “Have you lost a map, Phil Collins? Are we driving into the mountains of Switzerland during a violent storm with no means of navigation?”

“Don’t you worry about that treacle,” muttered Phil Collins. “Abu knows these roads like the back of his hand. No, I’m looking for Robert Plant’s first solo album, ‘Pictures at Eleven’.”

“Isn’t that one of the ones that features you ‘behind the kit’ on several numbers?” gasped Alison with delight.

Phil Collins grunted with satisfaction as he located the CD in question. Sliding it into the CD player, the 80s rocker cranked the volume and flicked to track 2. The bus’s velveteen interior was filled with the sound of sonorous, eastern-tinged guitars and loose-limbed, tasteful drumming.  It was superb.

“Midnight in Samosa”, said Phil Collins. “Surely one of Planty’s greatest solo tracks. Nothing to do with the Indian pastry snack of the same name.”

Suddenly, he rose from the bucket seat and pulled Alison close to him. The smell of his manly, drummer’s perspiration mingled with the well-travelled aroma of the tourbus to dynamic effect. Alison could feel her desire pulsing with an intensity to rival the most ferocious drum solo. She realized that Phil Collins was still clad in nothing but the souvenir Genesis throw rug from the Peter Gabriel Suite.

“Phil Collins,” she murmured, her voice muted by the percussion superstar’s luxuriant chestwig, “Keep me safe. Though there is much you have not told me, I feel that there are sinister forces at play in these mountains. Can we really be safe?”

“Don’t you worry, Treacle,” said Phil Collins, stroking her hair with the same strong hands that once provided the propulsive backbeat to ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’. “I think it’s time I did some explaining. How about we retire to the back of the bus and relax with one of my 12-inchers?” he added with a cheeky wink that betrayed his humble cockney origins.

He led her by the hand down the bus’s expansive gangway. So enraptured were they by each other, that neither Alison nor the talented multi-instrumentalist were to notice a pair of eyes that glowed from the darkness of the overhead luggage rack, and followed their every move…

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