As Alison and Ringo Starr rounded a corner on the grand staircase, the ex-moptop paused and gazed thoughtfully through a giant stained-glass window, which depicted Phil Collins in a mocked-up Passion of the Christ. From under a crown of thorns, the 80s legend’s eyes seemed to gaze down at the couple accusingly.
A shiver ran through Alison’s lissom body. Outside, the deluge continued, thundering on Lake Geneva with a force to rival the groundbreaking drumming on ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’.
“Not a night to be outside, eh?” said Ringo Starr, lighting a mahogany pipe and stroking his beard as if pondering a complex equation.
“No!” breathed Alison. “But this begs the question – Ringo Starr, what were you doing out in this dreadful weather? Why are you in Switzerland? And where is your second wife, former Bond Girl Barbara Bach?”
“She’s safely out of the way,” said the Yellow Submarine legend, lifting his shades to reveal a meaningful glint in his eye. ‘She is staying with a friend of ours in London – the features editor Laura Snoad.”*
“Laura Snoad? Doesn’t she work at Grand Designs magazine?” asked Alison, her heart fluttering in her chest like a dove in a cage. “I have loved that magazine ever since I was a child.”
“I have a few ‘Grand Designs’ in mind myself,” replied Ringo Starr teasingly. “Now, weren’t you going to help me out of these wet clothes?”
“Of course,” murmured Alison. “We must find the Peter Gabriel Suite.”
But as Ringo Starr ascended the velvet-carpeted stairs ahead of her, her eye fell on an antique pistol, mounted on the wall. Without breaking her stride, Alison seized the pistol and secreted it in her handbag.
As they entered the opulent suite, Alison had little time to think about the sometimes-fractious relationship between its namesake and her famous host; for no sooner had the door swung shut, than Ringo Starr was at her side.
His damp jacket had fallen to the floor, and his ruffled-lace shirt front was unbuttoned to the waist, exposing a mat of dark curly hair that put Phil Collins’ to shame. The effect was a long way from the lovable, boyish moptop who had graced the cover of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. As he stood before her, Ringo Starr seemed like Lord Byron – with a more illustrious drumming CV.
“Have you ever experienced a higher consciousness?” asked Ringo Starr, proffering his mahogany pipe to her.
“Oh my!” breathed Alison, her green eyes wide. “Ringo Starr, are those drugs? It seems wrong for us to ‘smoke up’ on Phil Collins’ property.”
“Oh come on,” murmured the ex-Beatle, teasing his finger under Alison’s chin. “In the sixties we would do this before making love.”
“But Phil Collins is notable amongst rock royalty for being anti-drugs,” continued Alison, inclining her pretty head away from Ringo Starr’s stubby fingers. “Particularly since his nephew, Phil Austin Collins, was busted with a mammoth haul of coke in Peru in March 2012.”
“Oh, Phil Collins be damned!” roared Ringo Starr, suddenly, dashing his pipe to the floor. It shattered, sounding like a ride cymbal kicked over by a furious bassist. “I despise that balding cretin.”
Alison gasped, and edged away from the purple-faced ex-Fab. “Ringo Starr,” she whispered, “How can you say such unkind things?”
Ringo Starr grasped Alison’s wrist and pulled her close to him. He lowered his face close to hers. “Ever since the late 70’s, that prog-rock buffoon has been the bane of my existence,” he hissed. “Everything I wanted, he got. While I blundered through the 80s in a drunken haze, everything he touched turned to gold.”
“But…but…” stammered Alison, “if you hate Phil Collins so much, why would you travel to this remote corner of Switzerland to see him? Are Ringo’s All Stars playing in Geneva?”
“No, Alison,” said Ringo Starr. “I have come for revenge. I have to come to take something of his, just as he has taken.” And with those words, he grabbed Alison by the shoulders, and threw her onto a nearby chaise-longue, decorated with a souvenir Lamb Lies Down on Broadway throw. As Alison floundered to regain her balance, she heard the zip on Ringo Starr’s velvet pantaloons.
“Ringo Starr!” she cried, her bosom heaving. “I cannot permit this.”
“Silence, you hussy,” said Ringo Starr, with an evil laugh. “You’re about to feel a touch that’s anything but invisible.”
The tapestried walls of the Peter Gabriel suite seemed to swim before Alison’s eyes as Ringo Starr advanced upon her. “Phil Collins! Help me!” she cried. Where was the ‘Sussudio’ hitmaker, she pondered, when she needed him most?