I published my new book, As Easy As A Nuclear War, a collection of short stories inspired by Duran Duran song titles, at the beginning of June 2015. Included in the collection is a story, Hold Back The Rain, which contains a reference to the legendary Irish singer, Val Doonican.
I have a lot of great memories of watching Val on TV when I was younger, and I love a lot of his songs – I even used to sing Walk Tall at parties, but stopped after I kept forgetting the words when I had too much to drink! So I was saddened to hear of his passing on July 1 at the age of 88. His daughter, Sarah, said: ‘It was just old age, I’m afraid – the batteries ran out.’
Here is my short story, Hold Back The Rain, for your enjoyment. I’m away to learn some Val Doonican songs all over again.
HOLD BACK THE RAIN
I saw Andy Taylor walking into my local supermarket the other day. I don’t want to tell you which one because I don’t like to give the bastards any free publicity, and if I said where it was they’d chase me next time I turned up there with my guitar and started playing outside, because they’re bastards.
I was in the middle of a song, I Will Always Love You – the Dolly Parton original, obviously, not that woeful Whitney Houston version – when I saw him walking across the car park. For a moment I was almost distracted enough to forget what I was singing, but I managed to keep it together so that no-one noticed. The words kept coming out of my mouth in time to the music, but in my head I kept hearing, ‘Fuckin’ hell. There’s Andy Taylor, the former lead guitarist with 1980s pop band, Duran Duran.’ I cut the song short as he reached the front door.
“Andy! Andy!” I shouted but he either didn’t hear me or he ignored me as he disappeared inside the shop. I hoped it was the former because I hate it when famous people are like that, acting all big-headed and ignoring you just because they’re rich and you’re busking out in the cold while a wee drunk woman dances in front of you in time to a different beat.
Carol Vorderman totally blanked me once, even when I told her I preferred her on Countdown to Rachel Riley. That’s not true, though Carol wasn’t to know that.
I decided to have a rest and wait until Andy came back out of the shop, so I sat down on the speaker and rested the guitar on my lap. I had a Star Bar in my pocket which seemed quite appropriate, and I nibbled it because it would be a while before I ate again.
When I saw Andy I was going to tell him that he was the reason that I started playing guitar. Famous people like it when you pander to their ego. That wasn’t true either. It was really Val Doonican.
I saw him on the telly when I was only about six. He was playing the guitar and singing – I don’t remember the song – but it sounded amazing and I decided right there and then that that’s what I wanted to do. It’s unlikely I’ll ever see Val around here to tell him, though. I don’t even know if he’s still alive, but if I did see him, I’d tell him that Paddy McGinty’s Goat is one of the greatest songs ever written, and I wouldn’t be making that up.
After about twenty minutes, Andy Taylor reappeared clutching a carrier bag. I couldn’t make out everything that was in it, but a big plastic bottle of Irn Bru was sticking out the top.
“Andy!” I shouted, standing up. “Andy mate. You’re a legend.”
He was coming towards me but still he didn’t smile or nod or even acknowledge me.
I started playing Hold Back The Rain and singing. He glanced briefly in my direction but kept walking.
“Andy Taylor?” I said, stepping out in front of him.
“Sorry pal, you must have the wrong guy.”
“You’re not Andy Taylor?”
“From Duran Duran?”
“You’re a dead ringer for him.”
He walked round me and headed back towards his car. I followed him and noticed that he got into a black Corsa. It wasn’t really a rock star’s car, but it might have been his wife’s. I could have sworn it was definitely him, though when I thought about it later, I remembered that the band were English and my Andy Taylor definitely had a Glasgow accent.
Hold Back The Rain is taken from my new book, As Easy As A Nuclear War, a collection of short stories inspired by Duran Duran song titles. It’s out now and available HERE