“Is it £1.27 Bob?”
“Nah Tony. Oy’ve been saving up a bit more than that.”, he looked at Tracey, “Tell me Tony, are you married? Only we’ve got a cracking lass in here called Tracey.”
“‘fraid to say I am Bob. Thirty years this year. “
Bob looked impressed, “Thirty year eh Tony? You get less for murder! Tell you what though, shall we ask young Tracey here if she can guess what I’ve got in my pocket?”
“Go on then Bob. Tell her she can’t put her hand in to rummage around though”
Bob shook the bag again. “Go on then young Tracey, what have I got in my pocket?”
Tracey looked confused, “erm, I don’t know. Fifty quid perhaps?”
“Fifty quid! Did you hear that Tony? She thinks I’ve got fifty quid in me pocket!”
Down the line, Tony laughed, “Blimey Bob. If you’d got fifty quid in your pocket, you’d be living in Marbella. I paid less than that for my first car!”
Bob continued, “Too right Tony. Fifty quid! I think I’m going to have to count me pennies again. Thanks for calling.” and with a push of a button, Tony was gone. By now, several lights shone out and Bob picked another caller. “You’re on Bob’s mid-morning show. What’s your name and why are you hanging around listening to me clarting about on the radio?”
“Hello Bob, I’m Joyce and I work in a hairdressers. We love listening you you in the salon as we work. “
“Good to hear from you Joyce. Perhaps I could get you to come around and give me a quick blow dry”, he patted his bald head, “I could do with a little trim.”
“Cheeky”, the caller chuckled, “You’re as bald as a babby. I wouldn’t be cutting your hair, I’d be looking for it!”
“You’re right Joyce. It’s a finders fee I’d be paying you.”, he jangled the bag, “Anyway, how much do you think I’ve got in me pocket? Young Tracey here thinks fifty quid, but I’m not that rich.”
“Oh, that’s a difficult one Bob. The girls in the salon reckon it’s £3.28.”
“Is that how much you charge for a haircut now? I can’t remember, it’s so long since I needed one.”
“Nah, you’d need to save up a bit more than that Bob.”
“Perhaps I ought to ask this young lass. She’s got really nice hair, and loads of it. Plenty to spare for me and the Genie.”
“Don’t think you’d look good as a redhead Bob.”
Bob pulled a face of mock horror, “You don’t think so? Maybe red is my colour. Anyway, I’m afraid to keep putting the pennies by. I’ve not got as much as £3.28.”
“Awww. That’s a shame.”
“Never mid love. Perhaps you need to get along to the panto. Take all the girls from work too.”
“Nah. Don’t fancy it much. I heard your new mate hasn’t actually done this before. Someone told me she nicked the part from some other actress…”. With the practised speed of someone used to cutting off a troublesome caller, Bob took Joyce off the air and replaced her with a record.
While the music played, He turned to the pair. “Sorry about that. We’ll get back to your panto again after this track. Have you got any tricks you could do on-air Sparks?”
Sparks smiled at Tracey. “I think I can come up with something.”*
“And we’re back with Tracey and Sparks from the Leighton Oxley panto, which I’m told is Ali Baba this year.”
Tracey paused so Sparks jumped in. “That’s right Bob. Loads of festive fun for all the family. We’ve got a great cast, including my co-star here.”
“Ah yes”, Bob smiled, “The beautiful Tracey. How are you finding it our kid?”
“Erm”, Tracey hesitated, “Well it’s my first part, but I’m really getting into it. The rest of the cast are brilliant.”
“She’s too modest. Tracey is a real star. We’ve got all sorts of magical stuff lined up, it’s a real spectacular this year, the biggest show the Midlands has ever seen.”
Bob pulled a surprised face. “The biggest eh Mr Sparks? I bet the guys in the Hypodrome will want to have something to say about that.”
“Let them Bob. This is a top show, you’ll not see better magic this side of Vegas”
“Vegas baby!”, Bob cried. “Go on then”, he continued, “show us some of that ol’ black magic”
“Not sure it’s black magic Bob, but give your pocket another jingle.
Bob obliged, holding the bag up and giving it a good shake. The sound was flatter than before. “Now take a look inside. I think you’ll find that when Tracey guessed at fifty quid in there, she wasn’t so far out.”. Bob emptied the contents out on the desk. Among them was a casino chip.
“Blimey, what’s this?” he asked, surprised.”
Sparks smiled. “I think you’ll find that it’s £2.25 in small change and a chip for, well perhaps my assistant would like to read the number.”
Tracey picked up the chip. “It’s a chip worth fifty pounds! She squealed.
Bob applauded. “I don’t know how he did it listeners, but Sparks here has just made me a wealthy man. Me and the missus can look forward to some stonking fittle for tea tonight. If you can do that, then lad, you are a real miracle worker. Are you sure you can’t get West Brom promoted?”
Tracey suddenly remembered her marketing head and jumped in. “Well, that’s small fry compared to what we do on stage. Everyone better get themselves down to the theatre or on to our website as the tickets are selling fast.
“Excellent. Thanks you two. Please stick around as we’ve a couple of big names on the show next, Baggies stars Freddie Morgan and Nathan Donnelly who want to tell us about next Saturday’s big game against Wolves.”
The red light indicating the microphones were live went off and Bob started to fiddle with the control board again. Tracey paused.
Sparks smiled at her and whispered, “So far so good. Do you know anything about football?”
“Not much, but those names sound familiar. I met a couple of guys in a club last year who said they were players, but I didn’t think much of it at the time.”
“You in training to be a WAG then?”
Tracey laughed, “Well a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. I always fancied living the high life in some posh mansion with an endless shopping budget.”
“And we’re back on”, Bob shouted across the desk, “That was The Liquidator, which as we all know, can only mean one thing – here come the Baggies!”. Fake cheering rang out. “We’ve got two of the teams biggest stars on now. Striker Freddie Morgan and in mid-field Nathan Donnelly, howya doing lads?”
“Bostin’ Bob, really bostin’”, shouted Morgan, “We’re looking forward to seeing off the Wolves on Saturday.”
“Yeah”, joined in Donnelly, “They ain’t going to know what hit them. Don’t bother turning off the engine on the club bus, they might as well go home at halftime!”
Bob laughed. “Great stuff lads. Training going well then Freddie?”
“Cracking Bob. We’re as fit as we’ve ever been. This is the best team West Brom have put out for years and there ain’t no-one going to stand in our way. Might as well give us the three points now.”
“What about you Nat? You fighting fit?”
“Too right I am Bob. Not that we’ll need it. We could let half the lads stay in the dressing room and we’d still win.”
“That’s what we like to hear lads. If there’s any listeners out there wearing black and gold, you better book yourself a seat in the pub to drown your sorrows after the match.”
Tracey laughed nervously. The phone lines weren’t great but she was sure she recognised the voices now. Noticing her blushing, Bob decided it was time for an introduction.
“Lads, we’ve got a bit of showbiz in the studio today. We were supposed to have that Suzi Perry on but apparently her phone isn’t working properly. Typical Wolves fan, can’t get anything right. Not to worry though as we’ve got Tracey and Sparks from the local panto.”
“Oh no you haven’t” joked Nat.
Without thinking, Tracey responded, “Oh yes we have lads.”
“Ohhh” they both went and laughed.
Ignoring Tracey’s blushes, Bob added, “Yes lads, she’s a bit of a glamour puss. Once you see her picture, you’ll wish you’d got yourselves into the studio with me.”
“That sounds good Bob”, replied Nat, “You gonna be coming to the match then Tracey? You can see some real action on the pitch, plenty of scoring if you know what I mean.”
“Sorry lads, I’ve got to rehearse. We don’t get much time off at the moment.”
“Pity about that. Maybe we could take you out for a drink afterwards. A girl’s got to let her hair down sometimes and we’ll be celebrating when we win.”
“Maybe, but I’m a busy lady at the moment.”
“Hold on Nat”, Morgan said, “I think I recognise her voice.”
“I was thinking that. Tracey have we met somewhere?”
Now bright red, Tracey stammered, “I don’t think so. I’m not a big footie fan.”
“Yes we have. It’s posh Tracey. You remember Nat, we met her in Mussons last year.”
Nat paused and then the penny dropped, “Your right. Wow, posh Tracey. What did you do? You said you ran some sort of consultancy firm, didn’t you? And now you’re an actress? Well done love.”
“I’m not really an actress, well I am, but this is all a bit new to me.”
Nat laughed. “If I remember rightly, you put on a pretty good performance all right. Really memorable, I certainly won’t forget it!”
Bob jumped in, “You all know each other. That’s brilliant! So you have been wining and dining our Tracey have you lads?”
Morgan laughed, “Oh yeah. She enjoyed a good spit roast.”
Bob sat back. This was going better than he expected. “She likes a good feed ay lads? I’ll admit I’m a bit partial to a good hog roast and a few bevies myself, nothing like a good bit of pork you know.”
Tracey sat open mouthed.
“Not sure you’d like the same porking as Tracey. She prefers hers sausage-shaped and the longer the better.”
Outside the studio, Producer Ben was gesticulating furiously but Bob didn’t seem to see him. “Bit of a fan of the bratwurst Tracey? I love a bit at the old German Christmas market. A bit of spice and some mulled wine goes down a treat.”
“She certainly a spicey lady. Gives as good as she gets too”, chuckled Morgan.
Nat added, “If you fancy a return leg Tracey, Bob’s got our number.”
The producer was hammering on the window and making cutting gestures at his throat. Sparks realised that Bob wasn’t going to rescue the situation and decided to take matters into his own hands. From nowhere, he makes a small explosion appear above his open hand. Startled, Bob instinctively presses a button to start a record. By the time the track finished, his producer had cut the lines to the footballers.
Still unsure what has been going on Bob picks up the show, “Well listeners, today has been full of surprises. We’ve had magic and memories with our guests today. Remind the folks at home where they can see you on stage.”
Smiling, Sparks efficiently read out all the panto details including how people could book to see the show. Tracey appeared lost for words.