Dipping Your Wick by Phil 'Boz' Evans
The student rugby player looked around nervously.
He was regretting his bet with his mates already.
Manfred Quinn had never told anyone but he was frightened of the dark.
It was one of the more common phobias that humans suffered from and dated back to the dawn of mankind and the dulling of man’s principal defence of the sense of sight making them more susceptible to attack from a predator.
Standing on a plinth in Madame Tussaud’s wax museum in Baker Street, London, he felt like a fish out of water, but knew that his beloved facial hair would suffer if he did not complete his ‘Mission Impossible’.
He was regretting his boast that he could get a photograph of him kissing Pop Star Taylor Swift without being taking to Court for stalking or accused of being a groper.
The budding Disc Jockey was 48 hours ago sat in his shared student house in Merthyr Tydfil, with a can of Stella Artois in his hand, when a picture of his Pop Idol had appeared on the news.
From his Walter Mitty World existence, he had boasted that he could kiss the American Beauty and get a selfie photograph to prove it.
Unfortunately, two of his fellow students had called ‘Eyebrows’ on him.
Manfred knew that he had walked into a huge elephant trap and was now subject to a student game he himself had invented.
If a fellow student or rugby teammate called ‘Eyebrows’, then the person making the boast had a week to fulfil the promised act or they lost one or both of their eyebrows as a forfeit.
Manfred had taken great delight in the past getting his razor out, when his housemate ‘Haribo’ had failed to live up to his promise of not urinating until completing the ‘Golf Tour’ of Dowlais.
18 pints in 18 separate pubs without visiting the little boys room, was pretty much an impossible task, even for someone with the build of King Kong. Poor old Haribo to his credit had managed 12 pubs before being admitted to the Queen Camilla Hospital with a damaged liver and kidneys and one totally ruined pair of blue suede shoes later, after keeling over in the Morlais Tavern.
Manfred and his mates had taken pity on him by letting him come around from the operation anaesthetic before taking his right eyebrow off.
His other mate Sloth, named after the good-looking guy from the children’s film ‘The Goonies’ had been much more fortunate in that he had ‘forfeited’ his pre-pubescent ‘bum-fluff’ moustache for not completing his naked stand-up car- surf on the Domino’s Pizza delivery car, understandably bailing out just before he hit the overhead bridge, near the Ffynon-Dwn Spring in Pontsticill, and lost not just his eyebrows but his head too.
Otherwise he would have ‘topped’ it.
Despite his protestations to the Rugby Committee that his moustache was NOT an eyebrow- it was concluded that it was ‘an eyebrow that had come down for a drink’ and therefore was fair game.
Manfred knew that if he had not completed his boast of a swiftie with Swifty to the letter, then he was not likely to get any mercy from his team-mates.
His problem was that the Jet-setting singer was based in the USA and not likely to randomly appear in Merthyr Tydfil, nor London without warning.
His plea on her Twitter page had failed spectacularly and he was now being trolled by each member of the Kardashians for his ‘favouriting’ every tweet she sent out.
But like the Tony Robinson character Baldrick, he had come up with a cunning plan to preserve his follicles.
He had caught the £1.00 Megabus to the Smoke, in the hope that Madame Tussaud’s was likely to be open for the shot of her waxen doppelganger.
He knew his mates would rumble any ‘photoshop’ image he produced, so he had to catch the waxwork at the right time and not surrounded by 15 Japanese tourists with Nikons flashing.
He had just made it inside the door with 20 minutes to spare before closing time.
He knew he had to find the right figure to hide behind – that was outside any alarmed section and was tall enough to conceal him from the security staff.
He knew Lester Piggott and Frankie Dettori were non- starters – as was Ronnie Corbett and Peter Dinklage from Game of Thrones.
‘Think man!’ he muttered, until he caught sight of the frightening figure of Dracula played by Christopher Lee which unnerved him in the dim, subdued lighting of the museum.
His fear of the dark was once again coming to the fore.
He couldn’t help but think of the ghoulish way that the original Madame Tussaud had come up with the idea of a waxworks in the first place by preparing ‘death masks’ of the high and mighty that had been served up to ‘Madam Guillotine’ in the 1789 French Revolution.
The phrase ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’ should have included ‘Eternity’ too – as her methods had helped preserve many celebrities well beyond their original shelf- life and provoked two questions he wanted to find out the answers to:-
What did they do with the models after they lost their appeal?
And did they have enough wax left available to capture ALL of Bruce Forsythe’s chin?
He had read somewhere that the models were actual life-size, with the celebrities having to pose for hours so that the sculpting staff at the human equivalent of Yankee candle could get the depictions accurate.
Mannie stood as still as possible, as he waited for the last of the day staff to leave and the night security shift to take over.
He knew instinctively that most security guards were elderly with poor eyesight and wouldn’t exactly check behind any exhibitions for ‘stowaways’.
His mind went back to the process of the destruction of the dummies- he assumed that they would end up like the Terminator in the film of the same name being melted down into a vat of molten liquid once they had passed their sell-buy date.
Whereas Bruce Forsythe would be one figure that would never been retired.
He looked around him and in the half-light could make out shapes and figures from all walks of celebrity life, sportsmen, politicians, television presenters and of course film stars.
It was in effect an upright version of the famous Los Angeles Walk of Fame outside the Chinese Grauman Theatre.
It was in essence the perfect place to snatch a Celebrity selfie.
Now Mannie knew he had plenty of time -as the museum didn’t open until 9am the following morning so he had around 8 hours to play with before he could leave his self-imposed prison for the night.
He knew he had to be careful if he opened or closed any doors, as there was likely to be an alarm on the top- silent or otherwise -and he didn’t want to be thrown out until he had the photograph he had come for.
His plan was that if he was caught he would to pretend that he had fallen asleep in the subdued lighting and had been sleep-walking.
Many a student had used that lame excuse to confuse a Dean or two of a University- who being fellow intellectuals, accepted without question the role of the unconscious mind and got off being expelled from campus.
As he passed through the sporting section, he was astounded to see the size of the fastest man ever on Planet Earth and tried to measure the stride he took.
Usain Bolt or Lightening to his friends was massive in all areas.
He was very surprised that he had chosen to be a sprinter rather than a Pole Vaulter.
If anyone could see him – he thought- he looked like John Cleese doing a Basil Fawlty impression on one of his Ministry of Silly Walks.
No wonder no-one could catch him- just his hamstrings alone were bigger than Mannie’s biceps.
In complete contrast next to him, stood the tiny figure of Mo Farrah- hardly a bag of Quorn in comparison to the full meat package.
Further along, in a riding position, was the tiny figure of the jockey Lester Piggott, who was famous being deaf and for filling his saddle bags with cash and riding off into the sunset away from the tax man.
Across from the winner’s enclosure, Mannie could make out another famous figure who wasn’t fond of the Inland Revenue.
That was the buck-toothed figure of Liverpool comedian Ken Dodd, who was flanked by two of his Diddy-men shrunken helpers from the tax haven of Knotty Ash.
Diddy Pay and Diddy F***.
It always amazed Mannie how Student Finance would send him a stinking letter when he owed 50p but the likes of famous faces got away with owing the Tax Man hundreds of thousand by ‘declaring’ temporary amnesia about Swiss Bank Accounts or the fact that their mattresses were filled with cash.
He suspected that in Doddy’s case it too wasn’t the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth.
As he strolled through the shadowy wax figures, he suddenly let out a chuckle in that Twitter troll Katie Hopkins had been placed next to both Adolph Hitler & Genghis Khan.
He wondered if they would have objected had they been alive.
Next came the politicians and World Leaders and of course the area contained likenesses of USA President Donald Trump and Former London Zoo inmate Boris De Pfeffel Johnson both with matching natural hair and tiny hands.
This set Mannie to thinking.
If these were scale models then Trump would have to use BOTH of his hands to push the red button on the nuclear switch to obliterate North Korea.
He groped his arse as he passed – to see how he liked it.
How in their right mind had people in a democratic society voted these two buffoons in?- unless of course it was the revenge of the Boaty McBoatface crew.
He moved on and could see the legendary figures of Elvis Presley & Michael Jackson in the distance and realised his search for the Pop Pixee wasn’t too far from its finish.
Presley had been dead for over forty years but was still as popular now as he ever was.
Would the same status be afforded to the likes of last year’s winner of the X- Factor or Britain’s Got Talent he wondered?
He assumed that the waxen figures of the likes of Gareth Gates and Alexandra Burke wouldn’t have the same shelf-life as their Andy Warhol fifteen minutes of fame had run its course.
No-one even wanted them to open supermarkets or turn on Christmas lights anymore.
Mannie wondered how celebrities REALLY felt when their waxen ‘golem’ was removed from display and headed for oblivion.
He wondered what the back catalogue was like in the stores and did they ever sell off the exhibits to places like Las Vegas or Los Angeles.
Given the excessive vanity of the Hollywood jet set and their constant fear of aging and looking over their shoulder for the time their star dimmed or the next big thing destined to grab the six-figure roles their Agent demanded- must have made them both shallow and insecure.
The other thing that puzzled Mannie about the cult of celebrity, was why stunning singers and actresses felt the need to enhance their appearance with plastic surgery.
Why would ‘beautiful’ singers like Christina Aguilera have botox or add trout-pout or baboons arse monkey lips to their faces?
Who on Earth would believe this modern- day fiction and enact a version of the Hans Christian Anderson tale of the ‘Emperors New Clothes’.
As he passed the waxen shapes of Britney Spears and Shania Twain, he suddenly had a sense of his own mortality.
Time waits for no man except of course Sir Elton John who was proudly declaring ‘I’m still standing’.
And then he spotted her.
The object of his quest.
The American Country and Western singer Taylor Swift.
The finished article was ever better than he could have imagined.
At the height of her beauty, cast in wax at the prime of her life with no acne or blemish -standing there like the Goddess Venus herself.
A spotlight shone brightly on her craven image and Mannie marvelled that some staff member at Madame Tussaud’s had created a masterpiece.
It could not be more lifelike if it tried.
He was in awe – half expecting the figure to move or speak or even sing into the microphone that she held so delicately in her delicate Trump-like hands.
Her lipstick in a shade known as ‘Regent Street Red’ was in perfect contrast to her pink face- he had never seen such a visage up this close – not that is since he was banned from his local Tesco 24 hour store for stalking the girl on the delicatessen counter.
He reached into his pocket for his camera-phone but the artist he had put on a pedestal was literally on a pedestal.
He looked around for a chair to stand on but there was nothing around.
Taylor Swift was a tall elegant lady anyway, but as she was posed high up on a plinth- there was no way Mannie could get up to the correct angle to plant a kiss on the lips of the model model.
He tried jumping up in the air and taking the shot but every picture looked blurred and he didn’t want any doubt if he was to retain his eyebrows – as his mates were less forgiving than a Sicilian Mafia Don.
No matter how swift he jumped he couldn’t get a Selfie with the Pop Princess.
He tried to lift the figure off the dais, but like the Jamaican Olympic Sprinter she was bolted down.
Being a resourceful student, he decided that he would find an object to lift himself up upon.
He looked around the display area to see if any of the figures were not as secured as tightly as Taylor Swift.
He returned with the figures of Peter Dinklage (Tyrrion Lannister in Game of Thrones) and Ronnie Corbett tucked under his arms.
He positioned the pair in such a way he could stand on their hands and take the money shot.
Whilst these waxworks were hardy- they weren’t as strong and stable as a Theresa May-led Government but they allowed him to climb up into range.
Like he was playing the most bizarre game of ‘Twister’ ever, the student had one leg on Ronnie Corbett’s horn rimmed glasses and the other on a dwarfen beard, as he inched his way up the miniature celebrities, until he could lean on the object of his photograph.
As he puckered up his lips, and holding onto the tiny skirt of the songstress, he made the fatal mistake of reaching into his pocket for the camera-phone.
The slender wax ankles of the mannequin gave way and both he and the fake Taylor Swift collapsed onto the floor, with Mannie clinging on like a koala in a eucalyptus tree marked for felling.
There was a loud crash as the pair hit the floor.
Mannie Quinn lay stiller than the mannequin he had mounted, hoping beyond hope that the security staff had not heard the sudden impact.
As he lay with the mannequin on top of him, he suddenly noticed that the sequined top Taylor was wearing now needed a different tailor and her tiny mini skirt that not even Eddie Izzard could fit into had become detached.
He was in a quandary, he had a beautiful naked woman on top- albeit in wax- and he was a red blooded young male whose brain had migrated South in his predicament.
The model was not only in scale but appeared to be anatomically correct in all departments.
The question that raced through his mind was did he?.... or didn’t he?
Security Guard Reginald Richardson-Kray was dozing in the control room on night shift when the sound woke him.
Being 83 years of age but without an occupational pension he knew he had to work till he dropped.
Whilst being in a locked warm office had its creature comforts at his time of life, it usually meant that like his local MP, he was paid to sleep on a bench.
Most sounds didn’t normally wake him, as he was used to the gurgling of the central heating and the expansion of the pipes at Madame Tussauds – principally because he had been doing this job for over a decade he felt like he was part of the furniture.
In fact, on several occasions when he was standing waiting for the last visitor to leave, he had scared people to death when he had spoken to them or moved suddenly in the dimly lit museum.
He flicked the cameras over to scan the place to see where the noise had come from.
With his degenerating eye condition and cataract, he could not easily detect the source.
Suddenly, he spotted the likely culprit in the Pop Section.
He could see that he was in a struggle with one of the exhibits.
He had heard of people spitting in the face of Hitler and Margaret Thatcher but not usually wrestling them.
He decided he better call for back up.
He silently called for two of his family members who were distantly related to two of the East End Gangs that had terrorised London in the 1960’s.
They didn’t believe in calling the Police- they had their own way of sorting things out the old-fashioned way.
As Reginald shuffled his arthritic feet towards the door, with his trusty metal torch for protection, he moved slower than a tortoise with a limp as Old Pop, as he was known, headed towards the Pop Section.
Due to his heart complaint, it took him all of three minutes for him to arrive at the scene of the crime and was horrified at his vision.
“ Halt… who comes there?” he asked as terrified as the semi-naked student.
Mannie stopped who he was doing and stood there like a rabbit in headlights or more precisely like a rabbit in torchlight.
“What are doing you little pervert?” demanded Reg with an authoritative voice.
Blinded by the beam of light, Mannie did not realise that he had been rumbled by a figure with acute angina, whilst being on top of a figure with a cute vagina.
Mannie paused but knew he had to take a camera shot of him kissing Taylor on the lips for his friends but then again had a dilemma…..which ones?
“ You dirty bastard….have you no shame?” screamed the guard at the affront of the student.
What followed could only be described as a Benny Hill chase, as an old man with a heart condition tried to outwit a perverted student, who shuffled along like a penguin with his trousers and pants around his ankles.
In the course of his activity Mannie had acquired had a waxen condom around his manhood, which gave the impression that he was carrying a candle in the same shade of colour as a baboon’s arse.
Reggie had been a big fan of boxing in his youth and was closing in on the intruder, like he was an octogenarian boxing kangaroo.
Mannie was as terrified as the pensioner and having been caught literally with his trousers down, he didn’t want a blow off that metal torch which Reggie was switching from hand to hand like he was a ninja warrior.
Unbeknown to Mannie, Reggie was trying to back him up to the back door, to which his nephews had an emergency key, which was the one condition they had agreed to before let their elderly Uncle take the night shift job.
Despite being a rugby player, Mannie found it hard to sidestep with his trousers and pants at below half-mast.
He had only one weapon to fend off the security guard and that was his waxen light sabre which was glowing luminescent red in the half- light.
Reggie knew it was only a matter of time before his nephews both called Ronnie got here, as they worked as bouncers or to use the new politically correct term of ‘registered doorkeepers’ in the establishment two doors down on Baker Street.
Dropping their saxophone the pair had answered their Uncle’s call.
With his back to the door, Mannie did not see the Two Ronnies arrive and didn’t realise that they were in the building until the left leg of Nick Clegg hit him from behind.
After the blow, like a Tom & Jerry cartoon, Mannie could see lots of stars swirling around his head in the celebrity museum and they weren’t coming from the Planetarium next door either.
The next thing that the student remembered, was waking up with a pounding headache and as he opened his eyes he could see that he was suspended, face tied down to a metal cage with a gag in his mouth that tasted suspiciously of Werther’s Originals, which he realised was the handkerchief of the elderly security guard.
He could have done with it to mop his own sweaty brow, as he was stretched out over a hot vat of molten wax.
With the steam rising on his naked genitals he suddenly remembered where he was.
“ How nice of you to join us!” said one of the Bouncers.
“ I am Ronald Kray- Richardson and this is my first cousin Ronald Richardson-Kray!” he continued.
Mannie had difficulty hearing what was said due to the bubbling of the hot wax and of course the broad East End Cockney accent from one of his would-be torturers.
Mannie was helpless, his hands tied behind his back and his feet were bound too.
His trousers and pants were still around his ankles and his old boy still covered in candle wax from the Taylor Swift model hung limply as it protruded through the bottom of the cage.
“No- don’t get up!” said Ron Two.
“ Now than Harvey Waxstein, if there is one thing our East End families don’t like its Welsh Cants taking a liberty on our Manor!” said Ronald One with a calm menace that really scared Mannie.
“We ain’t racist ….our families like the Welsh- in fact good old Grandpa Ronnie gave money to help in the Aberfan Disaster Fund- it’s was legit too-check the records of the Council- but we have a code of conduct in our Underworld – we can’t have cants molesting women real or wax on our turf, as it makes us look weak!” said Ron One.
Mannie couldn’t reply but just kept staring at the grinning dismembered dummy heads of Rolf Harris, Jimmy Saville and Orville the Duck on display on the stockroom shelves.
If he could have removed the gag he would have asked what his captors intended to do about the situation.
He would have preferred them to call the Metropolitan Police but that was not their way.
“ I suppose you’re wondering what is supposed to happen next?” said Ronnie Two, hand on a lever on the wall close to the Vat.
Mannie felt like he was in some bizarre take on a bad James Bond Movie with the heads of several past 007’s lined up on the racking near the vat, unfortunately, he didn’t have any gadgets that Q had devised to help get him out of the predicament.
No laser pens he could operate with his mouth or miniature saw that could be operated from within his watch mechanism.
He tried to move his legs but they were still tied and he heard the ominous sound of something sliding and then a ‘gloop’ sound.
He knew instinctively it was his mobile phone, which was now taking one of his eyebrows with it.
His purpose for being here in the first place was now defunct.
“Well we are about to dip your wick!” said Ronnie One.
Mannie stared at the severed heads of George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton & the very Pierced Brosnan in the hope they could somehow or other help.
He needn’t have worried about his eyebrow being shaved off, as they had now fallen off with the fear as he was lowered to three inches from the surface of the vat.
He looked up at the pair of gangsters who were trying to be like a poor version of Hale & Pace.
“ Well at least he won’t be able to Roger Moore!” laughed Ronnie Two.
Mannie would have laughed too but he wasn’t into ‘Bondage’.
If it hadn’t been for the intervention of Old Pop then Mannie would have been having his front, back and sides waxed at the same time.
He ordered the evil pair to stop as he didn’t want to go back to the old gangster ways – they were in legitimate business now- besides with his heart the way it was- he didn’t want to risk having a
With an evil laugh the pair raised up the cage and saved the student from a fate worse than death.
They let him off with a stern warning.
Suffice to say that the alopecia-faced Mannie didn’t do it again.
Phil 'Boz' Evans