There’s a party atmosphere at the Collins house as son Marcus opens the door with a grin, resplendent in a startling pair of pomegranate trousers. “Hiya!” says mum Michelle in an accent that roves briefly across ten distinct counties and two Mediterranean ex-pat communities. Meanwhile dad Phil hands me a glass of champagne. It’s the eve of the launch of Marcus’s debut single and the family are understandably excited.
“It’s a cover of the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army,” beams Marcus with a dazzling flash of teeth. “But in an easy listening style!” That sounds like a great idea, I say.
“Has it got an ‘orn section?” asks Phil. Marcus nods happily. “Good! You can’t beat proper instruments. Makes it authentic.” Phil occasionally plays drums in a local weddings band, it turns out. “But don’t tell the taxman!” he cackles.
I ask Michelle what she does for a living. She confides that she’s an accent coach. “So if you wanted to sound like you were from South Glamorgan, for example,” – she begins – “I could teach you!” she concludes in a perfect Bangladeshi twang.
Just then, fashionable grandma Joan totters in and flings a dozen carrier bags to the floor. “Closing down sale at Peacocks!” she gasps ecstatically before thrusting a handful of receipts at Phil. “See what you can do about claiming back the tax, darling.”
I ask Joan what she thinks of her grandson’s burgeoning music career. “Well I always hoped Marcus would go to private school, have the opportunities his mother and father never did,” she says impeccably.
“But it turns out he didn’t want to go up the Eton road!” guffaws Phil. Michelle and Joan glance at one another.
Then, oddly, Joan produces a Snickers bar from her pocket and takes a huge bite with her otherwise perfect teeth. I look around to see Phil has pulled out a Dairy Milk and is heading for his home drum kit in the corner while pulling on a gorilla outfit.
I worry that some sort of chocolate sponsorship is going to spoil the integrity of my interview. I turn to Michelle. “Cup of tea, luv?” she asks Marcus brightly in a faultless Easter Island accent.
“Brew? No. Mars!” smiles Marcus. I can’t help feeling that I’ve missed something.
(continued on page 118)