It’s 2007. High-up in the Los Angeles hills, reclining by a sunglasses-shaped swimming pool in the warm dusk of another sunny Californian day is Brian Cox. He has a toe dipped coquettishly in the water while he sips on an iced tea. He’s flicking through the LA Times when an article catches his eye and spoils his blissful mood.
“Bloody Brian May,” says Cox. 15 years of touring and ten years spent living in LA haven’t dampened his Oldham accent.
“That bloody, poodle-headed, Brian May. I can’t believe it. Have you seen this, Olga?” he calls out to his latest wife, a 22-year-old Ukrainian Victoria’s Secrets lingerie model.
“What is matter, my little English medved?” replies Olga as she assembles a margarita at the poolside bar.
“Bloody Brian May, you know that guitarist from Queen, has only gone and done a PhD in astrophysics. Look!” says Cox, prodding at the article.
“But, Brian you are superstar. You much more successful than other Brian. Far more handsome. What do you care about the stars and the physics when you are superstar already?” says Olga while adding a salt rim to the glass.
“Paah,” says Cox, dismissing her comments with a wave of the hand.
He tosses the paper to the ground and strides to the balcony that overlooks the valley. The LA lights have begun to twinkle in the twilight. The moon is rising in the sky and an early star is making itself known: 20 years ago he’d have known the star’s name but that knowledge is now lost to time and the debauchery of a rock n roll lifestyle.
Looking at that nameless star, Cox wonders what could’ve been. Some 13 years previously, with Things Can Only Get Better at number one, lead singer Peter Cunnah had given Cox an ultimatum: a European tour with D:Ream or sit the finals of his physics degree. The chance to be a bone fide rock star was the obvious answer so Brian had grabbed it with both hands.
But what if there was an alternate reality that had split at that point and there was a universe somewhere with a different Brian Cox. A Brian Cox who’d stayed on at university and become an academic. Maybe he had become preeminent, taking physics and astronomy to the masses instead of playing keyboards and entertaining people. A Professor Brian Cox.
He sips on his iced tea, thinks about the £16 million in the bank, takes a look at his stunning wife, and laughs off the thought.
“Yeah, you’re right love,” says Cox. “Who gives a shit about stars and the bloody cosmos? People want killer riffs and pounding bass lines. They don’t want to hear about event horizons or dark matter or any of that bollocks. Doctor Brian May can shove his PhD where the sun don’t shine.
“You making me one of those margaritas? I’ve never liked this cold tea crap. Tea should be hot and have milk in it.”
The story above was entered for the Flash Mob Writing competition which is announced at the end of May. It wasn’t short-listed but I still enjoyed writing it.
The photo is me playing a computer games (Manhole I think) in Fiji when I was little.