Murdoc Alphonse Niccals stood shaking at the side of the stage. As the line before him grew ever shorter, he knew that the inevitable moment of reckoning was rapidly approaching. He would have done anything to escape this humiliation. However, the only thing he feared more was the wrath of his sadistic father, stood yards behind him ensuring that the child completed the agreed performance.
Money exchanged hands, and the deal had to be honoured...
"Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm-hearted welcome to little Murdoc Niccals as the small, wooden boy Pinocchio, singing 'I've Got No Strings!'"
A muted round of applause rippled around the pub...
There was a moment's silence. Murdoc stood rooted to the spot, resplendent in lederhosen, strap-on nose, and feathered Alpine hat, his knees knocking together like a couple of castanets. As the delay continued, the audience started shifting in their seats.
A booming voice from the back of the hall broke out:
"Go on...Get on with it. My beer's getting cold."
His father's thick leathery boot connected hard with Murdoc's backside, hurdling the young child onto the stage. "Start singing, you little sod, or I'll smash your teeth in."
The bright, blinding light shone straight into his eyes, as the smell of warm beer, stale cigarettes and cheap aftershave wafted across the pub. The music started up and Murdoc looked to the side, his eyes imploring to be spared this dignity-stripping ritual. His father growled his decision nice and clearly.
The local "Are-You-A-Star?" talent contest was the bane of Murdoc's life. Each month, the local pub would hold this type of demeaning event. Talentless clods would enter, impersonating the big names of the day, gurning their way through soul-sapping performance after mindless performance. The prize? Two pounds fifty, and the chance to humiliate yourself further in the bi-annual county finals. If you were really good, you could then go on to make a cock of yourself on national TV.
Murdoc's dad had often threatened to enter his son into this cattle show, purely as another vague opportunity to make some fast dough, and had this month backed his claim.
Murdoc: Everything about this made me sick.
Murdoc: How these stinky old giffers were sitting in a knackered-out pub, accepting this crap as entertainment. Watching talentless people pointlessly impersonating other talentless celebrity stars... Watching my bullying bastard father trying to work this game for cash. None of it worked. And listen, you know, if you don't watch it, that's your future right there.
Murdoc swore from this moment on never again would he take the stage under someone else's direction. He would wreak havoc on this world of buffoons. You could say that was the day that Gorillaz was really born, he says. From that seed of rejection. A rejection from all that kind of rubbish.
Murdoc pauses for a moment, reflecting on the long-forgotten memory. He then looks up and says,
Murdoc: Actually, I'm gobsmacked you've chosen to open up your stupid book with this story...