EIGHTIES chart topper Neil Arthur knew exactly where to buy a flash new motor -- his old mate from his hometown of Darwen.

Neil made the journey from his London home to the Anchor Service Station, Blackburn Road, and picked up the seven seater black Mercedes.

And as a celebration garage owner David Pickup adorned it in a flag commemorating Neil's band Blancmange in respect of his achievements.

The two have known each other for more than 20 years and always make an effort to meet up when Neil visits his parents Jeff and Phyllis, who live in Almond Street, Darwen.

Neil may no longer be pop star, but he earns a living by writing scores for TV programmes at a recording studio in his south London home.

He has just completed one for a documentary Finest Hour, and is currently working on one for a BBC drama called Alice and Ted.

This has been his employment for the last ten years after his chart career fizzled out.

But for a period between April 1982 and May 1986, Neil's band Blancmange were chart regulars.

The band had three top ten hits, and released a total of ten singles. They spent 71 weeks in the charts during their chart career.

The highest position was number seven with Living on the Ceiling in October 1982.

Neil said: "The '80s don't seem that long ago, although I can't remember all of it now.

"I had a fantastic time doing it, if I'd only the opportunity to get one record out I would have been pleased.

"But I managed to have a few and even a gold record, so it was great.

"I have come back to Darwen a lot but never to live. It was a fantastic era to live and punk really changed my life.

"I was born and bred in Darwen, funnily enough I've still got the accent. My mum and dad send it down in a thermos flask.

"The countryside around Darwen hasn't changed much, but the roads have. I got a shock when I saw the M65 motorway.

"I have known David for a while. I went to him because I trust him. I saw the car when I visited before and thought I want that. "

David said: "Neil's a Darwen lad and still comes up here quite a lot visiting his parents and pops in to see me.

"He bought the car from us but didn't want an ordinary car, so the Mercedes fits his requirements at the moment."