04 Gladys Alone: Ghost Girl Reprise

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Gladys - Ghost Girl - Looks in Mirro

Gladys wants to perform in front of the world - but is her personality right? Is she extrovert enough? She feels that people don't even notice her - so how is going to be famous? Her doubts about herself remind her of a song she wrote a long time ago - Ghost Girl.

Read by Natasha
Story by Bertie
Illustrated by Chiara Civati.

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Gladys goes it Alone, Chapter 4: Ghost Girl Reprise

Hello, this is Natasha, and I’m here with the fourth episode on our series, Gladys is Back. This episode is quite short but very sweet, and has a cute new song so keep listening!

At the age of ten years old, Gladys had feelings that were a little troubling in one so young: sometimes she felt just like she was a ghost. People seemed to look right through her. Nobody noticed that she was the talented sister.

Now she was sixteen, she was sitting at her desk turning the pages of her old notebooks and she found her first draft of her song “Ghost Girl.”

Always, when I’m near you
You don’t see me
I’m a Ghost Girl
Sometimes, when I hear you,
You don’t hear me
I'm a Ghost Girl
It’s true!

Often, when I touch you,
You don’t feel me
I'm a Ghost Girl
For you!

The sixteen-year-old Gladys thought, "So not that much has changed.” She was still the one with the talent, and yet still nobody seemed able to see it.

"It's the way I look," she thought, "I'm too ordinary.”

Then, "Perhaps it's my body language, I don't walk into the room like everyone should notice me.”

And, standing in front of the mirror for a while, "I need new clothes, I need new hair, I need a new face, I need a new personality, but apart from that I don't need anything much. Simple. I’ll be famous tomorrow."

“Ghost Girl” had been a hit when the chiX sung it. It irked her that they took the credit for that song, much more than it bothered her about “Life is a Circus” which she had also penned for them. You see, Gladys wasn't just the author of the words to “Ghost Girl,” she felt them, she identified with them. She was Ghost Girl. So she decided to record it. After all, it was her song. She had a right.

Her second time in the recording studio was even better than the first. She knew the routine. Tim looked through her words and music and changed a few notes and chords - things that even the producer at the big studio had not touched when her sisters had done it. Jennie stood over their shoulder and said, "I remember this song, did you really write it when you were just ten Gladdy?”

"Yes," said Gladys, "I did. Because I was the ghostwriter for the chiX. They were singing about me, only they didn’t really understand that.”

Tim and Jennie were taking her really seriously. She felt it, and it gave her confidence. She wasn't just any teenage wannabe. She had written a song that had made it into the charts. When she went behind the soundproof glass, stood at the microphone and put her headphones over her ears, she felt like a real pro. She opened her mouth and sang, “Gho--ooost girl, goohoost girl.”

"Sounding great,” said Tim in her headphones.

Jennie sang the harmonies again. Strictly speaking, Tim spent more time mixing the track than Gladys had paid him for, but he didn't mind because he loved the song so much, and he had a client that he thought was just a bit special. In fact, right then, Tim and Jennie were the only people who really believed in her. As she trundled back to Teddington on the train, the tune was playing in her head.

[Play up music]

As she didn't have a manager, she had to book her own gigs. She looked through Time Out to see where the Indie bands and singers were playing. They were in pubs and clubs mostly. She had followed her sisters to one or two of them as a child. Of course she had to stay away from the bar area. She remembered semi-dark rooms upstairs, pealing wall paper, cables from the sound system trailing across the floor, bemused onlookers, and the lead singer trying to talk to the punters in a cool offhand way while the audience carried on with their own conversations, and supped their drinks. Occasionally there would be one performer that would set the place alight and get everyone on their feet dancing. She had to be that act.

She spent an afternoon on her phone ringing venues. It has hard work getting hold of the right person, waiting for them to get back to her, and then pitching herself to them. "I'm a singer-songwriter - just getting started - I would like to play at the XYZ club - do you have any evenings coming up?” The responses weren’t very full of encouragement.

“Sorry love, we're fully booked for the next six months.” Or, "Where have you played before?” Or, "How many likes have you got on your Facebook page?”

"I could send you some of my songs," she would say. Usually they didn't seem that bothered about her music. They were mostly interested in filling their venue with fans. A sixteen year old girl who had never played anywhere before and had six likes on Facebook was not obviously going to be good for business.

"If only I knew someone who could help," thought Gladys.

The frustrating thing was that she did actually know quite a few people who could help, if they wanted to. Some of them were her own family, but weren’t so inclined, and that was the problem. The closer they were to her, the more they thought she should be sticking with school.

She went out for a walk along the riverbank. She watched a barge go through the lock, then something clicked in her mind - Hadn't she read somewhere that the lead singer of the Throbinsons had invested in a club in a trendy part of East London? It was a place that was showcasing new acts. She knew the Throbinsons. They had played many of the same venues as the chiX. Surely he would remember her? His name was Mickey. They were even friends on Facebook!

"Yeah," she thought, "this will work.”

"Hi Mickey," she tapped into the messenger app on her phone, "Remember me? I'm the little sister of the chiX. Not so little now. I'm starting my own career in the music biz. Any chance I could do a gig at your club?”

"That would be great," came back the reply just five minutes later. "How about next Friday? We've got just one slot to fill.”

"Sure, would love to," replied Gladys. She added an emoticon of a pretty fox with its tale high.

"Wowsie!" She thought, "It's so hard to get anywhere, and then when you know someone, even a little bit, it's that easy.”

It’s one thing to be a singer with a gig, but it’s another to have some backing musicians. Still, Gladys wasn’t the sort of girl to let a little thing like that stop her when she was on a roll. Surely, Tim at the recording studio would know one or two people who could hold some drum sticks or a plectrum.

"Well I could bring my keyboards,” he said over the phone. “Jennie could do backing vocals. I think we could just synth the drums this time around.”

"Yes! Now we're rolling! “Thought Gladys excitedly. She started sending out invites to all her friends via WhatsApp, Facebook, and good old email.