Gladys is still struggling to break through in her musical career. In this episode she feels how important the moral support of her dad is. She is also increasingly doubtful about her new manager, Dud.
Read by Natasha
Written by Bertie
Illustrated by Chiara Civati
Gladys always decided what she was going to wear at the last minute. She had a full clothes rack of what she called her "glad rags" which she had bought from second hand shops. They were perfectly good clothes, but to be honest, not everyone really thought that they suited her. She had a jacket that didn't quite fit. She had a dress with a big floral pattern on it that might have looked better on a sixty-year old than a sixteen year old. Quite frankly, as her best friend Sara would say sometimes, "What you need Gladys is jeans, trainers and a t-shirt. You've got a nice figure, so don't hide yourself away behind those flounces.”
Gladys didn't feel confident dressed like most of the other kids did. She felt she was different, and she had to dress differently. She had another reason not to wear anything that might reveal her shoulder. She had a guilty mark - the tattoo that she was not yet ready to own up to.
Today things were decided by practical considerations. Her dad was driving her to the big audition on his motorcycle. She chose her biker costume - leather trousers and a leather jacket.
It was just the day to take the Triumph TR6 out for a spin. Even tarmac and suburban houses can seem lovely in the soft sunlight when you are speeding along the dual carriageway past all the cars. Her dad's bike was over 40 years old. It was a beautiful machine, which made a proper noise. If there was a right way to arrive at an audition to be a pop singing sensation, it was on a splendid motorbike like his.
When they found the place, she handed her helmet to her dad and kissed him on the cheek.
"Go get’ em girl," he said. He wasn't exactly the most conventional or pro-active dad. Most of the time he didn't really seem to care what she did, good or bad. Had he once looked at her homework? How many parents' evenings had he been to at school? Three? Possibly only two. He didn’t even read her school reports. However, she did feel that he was proud of her, and unquestioningly believed in her ability to succeed, and right now, her dad's naive faith in her was what kept her going.
You have to have someone who loves you, believes in you, and wants you to get there. You need that support. You can’t see it, but it is more valuable than a whole heap of cash.
The audition for the TV talent show was held in the ballroom of a London hotel. Gladys arrived early, but loads of wannabes got there even earlier. The last time she had seen so many people squashed into such a small area was when she went to see the Viking Treasures exhibition at the British Museum. She felt irritated. So many people had the same dream as she did? How dare they! It was her dream.
A boy who joined the queue at the same time as her said, "It's like a football match."
"Yes," said Gladys, "But at a match it's the spectators who are the crowd. Here's it's the other way round. The masses are performing. The A team will be watching and judging.”
The boy smiled. He was rather cute. "Nice one," he said.
A camera crew came round to interview some of the hopefuls in the line. They chose the boy she had been talking to - it was the mohican haircut that made him stand out. He wore a sleeveless t-shirt and had all sorts of tattoos down his arm. Gladys wished for the first time that her own mark were on display.
The interviews were done by a pair of presenters who looked like twins.
"What was your first gig?" Asked the one who was the slightly shorter of the two. Neither of them were exactly giants.
"I was the lead in the school production of Jesus Christ Superstar," replied the boy.
Gladys would never have predicted that reply. His answer showed that you should never judge anyone by first impressions. The TV crew moved on down the line, without speaking to her. She wasn't surprised. She was a ghost girl after all.
The candidates had all been given a song to sing for the audition. It was a bit corny, but it let them show off their vocal range. When they got close to the front of the queue, they could see that most of the hopefuls’ hopes were smashed after a few bars. The lead judge waved his hand, the music stopped, and the TV runner called out, “NEXT!”
That was all it took to kill a dream. One word.
Gladys was pretty sure the boy would get through. What could phase someone who looked as cool as he did? But strangely, as soon as he took the microphone she knew he had blown his chance. The confidence seemed to fly out of him. She could almost see it fluttering out of his head and flapping away to hide somewhere up in the rafters. His voice cracked and the judged waved his hand. The last of the Mohicans turned to Gladys and gave her a shrug. "Good luck" he said as he walked passed her.
Gladys wasn't even listening; she was focused on the job in hand. She knew she could do it, and when she was in front of the mic she opened up her voice and sang. She was looking at the judges in turn like each of them was the love of her life. She was gesturing with her hands. It was all an act - It wasn't natural at all, but it felt like she was in control of the situation. They let her sing on to the power chorus. This was the testing part, and she knew it. There was a moment of nerves, but they just gave her more energy. She heard her voice sounding out like it was somebody else's. The music stopped. The lead judge just nodded slightly. The runner called out, "NEXT."
She walked off the stage.
"What did they decide?" She asked a girl with a mic strapped to her head.
"Control," the girl spoke into her microphone, "What's the status of 628?" The reply came back but Gladys could not hear it.
The girl looked at her and said, "You're through," and gave her a fleeting smile.
“Wowsie!" Thought Gladys as she walked out of the hotel. "My first taste of winning." She saw the boy outside the door. "How did you do?" He asked.
"I'm through," she replied, wishing that he were too.
"Cheers, well done," he said, "I'll see you on TV," but he didn't ask for her phone number. Perhaps if he had been flushed with success, instead of crestfallen with a setback, he might have done.
Her Dad just smiled when he heard the news and said, "Don't look so surprised. You're the best.” That was why she loved her daddy so. As they rode back through Hyde Park, looking at all the people strolling out on a beautiful day, she wondered if she could find a guy her age, or just a bit older, who was like her dad but, well, just a bit more proactive about life. "Do guys like successful girls?" She wondered. "Or do they feel put in the shade?”
When they got back, she checked her phone and saw there was a message from Dud, her "manager" if that wasn't too grand a word for the kid.
"Are you good to gig on the 29th? I've got a slot for you on hold at the King's Duck.”
She had no idea what the King's Duck was but it sounded like a pub. "Yeah, sure,” she replied. Then she thought, "I'd better check with Tim and Jennie.” But oh, what a pain! They couldn't make it. She would have to perform solo. She had two weeks to get ready.
Overall, six supporters promised to turn up for her next gig, which was fine. It was six more than she had a right to expect for her second ever public appearance. There would be a crowd of new people who hadn’t heard her before, which meant that she might pick up some new followers, which was always a good thing.
Sara, Jay-Jay, James and his new girlfriend came again to give their loyal moral support, and she had sent out an email to the fans who had signed her mailing list at the last gig. She also had a few likes on Facebook who should see her status update. Three of those posted that they would be there.
But when she saw the place - Oh!
She wished that nobody had come. What a dump! This was an old style London pub. Half the customers looked like Fagin's gang from Oliver Twist. They had what you might call ‘characterful faces,’ but not really the sort of people you would want to meet on a dark night.
A younger crowd hung out in the room around the back of the pub. It was dark and standing room only. On the stage, a skinny boy was strutting up and down with his Fender Strat. He wasn't a bad guitarist, but some people shouldn't sing, and unfortunately he did.
"This is dire," said James. Gladys had to agree. The guitarist went on for an aeon. The next act, a girl folk singer in a flowery smock was only slightly less painful.
Dud turned up half way through the folk warbler's final number. He said, ”Great crowd tonight Gladdy. Are you ready to sock it to them?" Gladys usually tried to think the best of people, but this time she didn't bother. Yeah Dud," she said and went to pick up her guitar.
The good thing was that if the onlookers had been able to stomach the previous two acts, then they weren't going to be a hard to please. Gladys sung her sweetest and had everyone charmed. At the end, she spoke into the microphone, "Thanks for being such a great audience. I'm Gladys Jones. Now I've got a special request for you. Don't go out next Saturday. Stay in and watch BGV and vote for me because I’m going to be on it!" BGV was the big talent show.
"Yeah!" Everyone cheered.
Several people came up to Gladys to say how much they loved her set and she collected some more emails for her mailing list.
Dud said, ”You didn't tell me you're on BGV, we need to keep across your news."
Gladys felt annoyed. Frankly, Dud was the last person she would tell her news to. Besides, wasn’t it his job to follow her on Twitter?
"I'm going up to Manchester on Wednesday for the rehearsal. They could still turn me away if it doesn't go well.”
"Oh, they just say that to cover their backs," said Dud, "You'll be fine, Glad. I'll drive you there."
"It's okay, I'm going on the train," said Gladys.
"Na, really, It's all part of the service. I'll take you door to door. You'll arrive in good shape."
Although Gladys did not really want to travel with Dud, it did sound nice to have her own chauffeur. She remembered how her dad driving her up to London had lifted her spirits and put her in the right mood for the audition.
"Okay," said Glad. "Thank you. But let's start early because I can't stand being late."
"Sure thing babe," said Dud. She didn't like the way he called her babe, but she let it go.