Our girl band, the chiX have a new manager - and he starts to work them hard. They have to get up early and rehearse every day for a week to get ready for their first big concert. Gladys, the youngest sister, and the brains of the family is always in touch with Arny the Manager and making things happen - but when the chiX aren't happy, they blame Gladys.
Read by Natasha. Story by Bertie (with lots of inspiration from Natasha). Proofread by Claire Deakin. Duration 14.45 min. Picture of Gladys and the chiX on stage for Storynory by Tania Fernandes
The chiX new manager was called Arny Layne and he liked to chomp cigars and talk about all the singers who had become “monster rich” just because of him.
He had started to ring their house quite often. The first time he called, Sam picked up the phone. “Yeah?” She said.
“Arnold Lane here. Get me the Song Sister, will you darling?”
“Which sis would that be bro?” Asked Sam. “We’re all song sisters here.”
“What’s her name? Gladdy, the girl with the golden brain. That’s the one. Give Sister Glad a shout for me will you now my love?”
Sam couldn’t think for the life of her why the manager would want to speak to her younger sister, but he did talk to her for quite a while. She could hear Gladys saying, “Yes, that would probably be fine… Right… We’ll be on for that. Cool. Thanks Arny.”
And when the elder sisters demanded to know exactly what they would be “on for,” Gladys replied, “The chiX are going to start gigging.” And she was surprised about how surprised her sisters looked. Sam said, “You mean like singing, live… in front of an audience?”
Gladys said, “Yes, that’s what being in a band was all about.” For the first time, she was relieved that she wasn’t actually a performing member of the band. She could see that Sam had stage fright, and she realised that it would be quite scary to perform in front of a real audience.
“Well cheers for telling us about it,” said Laura. “When you and Arny have finished planning our futures just let us know, because I might be washing my hair.”
“Well it’s sing or die,” said Gladys. “Because if you can’t do this you might as well give up now.”
The girls knew that she was right.
For the next few weeks, Arny was often on the phone asking for Gladys. In fact, after a while he sent her a mobile phone so that he could catch her during playtime at school. It was against the school rules to use a phone, and Gladys had to go into the bike sheds so as not to get caught.
Arny said that normally a new band would “play the circuit” which meant pubs and clubs in London, but as the girls were so young, the circuit might not do for them. So Arny booked the girls into a big charity event where bands would be playing to raise money for good causes. It was going to be in a posh hotel in London, and the girls would have to do just one song, and make it a good one.
It was half term at school. Arny booked a rehearsal room. On Monday, the chiX had to be there at 9AM because the room was cheaper in the mornings. Gladys was up at quarter to seven. She tried to get her sisters out of bed, but it wasn’t easy. They got to the rehearsal at 11.15.
When they came into the room, they saw their backing musicians sitting around drinking mugs of tea.
“Core, they really made an effort,” said Laura. She meant that only one of the four men had bothered to get shaved.
Gladys handed out song sheets to the musicians. They picked up their instruments, and they got the tune almost right away. They were playing together right on the beat. They were professionals, you see.
But the sisters found it really hard to sing in tune.
“Core, my voice is a bit croaky this morning,” said Laura.
“I can’t hear myself,” complained Mandy, because it really wasn’t that easy singing along to a live band.
After a while they weren’t sounding too bad, but when they tried dancing they went completely out of tune again.
“Well, what are you smirking at?” Said Laura to the drummer. “If you think it’s so easy, you come up here and try to sing and dance at the same time.”
The drummer didn’t reply. He just did a little role on his drums, and Laura felt better because she had told somebody off.
At 12.00 they had to pack up and leave the rehearsal room because it had been booked by a brass band. That evening Arny rang to give Gladys a big ticking off for not getting the girls there on time. She promised to try harder the next day.
On Tuesday, they managed to get there by ten past ten, but most of the morning was taken up trying on costumes.
The designer decided to dress them in shimmering silver to contrast with their sun tans.
On Wednesday the choreographer showed them a new dance routine.
On Thursday they had to practice singing and dancing at the same time again.
And on Friday they tried dancing and singing while wearing high platform shoes. Arny came to see them.
His verdict was: “Lovely Jubbly.”
On Saturday afternoon they took the train up to London to get ready for that evening’s Big Gig. The girls were cross with Gladys because she hadn’t arranged a stretch limo for them.
Sam said, “Look at the state of this carriage. How are we supposed to work up star quality when have to sit ankle deep in yesterday’s newspapers, half-eaten sandwiches, and coffee cups?”
Gladys replied that artists have to stay in touch with The People no matter how big stars they become.
The four girls squeezed into a black cab at Waterloo station. On the way to the hotel, Arny called on Gladys’ mobile. “Where are you?” He asked crossly. “Almost there,” replied Gladys.
The journey to the hotel cost £12, which Gladys paid out of her pocket money.
When the girls arrived in the banqueting room, a boy band was practising its act. The lead singer had shiny blond hair and big blue eyes with long lashes. Laura said, “Core he’s so pretty he should be in the chiX.”
“Yeah, they’re so useless they’ll make us look good,” added Sam.
Arny was looking at his watch. “Well glad you made it girls,” he said, “Cause a top talent spotter from the recording company is going to be here tonight, and he’s on the lookout for young acts.”
“Great,” said Gladys.
But the girls weren’t at all pleased. In the dressing room Mandy said to Gladys, “Don’t you think it’s a little early for the recording companies to be watching us? This is our first time in public.”
“Yeah Gladdy,” said Laura. “I feel really stressed out now.”
Gladys tried to explain that she hadn’t arranged for the record company to come and see them, but because she was the one who was in touch with Arny, the girls thought it was all her fault.
“Thanks Gladdy,” said Sam, “You’ve probably ruined our big chance.”
It was time for the chiX and to do a sound test, when they ran through their song on stage and the sound engineer made sure that the microphones and amplifiers were all set at the right levels. Laura complained that she couldn’t hear herself, Sam said that the drummer was being too fancy with his rolls, and Mandy accused the lead guitarist of showing off. Gladys knew that they were being difficult because they were nervous.
Then they got changed into their silver costumes and platform shoes. The make-up artist came around and did their faces, the stylist arranged their hair, and for the first time the girls began to feel just a little bit like stars. Then they waited, and they waited, and then the guests started to arrive, and the evening was under way.
The boy band was due on just before them. They were called “The Throbinsons” which all the girls thought was a really naff name. Mandy knocked on their dressing room door and wished them luck. The lead singer kissed her on the cheek, but she was too embarrassed to tell the other girls about that. When she got back she said that they didn’t look quite so perfect close up, and that they were clammy and had spots just like ordinary boys.
But the audience liked them. They could hear people whooping while they were singing their song about their broken hearted love for a brown-eyed girl. At the end of the song the cheering and applause was so loud that the boys went back for a brief encore of their chorus.
The boys’ success just made the girls feel more nervous.
“I bet the record label signs them and not us,” said Sam, “and it’s all your fault Gladys. You should have made sure that the band on before us was really, really bad.”
Gladys watched the chiX from the side of the stage while they performed. She thought they were pretty good. If you knew their act really well, you might have noticed one or two tiny little slips with the dance steps, but on the whole they were great. The audience gave them lots of applause, though perhaps not quite so much as they had given the boys. Arny texted her to say, “Nice One,” and Gladys felt really proud of her sisters.
But when the chiX came back of the stage they were in a terrible mood.
“We were awful,” said Laura
“Totally stank,” said Mandy.
“Pants,” said Sam.
“No you weren’t, you were great,” said Gladys.
But the girls were furious with her. It was all her fault. She should have got them a limo to the hotel. She should have given them more time to rehearse on the day. She should have got them better backing musicians. She should have made sure they were on after a really bad act. And she should have made sure that there wasn’t a talent scout from the record label within a million miles of their very first performance because they might only ever get one chance to show him what they could really do.
Gladys fought back the tears. She knew they were being unfair, but she was too upset to answer back. She went out into the corridor. By the stage door she met Arny. He was talking to a man she didn’t know.
“Gladdy, Meet Josh from Big Records,” said Arny. “And Josh, meet Gladys, my right hand girl, and the brains behind the chiX.”
“You look like you’ve been crying,” said Josh. “I hope they were tears of joy.”
But Gladys said that the girls were blaming her because they messed up their act.
“Well I’ve seen worse,” said Josh.
“And what about the Boy Band?” Asked Gladys.
“Oh, don’t make me puke,” said Josh. “Come off it. The Throbinsons? Don’t they realise how naff that name is. Now the chiX. That kind of suits you. Cool name.”
“I thought of it,” said Gladys, and she felt more cheerful. Then Josh gave her his card and said to call him next time the chiX were doing a gig. He wanted to follow their progress.
Arny called a mini-cab to take the girls all the way back home to Teddington. It wasn’t a stretch limo, but it did have leather seats. When they came through the door to their house, Dad met them and asked how the Big Gig had gone.
“Great,” said Mandy.
“That’s my girls,” said Dad.
And they all went to straight to bed, because although they had only been on stage for three and half minutes, they all felt incredibly tired.