Gladys has been the brains and the driving force behind the girl band, the chiX which features her three older sisters. Laura, the lead singer, has walked out, but she's finding that her solo career is not going well. The chiX have entered for the first round of the Eurovision Song Contest, to see if they can be chosen to represent Britain. But can Gladys persuade Laura to rejoin the band?
Read by Natasha. Story by Bertie (with lots of inspiration from Natasha). Proofread by Claire Deakin. Duration 13.53 min. Picture of Arny, the manager of the chiX for Storynory by Tania Fernandes
Gladys and the chiX Reunited
It was the physical education lesson at school and Gladys was jogging around the football pitch. She wasn’t a very fast runner, and as she went she thought about what sort of song would have the best chance of winning the Eurovision song contest. “People from all over Europe have got to like it,” she thought to herself. “Including all these countries in the Eastern part, like Latvia, Estonia, Albania, Romania… There are loads of them, and all of them vote for the winner. I wonder what they will like… I need some ideas for some words.”
After school finished, Gladys stayed late for a piano lesson. Her teacher was from Estonia. She was extremely beautiful and rather serious. Gladys and she got on well together. When it was time to go home, Gladys asked her, “Maria, what do you miss most about Estonia?”
Maria put her music sheets in her bag and said, “I miss the sound of music students practising their scales. I miss running and hiding from the rain in the door of the conservatory. I miss the smell of the lilac trees in spring. ”
Although Gladys thought that Maria’s answer was very romantic and poetic, she didn’t give her an idea for a pop song. So she said, “But in general, what do people in Eastern Europe really like?”
“Ah, well everybody is different, but in general we like music, we like art, we like science, we like laughter, we like cry a bit, we like the theatre, we like the circus.”
“Thank you,” said Gladys, “That really helps me with something I’m doing.” Because now she had her idea for a song. “Yes,” she thought, “everybody likes the circus. The Russian Circus comes to London every year so it’s a real Eastern European thing. The chiX can have some great circus costumes and dance moves – that’s it, we’ll do a circus song.”
When she got home she went up to her room and started to think of all her favourite circus acts and to work them into the words of a song…
You taught me to fly and to swoop to your arms;
and though I soared high I came to no harm.
You sawed me in half and you pulled me apart
and though I really laughed, you had broken my heart.
You stood me quite still and you threw straight your knives
and though you didn’t kill, you used eight of my lives.
You rattled my cage and you cracked your whip
and though I really raged, I only bit my lip.
You set up a hoop, and I jumped through fire,
and though you were cool, you lit up my desire
You stretched a high wire, and you made me walk,
and though said you were a flyer, it was only talk.
You threw custard pies, and you made funny sounds,
and though I loved your lies, you were only clowning around
Her song was coming along nicely, but she still had to persuade her sister, Laura, to re-join the chiX. Laura was into indie music these days, and Gladys wondered if she would be too proud to take part in the Eurovision which, after all, everyone knows is a bit naff.
And to tell you the truth, Laura was still in quite a strange mood. She spent a lot of time on her own, and wasn’t talking to her sisters very much at all. Gladys went to see her in her room. She found her lying on her bed reading a magazine about celebrities.
“Laura,” she said, “Have you ever heard of anything so naff that it’s cool?”
And Laura said, “I suppose like a TV programme that we all watched when we were kids 10 years ago. When you see it now it’s kind of naff because it’s so out of date, but it’s kind of cool at the same time… or come to think of it Gladys, sensible shoes and glasses can be a bit naff, but cool at the same time because it’s a look that you’ve made your own.”
And Gladys thought that was an interesting answer, because up until then, nobody had ever suggested that her shoes and glasses might be cool. She thought she might just have a chance of winning Laura over, so she came to the point. “What about taking part in Eurovision. Is that so naff that it’s cool?”
“Well,” said Laura, sitting up now and looking more interested, “I suppose winning anything is cool. And getting no points is kind of cool. But on the other hand, coming fourteenth just behind Belgium is pretty naff.”
“But is it a risk worth taking? I mean, if the chiX were in the Eurovision, would you like to sing for us?”
And Laura said something that surprised Gladys very much. What she said was this:
“Gladdy, if you were organising it, I would go for it, because you’re a smart girl Gladdy. I mean it. If I’ve learned anything recently, it’s that you got the brains not just for homework and that kind of school stuff, but for life.”
Gladys felt wonderful, because not only were the chiX back in business, but her sister really appreciated her.
The chiX worked hard to get their act into shape. Their aim was to get on the national TV show, and then to be picked as the British entry in the competition.
Just three weeks later they took part in an audition to see if they were good enough to go on the show.
The auditions were held in a fringe theatre space in Islington. The chiX travelled across London by train and Underground, and then spent twenty minutes wandering around in the rain trying to find the venue. They were a bit bedraggled by the time they arrived, but none of the sisters complained to Gladys.
Four judges sat in the front row of the darkened theatre. The chiX performed their song with just a pianist for backing. They sang their words and did their circus moves but as Gladys watched from the side wings, she could see that the routine was still a bit ragged. At the end of the song, Laura and Mandy bowed and Sam curtsied. They smiled because that’s what Gladys had told them to do – but she could see it was a bit forced.
One of the judges was the TV programme’s producer. She asked the only questions.
“So why do you want to represent Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest?”
Mandy and Sam carried on smiling, but clearly could not think of an answer. “Because the chiX are the best,” said Laura.
“Thank you,” said the producer, “We’ll let your manager know.” And that was it. The audition was over.
In the changing room, Sam said, “That was easily the scariest thing we ever did.”
“Wasn’t it just?” Said Mandy. “Just four people staring at you. I mean, I felt like I was walking naked down the street.”
“But hey,” said Laura, “Performing in front of 50 million people won’t be scary at all.”
Gladys wasn’t at all sure that the girls had passed the audition, but their manager, Arny, told her not to worry. It was just a formality, he said.
And so the girls kept on practising their act. Arny brought in new backing musicians. They tried out different costumes. The choreographer worked on their routine. A special effect man came in to work on stage smoke, and fiery hoops.
And when they did get the invitation to take part on the TV show, they were feeling ready to go.
Gladys called Arny and said, “I want the chiX to arrive at the television centre feeling like they are on top of the world. I hope you don’t think this is a bit cheeky, but do you think you could get a taxi?”
And Arny said, “Right-oh Gladdy. The sisters have been good girls recently. Working really hard. It’s time for the red carpet.”
And on the day of the show, the chiX travelled to the TV centre in Arny’s stretch limo. They were met in reception by a young TV producer who led them through security and along the corridors past the doors to the big TV studios. They went into Stage Five which was a big room with lights and TV cameras, and technicians plugging in cables, and she led them around the side to the back and down another corridor to their changing room.