This is the third part of our story about girl called Gladys and her three older sisters who are in a girl-band called the chiX. If you heard Part One and Part Two you'll know that Gladys isn't in the band because she's too young, but actually she's the brainy sister, and she writes the songs.
In this episode, Gladys has some important things to say - but nobody is listening - and she starts to wonder if she might as well be a ghost-girl.
Read by Natasha. Story by Bertie (with lots of inspiration from Natasha). Proofread by Claire Deakin. Duration 16.14 min. Picture of the chiX at the bus stop for Storynory by Tania Fernandes
It was Saturday afternoon, and Gladys’ three older sisters were just finishing their breakfast.
“What shall we do for the rest of the day?” Asked Sam in a half-asleep voice.
“You mean what’s left of it,” said Gladys who had been up for hours, but her sisters didn’t seem to hear her.
An hour later, when they had finished getting dressed and putting on their make-up, the girls went out of the front door and started to shamble along the pavement towards the bus stop. Gladys came too, not because she was dying to go with them, but because she was too young to be left in the house alone. Well that’s what their Dad said anyway. They hadn’t decided where to go, but they took the bus into the shopping centre just out of habit. There, they wandered along, looking through windows at designer gear, and making comments about some of the other shoppers, like, “Core, he thinks he’s a dude,” and, “She looks like she just got out of bed,” which Gladys thought was a bit rich, considering how long her sisters had been awake.
They ended up in a new store called The Place. It was a sort of warehouse with cheap copies of expensive designer clothes. Mandy, Laura and Sam were in fashion heaven.
Gladys thought that one top with a hoodie looked much like another. She was listening to the piped music and wondering if she could write better songs than the ones they were playing. The shop had its own in-house radio station with its own DJ, and Gladys thought she recognised his voice. Yes, she was sure of it. It was Kevin, the engineer who had recorded their first demo song in the studio.
“Hey girls, do you know who that is?” She asked, but none of her sisters took any notice of her.
Then the shop DJ said, “And don’t forget, The Place is where you heard them first. They’re cute, they’re hot, they’re all shiny and new – they are the chiX!!!” And he began to play in the song which he had recorded for them.
[We play in the chiX song]
Gladys started to jump up and down. “Hey, listen, listen,” she said, but the girls were engrossed in t-shirts and trousers. Then suddenly Mandy came out of her fashion dream and said, “Hey whadd’ya-know, that’s us!”
Laura said, “We’ve made it.”
And Sam said, “Yeaaaah!!!”
And Gladys said, “I was trying to tell you, it’s Kevin. He’s working as the DJ for the shop.”
But the girls weren’t interested in what Gladys said. They were too busy grooving around and lip-syncing the words. Some of the other shoppers were staring at them – but that only made the girls go for it even more, because this was their first live performance before an audience.
“You see, that’s our song,” said Gladys to the bemused shop assistant, a young girl on her Saturday job. “I wrote it and they sung it.” But the girl just carried on folding the jeans that the shoppers had taken off the hangers, and then left strewn all over the place.
The girls tripped out of the shop still singing, and they danced all the way back to the bus stop, and kept on dancing until the Number 11 arrived. People thought that they were, well, just a bit bonkers, but the girls didn’t care because they were so happy. Their good mood lasted all weekend.
On Monday during school lunch, Gladys told her best friends, Ethel and Judith, all about what had happened. When she had finished, Ethel said, “So your sisters really think they’re famous? I know, let’s play a joke on them. We’ll start sending them fanmail.”
And although Gladys didn’t think the idea was that funny, Judith thought it was hilarious, and she and Ethel spent the rest of the lunch break writing letters like:
“Dear ChiX, we were out shopping for our undies in The Place and we heard your song. Now we really love you and will always buy all your records.” They wrote 20 of them, and Ethel said that her mum had loads of second class stamps left over from Christmas, and she would post one a day for the next 20 days.
The next day, the first letter arrived. Sam opened it and she screamed, “Oh Yeah, A-huh! We got fanmail!”
And Laura said, “Ged off it… Hey it’s true.”
And Mandy said, “Now things are getting serious.”
And Gladys said, “It’s just some kids playing a silly joke on you,” but nobody seemed to hear her. So she thought to herself, “Well, let them think they’ve got fans if that makes them happy.” But she did begin to wonder if anyone ever heard a word she said.
The next day, as she was leaving school, she found herself walking down the corridor next to Peter Peterson. She began to tell him the story about her sisters making a record and how they heard it played in the shop and now they were convinced that they were big stars. Peter Peterson nodded as she spoke. His blue eyes kept pointing forward and he didn’t turn to look at her. He was quite tall for his age, and very good looking. In fact, he could have been a star himself. Just after they had gone through the door of the school he caught site of Jemma James, and said, “Hey Jemma, are you coming to my birthday party?” And Gladys realised that he hadn’t been listening to a word she had said.
That evening, after she had done her homework, she stayed sitting at her desk and started to write the words to a song. They went:
Always, when I’m near you
you don’t see me
because I’m a ghost girl
Sometimes, when I hear you,
You don’t hear me
Because I’m a ghost girl
Often, when I touch you,
you don’t feel me
because I’m a ghost girl
That’s as far as she got with the lyrics that evening, but she thought they might make a full song one day, and she put them back into her drawer.
The fan mail continued to arrive, and her sisters weren’t quite so excited any more when the post arrived. Some post got left on the side table for days. One evening dad opened a large buff envelope, took out the letter and said, “You better take a look at this Mandy. It’s a long boring letter addressed to you.”
And Mandy looked at the contents and saw that the document inside was entitled, “Draft Contract.” And then she began to read the letter, and when she had finished she said very calmly, “A tip top manager heard our demo. He thinks we’re the bee’s knees and he wants to sign us up pronto.”
And Laura said, “Like, you mean he wants to be the chiX manager and everything?”
Mandy said, “Yeah. Like he’s best mates with all the recording companies. He thinks he can get us a record deal and take us to number one!”
And the three older sisters started hugging and kissing each other and jumping up and down and crying with joy. But Gladys picked up the contract and said to Dad, “Don’t you think we ought to get a lawyer to read this?”
Dad said, “You’re not in trouble with the law are you Gladdy?” And Gladys thought that she had better take the contract to her room and read it because nobody else was going to. It took her a long time to understand it properly because there were lots of long and unusual words that she had to look up in a dictionary and on the internet, but when she got to the end she had found several things that she thought were more than a bit dodgy like:
“This agreement is binding for a term of 99 years,” which she thought was an awfully long time, and, “90 per cent of all the royalties shall be retained by the manager.” Gladys looked up “royalties” and saw that it meant the money that the chiX might make from their records. She thought that 90 per cent – or 90 out of every 100 pounds – was rather a lot for the manager to keep.
She went down stairs and said, “This contract is all a con.” She didn’t really expect anybody to hear her, but Sam did, and she said, “You’re just saying that because you’re jealous and you want to spoil the only good thing that ever happened to this family.” And Gladys sighed and went to bed.
The chiX went to see the manager a week later. At his office, the walls to the reception room were covered in gold disks. On the side table there was a gold bust of the man himself smoking a big fat cigar. Gladys had to wait in this room while the girls went into the meeting room to see him.
The manager told them how his friend, Kevin the sound engineer, did some talent spotting for him. He had sent him the chiX demo and their photograph and he thought that they had a chance of making it – as long as they had the right manager.
“Now I’m not saying that the manager has to be me, but I am saying it could be me, and I don’t want to sound like I’m boasting, but there’s nobody better than me, so girls, here’s where you sign.” And they all signed.
The manager took a magnifying glass out of his drawer and inspected their signatures.
“And where’s the song writer?” He asked.
“The who writer?” Asked Laura.
“The song sister,” he said. “What’s her name? Gladys. Here it’s on the lyrics.” And he showed her a scrap of paper that Kevin had sent him. It was the lyrics to their song and at the bottom it was signed with Gladys’s name.
The girls were a bit embarrassed to show their little sister to the big swanky manager. After all, not only was she practically a baby, but she wore glasses and had braces on her teeth, but they had no choice but to call her in.
Gladys climbed up onto a swivel chair. The manager said, “Now love, sign here.”
And Gladys said, “Shan’t.”
And Sam said, “You’d better, or we’ll kill you.”
Laura said, “Sign or we’ll never forgive you for the rest of our lives.”
Gladys began to cry. The manager’s assistant had to shoo the girls back out into the waiting room. While they were outside, the manager called Kevin and asked him about the little girl with braces and ponytails.
“Yes, she’s the brains,” said Kevin. “The others are the lookers, but they don’t know much about singing or music or anything much really. They just look, well fantastic, but the little one with the braces and the ponytails… Don’t be fooled by her looks – she’s the real talent.”
In the waiting room, Laura and Sam were saying that they didn’t need Gladys because they could easily find another songwriter.
“Yes, you’re out,” said Sam. “You were never in the band anyway, but now you’re even more out than before.”
And Mandy said, “Well if Gladys is out, I’m out. Because after all, she is our sister and we’re family. We’d better stop fighting and stick together or we’ll get nowhere.”
At first Gladys didn’t actually hear what Mandy had said. It was only when Mandy sat down next to her and asked her to show her what was wrong with the contract that she began to understand that somebody was actually listening to her.
When the girls went back into the room, Mandy said to the Manager, “Gladys will sign, but only if we keep 90 per cent and you keep 10.”
And the manager said, “How about 80-20?”
And Gladys said, “Done. But we won’t sign until our lawyer has read the small print.”
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