Gladys: First Round

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Gladys and the chiX arrive by limo

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Our girl band, the chix, perform live on TV in the first round of the Eurovision song contest. At the end, they find out if they are going to be representing Great Britain in the final in Istanbul.

And a little Glad News - we are recording their Circus Song, but you'll have to wait for the next episode to hear it with the full music.

Read by Natasha. Story by Bertie (with lots of inspiration from Natasha). Proofread by Claire Deakin. Duration 15.20 min. Picture of Gladys and the band arriving by limo for Storynory by Tania Fernandes

The chix walked out onto the darkened stage. They took their places, and the music began to play – a sort of circus beat. Still in the semi-darkness, Laura began to sing the first few words into her radio microphone that was clipped to her costume. She was looking almost straight into a TV camera.

You taught me to fly and to swoop to your arms,
and though I soared high I came to no harm.

Then the full backing music kicked in and the lights went up at the same time.

You sawed me in half and you pulled me apart
and though I really laughed, you had broken my heart…

The girls started to do their moves - all based on a circus act. Mandy lashed her ringmaster’s whip, and Sam, who was quite athletic, did some impressive tumbles and turns, as well as a funny clown walk in time to the music. Laura acted out the words while she sang. She walked an imaginary tight rope, rattled the bars of an invisible cage, and she pretended to eat fire.

The studio audience whooped and cheered, but Gladys knew that what really counted was the votes of the viewers with the red buttons on their remotes.

For now the girls had to stand on stage and face the verdict of the three studio judges. The first to speak was a woman who had produced West End musicals. She must have been quite mature in years, but she had blond hair and make-up that would have suited a much younger woman.

“I liked the words,” she said. “And there’s no denying it’s a catchy tune.”

Gladys closed her eyes and savoured the first impartial praise she had received for her composition.

“And Laura, my girl, you’ve got a great voice,” she said.
The audience cheered. Then the woman threw her hands up in the air melodramatically.

“But oh my, the costumes, and the dance! Sorry girls. A circus act doesn’t cut it for me. It’s just too corny.”

This was a bit of a let-down.

The second to speak was man who was known for being gentlemanly in his views. He wore a silk neck scarf and looked like an arty type.

“I liked it,” he said. “And I think it will go down well in Europe. There’s a big tradition of the circus all over the continent. It’s a clever idea.”

“Yes”, thought Gladys, “He gets it. That was just what I was calculating when I wrote the song.”

The third to speak was a multi-millionaire record producer who revelled in being Mr. Mean. All the contestants feared his cruel tongue, but Gladys had told the girls that they shouldn’t care what he said, because they had to learn to take criticism. Anyway, it was what people at home thought that really counted.

Mr. Mean paused before he spoke. It was a deliberate trick to build up tension. Somebody in the audience coughed.

“Well the circus is a good idea,” he said, “But hey, come on girls. Stop clowning around! You want to represent your country, by jumping around on stage like a troop of performing fleas. Worse, if you dance like that in the final, they’ll think you’ve got fleas in your pants. Sorry girls.”

There were tears in Sam’s painted clown eyes as the girls walked off stage. Gladys met them and they all hugged her and said how everyone agreed that her song was brilliant – though actually only two of the three judges had praised it.
The girls went back to their dressing room.

Laura said, “We’ll never live this down. I mean, to come last in the first round of the Eurovision – how painful is that?”

“The dream is over,” said Mandy.

“Hold on, hold on,” said Gladys. “You said it was cool to get no points, didn’t you Laura?”

Laura shook her head. “I meant in the real thing. Like on the Big Eurovision when everyone knows that Ireland and France never vote for the UK because they hate our guts. It’s cool to come nowhere then. Everyone expects it to happen – like everyone knows that the English football team always go down on penalties in the World Cup. To get no points in this tiddlywinks contest is just like – gruesome. I mean, if you can’t win this, you’re nowhere. Mandy’s right, it’s all over. Perhaps that’s a good thing. We can all get on with our lives now. It’s been nice while it lasted. Now welcome to reality girls.”

And Mandy, who hadn’t said anything yet, asked, “Did you see any of our mates in the audience?”

The three sisters had been performing with the studio lights in their eyes, but Gladys said she had spotted two whole rows of supporters from their school.

“Oh Poo!” Said Sam. “They’ll be laughing at us tomorrow.”

They washed their faces and got changed in a glum silence. Then a knock on the door, was followed by the producer saying, “Mum and Dad are here girls.”

Mum and Dad. Gladys couldn’t actually remember a time when she had heard those words. If any parent ever got a mention in the girls’ lives, it was Dad, and even he was only semi on this planet. Mum lived on the other side of the river now, and if they were lucky they got a card from her at Christmas and birthdays.

But in came both parents - like a normal couple. Mum had been crying, and her mascara was all smudged. Did she too think that they were rubbish?

“I’m so proud of my girls!” She said, overcome with emotion, and she was hugging and kissing them.

Dad just hung there, as he normally did, not quite sure what to do.

“But didn’t you hear what they said,” protested Sam, “The judges were so mean.”

“Who cares about those old has-beens,” said Dad. “It’s the people at home who count.”

And Gladys was quite surprised that he was so switched on about the situation. But Mum, it was amazing to see her. She was all glammed up in a low cut black evening dress and pearls around her neck and loads and loads of bangles on her wrists.

Laura said, “Well fancy you turning up.” Mum took no notice and kissed her all the same.

Mandy was shaking her head. But Gladys - She was happy. If nothing else, the chiX few minutes of fame had brought the family back together again. It was good to be, well, sort of normal – even if it was just for such a short time.

“And Gladdy. Aren’t you proud of how well your sisters have done?” Said Mum.

“Yes, I’m very proud,” said Gladys.

“And how are you getting on at school? Straight As. I know. Well, you have turned to be the brainy one. We can’t all be musical.”

“I’m doing fine, thank you mum.”

And then Arny the producer joined them and said, “Come on girls. Get yourselves into the green room. We can watch the results on the monitor there. Hey you can’t go like that. You’ve got to look your most gorgeous because you’re going to be back on stage to accept the big prize.”

The girls had to change again into their best clothes before they trooped, a little more hopeful now, back into the green room where all the other acts – some with friends and family - were waiting to hear the results too. You could smell the tension.

The main programme was over, and the viewers had an hour to vote from home. After the news, the live coverage returned to the TV studio for the results.

Everyone in the green room was looking up at the monitors as the Eurovision fanfare played. The smooth TV presenter was on stage delaying the big moment with some half funny jokes, like pretending his fingers were trembling with too much excitement to open the envelope. People were laughing, but only because of the excitement. Some of the kids from the ChiX’s school were shouting,
“chiX, chiX chiX chiX!”

“Hush now please,” said the compere. “Ooh, the excitement is killing me. Now, in reverse order, in the last, but honourable place, with 11,000 votes is…”

“Please don’t let it be the chiX,” thought Gladys.

“The Hopping Jays!”

In the green room two girls and two boys were patting each other’s backs in commiseration. They must be the Hopping Jays. Their song played briefly over the programme – a last taste of a tune that would be instantly forgotten for all eternity.

“And in 9th place, with 15,202 votes, but also with honour… Jimmy Jam!” Gladys looked around the green room. Jimmy Jam it seemed, was not a band, but a tall young man who was smiling sheepishly as the recording of his song played back again for a few moments.

“8th with just over 130,000 votes, is The Woopies!” The Woopies were a boy band wearing kilts and tartan scarves – presumably from Scotland – who just shrugged the shoulders.

Gladys heard one of them say, clearly in an London Accent, “Let’s get outta here,” just as the bagpipe chorus of their tune started to play.

Among the crowd of Eurovision hopefuls in the green room there was only one act that Gladys recognised: they were the Throbinsons, a boy band who had played at the chiX first gig. Mandy was exchanging a few words with their lead singer. She was saying, “I know it’s going to be us who are out next…”

But it wasn’t. It was a slightly older, but rather glamorous female singer called Shelly Simpson. She had over 500,000 votes. The next band to go out had almost a million.

Still neither the chiX nor the Throbinsons’ names had been called. During the next few minutes some more acts were eliminated, but with respectable quantities of votes, well over a million each.

“I can’t believe this, we’re still in,” said Sam.

“Oh my daughters. I’m so proud of you,” said Mum.

Even Dad looked gripped by the tension. He was staring at the monitor with his mouth open.

“I’m sure we’re out next,” said Laura.

But it was the Throbinsons whose name was called – with over 2 million votes. Their lead singer kissed Laura on the cheek as their song played for the last time, and they walked out into obscurity.

“And now,” said the compere, “We have two tip-top class acts left. Both are lovely girl bands. But sadly, only one of them can go to Istanbul to represent GB in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest. So who is it going to be? Will it be the lovely Dragonesses from Wales? Or will it be the gorgeous chiX from London? Which band did you bless at home, viewers? And the runner up is… The Dragonesses!”

Even Gladys shrieked with delight. Laura was jumping up and down, but she didn’t forget to commiserate with the Dragoness girls for coming second. Mum was kissing her daughters. Dad kissed Mum.

In the excitement, that was what pleased Gladys most – seeing Dad with mum. The producer came into break up the family celebration and hurried the girls out to the stage door.

The lights dipped, and then came up again, and they sang the encore of their circus song. Gladys knew that they would be singing this tune over and over and over again during the coming weeks. The chiX were on their way to final of the Eurovision Song Contest – in Istanbul.

Text Copyright Hugh Fraser 2009