Dear Diary, y’alright love? Bloody hell it’s cold, it looks like it’ll snow tonight so I’m in with Cheryl and Nicola tonight, I’ll probably share the bottom bunk with Chezza. I’ve got my gloves on and I’m writing this at the rickety desk by candlelight. The meter has run out again and Nicola won’t let me use her torch because she’s using it to read Take A Break. I’m hoping this pen doesn’t run out anytime soon, I’ll have to ask Sarah to get some more of those little blue pens from the bookies. I have a lot of things on my mind you see and I don’t like to worry the other girls. Times are hard and another Christmas is coming up. And Christmas always reminds us of that time ten years ago when we ended up in a band but by many cruel twists of fate we have had the worst luck. At least we have each other. That’s all we have. I feel like crying but if my tears fall onto this cheap notepad the pages will go all mushy. So I won’t. Brave face and all that.
It all began on 30 November 2002 when me, Our Cheryl, Our Sarah, Our Nicola and Our Nadine ended up in a band called Girls Aloud. We’d been on the telly every other week to get the viewers vote and we’d made it! We thought all our dreams had come true. That was followed by a mad time of full on promotion to get our song, Sacred Trust, to No.1 up against One True Voice’s Sound Of The Underground. Yeah, their song was better but we were determined to be the Christmas No.1. We did loads of press, loads of radio and saying ‘Hi! We’re Girls Aloud!’ all over the country. It was hard work but brilliant and then on the final show when the charts were announced, we were devastated. Sound Of The Underground was No.1 and our single charted at No.57! It was really embarrassing. And a bit strange. Everyone was shocked but said they had found it impossible to find the single in the shops. Yet our manager Huey Felch insisted many copies had been pressed and distributed. We couldn’t understand it. We walked off the TV set and there were a few boos, wow people can turn quickly! I tried to block them out but Nicola got mad and said,
‘Who the fook booed us eh? I’ll fookin’ have ya!’
She stormed to the front of the stage but got dragged off by production staff and we tried to calm her down, while tears streamed down our faces.
‘What are we gonna do, girls?!’ Cheryl said.
‘I dunno babe,’ I pouted.
‘Maybay Huey wull hayulp us oit?’ Nadine said.
‘I dunno Nads,’ said Sarah, ‘not sure I trust that geezah. Got somefin’ a bit shifty abaht ‘im.’
I nodded, I sensed that too. Then out of nowhere, a green mist surrounded us, and there was Huey.
‘Top o’da mornin’ to ya girls! Bad luck eh? Sorry about dat, I did da best I could in da circumstances so I did. But everyone loves a boy band and wants to get in dere pants so you lost out dere so ya did.’
We stayed silent.
‘But don’t you worry, ya Uncle Huey will take good care of yas. I’ve got a plan and if you just bear with me, you can recover from dis li’l setback.’
I crossed my arms and said,
‘So what are you saying? We’ve still got a chance?’
‘Ah Kimberley, ya’ll just have to bear with me and do as I say. I’ll make ya all stars even da ginger one over dere whose name I can never remember, hee hee!’
Nicola started to fume and her eyes started to flash brightly as she stared at Huey. He shielded his eyes,
‘What da feck is she doing?!’
I put my arm around Nicola’s shoulders and said,
‘Not now Nic, he might be on our side, possibly.’ And her eyes went back to their regular blue.
Cheryl said, ‘That’s her Death Stare™. And her name is Nicola and she’s like me little sistah so don’t go upsettin’ her like Huey man!’
Huey straightened his tie. ‘Yes, well dat’s quite a nasty eye condition she’s got dere. Might have to do something about dat, it’s giving me da willies.’
‘Well…’ started Sarah.
‘Not now Sarah!’ I hissed. Sarah pulled a face and didn’t say anymore.
We were bundled into a minibus and Huey drove us to a non-descript suburb somewhere on the outskirts of London. As we left the bright lights of central London that Sunday evening, I sensed something wasn’t right, I looked at Cheryl and her eyes told me she felt the same. What was to become of us?
The minibus stopped outside a terraced house that didn’t look too welcoming. It had ‘10’ in brass numerals on the door, except the ‘1’ was upside down because one of the screws had fallen out.
‘Whay huve way stahpped hare Huey?!’ Nadine asked.
‘Well girls!’ Huey squeaked, ‘Welcome to ya new base, ‘Girls Aloud HQ’ as I like ta call it. You pay me a very reasonable amount of rent each mont’ while I mastermind your rise to da top o’ da pop world.’
‘No way Huey!’ Cheryl said, ‘I’m not fuckin’ stayin’ here man! It’s a fuckin’ dump!’
‘What about where we were staying before Huey?’ I frowned, ‘Why can’t we stay at the house we’ve been in for ages?’
‘Kimberley, dat would be way too expensive. I know ya’re all new to dis business, but any expenses came out of your pockets. And sorry to say dis girls, your pockets are empty right now. You owe me two mont’s rent. Deposit and all dat.’
‘Bleedin’ ‘ell!’ Sarah swore, ‘We ain’t signed no fackin’ contract!’
‘Hee hee! Now now Sarah, I did get yas all to sign someting earlier. Dat piece o’ paper?’
‘I thought that was our autographs for a little kid in the audience!’ I said.
‘Oh Kimberley!’ Huey shook his head, ‘The paper was folded so you wouldn’t see what you were signing. And as if anyone would want autographs from you girls! Hee hee! In da space of dis journey to your new home, you’re already old news.’
‘No need to be so fookin’ harsh Huey!’ Nicola said in a wobbly voice. I could tell she was going to cry again.
‘Dat’s showbusiness Ginge, get used to it. Contract states ya can’t leave without my say so, or until all monies owed are paid back. Now here’s ya keys. Your stuff is already in da hall, I saw to dat already. I’ll be touch…’
Huey sat there in silence, eyes ahead. We looked at each other, shrugged and got out of the minibus. Nadine was last out, as soon as she closed the door of the minibus, Huey sped away into the night in a cloud of green mist.
We shivered as the December wind went right through us. I looked at the cold keys in my hand and walked up to the door with the other girls close behind me. I put the key in and turned it, it was stiff at first but then the door opened. Inside was nothing but darkness and as I stepped over the threshold, I swear it was colder inside than outside. And there was a smell of mould and dirty socks. But the latter might have been coming from the bags of our stuff that had been dumped in the hall.
‘Well I’m going back to me mam’s first thing in the morning!’ said Cheryl.
‘We’re all going ‘ome aren’t we?’ said Nicola, ‘It’s nearly Christmas!’
‘Yeah, course we are,’ I said as I felt along the wall for a lightswitch. I bashed my leg on something and then found the light. It flickered and then stayed on, the bare lightbulb swung slightly and we looked around at our new lodgings. It was grim. I almost wanted to put the light out again. I looked down at what I’d walked into. It was a small table with a dusty old phone on it. Next to it was an envelope.
I opened it and there was a copy of our contract with a note from Huey. It was as if a green mist formed around us as a disembodied voice said,
‘Top o’da mornin’ to ya girls! Enclosed you will find a copy of ya contract and ya’ll see you’re my bitches now, hee hee! Anyway, ya Uncle Huey is no Scrooge and yas can all go home for Christmas, but be back at da house on da 27th of December, I’ve got plans for all o’ yas. Oh and don’t go tinkin’ ya can’t come back. Breach of contract could lead to a nasty court case and I’m sure none of yas fancy a li’l holiday at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Prison wouldn’t be nice for young ladies like you. Imagine if your prison cellmate is Big Brenda and she wants you to be her missus? It would not pleasant, hee hee! So do as I say and it’ll be grand!
Merry Christmas to yas!’
Nadine put her hand to her chest, ‘Ah ah’m nat goin’ tuh pruson! Ah’m too pruttay!’
I frowned, ‘We’re not going to prison Nadine! I’m sure there will be a way around this. We’ll get a solicitor to check out this contract. And you never know, it might work out with Huey.’
The girls looked at me, they didn’t look totally convinced, and nor was I really. Huey had got all this planned pretty fast.
‘Anway gels,’ said Sarah, ‘we’ll be knocking back snowballs wiv our ‘ands in a tin o’ Quality Street before ya know it!’
‘I just wanna go ‘ome and see me family,’ sniffed Nicola. I gave her a squeeze.
Nadine closed the front door, after some effort, and we walked into the front room.
‘Hmm, living room I guess.’ Cheryl said.
‘If you can call it living,’ I sighed. A mouse scuttled across the room. ‘Oh well, looks like we got a pet!’
Nicola flung herself down onto the manky looking sofa, a cloud of dust went up.
‘Fack’s sake!’ Sarah said waving her hands about and coughing, ‘This place is fackin’ lethal!’
I’m sure I could hear the mouse cough it was that dusty. I felt twitchy, I wanted to clean the place immediately!
‘Anyone got a plastic bag I can sit on?’ I asked, ‘I’m not putting me arse on that!’
Cheryl sat down, with less force than Nicola so there was less dust, and said,
‘You can sit on me lap babe.’ And she slapped her thighs.
‘Aw thanks Chez.’
We looked around the rest of the house and it was just as grim. At least there were enough beds. Me and Nadine bagged the twin beds in the front bedroom, Cheryl and Nicola got the bunks in the middle bedroom and Sarah got the boxroom at the back. The kitchen was basic. The fridge door was speckled with rust but it worked and there were teabags and a bag of those little pots of UHT milk you get in hotels, so we could have a cup of Tetleh. The gas cooker was covered in grease and looked like a death trap but we’d deal with that later. And I’d give it a good rub down with Vim.
We couldn’t get the heating to work properly so we had to huddle together for warmth on the manky sofa with mugs of tea to warm our hands. The TV worked, by some kind of miracle, and the ten o’clock news came in. And there they were, One True Voice celebrating their win on the show, spraying each other with champagne and laughing. And then they showed the most unflattering photo of us all blubbing with ‘LOSERS’ rubberstamped across it.
‘What a fuckin’ shit night!’ Cheryl said.
I squeezed her knee.‘Not been the best has it babe?’
‘Ah can’t wayut tahs gut home for Chrustmus!’ Nadine said.
‘Yeah,’ I said feeling brighter, ‘Christmas dinner, Queen on t’telleh…’
‘Suluction bockseys…’ Nadine nodded.
‘Eh?’ Nicola asked.
‘Suluction bockseys! Wuth chackolate! Whay does nayone undurstund may!?’
‘Aww don’t cry ya silly cah!’ Sarah said. ‘We’ll get what ya bleedin’ sayin’ eventually!’
‘Yeah come on girls, ‘ I said, ‘let’s get an early night and we can all go home in the morning.’
But overnight there was a snow, a lot of snow. Trains were cancelled. Nadine couldn’t fly home. No one could get home and we spent our first Christmas together. From that night on, life got cold.
I better stop writing now, I can hear Nicola giggling behind me, I’m pretty sure she’s shining her torch on me arse. She’s always drawing attention to my arse for some reason. I’m going to snuggle up with Cheryl now, it’s dead parky!
Thought I’d write some more before I go to work. Me and Cheryl work at QuidWorld and are doing the afternoon shift. Last night when we were in the bottom bunk and Nicola was on top, she asked us why we were shaking the bed. We said we were ‘bed-dancing’ to keep warm. She said,
‘Alright, I’ll believe ya, millions fookin’ wouldn’t!’
Anyway, after we couldn’t go home for Christmas that first year, we waited for Huey to let us know what was happening next. I also had our contract looked at by a solicitor but it was water-tight and it was confirmed we’d have to pay back the money we owed before we could be released from the contract. We were up shit creek basically. After badgering Huey on the phone he fixed us up with a gig. We were so excited and practised in the front room. He said we’d have to get the bus to an address and use a tape player for backing. We arrived and it was an old people’s home! They didn’t know who we were, not because they were senile, but because while the country was gripped by One True Voice fever, everyone had forgotten us. We did a couple of songs in their lounge and a few of them stayed awake, so that was good. But then one of the alert ones said it was the time they usually had afternoon tea and biscuits and we were stopping them from getting their refreshments. It all kicked off then, I got threatened with a zimmer frame, Cheryl and Nadine got pelted with Werther’s Originals and Nicola said they smelt of piss. One old lady had a funny turn and we were asked to leave. When Sarah asked the matron about our fee, the matron told us Huey had arranged us to do it for free!
We didn’t get any more gigs after that. Huey did turn his attentions to Nadine though and somehow got her to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest. We were happy for her and hoped it would lead to better things for all of us. But on that night, Nadine had various technical issues. Her microphone kept cutting out and to top it all, the back of her dress was tucked into her knickers and she was laughed off the stage. Poor Nadine! She did make Eurovision history though. One of the more conservative countries was so disgusted by seeing her knickers that they awarded her with -12 points. No other contestant has finished with less than nil points!
From that night on, Huey was no longer our manager, he was simply our landlord and a little bastard of a landlord too! I tried to keep the place clean but the house was mouldy and damp. We ended up growing mushrooms on the walls of Sarah’s box room at least it was extra food for us. But there’s only so many dishes you can do with mushrooms. Our rent would go up every year and whatever we did to earn money, we were always in the red. And while all this went on One True Voice went from strength to strength. Number ones, sell-out tours, sponsorship deals. Colin out of One True Voice has become the nation’s sweetheart since being a judge on a talent show and you can’t switch on the TV or go to the newsagent without seeing their smug, famous faces! Ugh, it almost makes the red mist descend but I must not be bitter.
Cheryl and me have been working at QuidWorld for five years now. It’s alright I suppose, it’s a job. Our uniforms aren’t exactly made of breathable fabric, the armpits have gone stiff and cardboard-y, I have to crack the armpits of mine over my knee before I can put it on. But me and Cheryl try to have a laugh at work and we have our little chats too when it’s quiet. Sometimes I feel Cheryl wants to tell me something but just when she’s about to say it, there’s an announcement on the tannoy and we get called to the till or have to clean up a spillage in aisle three. I wonder what it is she wants to tell me?
Nadine now works as a barmaid, she seems to enjoy it. She gets to sing some nights and gets paid in pork scratchings. It’s nice that she’s putting food on t’ table. Some nights it’s all we have.
Sarah and Nicola are buskers, they still want to play music and make money somehow but it’s not much.
On top of that we have another mouth to feed. Someone somewhere in this world loves you and for us it’s our superfan who lives in a makeshift tent in the bay outside the house. Huey has had him removed by the police a few times for living there rent-free but he usually comes back. He’s sweet really and he’s certainly dedicated! We have to pose for photos with him when we leave the house, but I’m used to it now. We don’t let him into the house too often though. One time he used the toilet and as he walked back through the hall, he asked about the cupboard under the stairs. I don’t know if he was hoping to move into it! Anyway, I told him that’s where Huey kept just some of our unsold CD singles, they were stacked right up, there was no room for anything else in there, but Huey told us not to move them. It’s like he wanted to constantly remind us of our failure. I let our superfan have one seeing he loved us, I thought it wouldn’t hurt. But Huey noticed next time he did an inspection that there was one less and he grilled us about it. I didn’t say anything as I knew our superfan went to sleep each night clutching it to his chest, awww! It was weird that Huey was so hung up on it though, and I thought I better not touch the contents of that cupboard again.
This morning I came down the stairs and the letterbox flap opened, I could see a familiar pair of eyes,
‘Morning Kimberley!’ Superfan shouted.
‘Hiya love, y’alright?’ I murmured half awake.
‘Yes thank you, you look lovely by the way!’
I looked down at my threadbare Primark nightgown, ‘Erm, thanks!’
‘One question, who threw down the Wotsits packet by the door?’
‘Erm I dunno, Nicola probably,’ I made a mental note to tell her off later for being a litterbug.
‘Thanks, I’ll get her to sign it later.’
‘Okay love.’ I made my way to the kitchen.
‘Oh and another thing! Can I have some toast please? You can post it through the letterbox!’
‘Not sure we’ve got any bread left, but if we do, I’ll let you know.’
‘Thank you! Love you!’
‘Yeah, thanks.’ I wasn’t even sure there’d be any breakfast for me never mind him. I prayed that QuidWorld would get a batch of Pop Tarts in so there’d be breakfast tomorrow.
Look at the time! My bus will be at the stop soon, me and Chezza better go!
The day hasn’t gone well. Me and Chezza were called into a staff meeting at QuidWorld. We were all told there would be redundancies and so close to Christmas as well. Gutted, me and Chezza decided to get a cheap bottle of wine to cheer ourselves up so we popped into the convenience store on the way home. I was having a look at the bargains in the booze aisle when I heard Cheryl’s raised voice.
‘Get off ya cow, I saw it first!’
I run into another aisle and there’s Cheryl and this random woman tugging on a loaf of bread.
‘Fuck off! I got to it first!’ screamed random woman.
Cheryl spotted me,
‘Kimba babe, help us out, this bread was in the reduced section and this cow reckons it’s hers!’
‘Cheryl!’ I pleaded, ‘It’s okay we can go without breakfast. Again.’
‘Howay man, I’m gonna fight…’ she yanked the bread, ‘fight…’ and she yanked again with extra effort, ‘fight for this loaf!’
Something stirred in the back of my mind. Something seemed familiar.
Random woman let go of the bread and fell into a basket of labelless cans. A hulking figure ran down the aisle, it was security!
‘Arrest her!’ screamed random woman with her arse still lodged in the basket.
Security turned out to be a woman, the facial hair had fooled me for a moment. I saw her name badge said ‘Brünhilde’. Again, something chimed in my mind.
‘Vot is going on hier!’ Brünhilde barked, ‘No need to fight mein lieblings with Christmas so close!’
Aww, I warmed to her for some reason.
‘I swear on me life, I saw the bread first.’ Cheryl pleaded.
Brünhilde lifted random woman out of the basket by the scruff of her neck with one hand.
‘Ah it is you again Sharon, always here with the buyings of bargains. Look at these girls, they look like they need a good meal!’
Sharon zipped up her puffa jacket, ‘Yeah well, didn’t want it that much anyway!’ and went off in a huff.
‘Thank you so much!’ I said.
‘Honestly, you’re a fuckin’ lifesaver.’ Cheryl said.
‘That’s okay mein lieblings. I may be built like a brick scheissehaus but I have a big heart. Now don’t let me see you do that again, ja?’
We nodded and paid for our cheap bread and wine. Outside it was bitterly cold, we linked arms on our way home and wondered how to break it to the other girls that me and Chez might be jobless by the new year.
I set up the table for our dinner and the front door slammed, it was Nicola.
‘Y’alright love?’ I smiled. Nicola had a right face on her.
‘Not really Kimberley. Me and our Sarah were busking in town but we got moved on by the police, there were complaints.’
‘People said we were shite and singing depressing songs. We weren’t ‘festive’ enough for the fookers.’ Nicola sat down at the table and fiddled with a fork.
‘Well, what songs did you do? Not the ones you wrote?’
‘What’s wrong with my songs?!’
‘Come on Nic! ‘Shitty London Town’, ‘It’s Tragic’, ‘Unlucky Day’… not exactly cheery stuff is it?’
‘We sang ‘We Wish You A Shitty Christmas’ too!’
‘Well people don’t want to sing the brown word at Christmas.’
‘Kimberley, we are going to have a shitty Christmas! Look at our Christmas tree! One fookin’ bauble and limp branches.’
I looked at the tree in the corner. It did break my heart. It should be standing there proud and beautiful and alive. A tear came to my eye.
‘I know Nic, you’re right.’ I sighed.
‘Anyway, Sarah had to go and see about a call centre job. She won’t be late though.’
‘Okay, we’ll all be here for dinner, that’s good. We need to talk.’
Nicola’s face fell. She knew it wouldn’t be good. When is it ever good?!
Cheryl walked in from the kitchen,
‘Hi babe,’ she said to Nicola, ‘Kimba, I’ve put the kettle on, dinner shouldn’t be long now. Where’s Nadine?’
‘Oh, she’s upstairs doing her hair.’ I replied, ‘I said she could use the last bit of conditioner.’
‘Oh shit no! Me hair is like straw, what I’d give for a decent hairdo right now. But I’m so down, it’s like I’m not worth it.’
‘Aww babe,’ I stroked Cheryl’s hair. Some of it broke off. Oops! Thankfully she didn’t notice.
Nadine came down with her hair up in a towel.
‘Ach! Ay rullay needed thut! May shuft ut thuh pub was rullay tough todae, un thay kupt playung One Troi Voice’s new sungle ahn thuh joikebocks!’
I pulled a face.
Cheryl went out to the kitchen and came back in with a tray with five pots on it. She put it on the table. Nicola picked up one of the pots and gave it a dirty look.
‘What the fook is this?’
I sat down and said, ‘It’s Instant Roast Dinner, they had an offer at QuidWorld and that’s our dinner tonight.’
Nadine looked at her pot suspiciously.
Cheryl said, ‘Just eat it pet, there’s bread as well.’
Nadine said, ‘Ut looks a but squayushed!’
‘Yeah, long story there babe,’ I said as I tried to identify the mush in my pot. ‘Nic, just eat it, yeah?’
Nicola glared at me, not that that was effective as it once was. Not long after we moved in here, Huey took Nicola off to have her eyes tested. Turned out he’d taken her to some dodgy optometrist who disabled her Death Stare™ To see her without her Death Stare™ made my heart sad.
The front door slammed again, there was a flurry of swearing and Cockney slang as Sarah stormed in.
‘Ugh, I can’t believe me fackin’ luck!’ Sarah swore.
‘No luck with the job babe?’ Cheryl asked.
‘No I bleedin’ didn’t! ‘Onestly, if I fell into a barrel o’ cocks I’d come out suckin’ me bleedin’ thumb!’
Nicola started singing in a Cockney accent, ‘Roll out the barrel, we’ll have a barrel of cocks…’
‘Can we not have cocks at the dinner table please?!’ I said. ‘Now eat your dinner Sarah, before it gets cold.’
Sarah pouted and sat down.
We told the girls about me and Chezza’s jobs at QuidWorld. Everyone fell silent. This was going to be the worst Christmas yet. Sarah suddenly said,
‘Oh ‘ang on! I forgot! On me way ‘ome I spotted a squid on the floor! Y’know, a quid, a pahnd!’
‘Aww well that’s a bit of luck I guess,’ I said brightening up, ‘put it in the kitty jar.’
‘Ah, see, wot I did…’
‘Ah Sarah man you didn’t!’ Cheryl said.
‘Wot?! Yeah okay I gotta scratchcard wiv it. I fort it was the start of fings lookin’ up.’
‘And…’ I said, ‘did you win anything?’
‘I ‘aven’t dunnit yet!’ And with that Sarah pulled the card out of her jeans pocket.
Suddenly we were excited, we searched frantically for a coin to scrape of the silver panels. We had to use a button in the end. Sarah started to scrape away the first panel, it was £20,000! Then the next one, £20,000 again!!! Then, £1…, £10…, £100…, £5. Shit. We slumped back in our chairs.
‘Well that’s it then!’ I said flinging my arms up, ‘We’re more fucking stuffed, then a fucking turkey on fucking Christmas Day! Not that we can fucking afford one!!!’
‘Babe, that’s the most I’ve heard you swear. Ever!’ Cheryl said. She looked kind of excited?
‘Sorry Cheryl, I’m done, I can’t be positive anymore!’ I dabbed my eye with my tatty sleeve.
‘There is one thing Kimberley,’ said Nicola with a cheeky smile.
‘No Nic, I’ve told you already, I’m not doing it!’
‘But you’d be perfect to audition for Juicy Ass jeans! You’d be amazing!’
‘Dae ut! Dae ut! Dae ut!’ said Nadine slapping the table.
‘Babe,’ said Cheryl, ‘your bum is all we have left!’
‘Oh god I can’t!’ I cried, but Cheryl’s eye were all puppylike. Could I go through with it? All the girls were depending on me arse. My bottom could put food on t’table.
I sighed, ‘Okay, what do I have to do?’
Nicola got out her phone, ‘I just need to take a good photo of it and send it to them.’
I was about to bend over the table when there was a thud on the doormat.
‘What the fack was that?!’ Sarah swore. She walked out and down the hall and came back with a padded envelope. It made a difference to what the local kids usually posted through our letterbox. Sarah opened it and it was a blank DVD case with just a post-it note attached. ‘Watch me!’ it said.
‘Could be dodgy,’ said Sarah, ‘hopefully, ha ha ha! Nothing to say who bleedin’ sent it tho’.’
‘Let’s put it in the DVD playah babe.’ Cheryl said.
‘If it works, the fookin’ thing keeps skippin’, needs chuckin’ out really.’ Nicola said. She was going to hold off photographing me arse for the time being, so that was something.
We went into the living room and Sarah put the DVD in. We sat down and waited. The titles came on, it was the reality TV show we’d been on ten years ago. Why had someone sent us this? To rub it in?!
‘I’ll switch it off,’ said Sarah and went towards the DVD player. It was skipping as usual but then it stopped on the moment the Christmas No.1 was announced.
‘Hang on a minute Sarah,’ I said, ‘this bit seems different.’
We all leant a little closer to the screen.
‘And the Christmas No.1 is…’ the DJ said, ‘… Girls Aloud!!!’
We stared at each other open-mouthed.
‘Whut the feckin’ hayulll?!’ Nadine shrieked.
‘I don’t understand…’ frowned Cheryl.
The DVD continued and we performed our song,
‘Way’re sunging Soind Uf Thuh Undergroind?!’
‘This has to be a joke!’ I shouted, ‘Give me that DVD Sarah, I’m seeing Huey in the morning. He must have done something. CGI or something. This must be faked somehow.’
Sarah took the DVD out and handed it back to me. I picked up my handbag and put the DVD in it. Then we heard a thud! Then another one.
‘Where the fook is that comin’ from?’ Nicola cried.
It seemed to be coming from the hall. We slowly walked out, the thudding increased and a glow started to emanate from the gap around the door to the cupboard under the stairs!
‘Oh great!’ Cheryl shouted, ‘Now the house is on fire!’
‘No it can’t be,’ I said, ‘I can’t smell any burning.’
‘This is freakin’ me out, what the fook!’ Nicola cried.
Open it! A voice said inside. Open it Kimberley!
I grabbed the handle and threw the door back so hard it almost came off the hinges. The glow behind the stacked up CD singles was more intense.
‘GET THOSE SINGLES OUT OF THE WAY!’ I shouted. And all of us grabbed and flung the cases behind us as we got closer to the source of light. When the cupboard was clear, the light was blinding. We stood for a second completely stunned and unsure of what to do next but then, an immaculately manicured hand reached out towards me. I heard a voice in a soothing Texan accent,
‘Come to the light baby, come to the light…’
I still had my handbag in my right hand so I hitched it up to my shoulder and reached out my hand.
‘KIMBERLEY, NOOOO!’ Cheryl screamed
‘CHERYL, GRAB MY HAND! NICOLA, SARAH, NADINE! HOLD HANDS!’ I shouted. Cheryl grabbed my left hand and I made contact with the hand reaching out to me. I felt an arm-wrenching yank and the next few moments was a combination of light, sound, of being compressed, stretched, falling, rising and then one final flash!
I slumped to the floor. I could hear the girls groaning around me. My hand felt the ground, it was the most luxurious carpet I’d ever touched. Was I in heaven? I could hear the gentle running of water and the sound of a harp gently playing. I opened my eyes and saw a pair of expensive heels. There were feet in them. I slowly looked up. It was only bloody Beyoncé!! She reached out to me and I stood up, my head was spinning.
‘Am I… am I dead?’ I mumbled.
‘No, honey,’ said Beyoncé ‘you ain’t dead at all. You have come back to life!’
I looked around and the other girls were standing up and looking as disorientated as I l felt.
‘If this is a dream,’ said Cheryl, ‘this is the most fucked up dream I’ve ever had.’
‘No Cheryl honey, you ain’t dreaming no sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare.’
‘Seriously Kimberley,’ said Nicola, ‘what was in that Instant Roast Dinner, because I am tripping my tits off!’
‘No Nicola hun, you ain’t trippin’ either.’ Beyoncé smiled. ‘Nadine, Sarah, lovely to meet all of you.’
I looked around. There was a fountain made of marble and beautiful statues surrounded us. I went towards one and it felt real and cool to the touch.
‘What the fack is goin’ on! ‘Scuse my French Bey!’ Sarah said.
‘That’s okay, I’ll forgive curse words in these circumstances. This, ladies, is a time portal. Someone has been messin’ with fate and took you to that awful awful place.’
HUEY FELCH! I looked at the other girls, they knew it too.
Beyoncé continued, ‘All you need to do to make it all okay is walk through that door.’
‘Which door?’ I asked.
‘Honey, the one to the left, to the left!’
‘Oh right, thanks!’
I was about to give her a hug goodbye when the thudding began again and I turned around. There was a door shaped like the one underneath our stairs, it glowed and what looked like green mist was gathering, then flash! There stood someone I didn’t want to see again,
‘HUEY FELCH!’ we all shouted, ‘YOU BASTARD!’
‘Top o’ da mornin’ to ya girls!’ he squeaked. He rubbed his head, ‘Oh dat does hurt me li’l head going through dat door!’
‘What the hell have you done to us Huey?!’ I shouted, I wanted to give him a smack!
‘Oh Kimberley! Don’t believe anyting dis lady here says, come back with ya Uncle Huey. Yas can trust me.’
‘You’ve got to be fuckin’ jokin’ man!’ Cheryl said, ‘We’ve seen the DVD you sent!’
‘Oh no honey, that was me.’ Beyoncé smiled. ‘This horrible little man found a way to change a whole lotta history, right Huey?’
‘And if you hadn’t meddled, I would’ve got away it!’ Huey fumed.
‘But whay Huey?! How dud yas dae all thus?!’ Nadine demanded.
‘Okay, I’ll tell yas. In da year 2012 you celebrate ten years since you formed, and you’ve had lots of success. Without me! You organised a press conference to announce your reunion and I wasn’t invited of course, but I sneaked in anyway, hee hee! I needed da toilet so I went to da Gents. As I was sitting dere in da cubicle, I see a hole through to da next stall. Curiosity got da better of me and I had a cheeky look. I couldn’t believe me eyes! I see dis beautiful room we are standing in now. I hurried out of da cubicle and go into da next one and here I am. Den I see dis li’l door in da corner, it’s calling me.’
While Huey is saying all this, other memories are coming to me. Tours, number ones, my feet standing on a West End stage…
‘So I walk towards dat door and… well you know what happens next. On the other side, in a parallel universe, I found meself in dat shitty house. In da living room was a handsome fella with a green mist surrounding him. I’d come face to face with meself. He tells me dat we are in 2002 and weeks away from da final. But I know what happened when you won. He tells me, only I can change da outcome and should do all I can to sabotage you winning dat show. I did all I could to keep you in your place and ensure you would lead miserable lives!’
Nicola snarled and her eyes glowed a bit.
‘Nic!’ I shouted, ‘I think you’ve got your Death Stare™ back!!’
Nicola looked shocked but then frowned again and her stare intensified as it fixed itself on Huey.
‘Ahh me eyes!’ Huey shrieked. Ten years of rage poured out of her eye sockets and Huey slowly sank to the floor howling in pain.
‘Run!’ Beyoncé pleaded, ‘Run like a mutha!’
‘Thank you Queen Bey!’ I shouted as we ran for our lives towards the door to the left, to the left. The door opened and we found ourselves in the hotel Gents toilet. There was a man stood at the stalls looking confused.
‘Oops sorry love!’ I blushed and we ran out.
We hugged each other. All the good memories were flooding back. I realised my handbag was still on my shoulder with this very diary in there along with the DVD. Did that other life really happen or not? I don’t know. But it’s written down here. On very cheap paper.
We walked out of the hotel into the December night and a long black car was waiting for us. Brünhilde was in the driving seat, she must have been chauffeuring for us that day.
‘Ah mein lieblings! I am ready to drive you to your country mansion in Little-Minge-On-The-Hill! It will be a wonderful Christmas!’
Oh god, I was so happy I could cry! Then I noticed a homeless guy outside the hotel.
‘’Ere Cheryl, that guy looks familiar.’ I said.
‘Ooh he does babe. I think it’s Wayne from One True Voice! He must be down on his luck.’
‘Aww poor love! We should do something.’
So we did. We paid the hotel to put him up for two weeks over Christmas. It’s the least we could do. Anyone can fall on hard times if fate isn’t on your side.
© Lisa Allen 2012