"So we all agree then" Miss Cowlishaw sighed, "Sarah, Florence, Karen York, Susan, Vicky, Mfanwy, Sue and Gillian are on the squad and Tina and Sasha for reserves"
"So what now Miss?" Ally asked
"I'll post the list and next week we'll start training the new girls. Apparently we need to register you all so we can do the competitions, we'll get that sorted on Tuesday."
I'll tell her next week that I'm dipping out.
The day's looking up though, I got my uniform back and I didn't get detention either. After a scrum round I found another pair of school trousers and Jules had a spare tie so I was only lacking a blazer and as I was claiming that from lost property I got away with it.
Not only the day but the week. The weekend was soon upon us and all five of us are going to Worksop shopping.
"It's only three weeks to the Halloween party," Bernie mentioned as the bus bounced through Holbeck.
"Three weeks!" Mad exclaimed, "We need to get organised"
"What are you going as Bern?" Ally asked
"I thought I'd go as a Zombie, what about you guys?"
"Dunno" Rhod allowed
"Drew?" Bern enquired
"He's not going remember, it's Gaby that's going" Mad butted in
"We can check the costume shops and stuff today" Ally enthused
I sighed, just when things were looking up!
"Can't I just go as Dracula or something?" I pleaded as we walked up the High Street
"No way Drew, you need to lose Clive in style" Mad instructed
"Gaby would never show up in something like that," Ally affirmed
If I get my way 'Gaby' won't be showing up at all, I'll sort out my costume!
"I've got it!" Bernie declared
"Spill then" Mad demanded
"How about we all go as Buffy characters? Ally and Rhod can be the Undead, I'll be Willow, Gab'll be Buffy and Mad, you can be Cordelia"
"Cool!" Ally grinned
"Great idea" Rhod added
"That's settled then," Mad stated
"Don't I get a say?" I asked
"Oh come on Drew, it'll be ace" Ally told me
I decided not to push it; I'm doing my own costume anyway, right?
By the time we caught the bus most of the costume supplies were bought. The two Undead needed the most as the others thought that most of the stuff needed was in their wardrobes.
"Lets make a start tomorrow" Ally enthused
"Yeah, we can use my mum's sewing machine" Mad suggested
"I'll see what I've got tonight," Bernie added
"That okay with you Drew?" Mad asked
"I'm riding in the morning"
"Oh yeah, you said. Well come round when you get back, we can get on with everyone else's"
No supporters club in the morning then.
"Whatever" I replied non committaly
"You okay Drew?" Dad asked as we joined the line of cars heading for the Peak District.
"Come on Drew, I can see there's something"
In truth I was feeling a bit down this morning. I was feeling sidelined by my friends, and I really want Mum home.
"It's nothing, just a bit tired"
We passed another couple of bikies, you certainly see more out here now that there are fewer grockles around. After sitting in traffic at Baslow for ten minutes, Dad took to the lanes and we were soon parked up in the car park at Monsal Head. The weather was, lets say crisp, a bit of frost in the edges and some mist down in the valley bottoms. The sun was making a halfhearted attempt to break through the cloud but it was most certainly not shorts weather!
Dad got my bike ready while I fetched some tea from the takeaway, they were setting up a PA system and already people were staking out the prime spots to watch. For some reason I was feeling more than usually nervy this morning, last weeks results were in the comic and I could see people talking and looking my way.
"Go and have a ride Drew, and be careful, there's a bit of black ice in places"
I set off up the main road; it certainly felt better for getting the ole legs going. I turned round at the top of the hill and sped back down to the car park. I didn't stop but instead headed down the hill to check out the course. Whoa! There is some ice about! I freewheeled along to where the timekeeper was getting organised, at least there was a short lead in on this one before the climb starts. Turned round I started up the climb, once or twice I got some wheel spin on either the wet road or black ice, I'm not sure which. It's a fairly even gradient and I kept it going without too much problem, the race will be a different prospect I'm sure.
By the time I set off for the start there was a sizeable gallery crowding the top of the climb and inadvertently causing some traffic problems. The first riders were already on the climb as I descended and the nearer to my start the less confident I was feeling. I had intended wearing longs but one or two other riders were down to a skinsuit. Okay then, shorts it is!
At the last minute I stripped down and with my gloves the only allowance for the weather I waited for the countdown. The starter's watch had a countdown and I shivered as I prepared myself waiting for the beep to start.
"Beep, beep, beep, beep, Beeeeeeep"
I sprinted away and all too soon I was on the climb. Sheesh, it seems steeper than before! I pushed myself on and soon the first members of the gallery hove into view. Not far now, the red tunnel started to form and I could hear the PA system above me. Whoa! Where did he come from? I swerved around the slower rider and the crowd thickened and became more vocal the higher I got. My breathing was getting really ragged as I forced myself on and the crowd shouted their encouragement. It wasn't just my vision that was tunnelled; the roadway at the top was narrowed by the crowd cheering the riders the last few metres.
"Here you go Drew, you can stop now" Dad told me grabbing me and the bike then wheeling his wheezing son over to the car
"Huuuuh, huuuuh, huuuuh"
"Where's your top?"
"Huuuuh, bo, huuuuh, ttom, huuuuh"
"Okay, in you get" he instructed helping me off the bike and into the car's back seat.
I was shivering like Billy oh, the blanket Dad put around me having little immediate effect. He shut the door and left me huddled there and my mind was a blank. The door opened again and he thrust a hot mug in my hands.
"Get that down you, you need to warm your core"
I sniffed at the tomato soup in the mug, hmmmm, smells good. I tried to stop shaking so much and managed a few sips of the hot drink, it seemed scalding hot but another mouthful followed the first and I gradually settled into a light shiver. Dad was busy putting my bike away, outside I could hear the PA still going and the crowd cheering each time a rider reached the summit.
"Come on Drew, get some clothes on" Dad instructed next time the door opened
I found my jeans and pulled them on over my shorts, that was immediately better and a t-shirt and fleece later I was feeling much better, I wasn't shaking so much and I finished the soup.
"Here you go Dave" a voice called out
"Cheers Joe" Dad replied receiving a bundle which I recognized as my tracky top and longs.
"Good ride young un," the smiling Joe continued before departing with a wink.
"Who was that?"
"Joe Davis, he organises this every year"
I pulled a hat on before joining Dad outside. The PA was silent but most of the crowd were now gathering around the result board.
"Lets see how you got on eh?"
Before we got there however the PA started up again with a loud screech.
"We'd like to thank everyone for supporting us again this year, sorry it's so cold but you'll soon warm up on the way home! Okay lets sort out the prizes..."
I hugged myself and snuggled into my fleece as he droned on announcing the places from ten up. When I wasn't mentioned by fifth I kind of guessed I was well out of things, ah well.
"...And with the fastest time for over ten years with 2.46.03, this years winner is a great future prospect, Drew Bond, where is she?"
"Go on Drew, you've won!" Dad shoved me forward.
The crowd let me through and Joe beamed at me as he presented me with a good-sized cup. I managed a stunned grin as I accepted the silverware and the crowd cheered loudly.
Joe found me a few minutes later.
"Well done again lass looks like you're gonna have a busy social season"
"I'm not..." Dad arrived and interrupted before I could go on
"You get an invite to pick up the silverware with this" Joe went on, "are you riding the National?"
"We never thought to" Dad admitted
"What about the Schools?"
"Didn't know they had a hill climb"
"That's a pity, I'm sure young un 'ud be in line for a gong. Tell you what, I'll ring Ken Bates, he's organising this year, see if we can get lass in"
"You don't have to Joe"
"I want to, can't deprive everyone of a talent like this un's got can we"
"I'll ring you later Dave. Like her mother eh, quiet off the bike but no arguing on it!"
I was still goldfishing as he headed off.
"He means well Drew"
We had a quick look at the results board before heading to the car. That guy I caught, he was fourth! Sheesh!
"You okay now?" Dad enquired
"Yeah, I've warmed up now"
I actually dropped off as we made our way back, my effort finally catching up with me.
"You have got to be kidding!" I told Mad
"Why?" she just didn't seem to get it.
"Number one, I am not a girl. Number two, I am not a girl!"
"Come on Drew, we agreed"
"We!" I exclaimed, "We didn't agree to anything. You and the girls agreed, not me. And where are they anyway?"
"Upstairs helping Rhod get into his costume"
"Well I am not wearing that anyway." There, Drew Bond lays down the law!
I was barely inside Peters Acres before Mad had thrust the skimpy dress at me. Don't get me wrong; it was lovely and all that, for a girl but the Drewmeister is no way going to wear that out in public!
There was a bit of whispering outside the door then a pair of girl Zombies came in.
"I thought you were going to be Willow Bernie?" I mentioned
"I am" Bern stated from the doorway
"Gotcha!" Ally's voice came from a smiling Zombie
"So where?" the penny finally dropped
"What do you reckon?" the other ghoul asked in Rhod's voice
"But I thought..." I started
"You look brill Em" Maddy told Rhod
"Em?" I must be in an alternate universe or something
"Well as you're going as Gaby the girls thought I should go as Mfanwy" Rhod explained.
"We had a long talk with Em before you got here and we decided that all the cheerleaders should go together, well us anyway."
"Yeah, I know you guy's hadn't said anything before but I thought I should seeing as I made the squad" Rhod started to explain.
"Well we knew it was you on Tuesday but I didn't think you were into this dressing up lark really"
Rhod, Mfanwy, Em whatever! Sat down opposite.
"Look Drew, you know all about Cherys and all that right?"
"Right" I agreed. Well I know some of it anyway.
"And you know Al went to Wales with me the other week" he stated
"Well Al mentioned the Foresters and the tryouts and Cherys got all excited and suggested Mfanwy tryout. Worse than that she told my Mum!"
"Yeah Sylv was like 'maybe you should Rhod' when we got back" Ally went on
"So you knew already. Why didn't you say anything"?
"Em asked me not to"
"And what's with this 'Em' business?" I asked no one in particular
"Well Mfanwy is a bit of a mouthful," Bernie mentioned
"It's what my Gran calls me," Rhod told me
"So're you gonna try your dress on?" Ally asked
"He won't wear it" Mad announced flatly
"Drewww, why not?" Al whined
"Little Miss Priss says it's too skimpy," Mad told the others
"Well I can see that a bit, it's not summer anymore" Bern agreed
"I suppose I can find something else" Miss Peters allowed
"So how did it go this morning Drew?" the Zombie opposite me asked
"I won," I mumbled
"You won? Brill!" Ally trilled
"Why didn't you say Drew?" Mad demanded
"You started straight in with that stupid frock" I almost spat
"I thought Rhod was here, I've got veggie burgers on for him," Mrs P mentioned coming into the dining room.
"He had to go home Mum," Mad told her, "is it alright if Em stays though? She's a veggie too so she could have Rhod's burgers"
"As long as it's alright with her parents"
"Thank you Mrs Peters" Zombie Mfanwy mentioned in a sweet girly voice.
"Well it'll be about ten minutes so clear this mess up and lay the table please. Looks like you're well outnumbered today Drew"
"Yeah" I allowed
When I got home Dad announced that I would now be riding the English Schools hill climb on the 3rd of November, the Sunday after the school Halloween dance, all of two weeks away.
There was also news from Mum. The team had got an invite to spend a couple of weeks in Australia so her return home was going to be delayed until late November. At least she'd be back until New Year then! Dad didn't seem that keen on the whole idea although he didn't say as much.
In the interests of your sanity I'm gonna skip forward a couple of weeks. Don't worry you won't miss anything, all right I'll fill you in. you remember I was all set to leave the cheerleading to the girls? Miss Cowlishaw made me 'B' squad captain so how could I quit? I guess it's not too bad and it will save me doing any circuit training before Christmas!
Mad came up with a solution for the Halloween thing, one of her Mum's glittery tops teamed with some satiny trousers and sandals. Very Buffy but I've got my Dracula outfit sorted out so it doesn't matter anyhow!
Then last weekend I started to practice my Cyclo cross skills. Now that was fun, not! Dad had me running up and down carrying my new bike, then getting on and off. I lost count of how many times I whacked my shins with the pedals but I didn't suffer anything too drastic. I think it will be good fun; Dad has me entered in a local league thing just up the road that starts the week after next.
Other than that, school has been, well school and nothing else has been happening, oh yeah, me and the guys did go to the cinema on Saturday to see 'Bend it Like Beckham'. It was okay I guess but I'm not really a footy fan and it is what Mrs P calls 'a chick flick'.
So now you know what I've been up to I'll tell you about Halloween.
I was trying to leave getting ready as late as possible so I was listening to Dad moaning about all the trick or treat stuff.
"We never used to get all this. It's those damned Americans again."
"Maybe we should make them have bonfire night," I suggested
"I thought you were going to the school disco thing?"
"I am, it doesn't start till seven"
"Well don't you need to change or anything or are you going in school uniform?"
"I thought you were going as Buffy" Jules mentioned twenty minutes later. She was a pretty good Pratchett style witch, pointy hat, striped socks and stuff.
"Nah, Dracula" I turned and flashed my fangs at her
"Urgh put 'em away!
"You two want a lift?" Dad enquired
"Yes please Dad" Jules replied
"No I'm going over to Mad's first"
"What about later?"
"Aunt C is going to drop us off"
"I'd best get off I suppose" I told them grabbing the bag with my cape in and my fleece.
I checked the time as I walked over, yes! We'll have to go as soon as I get there. There is no way they can make me go as Buffy now! Strike one for the Drewster!
"Drew! Where have you been? We need to get you changed" Mad huffed from under her black wig
"I'm already changed" I told her shucking my jacket
"What as? That is so not Buffy"
"Dracula" I told her slipping my fangs in.
"There is no way Drew!"
"Why not? It's a Halloween costume"
"Because" and she ran upstairs
"Where's your cousin Drew" Aunt C asked slipping her coat on, "it's time to go"
"She ran upstairs"
"Maddy, come on time to go"
"What now" Mrs P rolled her eyes as she started upstairs.
Ah well! I sat myself on the second step, and tried to listen to the conversation above but it was too muffled to make any sense of. I was just at the point of counting flowers on the wallpaper when Aunt C came back down.
"Well Drew, looks like you've done it this time"
"Mad's adamant she's not going if you're wearing that outfit."
"It's only a disco"
"It may only be a disco to you but the girls have it all planned out"
"Seems everyone else is going as a Buffy character, but they don't have a Buffy if you go like that"
"Drew, Maddy says you knew but you've still gone your own way on this. I don't think that's very fair, leaving it 'till tonight, do you?"
"I er suppose not," I allowed
"You'll spoil it for everyone Drew"
"I guess. I just won't go," I suggested
"You know what you need to do young man" she looked at me sternly
That look again. Damn, damn, damn! Not exactly a choice I was looking to make tonight. I ran over the options. There aren't any options are there if I want to keep my friends. One last try.
"There's not enough time"
"Of course there is"
"We thought you weren't coming" Al greeted us as we arrived shortly after seven thirty. We had a bit of a problem with Buffy's costume" Mad gave me a wink
The Slayerettes, Zombies and Buffy joined the various witches, vampires and monsters in the school hall. I felt totally underdressed. Well not in that way, no everyone else was in some sort of proper costume and here I am looking like I'm going to the pictures or something. I let myself get dragged onto the dance floor by Mad and for a few minutes I forgot how I was dressed.
"So you forget your costumes?" Paul mentioned from behind his Phantom mask.
"Duh" Mad huffed, "she's Buffy and I'm Cordelia"
Paul looked blank.
"From the telly, you know Buffy the Vampire Slayer?"
"Where's your shadow?" Mad enquired
"Shadow? Oh Clive. Round here somewhere, he wasn't expecting you to be here Gaby"
"Yeah well I got an invite"
"Hey Paul you gotta come see this" Clive resplendent in Dracula outfit joined us, "er hi Gaby" he flushed pinkly spotting me.
Buffy Bond - Vampire Slayer!
"Gab wants to talk to you Clive, don't you?"
"Er yeah" I tried to remember what I was supposed to do. Was it speech then slap or the other way round?
"Can I catch you in a mo, come on Paul" he dragged the Phantom off leaving me relieved and Mad fuming.
"Ooh that boy!"
"Yeah" I lamely agreed wondering what he'd dragged Paul off to see.
"Hi girls, lets see now, Buffy and Willow?" Miss C chanced
"Cordelia Miss" Maddy replied, "Bernie's Willow"
"So you found any vampires to stake girls?"
"Only one so far Miss" I allowed
"Hi Miss" Zombie Ally greeted Coach
"Ally? That you under there?"
"Damn! I was sure you'd never work it out"
"You used your own voice dumbo" Mad told her
"So who's the other undead then?" Miss C enquired
"Em, I mean Mfanwy Miss" Ally informed her
"Well I have to go girls, I'm supposed to be making sure there's no shenanigans tonight"
That Drew giggles from the girls and a weak smile from me. She turned on her heal and headed the same way Paul and Clive had gone.
"See she knew who we are" Mad told us.
The evening ground on, my 'boyfriend' was noticeable by his absence and I was getting a little, erm uncomfortable. I spotted Jules heading outside with a lad who didn't need much help to look like Frankenstein's monster. Something to store for later. Being a school function and on a school night the whole affair was due to finish at ten and the whole reason for me being here as Gaby had so far failed to happen.
"Last dance" Clive swung me round
"Where've you been?" Mad demanded
"That's for me to know," he hollered back as he dragged me away.
Now's the time Drewster!
"Get your hands off me" I shook him off
"Whoa, what's up babe" this didn't sound like Clive?
"I said hands off" I slapped at him as he tried to grab me again.
"I thought we were tight?"
"In your dreams" then I caught a whiff of his breath, he'd been drinking.
"Come on Gab, one liddle dance"
"I said get off!" Octopus arms was having another go. I was having little success in escaping him, time for direct action.
"You asked for it!" I got an arm free and let rip. My hand caught his face nice and flat and old calamari hands was suddenly reeling and screaming at me.
"You bitch you!" he retorted holding his face
"I said get off and I meant it, come near me again and you'll get more than that!" I shouted back.
Of course by now we'd acquired an audience.
"You tell him girl"
I turned and stormed out of the hall and stuck my now stinging palm under my armpit to ease the pain. That hurt!
"You alright Gab?" Bern was first to join me
"My hand hurts like hell"
"Well he deserved it"
"He's been drinking," I stated
"Way to go Gaby," Em mentioned joining us
"Do you reckon he got the message?" Mad enquired with a smirk
To be honest I wasn't feeling that great about tonight's result with Clive. After all he is my, that is Drew's mate, it just didn't feel right!
"There you are," Dad paused, "I thought you went out as Dracula?"
"Okay" he obviously wanted to ask why I was now dressed as a girl but the question wouldn't form.