"You are the limit Drew Bond!" Mum huffed.
"I already said I was sorry."
"I don't know what possesses you sometimes."
"I didn't do it on purpose."
"No I don't suppose you did but it still doesn't get you dressed for the reception."
"We could go buy some stuff." I offered.
"We could've if id known two hours ago but we have to leave in an hour. Maybe I'd best just ring them and say you are indisposed or something."
"I guess" I agreed feeling ever more dejected. I mean how was I to know that those chocolates I brought for the gang would melt all over my best togs!
"Well can you think of an alternative."
"No" I sighed. I am such a screw up, the BOC even paid to fly me and Mum to London for this do and me, I can't even dress myself.
"Hmm, I've got an idea, its only the dinner thing tonight, the presentation is in the morning so how about if Gaby goes tonight"
"I dunno, its s'posed to be me here like in Drew, male."
"Well it's either that or no show." Mum reiterated.
"Um I don't have any Gaby stuff either." I pointed out.
"But I do, well not Gaby's exactly but you've borrowed stuff from me before and I do have spare clean clothes."
I know what you're thinking, you wear girls stuff a lot anyhow so what difference tonight. Well I'll tell you what's different. Tonight I wanted to be me, Drew, there's gonna be like all sorts of BOC people, even royalty and I wanted them to meet me. But I guess I'd rather meet them as Gaby as not at all.
"Well in that case you'd better shower tout suite. I'll sort you out some clothes, you have got clean underwear I take it."
"Um yeah, they were in a bag."
"Um only like my usual sports ones."
"Okay we can sort that. Now scoot, I need to change too.”
‘Of all the stupid things to happen!' I mumbled to myself as I checked my legs for stubble, not that I ever got very much thanks to impromptu waxing sessions with the gang but it was pretty much ingrained after several years of bike riding. ‘Why didn't I put my best togs in a bag? But hey, how was I to know that the chocs would melt and leak all in my case?'
“Come on kiddo, shake a leg.” Mum encouraged from beyond the door.
I turned off the shower and started a sportsman's dry – you know, quick and not 100% effective.
“There you are, right you can get dressed while I do my makeup then I'll finish you up.
“Yes Mum” I sighed.
For her part Mum was dressed in a very smart trouser suit, a dark red with like a sparkly pin stripe, her hair was up and she was wearing her black heels – very nice. I checked out what she'd found for me, and I wasn't pleased.
“How come I've got a dress to wear?”
“Well, ouch!” she had poked herself in the eye with the mascara, “one this suit is new and two if you are going as Gaby you'll fit in better in a frock, how many fourteen year old girls do you see wearing trouser suits? Now get on with it.”
I guess she had a point there. And its not like the dress was bad or anything, just a bit erm sexy. Trust Mum to have spare clothes with her though. I quickly dressed in my knickers and I never knew Mum used padded bra's at least the one she put out for me was, all lace and it sort of enhanced by booblets somewhat although I hardly filled the cups – I'm not that big up top! The dress was new as well I guess as I can't recall seeing it before. Well I won't try to describe it except to say its that sort of stretchy panne velvet stuff in white with a square neckline and flowy sleeves – a bit sort of medieval looking. There was a matching choker and Mum gave me some holdups – pink fence net, and her pink ballet pumps, the ones with a little bow at the front.
“Hmm, come here, let's sort your hair out.”
One hair band, an elastic and numerous hairgrips later I was ready.
“Well I have to say kiddo, I think you look better in that than I do, my boobs hang out a bit.”
“Muum!” I complained.
“Well I think you look very nice.” She glanced at her watch, “bugger, come on the car will be here any time.”
With that she ushered me out of the room and towards the lift.
I don't really know London that well but according to the schedule thing it was about fifteen minutes from our hotel to the venue for tonight's festivities, The Grosvenor Hotel, Park Lane. Sounds impressive anyway. Back home in Germany the Mercedes limo would've only rated being a taxi but I guess when someone else is paying… To be truthful I was quite nervous so I didn't really take in anything that we passed on the way and then we were there, in a queue of cars waiting to drop off.
“You okay kiddo?”
“I guess.” I still wish I was in my Drew stuff even if this frock is nice.
They'd even got a red carpet from the car to the hotel entrance and oh bum! Photographers!
“Jenny, picture please.”
Mum was more used to this sort of stuff and I reluctantly stood with her while a dozen flashbulbs went off, nearly blinding me. Once inside a flunky checked our invites and we joined the back of a sort of queue of people waiting to get into the function. I couldn't work out why they didn't just go in, the door was open after all and then we reached the door ourselves.
“Names?” the overdressed bloke on the door asked in a hushed tone.
“Jenny and Dr-Gaby Bond.” Mum told him.
He checked his list, “ah yes Mrs. Bond and um it says Drew here?”
“Well she prefers to use Gaby” Mum filled him in.
He made a note on his sheet before going to the door.
“Mrs. Jenny Bond and Miss Gaby Bond” he announced and we found ourselves in one of those lines you see at these posh functions.
I recognised some of these people! The line wasn't long and I barely remember anything bar shaking a few hands and Mum having a couple of short exchanges. I'm sure I did say something but hey its not every day you get to meet a princess, a real live one and a couple of Lords! The Princess wasn't one of those girls that you see in the papers, heck you even get them in the German magazines! No it was Princess Anne who I think is something to do with the Olympic Committee and then there was Sebastian Coe who's trying to get the Olympics to London, he's a Lord and comes from round Sheffield somewhere. I'm sure he does something with cement these days as I've seen trucks in Sheff with ‘Coe-Crete' on them – Coe Crete mixers! I giggled to myself.
“What's so funny young lady?”
“Well let's get something to drink, the meal isn't until eight and we need to mingle.” Mum instructed.
I checked the big clock over the door, seven twenty five – half an hour to kill.
Maybe I should explain what this weekend is all about. You know the Olympics right? Well some bright spark came up with the idea of planning ahead a bit; after all it does something for a country's creditability if you win a few medals. So anyway they came up with this idea whereby the lottery thingy provides support for, and I quote, “our precocious talent who we hope will become Olympic champions of the future.” Now like there are loads of sports and only twelve ‘scholarships' so to be picked is like a major ‘Ehrung'! It doesn't guarantee anyone a place on the team but the peeps in charge believe, (I think they were conned!) that we are all potential Olympic champions of the future, probably for the 2012 Olympics. Not much pressure!
We ‘mingled' as Mum put it, quite whom we spoke to I haven't a clue, somehow Mum managed to steer conversation away from my gender. Around the room I could see several other 'apprentice Olympians' doing the rounds, it was like some strange folk dance – chat two three, move two three, wait and again chat two three, move two three. You get the idea.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, DINNER IS SERVED!”
We again joined a queue, this time for the dining room and found ourselves swiftly seated on a table with some bloke from the National Lottery and his missus, the Shadow Secretary for Sport (whatever that means) and John from British Cycling with his wife. The last was a surprise, as we hadn't seen them previously.
“Ah good to see you Jen and you too young Bond.” He hid his surprise at seeing Gaby well.
“Hi John, didn't realise you'd be here.” Mum mentioned.
“They asked for volunteers and I didn't move backwards quick enough.” He joked. “So how is Germany?”
“Still there this morning.”
“And our superstar, how are you?”
“We had a bit of an accident with some chocolate which caused a last minute change of plan.” Mum gave a non-committal explanation, she could hardly tell the truth, well not all of it, with these other bods about.
“You look very nice dear.” Mrs. John advised.
The meal was a right posh affair – like the bike club dinner times ten with knobs on! Lets see now, one, two, three – I make it five courses plus coffee. Then there was a bit of a speech session, which was really boring before we were expelled back to the reception room.
“Hey it is you!” a voice sounded near by. “Talk about a small world.”
I looked at the speaker without recognizing her, it sounded like she was from Sheffield but why I should know her.
“You don't remember do you?”
“Erm, I'm afraid not, should I?”
“Last year, Sheffield Skates, its Gaby right? I'll be so embarrassed if its not!”
I tried to remember but a lot has happened between then and now.
“The skater right?”
“It is you, phew! Jessica Mathews at your service. I thought you might come to the rink again.”
“Well er other stuff you know, and it's a bit far now.”
“Yeah we live in Germany now.”
“Cool, so like what sport are you here for, gymnastics?”
“I race bikes.” I admitted.
“Like that Jenny Bond, the cancer woman?”
“Erm she's my Mum.”
“And she's right here.” Mum stated joining us.
“Oh I'm sorry Mrs. Bond I didn't mean anything.”
“That's alright, I hear you are that skater girl?”
“Jess Mathews right, I've seen you on the telly. The British Championships wasn't it a couple of weeks ago.”
“Yeah, I only placed third though.”
“That's still very good.”
“Coach doesn't think so, I made stupid mistakes.”
“Not as many as I would.” I put in.
“Look I'd better go, maybe we can chat tomorrow?”
“Seems like a nice girl.” Mum noted.
“Yeah she gave us some lessons when Brit an' that came last year.
The public presentation was scheduled for ten o'clock at the Mansion House and somehow Mum had got my stuff cleaned and me into it before the car picked us up. I mean there was no way that Gaby could attend this was there?
It was a bit like those press conference things that you see on telly except bigger – well they were introducing twelve of us after all. It started with a video presentation where they showed a sort of historic overview of the country's Olympic prowess before introducing each of us with a short segment. I didn't even know that they filmed the Nationals and the interview thing I did at Hannover was really embarrassing! And what's more I actually knew another one of the ‘Chosen'! Anie-Frid Turner, Freddie wasn't here fore some reason but she was a hot Archer these days. I can't believe its nearly a year ago since we did all that stuff.
“Wow Drew, you're famous now!” Maddy grinned joining me on Aunt Carol's sofa.
“They showed you on the news, was Freddie there?”
“Nah, I think she was sick or something but I did see Jess, you know the skater girl.”
“The one with the legs?”
“She couldn't skate without them.”
Mad just rolled her eyes.
“So like is everyone okay, Ally an' Bern?”
“Yeah, not heard from Em for ages though”
“Oh and Helen said to say hi.” Mad added.
Helen. It'd be good to see her, and Al and Bern of course but this really is a flying visit, our flight back to Bonn is at seven so we have to leave here about four, all this way for a couple of hours. Mind you I can smell one of Aunt C's roast dinners on its way, that's worth the trip on its own!
“I did have some chocolate for everyone but it melted.”
“Bummer and here I was expecting Cologne.”
“Well we had to throw what was left, it went all over my stuff.”
“Yeah not a pretty sight.”
Maddy Bell 25.01.08 © 2008
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