"Get that luv." Gran prompted, the house phone had started ringing as she opened the door.
I grabbed the phone and on reflex answered, "Bond Residenz, Gaby sprechen."
"Hello? Sorry I think I've got the wrong number, I'm after Peters?"
"Oh hi Caro."
"Drew? That you?"
"Last time I looked."
"Who is it kiddo?" Gran enquired from the kitchen.
"Caroline, you want to speak to her?"
"You can take a message."
"Sorry, just talking to Gran."
"Can you tell her I'll be there about half five."
"What time Drew?" geez it's like getting the conversation in stereo!
"Five thirty Gran."
"Tell her tea'll be waiting."
"I heard thanks Drew, good weekend?"
"‘S been okay."
"Tell me later, I'm wanted inside, bye."
I returned the phone to its cradle.
"You really sound like a girl." Mand stated.
"Come on you two, you'd best be ready before Caroline gets here," Gran observed.
I was down to bra and knickers before it registered – I've been done again haven't I? Gaby was so not supposed to make any appearances this trip and here I am, one week in spending most of the weekend as my alter ego. Now here I am with another new member of the ‘ I know Drew's a girl really' club next door besides a bunch of other people now thinking I'm my mother's daughter.
Well it stops here, from now on this summer it's Drew Bond, male, no more Gaby after all, if the Doc's get their way there'll be plenty of Gaby time in my future worst luck. I stripped off the bra and pants and looked in the mirror, yeah Drew, for a boy you make a pretty good girl right down to my tan lines – what was I thinking that day at the lido?
A shower and a set of my boy togs later I looked at least a bit less girly, my sports bra compressing my girls enough that they weren't that obvious under my baggy top.
“Come on Drew, tea's on the table.” Gran called up the stairs.
I grabbed my bag, no point in making too many journeys, and headed downstairs.
“Hello yourself, you not a bit warm in that lot?”
“It's warmer back home.”
“Sit yourself down Drew.” Gran directed coming through from the kitchen, Mand close behind with a tray of comestibles.
Although it was past time, Gran had put together what could be described as ‘high tea', sandwiches, sweet cakes and of course tea to wash it down with. Maybe a bit twee and poesh for some but enough to fill a hole before dinner later in the evening except of course we are missing dinner. Still we did have a good lunch so it's not like we're gonna starve is it.
“They go out on the bikes Josie?” Caro asked sitting back with her cuppa.
“Both days.” Gran supplied.
“We did a couple of hours steady yesterday.” I filled.
“And a fast ride this morning.” Mand added.
Caroline raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah it was pretty intense.” I agreed. We'd agreed not to tell Caro about the twenty-five, it's not like we'd been told not to but why tempt fate?
“Your Gran says you went to Chester today.”
“Just for a look round like.”
“All that Roman stuff and those weird shopping arcades, I've never been anywhere like it.” Mand told our manager.
“Well I'm glad you had a good weekend, I'm afraid you won't have much more downtime this summer.”
“That's why we're here.” I pointed out.
It was knocking on seven before we eventually left Gran's.
“Bye Mrs Peters, thanks for having me.”
“My pleasure Manda, come here Drew, let's have a hug eh?”
Well I'm not averse to the odd hug now and then and Gran's are some of the best.
“Thanks Gran, it's been a great weekend.”
“I've enjoyed having some company too, I'll see you before you go back to Germany, yeah?”
“Uh huh,” I sniffed, “I miss you Gran.”
“I miss you all too, now go out there and do me proud eh?”
“I'll do my best.”
With a final squeeze Gran let go of me and I climbed into Caro's Skoda.
“Bye Gran . ”
“Thanks for this Josie.”
“My pleasure Caroline and Drew don't forget to ring eh?”
“I'll remind him Mrs Peters.” Mand added.
We were barely out of Nantwich with best part of an hour's drive back to Droylsden when Caro addressed us in a serious tone.
“So who's going to tell me about today, this morning in particular?”
“We already did.” I suggested.
“No Drew, you told me something of a fairy story. Now how about the truth, Miss De Vreen?”
“We didn't think it would matter, everyone else was racing this weekend.” Mand blabbed, completely destroying any chance of a favourable account.
“What if we were resting you?”
“Erm,” I offered.
“We've blown it haven't we?” Mand had the beginnings of a blub in her voice.
“How'd you know?” I'm sure Gran hadn't dropped us in it.
“I had an interesting call from Brian Jones, apparently a couple of youngsters turned up for his club's twenty five this morning, both hailing from parts foreign and both posted impressive times, one beating their quite handy club champion in setting a new course record. Sound familiar?”
“Coincidence?” I suggested.
“Okay it was us.” Mand splurted out.
“The bit that threw me slightly was the description of two girls? Care to explain anyone?”
And so the whole sordid business was revealed as we made our way up to Manchester.
“So are we in trouble?” Mand asked.
“Chris won't be best pleased if he finds out.” Caro told us, “so I suggest we keep it amongst ourselves eh?”
“Mum's the word.” I stated.
“What he said.” My co conspirator agreed.
“Well done both of you by the way,” Caro mentioned.
“Can I ask a question Caro?”
“Erm,” I started, “how comes this Jones bloke rang you? Who is he?”
“That's two. Who is he? Well he was the timekeeper this morning.”
“The grumpy bloke who never got out of the car, bit creepy if you ask me.” Mand put in.
“That ‘grumpy bloke' used to be on the national squad, he lost both legs in a motorbike accident about ten years ago.”
“Shit.” Mand stated.
“We didn't mean anything, we didn't know Caroline.” I offered. I had wondered what the big box on the roof of his car was for, I'd never thought about a wheelchair or something.
“No reason you should and actually I agree, he can look a bit creepy sometimes but he loves bike racing and does a lot of stuff for the local clubs.”
“So he's like a talent scout?” Mand suggested.
“Let's just say he can spot potential and points us in the right direction from time to time.”
We'd been so involved with our own weekend that the rest of the teams' performances were still unknown to us when we arrived back in Droylsden.
“Well if it isn't the lucky sods who had the weekend off.” Claire greeted us with a grin.
“So how'd the races go?” Mand queried.
The two teams had had a pretty mixed set of results; the Saturday crew had done best, a podium and aggressive rider prize. Sunday however had been an unmitigated disaster, they'd completely missed the break, failed to put together any kind of chase and had then had to endure a lecture from Mr Toynbee when they got back to Manchester. It was so tempting to boast about the twenty-five but Caro had forbidden us to mention it.
The rain had started sometime in the night, I woke to the incessant sound of H2O hammering on the window and the strains of Terry Wogan* on someone's radio. I checked my alarm, ten to eight, sugar; I've slept through again! At least being in boy mode it only took ten minutes to wash, dress and head towards the smell of bacon.
“You not riding today?” Jamie enquired.
I'd just assumed we'd not be going out in this weather so I was dressed in my usual off bike cargo shorts and sweatshirt.
“You're alright Drew, you can change after breakfast, the ride has been put back a bit.” Steve advised.
I was starving, not literally but you know what I mean, I managed a good plate of grilled bacon and scrambled egg besides some toast and yoghurt.
“You'll get fat,” Claire suggested.
“Shoulda seen how much she ate at the weekend,” Mand offered.
“Hark who's talking,” I riposted.
“Come on you lot, Chris wants to talk to you all before this morning's ride,” Steve told us.
“Looks like another bawling out,” Darren sighed.
“Ye'll be glad ye wisna riding yesterday,” Jamie agreed.
“It can't have been that bad,” I offered.
“You kidding Drew, it was a disaster almost from start to finish,” Gethyn sighed.
“Some days are like that.”
“But we're supposed to be better.” Jamie mentioned as we cleared our table.
Not a good start for Monday morning.
* Sir Terry Wogan, long time presenter of the Radio 2 breakfast show as well as such gems as Blankety Blank and Eurovision Song contest coverage.
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 14.09.12