book 3 Gaby Title.jpg
Part 90


"Inside and get yourself changed into something descent" Dad instructed

"What for?"

"Because I said so"

Well when you put it that way! I scurried upstairs figuring Dad was taking us out to celebrate; well I'm not one to look a gift horse! By the time I'd washed up and found some reasonably smart clothes I had been upstairs for thirty-five minutes.

"About time!" Dad exclaimed. Brit had got changed too, Dad had changed his trousers and they were all waiting for me. "You're worse than your sister!"

Mad started giggling at that.

"Come on, we're already late"

"For what?"

"We just are, now get a move on!"

I wasn't really taking any notice of where we were headed only realising we were at the Peters place when Dad pulled onto the drive.

"I thought we were going to eat?"

"We are, you and Britney wait here, I need to see your Aunt"

I shook my head as Dad followed Mad and Sab into the house.

"Dunno what's up with Dad, he say anything to you?" I asked Brit

"Ut uh!"

"I could just eat a lovely roast dinner. Mmmm, lamb I think with mint sauce and Yorkshire pud"

Without warning Brit grabbed my head and planted one on my cheek.

"What's that for? Not that I'm complaining!"

"I just thought you deserved it"

"Can I get some warning if you decide to do it again?"


Dad came back out and sat in.

"Are the girls coming?"

"Yeah they won't be long" he replied and then turned on the radio, it was Radio One playing and the chart show was on. We sat listening to this weeks hits for about ten minutes before Dad broke the mood.

"Drew, do you want to go see how much longer they're gonna be?"

"Sure" I got out and walked over to the door and knocked

"Who is it?" Aunt C called

"Just Drew.

"Hang on a mo, the girls are almost ready"

I turned to the car and shrugged to Dad.

I heard someone at the fiddling at the door then it opened.


Well I'm not kidding it was! In the next couple of minutes I discovered that my sister and Debs, Rhod, Dan, Sylv and the Peters had somehow put together a surprise party to celebrate my win! I nearly lost it altogether when they sang 'for he's a jolly good fellow'! No roast dinner but instead one of Mrs P's famous buffets. Apparently they tried to get the rest of the gang over but Ally was at her Gran's and Bernie's phone was just ringing.

If I could remember what happened I'd tell you! My supporters club was telling everyone else repeatedly about the race and more specifically the finish. It seems like it all happened to someone else! I don't remember the medal ceremony although I've got the medal and I know we did the photo thing with Josh grinning from ear to ear.

When someone thrust the phone into my hand I really wasn't with it!

"Drew? Are you there? It's your Mum"


"Well done son, I knew you'd got it in you, all the girls send congratulations"

"Tell them thanks" I finally got a grip.

"Oh and Kat said to give you a kiss!"

"Mu-um!" I complained

"From what I hear, you were quite the hero too?"

"Who told you?"

"Your Dad, he rang earlier to tell me"

"Have you been riding today?"

"Yes, but only a local thing up near Bonn"

"Well?" it's like getting blood from a stone!

"Second, Tina got the win. So you've got a place in the Nationals then?"

"Yep, they're the week after I come to the show, at Eastway"

"Look, I'm gonna have to go Drew, I'm on Maria's phone." She explained, "say hi to your sister for me and I'll call tomorrow for a longer chat okay? Bye Drew"

"Bye Mum"

We finally got home just before midnight and I was absolutely bushed!

"You getting up?" Jules asked poking her head around the door to Chez Drew.

"Yeah, what's the rush?"

"The rush is its eight thirty and we've got to be at school at quarter past nine!"


I shot out of bed and did the ablutions bit in double quick time. Then the next panic! Clean clothes!

"Jules, where're my clean jeans?" I requested, in maybe a slightly frustrated and panicked manner!

"There's a pile of stuff on top of the laundry box, try there"

I spotted the pile in question and indeedy there was denim there! The first garment I pulled out was one of Jules denim skirts but underneath was a pair of jeans. I pulled a tee on then sat on the bed to get my jeans on, ramming my feet into my trainers while I pulled them up.

"There you are, Brit and Deb have gone on to tell the others we'll be a bit late"

"Breakfast?" I queried

"There's some tea in the pot, but hurry up, it's ten to nine!"

Jules rushed around collecting stuff, it's the Armouries in Leeds today, and at least we should be able to get something to eat there! I chucked the tea down my throat and toast in hand advised my readiness for departure!

"Ready Jules!"

"'Bout time"

We were half way to Mad's when Jules made a discovery that is bound to affect the rest of the day.

"I thought there was something odd about you today"

"Oh thanks" I replied sarcastically

"Won't tell you then if you're gonna be like that"

"Go on then, what's odd?"

"Well," she smirked, "you've got a pair of my jeans on!"

"Have not!" I checked them out, damn, blast and other curses! She was right!

"Didn't you notice anything odd when you put them on?"

"I was in a rush"

"But they're hipsters Drew, you must have noticed something"

"I just thought they were a bit baggy, what am I going to do now?"

"There's no time to go back and change, you'll have to go as you are, no one'll notice"

"I 'spose"

Hang on hipsters? Damn, damn and double damn! All of Jules low-riders have got embroidery on the pockets; there is just no way I'll get away with it. Ah well, there're the others.

"Sorry we were so long, sleepy insisted on breakfast" Jules greeted them

"We've got ten minutes, we can just make it" Mad advised, "morning Drew"

"Morning everyone, sorry about sleeping over"

"Well I guess you earnt a lay in after yesterday" Brit allowed

"Cute jeans Drew" Sab mentioned

"Er yeah, they're Jules,..."

"He pulled the wrong pair out of the washing" Jules told them.

"You mean they're girls jeans?" Deb enquired

"Well duh! If they're mine" Jules pointed out

"Well it's just like they fit him really well?"

"I reckon they fit better than his own" Brit opined

Why me!

"Last again!" Mr Wood mentioned as we arrived at the minibuses.

"Sorry sir," Jules started to explain, "Drew had a bit of a day yesterday and he slept through the alarm"

"Ah yes, my spies told me about your win, congratulations"

"Thanks sir" I mumbled

"Now you're here, you'd best get on board" he urged us.

We bundled ourselves onto the appropriate vehicles and we were barely strapped in before Reg set off! We followed the other bus out through Creswell and Clowne to join the M1 at Barlborough. Mad and Brit were retelling the events of yesterday again by the time we joined the heavy northbound traffic.

"Did you bring your medal?" Rhod asked

"Yeah," I advised producing the little plastic presentation case.

"That's pretty cool" Dan stated as he passed it over to Ally.

"Where were you two yesterday?" Mad asked Bernie

"Mum took us to Stoke, then we stopped at Ashbourne on the way back"

"You missed a great party" Rhod told her

"Knowing Speedy Gonzalez here, we won't have to wait long for another one!" Ally mentioned.

The drive up to Leeds only took a little over an hour so we were inside the Armouries just after ten thirty. Mr Wood had pre arranged a guided tour starting at ten forty five so we 'wasted' ten minutes in the shop while we waited. In case you're wondering this place is the northern outpost of the National Arms and Armour collection, which is based at the Tower of London. (At least that's what it said on the board outside!)

You'd think it would be a pretty dry, boring trip round, cabinets of guns and armour and stuff but it was really pretty good. We saw two demonstrations; the first one was two fellas in full Japanese armour doing a mock sword fight. I couldn't believe it was so noisy, all that clanging of the swords on the armour and stuff!

The second one was a sort of reconstruction of the morning of Agincourt and the English archers' preparations. At least now we all know what the whole two-finger salute thing is all about! No wonder the French really take offence! Afterwards they let us try to pull the long bows. No chance at two metres long they were taller than me by a long way and I couldn't move the string at all. The guys doing the demo thing did really easy, they must have arms like Mums legs!

After going round inside we went to the tilting yard outside where we caught another demonstration, this time of jousting. It was pretty exciting and I know someone who won't be taking it up! It was one fifteen when we finished the tour and everyone made a beeline for the cafeteria. The Adults were deep in conversation all the time we were eating the horrendously expensive sandwiches that we had for lunch.

"Kid's, can you all come round please" Mr Wood requested, we eventually congregated in front of where he stood with Mr Fredericks and Miss Bell.

"Quiet!" Mr Fredericks mentioned quite loudly. This finally quieted the noisier elements. "Thank you. Now listen to what Mr Wood has to say" he finished

"Thank you Mr Fredericks. As you might recall, we were planning on spending the afternoon at the Sculpture Park, but an opportunity has arisen which we felt we would put to you and let you make the decision." He does go on a bit! "Miss Bell has obtained passes to get you into the Leeds Festival site for the afternoon"




"What's that?"

"Calm down" Mr Wood went on, "do I take it that you'd like to postpone the sculptures?"

There was universal agreement, even though a good number hadn't a clue what the Leeds Festival was!

So it was that I found myself in a field just outside Leeds jigging to Ash! The festival is the local variation of Glastonbury, three days of music, camping, terrible food, even worse toilets but really good fun! Today was the last day but it was just as busy as the weekend, students, families, well you get the picture.

The set finished and I found myself being dragged through the crowd by Mad and Brit much to Sabrina's amusement.

"Come on Drew, lets check some of the stalls out" Mad enthused

"Alright but slow down"

The whole place was manic! We gave as good as we got in the crowds but we managed to check out most of the stalls to the sounds of some DJ guy, we could hear the crowd getting into the set but none of us are really into that. Now don't get me wrong here, I'm all for a bit of fun but when the girls decided on face painting I was really not with them. In the end of course there was no escape, but I put my foot down, no way was I getting a full facial!

I suppose the daisies were just as bad but I didn't feel as daft as Mad looked sporting whiskers with black and orange stripes! Brit had opted for a butterfly and Sab's dark skin was masked by a Panda face, weird. The girls started on a rack of t-shirts and spotting a makeshift bench plonked my bum down. We were sort of behind one of the stages and you could hear pretty well. There was a terrific roar and the tones of Dido's 'Here With Me' made their way back, well cool! I closed my eyes and leant back to listen to the set in my temporary haven. 'All You Want', 'Slide', 'I'm No Angel' then 'Take my Hand', I was really getting into it.

"Hey Drew!"


"See you're getting into it now" Mad mentioned over 'Isobel'

"Dido " I stated

"No, getting your hair braided" Brit stated

"Oh Kewl!" Sabrina joined in

Then I realised what had been annoying me, a slight tugging on my head.

"What the?" I leaped up

"Hey I've not finished!" another voice mentioned

"Let her finish it Dee" Mad instructed

"Yeah, sit back down kiddo" Brit caught me


"Let the girl finish, looks like you're nearly done anyway" Mad repeated

"I do not want braids!"

"Why'd you sit on my pitch then?" the girl asked

"What do you mean, I just sat on the bench for a minute"

"That's my pitch" the girl was starting to sound a bit peeved, the prospect of having wasted fifteen minutes for nothing dawning on her.

"How much?" Brit asked

"Five?" the girl tried

"Tell you what, finish Dee here off and do me a wrap, I'll give you six"

"Well," she was weighing the offer up, "okay then"

"Sit Drew" Brit put a hand on each shoulder and sat me down!

By this time Mad and Sab were killing themselves and I barely heard the end of Dido's set.

"There you go" Mad held the mirror up

Am I cursed or something? Looking back from the glass was a cute girl with short multicoloured braids and hippie flowers painted on her face. Sheesh!

"They suit you Dee" Sab told me

She got a hard stare back. Brit got her wrap and we rejoined the throng, me feeling really self conscious as my braids bounced on my bare neck. A lot of the crowd was heading towards the main stage and we sort of got carried along.



There was a commotion in front of us as someone pushed his or her way towards us.

"Watch it!"


"Stop him!"

The cause of all the commotion then burst out in front of us and roughly pushed Mad out of the way. I'm not sure what came over me but I grabbed at him as he drew level with me swinging him about.

"Ger orf kid!" he flailed his arms and almost got free but I held on. In desperation he grabbed my shirt and used it to pull me off balance, which had the effect of making me release my grip to regain my footing. There was a loud ripping noise as my tee took the strain; my assailant gaining a few moments of freedom before about three blokes jumped on him. It was over in maybe twenty seconds

"Well done kid!"

"Lot o' spunk for a girl!"

"You alright miss?"

"Er just my shirt"

Mad and the girls dragged me out of the crush, the police were already cuffing the thief by the time I got sat down.

"Wow Drew, you're really into this hero thing aren't you" Sab suggested

"You could have got hurt" Mad stated

"I just saw red when he shoved you and grabbed him"

"What if he'd had a knife or something" Britney was in more shock than me

"Well he didn't"

"The fella over there said one of you girls stopped him?" the voice came from behind us.

"Dee officer" Mad pointed at me.

"Well done lass," he started to address me, "we've been after him all weekend, the little runt's a bit quick on his toes. Can we get a statement from you?" there goes the afternoon, dang! He must've spotted my expression, "before you leave will do, the police caravan's by the main gate. I just need to take your name and address for now okay?"

Looking like this no, but I hardly had any choice in the matter!

"Thanks Drew, girls. We'll see you later, have fun the rest of the day."

"Your t-shirts ripped Drew" Mad inspected the damage

"You can't walk round in that" Sab stated

"What do you suggest, go topless"

"I've got a spare top" wonder Walters mentioned diving into her bag.

"I can't wear that!"

"Why not? It's only a top" Brit pointed out

I rolled my eyes.

"Come on guy's I just saw the 'Chilli Pepperson the big screen" Sab mentioned

Well how many times do you get that sort of opportunity? The CP's live, cool! I pulled my t off and Brit's top on and we headed towards the main stage.

 festival time

Well what would you think?
Finally an advantage to being small! The four of us virtually burrowed through the crowd as the band played 'Californication' and emerged at the barriers as the crowd erupted at the end of the song. 'Road Trippin'' was next in the set and we joined in with everyone else. This is truly amazing, they moved on to 'This Velvet Glove' and Mad shouted in my ear


I joined the rest as they waved at what turned out to be a slowly panning TV camera, so that's what the rails were for! The Chilli's were really going for it, I'd forgotten what I looked like, the thief and all that, I was just rockin'! A few more tracks later and the set ended with 'Around The World' which everyone sang along to. The band left the stage but returned for an encore of 'Right on Time', this time when they left, that really was the end.

"Anyone fancy a hotdog," Brit asked


"What time is it?" Sab asked

"Erm, just after four"

"That's alright, we don't need to head back for ages yet" Sab stated

"Six o'clock right?" Brit queried as we joined the queue at one of the food vans.

"Yeah but I've got to do that statement thing"

"That shouldn't take long, it was all over in seconds" Mad pointed out

"Best get to the Police van thing for half five though" I stated

"Enjoying yourselves girls?" it was Miss Bell

"Hi Miss, yeah we've just seen the Red Hot Chilli Pepper's " Brit enthused

"Not really my thing I'm afraid"

"What do you like?" Sab asked

Somehow she'd avoided identifying me and I tried to stand behind the others out of sight.

"Something a bit slower, I'm off to the lav's then Sheryl Crow's doing a set"

"Who?" Mad asked

"Ma-ad! You must've heard of her" Sab stated

"Doesn't ring any bells"

"Well I reckon we should go" Brit suggested

"Might see you over there then" Miss Bell turned to go, "oh and nice top Drew"

I started to splutter as the others burst into laughter.

"I'm doomed"

"Don't worry, Miss B's cool" Sab mentioned

We got our Dogs and found a steward who directed us to a huge marquee where the Crow set was due to start in a few minutes. We got there to find the door's already shut.

"Damn, she's pretty cool" Brit pouted

"We'll still be able to hear out here won't we" Mad pointed out

"Yeah but it's not the same"

"Hey girls!"

"Us?" Sab addressed the Steward that we'd seen earlier

"You wanted to see Sheryl Crow didn't you?"

"Yeah but it's full already" Brit indicated the closed entrance

"Come on, I'll get you in"

We looked at each other, shrugged and followed him. He took us under a barrier and we were in a sort of backstage area, it was a lot calmer and quieter round here.

"In here girls, I want to catch this set myself" he said losing his Stewards jacket and stowing it behind a box. We ducked under the flap and found ourselves quite near the stage. "Have fun!" our saviour told us with a wink before he disappeared into the crowd.

In front of the stage a lot of people were sat on the grass, I spotted Miss Bell on the other side; she copped us at that moment and waved us over. Because of the enclosed space there were only maybe five hundred people in the tent so it was fairly easy to make our way across and join Miss Bell on the grass.

"Miss Sheryl Crow!" the MC announced, I'm sure it was Craig David!

The crowd erupted as she came out onto the stage, she looked well cool, embroidered jeans, a neat tie front top and of course her acoustic guitar! She started with an 'oldie'

'Old James Dean Monroe
Hands out flowers at the Shop-N-Go
Hopes for money but all he gets is fear...'

"That Sheryl Crow!" Mad whispered in my ear

"Shush!" Brit put her finger to her lips.

Miz Crow did a few older tracks including 'My Favorite Mistake' before she launched into "some tracks from my new album". So we got 'C'mon C'mon' followed by 'Abilene', 'Hole in My Pocket' and 'Weather Channel'. We were boogying along on the floor quite happily. The only downside was the annoying cameraman who kept getting in the way, I think he was even starting to annoy Sheryl because she kept giving him dirty looks. It was confirmed when after 'Weather Channel', she stopped for a moment.

"Hey mister! You with the camera" he pointed to himself in a 'who me?' manner. "Yeah you. If you're gonna film keep out of the way huh! Them young girls are trying to see me" the crowd chuckled as one, camera man slunk off to the side which brought cat calls and applause and I'm not sure about the others but I turned bright red!

"You see alright now girls?" Miz Crow asked

"Great thanks" Brit replied

"You American?"

"Yes Ma'am, we're on an exchange trip" this conversation was doing nothing for my embarrassment as the whole tent was straining to see who she was talking to!

"Nice to see you here in Leeds, now we've got rid of the camera geek lets play some more." She started picking at the chords, "this one is for my young friends down here, its called 'Lucky Kid' and she started to sing

'I want to take you down to the river,
I want to wash the blood from your hands,
I want to make you see,
You belong to me...'

The crowd went wild at the end, she did another couple of tracks before ending the set with another 'oldie', 'Oh Marie'. Well it was inevitable there would be an encore, the crowd kept whistling and cheering for a good couple of minutes before Miz Crow returned to the stage. First we got a moving rendition of 'Sweet Rosalyn' then the grand finale was an enthusiastic and crowd assisted 'Steve McQueen'.

"That was brill" Mad enthused

"I got to talk to her" Brit pointed out

"We'd better head towards the entrance, it's nearly ten to six" Miss Bell mentioned

"Damn, I've got to go to the Police"

"Police?" She asked with some little alarm

"It's alright Miz Bell, she's not in trouble, in fact just the opposite." Sab started, "earlier Dee here stopped a purse snatcher."

"This true Drew?"

"Yeah, that's how I ended up wearing this" I indicated Brit's top which now I come to think was similar to Sheryl's!

"Anyway, he's got to make a statement, we said we'd do it before we leave.

"Come on then, we don't want to be too late do we?" Miss B suggested.

Well it's just as well she was with us, turns out the Policeman thought I was about eighteen! I don't know where he got that idea? But anyway Miss Bell sorted it all out and I gave my statement. Luckily I had my phone in my pocket so we were able to alert the rest, via Rhod that we would be a few minutes late. What a day!

"Hey neat look Ga - Drew!" Ally mentioned

"You won't believe me!"

Rhod shook his head

"It always happens to you Drew, what was it this time, aliens?" Bernie suggested

The drive back down the motorway went by in a blur as I, well we explained how I came to look like 1001 other 'girls' at the festival. They were dead impressed with the Sheryl Crow thing and laughed their socks off over the hair. Damn I'd forgotten about how I looked.

Mr P was doing taxi duty tonight, Deb and Jules were going straight to Charlie's and Brit and me are eating at Peters Towers.


"No it's Drew Dad" Mad emphasised

"Oh sorry Drew," he caught on quick thankfully, "you look just like your cousin dressed like that"

The Americans gave each other a look that said something like 'we will find out!'

At the Peters place I was finally able to divest myself of Brit's top and Mad undid the braids. Borrowing one of Mad's plain T's and a quick wash I was finally looking like myself again when we sat down for dinner. Mr P dropped Brit and me off at home a bit before nine thirty, we had barely got inside when the phone rang, Mum!

"Hiya kiddo"

"Hi Mum"

"Now then tell me all about it"

So I spent twenty minutes giving her a blow by blow account of Sunday's race. Then of course I told her about Leeds and the Police. She wasn't too happy about that but I think I calmed her down, in fact when I told her about the Police thinking I was an eighteen year old girl she was in hysterics at the German end of the line.

Jules got back in about that point so I passed Mum over to her.

Well there's one thing for sure; these holidays are anything but boring! As I lay in bed later on there was a noise in the hallway.

"Come in Brit"

She came through the door and slipped it shut behind her, I sat up and turned the bedside light back on.

"How'd you know it was me?"

"Let's just say a shrewd guess. What's up?"

"A, erm, well"

"You're still not sure about me are you?"

She crinkled her nose; "well my head keeps saying boy but my eyes say girl. Look I'm not dumb,"

"I never said you were!"

"Let me finish, I'm not dumb and I do see things. Like the way people react to you? Mad and the others, even Mad's olds, they just like took no real notice how you looked earlier? They've all seen you dressed like a girl before and not just in some costume right?"

Well it had to happen I suppose.

"Okay Brit, best make yourself comfortable" I advised patting the bed.

An hour later I had 'leaked' more than I really wanted to but she seemed satisfied by my tale.

"So Mad keeps making excuses to get you dressed up like a girl?"

"Well not a lot but I'm sure she could have come up with some different costumes for Obicon."

Brit let rip with a yawn. "I'd best get to bed"

"Yeah, night Brit"

"Night Gaby" I ignored that, I hadn't admitted to that yet! Yeah what a day!

Maddy Bell 20.03.04 Secret © 2004

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