“Ladies and gentlemen please welcome Jenny Harkright… Andy Brown… Becky Samsons… and Stephen Debe… – Crashbound!!!”
Each name was followed by an excited cheer from the waiting crowd standing in front of the stage. At their subsequent walking out onto the stage, this cheering turned into a short burst of wild, hyped screams.
Andy plunked down on his drummer’s stool, while Becky half crepted into her corner on the left where her bass was waiting. Stephen stepped up to his guitar slightly to the left of the centre of the stage, and picked it up from it’s stand.
But it was towards Jenny Harkright, as she marched confidently towards the microphone in the very middle of the stage, that these high-pitched, uncontrolled welcomes were directed.
Andy started to play. Becky’s bass hummed in it’s deep voice whilst Stephen counted two bars before letting the lighter voice of his electric guitar join in.
The screams grew – if anything – louder as the tune was recognized. They were however soon hushed as Jenny’s boyish voice started to half shout, half sort of sing out the words to the song.
The song itself was about (as far as one could make out anyway) somebody betraying the writer who was planning on doing some not very nice things in return. The chorus proceeded to list the faults of whoever the individual was who’d had the misfortune to have offended the writer.
Truth be told, this performance exhibited much more enthusiasm and energy from Jenny then it did musical ability. But the musicians playing behind her, although not really recognized by the crowd, more than made up for this – such can be the irony of today’s pop scene.
Hands went up in the air, even though it wasn’t a very hand-wavey song, and some of the individuals below the stage attempted to sing along.
The roar that went up from the jam-packed music hall when it had finished set the tone for a yet another successful evening of music with a twist of heat and sweaty bodies.
At the end, the band escaped as fast as possible out the back door to their tour bus, whilst the crowd went out the front to find more beer. Then, whilst the vast majority of the crowd drunk the remainder of the night out, the bus left the town centre and headed for the comfort of a five star hotel – about half an hour’s coach drive.
Stephen seemed to want angry songs written about him as well, for the first thing he did after clambering on the spacious and very shiny vehicle was to ring up several acquaintances on his mobile. Perhaps he had yet to realized that in Britain at two in the morning everyone is either drunk, getting drunk or asleep.
Becky seemed to have a more sensible idea of what to do on vehicle journeys – she simply shut her eyes and was soon catching up on a little sleep.
Andy, having an unquenchable thirst for music of sorts, switched his iPod on, turned the volume up and was soon blasting his ears out.
Jenny did the other thing that most people who aren’t driving do on car journeys. She looked out the window and lost herself in thought.
The last five years had been quite dramatic looking back at them now. She had once been just another student at school, plodding through homework and looking forward to the day when there would be no more to do. Then had come the audition.
It had been all a bit of fun a the time. An American film studio had set it up. They had been looking for an English girl to act and sing in a musical that they were in the process of casting. Jenny had gone with a couple of her friends. On the way they had all talked about how great it would be if any of them got the part. How much better their lives would be! Oh, the people they might get to meet and all the things they could do with all that money!
She smiled at remembrance of it. Silly childish talk. Talk that hadn’t quite grasped the other side of the coin to the rosy, sugar-sweet-perfect one they had seen on TV. Well, she’d grasped it now. Countless hours of work had hammered it into her. Saying nothing in as many words as possible on an endless cycle of chat shows and premiers were constantly reminding her of the more darker side to stardom. Above all, her own experiences of life since that audition had cut it deeply and cruelly into her memories.
It was astonishing how quickly people could change once they smelled money. People she’d known all her life suddenly changed in their attitude towards her. On the one hand they started to treat her like some sort of queen. On the other a distance had been put up between them and her – all admiration on the outside never letting her know what they really thought. Her mother too had changed. From telling her daughter to do whatever she wanted in life, she’d started to push Jenny to work harder and harder – far past the point of reasonability. Jenny’s Father was soon fed up with it all. Last year he’d had a big row with mum, and the next thing Jenny knew they were signing divorce papers.
Now she was alone in the world it seemed.
The coach pulled into the hotel’s carpark. A smart red bricked wall greeted them as they all clambered down, and in a state of groggy half-sleep, staggered into the spacious reception. Up the first set of stairs and then into large, plush, five star rooms.
Jenny flung her coat onto a chair and then collapsed onto her bed exhausted. She wanted a break – she really needed one. They had only done a couple of stops so far and she was already exhausted and longing for home. But what home? There wasn’t one anymore. That was all gone.
Things just couldn’t go on like this. At some point something would have to give.
She closed to heavy eyes and tried to sleep. But sleep escaped her. Memories of happier times came back to her. A single tear slowly fell from her eyes, leaving a glistening streak behind it.
Jenny had wanted to see, achieve and do so many things with her life. Things of real purpose and meaning. Yet the only thing she’d manged to achieve was to become yet another example that proved fame, fortune and glamour were meaningless, futile things to pursue for their own sakes.
So there she lay and sobbed into the night. A clever, successful young women. Admired by all. And yet deep inside a little, lost girl depressed and perpetually unhappy – crying out for help with no one to hear.