Author Topic: Story: Carol  (Read 27277 times)

Offline Sparky

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Story: Carol
« on: 03. December 2022, 18:41:57 PM »
Chapter 1 - a crooked tooth.

Carol woke up and looked over at the bedside clock: it was 9:12 am. For most people, if they woke and saw the time was 9:12am, they would panic, as they would be late for work. However, at the moment, it didn't REALLY matter what time she woke up, and compared to recently, 9:12am was comparatively early!

Last night she'd got to bed 'relatively early', by which I mean before 1am. She's been binge-watching the TV series 'Lucifer' on Notflux over the last few days, and was currently up to series 4.

As she lay in bed on her back, she ran her tongue over her teeth. Her lovely straight teeth. Except, today, her tongue was exploring the bit around her left upper front two tooth, and the canine next to it: things didn't feel QUITE as she remembered them.

As a young teenager, and thus whilst still at school, Carol had braces for a while. Her teeth hadn't actually been all that bad, so she had been given simple metal brackets, top and bottom, with a couple of elastics in the last month or two of her treatment, followed by hawley retainers. She wore the retainers full time for 6 months, then at night for the next 6. She stopped wearing them at all sometime whilst at 6th form college, and her teeth still seem to be ok.

Well, until today, that is.

So, Carol decided that, if she could find her old retainers, she could try them in, and see if her teeth HAD actually moved at all. She thought for a moment: she knew she still HAD her old retainers, but wondered where they could be. She didn't positively remember actually unpacking them when she moved into her flat, almost a year ago, so she guessed they must be in one of the three boxes of stuff stacked up in the corner of her spare room.

Carol got out of bed, and went to the kitchen, and put the kettle on: she needed some coffee before she could do anything! With a cup of coffee in her hand she walked into her spare room, putting the coffee on the bedside table, next to the spare bed. Her previous place had been a much smaller, single bedroom place, but with the extra money from finally having made the charts with 3 hit singles, and a UK tour under their belts, she had decided that having a better and newer place to live, and with a second bedroom, was high in her list of needs.

As a girl in a pop band, most people would have assumed that she would have gone and bought a fancy place in a trendy part of London, but the girls in the band weren't like that. Jenny had a 2-bedroom top-floor recently modernised flat in a rather average (but actually quite nice) part of south London, and had bought the whole house last year, now using the downstairs flat as her 'office'. Carol rather liked Jenny's place, what it was, and where it was, so she had found a place a couple of miles from Jenny, although her place was a bit newer, and was designed as a 2-bedroomed flat. Whilst she didn't have the advantage of a separate 'office' she could store some of her instruments in the spare bedroom, and worked in her lounge-diner-kitchen, which was actually quite a good size.

She took the top box off the pile, put it on the bed, and opened it. She smiled as she opened the box, which was full of memories from her teens and the time before the band made it big. A snow-globe from Torbay. A bag of fridge-magnets from various places they had gone to on holiday - she kept those out, to put onto her fridge. Her old recorder (the musical instrument type) she got when she was about 12. An old MP3 player, with the wire of the earbuds wrapped around it. OMG, her first ever phone, an old Nokia! Many simple and small things that, individually, were not that special, but together they kinda defined Carol's teenage life.

Carol had nothing better to do (well, other than work on some lyrics for a new song!), so didn't rush. It had been a while since she had looked at this stuff. More importantly, it had been a while since she had had the TIME to look at this stuff. Hmm, old keyrings. Her old, rather tacky, jewellery box, which contains some very dated teen bits of jewellery. And a bag of old makeup.... she should have thrown that away ages ago, but it brought back memories. She smiled as she took the top off some bright red lipstick: the same lipstick she had worn when she had her first kiss. I mean, how could you EVER think of throwing THAT out?

Lots and lots of memories, but no retainers. She put everything - except the fridge magnets - carefully back into the box, closed the lid, and put it down next to the other two boxes. After a (large!) sip of coffee, she took the second box over to her bed, and opened the lid. This box contained mostly clothes. Carol hadn't really got much bigger, so these clothes would probably still fit her - which is probably why she hadn't thrown them out. Again, many memories. A blouse that she loved wearing - but clearly well out of fashion now. And there was the top that..... the top she had worn the first time they had ever performed 'publicly', at their 6th-form annual concert. Back then they used the very simple name 'Three Girls', and they had been 'volunteered' to open the show. Totally nerve-wracking, but, as we now know, it turned out to be the first of MANY stage performances since. Yeah, there was NO WAY she could ever get rid of that.

Underneath it was the first ever specific 'stage outfit' she had worn. That performance was at a charity concert, where they were one of many 'amateur' bands playing that evening, and her mum had got it for her. That performance was probably the one that gave the band their big break, and was the last time they had used the name 'three girls'. After that, Jenny's parents - who subsequently became their managers - had suggested they needed better name, one that wasn't quite so generic, and one that stood out a bit more. It was Jenny who had come up with the idea for the name. Of course, initially, she had suggested 'JCD', but that sounded too much like a company that made diggers, so they eventually settled on 'CJD'. Yes, that was the name linked to 'Mad Cows Disease', but they all rather liked the irony of the name!

As Carol removed the outfit from the box, and placed it on top of the others, on the bed, she spotted what she was looking for: her old pink retainer box! She took it from the box, and as she opened the lid, memories of having braces came flooding back to her. Luckily the memories weren't too bad. With her teeth not being all that bad, she was far from being the first of her year who got braces, so by the time she got hers, it was no big deal. She remembered one specific girl... what WAS her name? She had severe buck teeth on the top, and her lowers were quite crooked. She had to wear all sorts of bit of metal and plastic in her mouth for about two years, poor kid. She had heard stories that she also wore headgear, but - unsurprisingly - had never seen her in it.

And yeah, several of her friends also had braces. Sonja: she had an expander in the top of her mouth, which made her lisp when she first got it. And what was that thing that Laura had? Big lumpy removable things, designed to push her lower jaw forwards, twin-somethings? Carol decided that she's actually got off quite lightly, having just a set of upper and lower metal brackets, and they weren't too big either. Plus, a couple of elastics at the side - so not too visible - at the end of her treatment.

Then she got these, her retainers. She had appreciated how nice her teeth had looked when she got her braces off, and wore them faithfully all the time (except when eating) for 6 months, then every night for the next 6 months, then once or twice a week. She had last worn them in her 6th form - she had found that, even if she didn't wear them for several weeks, they were still quite easy to put in, which clearly meant that her teeth weren't moving.

She took the retainers from the pink plastic box, and held them in her hand, so she could look at them. Like the retainers many of the other girls at school had, they were ice-clear plastic plates with shiny steel wires... although they were clearly starting to age: their original look of sparkling ice now looked rather dull.

Both retainers had clasps at the side, that clipped over your molars, with a wire at the front that came out behind the canines, did a bit of a jiggle, went over the front teeth, before doing a second jiggle, and going in behind the other canines. Memories came flooding back as she looked at the retainers: having a lisp for the first week she had them; almost losing them one day, at lunchtime; kissing with them in; practising singing with them in.

She took the lower retainer, and put it into her mouth, then pushed gently down without needing to think what she was doing: it just clicked straight into place. That didn't really surprise her, the big question was whether the top one would fit... or not. She put the top retainer into her mouth, and started to push upwards - it definitely felt tight. She pressed a bit harder, and it actually clicked into place, but she could immediately feel pressure on her top left incisors and canine. It felt very strange having her retainers in her mouth after so long. She ran her tongue around the wires, and over the plastic plates, which seemed to have a bit of a strange taste to them - a taste of 'old plastic'.

Just for fun, she tried talking out loud, to discover that she had a lisp again!

By now, the pressure on those three top teeth was starting to make those teeth a bit sore. So, she decided that maybe she should remove her retainers, to take the pressure off her teeth. She took the bottom one out first, as she knew that would come out easily. But the top one was wedged in a bit more firmly, so she pulled down with a bit more force: the retainer twisted slightly in her mouth, and she heard a strange sort of 'click': when she removed the retainer, she could see that the archwire had just broken, where it came through her teeth between the canine and pre-molar. She remembered that her lower tooth used to touch it just there, so clearly it had weakened a bit over time, and that's why it had just broken in that spot.

She put the retainers back into their pink box, and ran her teeth over her teeth again. Clearly her teeth HAD shifted a bit... just a tiny bit. But did it REALLY matter? Carol wasn't really sure, so decided that it wouldn't hurt to go and see an orthodontist, and see what they thought. She knew it would be something she would have to pay for - Jenny had hinted how much HER braces had cost - but that wasn't a big deal, she could afford it. And as a singer in a chart-topping girl band, she knew that her smile was VERY important!

Offline Sparky

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Re: Carol
« Reply #1 on: 06. December 2022, 18:23:24 PM »
Chapter 2 - at the ortho

"Hey, Jenny, just before you go.... who's your orthodontist?" Carol asked just before they finished their call.

"I didn't realise you had problems - besides, didn't you have braces at school?"

"Yes, I did, but I just noticed yesterday that something has moved the tiniest bit... and when I tried my old retainer in, it was rather tight... plus I broke it when I took it out. So I thought maybe I should go and get some professional advice, before it gets any worse."

"Good call, yes, definitely go see someone, and get it checked out. My ortho is David Bright, the place is called 'Archway Orthodontics'. You know George Street, at the end of the High Street? There's a set of nice old offices down there, it's in one of those, on the ground floor. I'll send you their phone number... Feel free to tell them that I recommended them."

Later that afternoon, Carol called them, making an appointment for 2:30pm on the Friday.

Thus, a couple of days later, just before 2:30, Carol was in reception at Archway Orthodontics.

"Hi, my name is Carol Danvers, I have a 2:30 appointment..." she said, feeling slightly nervous. While Carol visited her dentist regularly, it had been several years since she had visited an orthodontist.

"Ah yes, with Mr Bright. I believe he's nicely on time, so please, do go into the waiting room over there, someone will come and get you shortly." Carol turned to walk to the waiting room, when the door by reception opened, and Jenny walked out.

"Jenny! What the heck?" said a very surprised Carol.

"Hey, Carol, what's the chances of bumping into YOU here.... I'm guessing you're here to get David to take a look at you?"

"Yes. And I'm guessing you just had your braces tweaked..."

"Indeed, new archwire, new ligs," said Jenny, smiling. She looked at Carol, and sensed she was slightly apprehensive. "Hey, if you like, I could come in with you to see David."

"Actually, yeah, that would be nice..."

A young lady, clearly one of the assistants from the way she was dressed, came into reception, went over to the waiting room, and was a little confused when she found noone waiting. She returned to reception. "Erm, I thought Carol Danvers was here?" she said.

"Ah, lady over there, talking to Jenny....".

Carol had heard the short conversation. "Sorry, I'm Carol Danvers..."

"Ah, ok...". The assistant suddenly realised that Carol had been talking with Jenny. "You know Jenny? Anyway, please come through, Mr Bright is ready for you". As she led the way, she realised Jenny was coming too. "Oh, you're coming back too?"

"Yeah, I love the place so much, I just can't bear to leave!". Jenny decided to do the introductions. "Carol, this is David, my ortho, and this is Angela, his assistant. This is Carol... she's the "C" to my "J".

"Ah, right!" said Angela, suddenly working out how they knew each other. David wasn't quite so sure, so Jenny explained "we're both in CJDL"...

"Ah, ok... nice to meet you Carol. Come on over here, let's sit down and you can explain why you're here". David, Carol and Jenny sat down together, and Carol explained how she was feeling around her teeth the other morning, and that something - something very small - felt different, at the top left. How she went and found her old retainers, how the lower one fitted just fine, but the top one was tight, and broke as she removed it. It was odd, but she felt a lot more relaxed knowing that Jenny was there with her.

"I suspect it's no big deal, but I thought I should get it checked out" explained Carol.

"That sounds very sensible - as you say, it may be absolutely nothing. I don't suppose you brought your old retainers with you, did you?" asked David.

"I did indeed." Carol opened her bag, and took out her old pink retainer case, and passed it over to David.

As soon as he looked at it he commented "ah, yes, certainly from a few years ago, I'm guessing you had braces as a teenager?"

"I did. I was 15, and my teeth weren't actually too bad, so I got simple metal braces, and a couple of elastics at the end. I had those for a little over 12 months, then I got these retainers, which I faithfully wore full time for 6 months, then every night for another 6 months. After that, it was once or twice a week... or so... By the time I was about 17, I found that they were never tight when I put them in, so guessed that my teeth weren't moving any more, so stopped wearing them". As Carol described her history, David looked at the retainers.

"Yes, we often THINK that our teeth are stable, then something happens that changes things, often something very small. Wisdom teeth. Getting older. Clearly SOMETHING has happened to your teeth, so why don't I take a look?"

David took Carol over to the treatment chair, and got her to sit in it. "You've had braces before, so I'm guessing you recognise what Angela has in her hand..." he said as he reclined the treatment chair.

"Looks like a lip-spreader to me!" said Carol.

"Indeed it is, probably identical to what your orthodontist used when you were younger - things don't change that much, do they?". David adjusted the light so that it shone onto her mouth. He looked carfully and slowly at Carol's teeth: in principle, they looked really good, but yes, he COULD see that the teeth on her top left were very slightly different in their positioning from the ones on her right. The bottom ones looked close to perfect. He removed the lip spreader from her mouth.

"Well, yes, I can see a VERY slight difference there on your top left. Is it anything to worry about? Probably not right now. Your teeth are still in excellent condition, and if you came to me as a new patient, I probably wouldn't actually suggest treatment. But I have a couple of suggestions"

"Yes, do go on..." replied Carol.

"Step one: I would like to scan your teeth: that way, whatever happens, we have a baseline on the system to compare things to in the future. Step two: we make you a new retainer that fits you, and you wear it at night, to make sure your teeth don't move any further. It probably wouldn't need to be every night, unless you feel pressure when you put it in. Step 3: optionally, I can configure the retainer to put a tiny bit of pressure onto those teeth, so move them slightly, back to where they used to be: I think there's enough 'slack' in your teeth to do that. I guess a lot depends how much you're worried about those teeth moving. And I COMPLETELY understand that you need perfect teeth for what you do! So what do you think?"

"I'm thinking yes to everything. I've worn a retainer before, and if it's just at night, then it's not a big deal. So what's the scanning? I guess it replaces taking impressions? If so, I'm all for it, I used to hate having to have impressions done!". Carol looked over to where Jenny was standing, and smiling.

"What's funny?" she asked her.

"Well, sounds like you're joining me in the 'braces club'"

"Yeah, I suppose I am... although I won't need to tell anyone, if I only need to wear them at night! So, how do I get scanned then?"

In the background, Amanda was wheeling a small trolley over, and plugged a couple of wires into connectors over on the side. The trolley had a keyboard and screen on it, and there was a large 'snake' on the side of it. David typed on the keyboard: he was setting up a folder for Carols scans, then he opened up the scanning program: at that point the screen above and in front of Carol came on.

"Tell you what" said Jenny, "this is a pretty cool bit of technology: if you watch the screen up there, you'll see your teeth slowly appear!".

David put the lip-spreader back into place, and put the end of the 'snake' into Carol's mouth. "There's a small camera in the end of it, plus there's one of those motion sensors in the wand, like you have in your phone, so it knows which way it's pointing. Suddenly, on the screen above Carol, she could see images of her teeth starting to appear, and grow as David moved the wand around her mouth. The initial scan only took a few minutes, but then David checked the images: he used the mouse to move and rotate the 3-D image, and it was clear there were a few 'holes' in the image, which David needed to scan again, to fill in.

"Ok, all done!" he said, taking the lip-spreader out of her mouth again. "So, if you just lie back, and look up at that monitor, I'll try to explain what I'm seeing". Jenny moved to just behind Carol, so she could see too. "So, generally, your teeth look really nice" he said, moving the view around. "And if I then close your teeth, like this...". He clicked on the mouse a couple of times, and the images of her teeth closed together, with the computer highlighting where her teeth touched. "Your bite is still very good, but you can see that your lower and upper front teeth don't quite touch, there's the tiniest of gaps between them. So lets zoom in on those top teeth... yes, you can see there's a very slight different between the left and the right, but you have to look very carefully to see it. But you know your mouth and teeth better than I do, so if you say they have moved out a tiny bit, I'm 100% happy to believe you."

Carol felt happy that what David said matched what her tongue told her. "So what now?"

"Well, I need to create a formal 'treatment plan' that I'll need you to sign, but if you can tell me you want to go ahead, I can get your retainers ordered, and you can come back in a couple of weeks for me to fit them. Do you have ANY questions that you'd like to ask?"

"Just one: do you have any idea why my teeth might have moved?"

"Not really: your teeth actually look pretty stable. It could be something as stupid as you've started biting on the end of a pencil. The important things is that we now have a scan, so we can keep an eye on things, and a new retainer will hopefully keep things stable again.". Carol nodded. "Anything else?" he asked.

"No, not that I can think of. I've had braces before, so I'm pretty familiar with that side of things, and I'm sure you're not going to charge me a stupid price, so that shouldn't be a problem."

"Excellent. Well, Carol, it's been good to meet you, I'll see you again soon"

Offline bsma189

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Re: Carol
« Reply #2 on: 07. December 2022, 01:19:08 AM »
Looking forward to seeing where this goes!

Offline TrainTrack

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Re: Carol
« Reply #3 on: 07. December 2022, 02:23:35 AM »
I feel like it’s going to end up either with the fairies or like the WTF? story.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Carol
« Reply #4 on: 07. December 2022, 02:59:15 AM »
Hehe... always fun to hear your theories....wrong storyline I'm afraid!

Offline xxxforce

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Re: Carol
« Reply #5 on: 07. December 2022, 15:43:27 PM »
CJDL is back :D Another one of my faourite Storys from you :) GO oN :)

Offline Sparky

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Re: Carol
« Reply #6 on: 07. December 2022, 15:51:36 PM »
Chapter 3 - Friends to stay

"Hey, Linda, what you up to this week?" asked Carol on the phone.

"Not a lot" replied Linda

"Fancy coming over and staying for a couple of days?"

"Hmm, let me think about that... stay in my little place, or join you in your much nicer place: it's a hard decision!".

Linda actually had a 2 bed flat, one as bedroom, the other one - much smaller, and without an actual bed - where she stores her stuff, including guitars. However, it was a bit old and scruffy... By comparison, Carol's 2 bed flat was much newer, much nicer, and a bit bigger too. Carol used to have a flat-mate, but sadly she left a bit ago, leaving Carol on her own, but it did mean that she had a proper spare bedroom again.

"Don't blame me, you must be able to afford to rent a better place by now..."

"Yeah, I know, but I rather like my crappy little place. But you're right, I really should get somewhere a bit nicer. If only so I can invite you guys to stay over, and let you sleep in a bed, rather than on the settee. But to answer your question: yeah, of course I will, it will be nice to actually BE with you, rather than just seeing your face on a screen!"

"Ok, when would you like to come?"

"How about after lunch?"

"Yup, that's fine with me. Bring a guitar or two with you, I'm rather hoping we might be able to inspire each other to write something. It's about time we found out if you've got any songs inside you!".

"Not one of my strong points, you know that".

"Oh, come on, Linda, that worship song you did with Jenny was really good! Mind you, knowing how Jenny gets inspired for her worship songs, I'm thinking that maybe a higher power might have helped you too..."

"Well, there you go!"

"No, you don't get off the hook that easily... I'm determined that we'll write something together by the end of the week!"

"Anything else you want me to bring?"

"You got any percussion stuff at home you could bring along? Tambo's, shakers and things like that?"

"Yeah, I got a small crate-full, I'll throw them in the car. Want me to pick up some beers on the way?"

"Like your thinking, girl!"

"Anyone else likely to join us?"

"Unlikely, Jenny and Ben have gone off for a few days, and I'm sure Diane will be spending time with Mike. So, see you sometime after lunch then!"


"Linda!!! Come on in!" said Carol, giving Linda a hug. "Good to see you again... You've never actually been here before, have you?". Carol helped Linda take her clothes into the spare bedroom and guitar etc into the living room. She put the beer in a convenient place, in the lounge.

"No I haven't. Of course, you've all been to my place a couple of times, the empty beer cans were proof enough of that!!!".

Carol laughed. "Yes, they were actually good fun evenings - thank you for suggesting those! Cuppa?"

"Yes please!". The two girls went to Carol's kitchen, where they make some tea. "So, what we gonna do then?"

"Well, I was thinking we can get our guitars out, start messing about, and maybe we'll get some inspiration for a new song...."

"For the group?"

"Doesn't have to be. Could be for just us, or even just for fun... I just want to encourage you to have a go at creating something!".

When Linda had been working with the band and helping develop their new songs before they went on tour, she'd not done any of the 'original writing', it was more helping them knock the new songs into some sort of usable shape. Before that, as a session musician, she just played (or sang) what she was given, so the last time she had actually written anything was when she was at music college, although even then she was very much a music performer, rather than a creator.

"Oh, ok, I'll give it a try."

Linda had brought 2 guitars with her: and acoustic and an electric. Carol had her own guitars too, including a bass, plus a keyboard, so they had plenty of options. She had also bought the crate of small percussion stuff. Carol picked up Linda's acoustic guitar, and strummed it. "Nice sound...." she commented, then passed it over to Linda, who took it, and started strumming it. "Got any ideas?

"Well, I got this in my head as I was driving here...." and Linda played a few bars of a simple melody. Over the next 2 or 3 hours they played together on the guitars, and drank their tea, followed by  a couple of beers. By the end of the afternoon Linda (with a little help from Carol) had managed to write a simple song, both music and words, based on that simple melody.

"You know" said Linda, "that was actually good fun.... I mean, I helped you guys develop the band's new music, and we messed about a bit on tour, but that's the first time since college that I've sat down and written something completely new - and it was so helpful having your experience to help me!"

"Good. Maybe we can do something tomorrow to inspire you to write something else!"

"So, what's the plans for the rest of the day?"

"Dinner, of course, then how about popping out to the local pub for a drink?"

"Aren't you worried someone will recognise you? Or me for that matter?"

"It's always a worry, but I think most people would expect us to be dressed like when we're on tour. But dressed in scruffy jeans like this, without all the makeup, and hair, then it's not quite as likely. Been ok so far! Mind you, Jenny got caught out bigtime a while ago. A couple of local journalists found where she lives, and waited for her to come out. But Jenny being Jenny turned things around, gave them an exclusive for her anonymity. Remember the photographer who worked with Paige at the Press Conference where we announced you were joining the band? That was Sarah, one of the two."

"Ah, yes, I did wonder how you guys knew her, she was very pleasant and relaxed for a journo."

"She's the one that did the pics when Jenny got her hair cut, and donated it to charity. She's been good to us, and we've let her have several exclusives in return. Useful person to know."

"Yeah. Hey, I notice you don't do a lot of social media... any particular reason?"

"Not really. I just don't have the urge to share every moment of my life with the world. I think Jenny more than makes up for my not doing it. You still posting stuff?"

"Not as much as before I formally joined the group... Before it was about making the world aware of my abilities, so I could get work, but I'm in a 'normal job' now."

"'Normal job'? Oh I wish...."


After dinner, Carol and Linda walked the 5 minutes to a local pub, The Crown, and had a couple of quiet drinks.  Whilst Carol had lived in the area for a bit now, she'd only been to this pub maybe two or three times before - she typically went to The Red Lion, but fancied a change this evening. While they were there, Carol spotted a poster on the wall that listed the events at the pub: one of the events was an "Open Mic Night" that happened every couple of weeks, and it was due to happen in two nights time. Whilst Linda would probably be gone by then, it could be fun to come along by herself, and play something.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Carol
« Reply #7 on: 07. December 2022, 16:13:40 PM »
CJDL is back :D Another one of my favourite Stories from you :) GO ON :)

Indeed. And this time, it's very much from Carol's perspective.

So, very soon she will <redacted>, and then the whole band will <redacted>. Not sure what happens after THAT though, not got that far!!!

Oh, and braces will keep popping up from time to time...

Offline Sparky

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Re: Carol
« Reply #8 on: 08. December 2022, 16:45:32 PM »
Chapter 4 - a quick summary

So, yes, this story is about Carol (and Linda, and others...), from the pop group CJDL. For those of you who never read the story "Jennifer loves singing" or "Asian Braces in London", here's a quick recap:

Carol, Jenny & Dianne are in a Number 1 girl-group, CJD. Together since 6th form college & music college, they get on well, and all play a variety of instruments, although Dianne tends to play drums, Carol guitars, and Jenny guitars / keyboards (but they sometimes switch around for a song). They are all excellent singers.

Jenny meets Ben through a dating app, falls madly in love with him. 2 days after meeting, she gets braces (with an expander, lower lip bumper & upper facebow). Luckily Ben likes braces! Jenny wears the HG in public / on stage. In the band, Jenny tends to write the music, Carol & Dianne tend to do the lyrics. Jenny is very media savvy.

Ben's music tastes are much rockier than what CJD do, and Jenny was massively influenced by Ben's music, (including a heavy rock group called "Darkest Knights" - Jenny took Ben backstage to see Darkest Knights as a birthday present, & performed a couple of songs on stage with the band). Whilst developing the new music / recording it / preparing for tour, they realised they needed a 4th band member, so hired a session musician, Linda, who mainly plays guitars. She was in the year below them at college, knows them, and they get on well.

CJD go on their second tour. Jenny struggles without Ben, so he tours with her for the last week of the tour. Last night of the tour, onstage at Wembley Arena, in front of about 10,000 fans, she proposes to Ben.

The day after the tour ends, Linda officially becomes the fourth member of the band, now renamed to "CJDL". Historically, Linda - as a session musician - plays music, but has never really written anything, thus Carol wanted to encourage her.

They are all Christians, and Jenny has 'been given' several worship songs which she has assigned to her church, and (not actually in the original story) they recorded them on a special CD (including a worship song written together by Jenny & Linda)

Whilst CJDL doesn't formally have a "front man", the rest of the group has made it clear they are ok with Jenny taking the lead on stuff. Jenny is very active in social media, but the rest of the girls tend to be a lot quieter.

So, this story happens at some point after that second tour......

Offline braces37

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Re: Carol
« Reply #9 on: 11. December 2022, 07:36:11 AM »
Something I like about your work is how you have different stories tie in with each other, without necessarily having to be direct sequels. I notice a problem with CJDL; they don't have a bassist! Bass is the second most important instrument after drums, so one of the guitarists will have to switch.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Carol
« Reply #10 on: 11. December 2022, 16:04:52 PM »
Just edited this, to explain better:

The original 3 members of CJD, so Carol, Jenny and Dianne, can all play drums, bass / rhythm / lead guitar and keyboards, so sometimes when playing live, they make lives harder for themselves, and change around!

Linda joined the band simply because their 'newer music' regularly needed a 4th player. Linda is a guitarist, and is happy playing bass / rhythm / lead. Yes, she can 'sort-of play' keyboards and drums, but not well enough to do so on stage. On CJD's second tour, Linda played mainly bass, occasionally swapping with Carol or Jenny to play rhythm or lead.

So, 'normally' we'd expect to see Dianne on drums. If there was a keyboard part, then that would most probably be Jenny. Carol tends to play rhythm or bass, leaving Jenny to lead on the keyboard, but if they run with 3 guitars, then Carol will probably play lead and Jenny rhythm.

And, of course, all the 4 girls can sing.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Carol
« Reply #11 on: 12. December 2022, 21:40:48 PM »
Of course, one of the problems when writing a story is that, in your mind you have all sorts of 'extra details', maybe something that was a possibility for the story, but never made it... but it's all useful background information, and stuff *I* know about, but *YOU* don't!  So if you have questions or comments, I'm very happy to 'fill in the holes'....

No braces in this chapter, but there will be in Chapter 6!


Chapter 5 - Open Mic Night

Carol went up onto the small stage and put a small audio recorder on the floor in front of her. She then stood there for a moment as Steve, the tech guy, adjusted the mics for her. She had decided not to introduce herself to start with, instead she just played a song that she had been working on. At the end, the audience was very appreciative, clapping hard.

"So, I guess I really should introduce myself: I'm Carol. It's been quite a while since I've done have done an open-mic night! I was here with a friend having a drink on Monday, saw the poster, and I was inspired. So that song is one that I have been working on the last couple of weeks."

"Now, the music for this next song was written by someone else, I've been working on the lyrics - it's very much a 'work in progress', I've done 2 verses so far, and still haven't worked out how to end it, but heck, I thought you might like to hear what it sounds like...."

Carol played and sung the song: she sang the two verses, then continued playing the guitar, and got sudden inspiration. "Hey, I have another verse....", and she sang the new words, then let the guitar gently trail off. Again, there was applause.

"And that's why I always record anything I do - inspiration comes at the strangest of times" commented Carol. "I can remember once, in the middle of our set, up in Glasgow! We'd just played a load of our songs when Jenny pipes up 'hey, do you mind if I try something?' and starts playing something completely new on her piano! She does that sometimes!". Carol could have given more details, but she wanted the audience to work out for themselves who she actually was. Mind you, the next song might give things away.

"Well, the other day, my friend Linda and I were playing acoustic versions of a few of our songs... some worked, others were complete failures. So, how about....  yeah... 'Love on an Island'? That seemed to go ok..."

This was one of CJDL's newer songs, and whilst the acoustic version sounded quite different, the song was very recognisable, and the audience seemed to like it. Carol could also see a bit of chatting going on - she suspected they were saying things like 'is that Carol from CJDL?'.

"So, my last song. I thought it would be fun to end with something we all know.... actually, here's an idea: get your phones out and look up the words for Dylan's 'blowing in the wind', then you can ALL sing along!". Carol started playing, and then started singing: 'How many roads....'. Almost everyone else joined the singing, and of course applauded at the end.

"Thank you ALL very much, it's been a privilege to play to you all: we normally play to rather larger audiences, so playing somewhere so intimate has been a real treat for me!"

"Well, thank you Carol" said Steve, the guy running the open mic evening, "but before you go, something tells me you normally play in a bigger band?".

"Yeah, you might say that, but you can work it out for yourselves!. Tiny hint: there's normally four of us, and the band's name starts with the first letter of my name. But tonight, I'm just Carol, enjoying playing music in my local pub!". She got another round of applause. After leaving the stage, she put her guitar back next to her table, then went up to the bar.

"I think I'll have a pint of the 'Young's Special' please." Carol said to the young girl behind the bar.

"Would I be right in thinking you might be in CJDL?" asked the girl.

"I'm afraid I am, I hope you won't hold it against me!" replied Carol.

"So how come you came here tonight?"

"Well, The Crown is almost my local," explained Carol, "and like everyone else here, I love live music, and so far, they've all been pretty good."

"Ok, Kevin, if you're ready?" said Steve, the guy organising the stage and PA.

"Well, I think you'll enjoy Kevin - he's often here, and he's really good!" said the girl behind the bar. Carol paid for her drink, and rather than sit alone, she decided to join some of the others in the pub.

"Mind if I join you?" asked Carol.

"Yeah, sure!" said one of the girls sat at the table, with a big smile. I mean, how often do you get someone who is clearly a pop star asking if they can sit at your table?

Kevin walked up to the stage, and stood in front of the microphone. "Well, I'm not quite sure how I can follow that, she was pretty good". He started playing and singing a song that neither of them recognised.

"He IS good" thought Carol a few minutes later as he finished his first song.

So, Carol was chatting with a girl who had performed earlier in the evening, and she got a feeling that she wanted to ask her something, but was a bit shy about asking. "Now, Susan, I get a feeling there's something you really want to ask me, but are a bit apprehensive about asking. So go on, ask away... what's the worst that could happen?"

"Well, I can sing a lot better than I can play, so I was wondering if you would play one of your songs while I sang to it... "

"Sure, that could be fun - what would you like to sing?

"Hmmmm..... How about 'We're all in hot water'? I love that one!"

"No problems... you'd better go tell Steve. Tell him 2 mics for me and my guitar, then you'll need a mic..."

"Ok" said Steve about half an hour later, "It looks like we have something a bit special about to happen: would you welcome Susan back on the stage, with her 'backing band', Carol!". By now, everyone knew who who Carol was.

"Right!" said Carol to Susan as they walked over to the stage. "Make it look like you own the stage, I'm just a session musician for you.... Don't bother with an introduction, I'll just start playing, then we can talk afterwards!"

Up on stage, Carol counted the two of them in, and Susan managed to start singing at the right time too. Whilst a bit nervous to start with, she relaxed into the song pretty quickly. At the end, the crowd clapped enthusiastically, then she re-introduced herself, and thanked Carol.

"Well done, Susan, that sounded good! Hey, Steve, we got time for another one?" asked Carol.

"Might as well..."

"Ok, Susan, do you know 'Daffodils'?"

"Oh, yeah!". Susan was clearly thrilled that Carol was offering to play a second song with her.

Once again, Susan sang reasonably well, and as they left the stage, she had a massive smile on her face: who wouldn't when you've just sung a couple of CJDL songs with a member of the band playing with you!

Offline Braceface2015

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Re: Carol
« Reply #12 on: 12. December 2022, 22:30:25 PM »
I think that finding the right amount of detail to put into a story is difficult.

It is a balance between giving the reader enough detail to create a picture in their mind of what you want them to see, and then letting them fill in the rest of the details to create the image they expect to see.

I enjoy all of your stories and can tell that you are having fun writing about what interests you.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Carol
« Reply #13 on: 13. December 2022, 00:30:40 AM »
I think that finding the right amount of detail to put into a story is difficult.

It is a balance between giving the reader enough detail to create a picture in their mind of what you want them to see, and then letting them fill in the rest of the details to create the image they expect to see.

I enjoy all of your stories and can tell that you are having fun writing about what interests you.

The nice thing about Carol is that I already "invented the universe" in a couple of other stories, so I can get on with having fun "telling the story" , without needing to "set it all up". Of course, it's the same with the "Fairies" and "Serena"..... Maybe when I'm done, I need to kill them all off, stop me writing about them!!! (nah, no good, I could still do a prequel!!!)

Just need to squeeze some braces in there, somewhere.....

Offline Sparky

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Re: Carol
« Reply #14 on: 15. December 2022, 00:06:03 AM »
Chapter 6 - Carol collects her retainer

After checking in at reception at the orthodontist's, she went through to the waiting room, where a mum with her teenage daughter were also waiting. Carol sat down in the seat opposite, and could see the girl, who was in her mid-teens, looking at her. The girl smiled slightly, and whispered something to her mum, who whispered something back, but the girl kept looking at Carol.

"Something tells me that your daughter thinks she recognises me.... am I right?". The mum smiled and nodded. "So, who do you think I am then?" she asked the girl. The girl looked at her mum, as if to check it was ok to speak to Carol. "It's ok" said Carol, "I'm ok with it when it's somewhere quiet like this...."

"Are you.... Carol? Carol from CJD"

"I am indeed, although we're CJDL now that Linda has joined us.".

"Ah, of course, I forgot..."

"That's fine. We're still getting used to the new name ourselves!".

"She's a Carol too!" said her mum

"Excellent choice of name!" said Carol. The girl smiled, letting Carol see that she had a mouth full of metal braces. It was clear she was a bit shy when in the presence of a 'pop star'. "You know, I used to have braces like that when I was about your age. You coping ok with them?"

"You used to have braces?" asked the girl.

"Yeah. I was just a normal schoolgirl like you, same sort of age too, and my teeth were a bit crooked, so I needed braces."

"So why are you here? I've seen your pictures, and you have lovely straight teeth"

"I do, and I wore my retainer for a couple of years after I got my braces off, and my teeth never moved. Until maybe a month ago that is, and I noticed these couple of teeth here didn't feel quite right." Carol pointed at the two teeth that had moved a tiny bit. "So I found my old retainer, and put it in... and it was so tight it broke. So I'm here to collect a new retainer, which might also be able to move these teeth a tiny bit".

"So you're not getting braces, like Jenny, then?" asked the girl.

"No, I think one band member in braces is enough! So, what do you think about Jenny having braces... and she had headgear for a while too, didn't she?". The girl seemed to relax a bit.

"She looks nice in her braces, and I think she was very brave to let people see her in her headgear".

"Yes, you're right. Hey, I'm assuming you're a fan?". The girl nodded. "Ok, I want a REALLY honest answer to the next question: what do you think about the new music we've been doing? If you really don't like it, then don't feel scared to say so!"

"No, I actually like it - I think I prefer it to some of your earlier stuff."

"What about your friends at school, do you know what they think?"

"I think some prefer your older stuff, others are like me, and like the newer stuff"

Carol looked at the girl's mum. "It's actually very nice to have some real feedback from our real fans! Hey, is it ok if I read your daughter's mind?". The mum smiled then nodded. "Something tells me that you're thinking something like 'I wish I could take a selfie with Carol'.... am I right?". The girl nodded. "If your mum's ok with it, then I'm ok with it too. There's just one thing: whilst I'm 100% ok if you want to post it online, don't say which ortho we're at, it's not fair to the staff here, ok?"

Carol went and sat next to Carol, then Carol took a selfie of the two Carols. "I bet your friends are gonna be so jealous, eh? But it kinda makes up for having to put up with having braces!"

Angela, David Bright's assistant came in. "Carol?" she asked.

"Yes?" replied two Carols together.


"Hello again, Carol! So your retainer has arrived, but I got them to make it a little but differently compared to your previous retainer...", David motioned for Carol to sit in the large reclining treatment chair, while Angela passed David the retainer on the teeth model. Whilst traditionally the teeth models would have been made of white plaster, these were made of slightly pink plastic, printed with a 3D printer.

The retainer seemed to be slightly different from her old retainer (which was a normal hawley retainer, which had adams clasps on her first molars, with the labial wire coming out just behind her canines)

"As you can see, rather than having solid plastic behind your front teeth, there's a 'spring' wire with plastic over it, to allow slight movement of your front teeth. Then, rather than the normal labial bow, this one has a tiny spring on each side (imagine the round spring on a clothes peg), which will pull your teeth into line better, pushing against the plastic on the inside. In addition, there's a couple of extra c-clasps going back and around your front premolars, they should help anchor and stabilise the retainer a bit better."

Carol looked at her new upper retainer. Yes, it had a few more wires than her old retainers, and the plastic plate was made of clear pink plastic, rather than the ice-clear of her old retainer, but that wasn't really a big deal.

"Now, while your lower teeth appear to be stable, I thought I'd get you a lower retainer made too: it's just a normal hawley retainer."

"So, this will slightly move my two teeth back into place?"

"Yes, whilst it is currently set up to just retain your teeth as they are, I'll make a couple of tiny adjustments, so that it applies a small amount of pressure on those two teeth. So, ready to let me lie you back, and see how they fit?"

Carol sat back in the chair, and David reclined it, adjusted the light, then fitted lip-retractors, so he could more easily see her mouth and teeth. Memories started coming back to Carol of when she was a teenager, and got her braces, and eventually her retainers.

"Ok, so let me fit your lower retainer first...". While he had been talking, Angela had removed both retainers from their models: she passed David the lower retainer, which he carefully put into Carols, mouth, then pushed gently, yet firmly, down. It clicked nicely into place. Carol's tongue couldn't help but feel it... it felt very familiar.

"Feel ok?" asked David. Carol nodded. "In that case, let put the top one in...". Like with the bottom one, he pushed it onto her upper teeth, and with a nice click it went into place. Once again, Carol's tongue felt around her new retainer. Both retainers seemed to fit her just like a glove, with no real pressure - that would happen in a moment, when David made some minor adjustments. David removed the lip-spreaders. "Have a feel with your tongue... it should be just as comfortable as you remember from your old retainers. All ok?"

Carol's tongue felt around the plastic plates, then over the metal wires: yes, there were a few more wires over her top teeth than her old retainers used to have.

"They feel pretty comfortable" said Carol, with a bit of a lisp.

"Good. Ok, let me take the top one out, and activate those springs. In fact, why don't you take it out, it will probably be easier!". Carol put her forefingers onto the molar clasps of her top retainer, and pulled down: because it was new, plus the fact that it had a couple of extra clasps on it, she had to pull down with quite a bit of force, but it then popped out ok. She passed the retainer over to David, who quickly rinsed it, then used his pliers to slightly bend a couple of the wires, then passed it back to Carol. "If  you'd like to put it back in again... but just be aware that there will be a bit of extra pressure on your left front teeth."

Carol took the retainer, put it in her mouth, then using both her fingers and tongue, pushed it into place. Yes, she could feel a little bit of pressure on those top front teeth.

"Let me put the lip spreader in again, and take a good look....".

"Tho how long do I need to wear the retainers for, do you think?" asked Carol with a lisp, a few minutes later.

"Well, I was thinking that - if you can manage it that is - it would be good if you can wear them full time for 2 or 3 months. Let those teeth adjust a tiny bit, and hold them in place. After that, just at night."

"Yeth, life ith relatively quiet right now, tho I should be able to manage to wear them  full-time. Shame about the lithp though!"

"Don't worry, you know full well that it will disappear after a week or two: just try and speak as much as you can..."

"Or thing, of courthe!"

"Actually, singing would probably be better. Anyway, I suggest you come back and see me in, say, six to eight weeks, then we can see what progress you've made.

Offline bracessd

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Re: Carol
« Reply #15 on: 15. December 2022, 17:32:50 PM »
Great job @sparky

Offline Kruz

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Re: Carol
« Reply #16 on: 18. December 2022, 01:23:41 AM »
nice! curious what will happen next

Offline m1090y

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Re: Carol
« Reply #17 on: 21. December 2022, 09:40:14 AM »
I really enjoyed Jenny Loves Singing and I'm glad we get to have another story with this band.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Carol
« Reply #18 on: 23. December 2022, 16:53:19 PM »
Chapter 7 - Open Mic night again

It's two weeks later, and once again Carol has gone to the Open Mic night. And like last time, she was sure to 'dress down', she knew that it all helped her to appear less of a 'pop star'. In the last 2 weeks, Carol has done quite a bit of singing with her retainer in, whilst working on new songs - as well as just singing existing songs - and her lisp is a lot softer. It's not completely gone: if you listen carefully, you'll still hear it's there.

Carol specifically asked Steve to put her on later in the evening, so she could hear a few of the others play first. Along the way, she spotted one of the performers - one who was better than average, apparently giving Steve a bit of grief over something.

After him, it was Kevin's turn: Carol had briefly chatted with him at the last Open Mic Night, he was probably the best performer there (well, after Carol, of course!). As expected, his performance was excellent.

"Carol, you're up" said Steve a little later. Carol went onto the stage, and stood there quietly while Steve adjusted the mics.

"Jutht before I start to play, can I give you guys... and by that, I mean you guyth who come up here on stage to perform... a bit of advice. If I'm being paid to perform, then I reckon that I'm probably the motht important person in the room at that moment! But I have a question for you: tonight, there's no paymaster, we're all playing here simply becauthe we all love music.... so who is the most important perthon in the room now?". She paused, to let a few people reply. 'The audience' was one suggestion, 'The person on stage still' was another. Some wag suggested 'the guys behind the bar', which raised a laugh. "No to all of those..." said Carol, with a very slight lisp from her retainers.

"I'd say it's Steve...." said Kevin.

"Spot on right there, Kevin! Tonight Steve is our combined thtage manager, sound tech, and sound guy. He understands thound. If he doesn't like you - for ANY reason - then he can make you sound REALLY sh*t... you know, guitar far too loud, vocals far too quiet, the odd bit of feedback, even turn the PA completely off! But if he likes you, then I know he will do EVERYTHING in his power to make you sound better. What I'm saying is: find out who your tech guyth are - by name. Be good to them, always be polite to them, and help them. If you're doing a sound check, then do what you are told, it's NOT an opportunity for you to rehearse, it's an opportunity for the sound guys to make you sound good! At the end of the day your sound guys are there to help you sound good. And finally, always but ALWAYS thank them!" Carol looked straight at Steve, and gave him a thumbs up. "Come on, let's give Steve a big round of applause, he's been doing a great job here again tonight!". As the crowd applauded and cheered, Steve had a huge smile on his face. Yes, Carol's sound was guaranteed to be 100% perfect tonight! She gently strummed her guitar a few times, knowing that Steve would be using that to check its level.

"Ok, on to the music.... So, remember last time, I played you a 'work in progress'? Well, it has progressed quite a bit in the last 2 weeks, so let me play what it sounds like now... you'll just have to imagine the drums and bass and so on....". Carol played the song she had been working on, and everyone liked it. Again, she sung with a slight lisp too, but it didn't matter.

Next, Carol put some music up on her stand. "I thought you guys might like to see how we create our songs. For us, usually Jenny's mind starts shooting off fireworks for some reason - and no, she's NOT doing drugs!!... and she comes up with a tune: this is one exactly as she sent me last week....", and Carol started to play a relatively simple tune. "But while Jenny is really great at coming up with stuff like that, here's her notes: 'a girl is worried about her guy cheating on her...', easy, right? Yeah...." There were a few laughs. "Jenny then passed the song to me and Dianne, and we spoke, and I volunteered to start on some words. How many times do you think I have listened to that tune?".

There were various guesses.

"Yeah, somewhere around fifty times.... in the first couple of hours! I had it on repeat. I need the tune in my head, and as I sing it or hum it, I'm trying out ideas and words and word patterns and that sort of thing. Jenny thinks and dreams music, I do words. I actually came up with some reasonable words, but the words didn't quite fit the music, so I had to tweak the tune a tiny bit... so now, the music sounds like this....". Carol shuffled the bits of paper, and then she played the modified tune.

"Probably not THAT noticeably different, but I assure you there's a few extra notes in there! Let's add in my first set of words.....". Carol shuffled the bits of paper again, then played and sang. There was applause at the end.

"So, I put it down for the day, then listened to it the next day, and made a few changes. Then again the day after. This is what it sounds like today...", and she played the song once again... the whole thing seemed to flow better.

"I'll now pass it over to Dianne, see if she has any bright ideas, and let her work out how the rest of the instruments will fit in. Then we'll all play it together, and I'm sure it will change again.... and I suspect it will sound a bit different when it's finally done. Actually, someone asked me a good question earlier: 'do you get many songs that you never finish?'. Yes, there's plenty of those! Some we give up on fairly quickly, others just never sound right. Occasionally one of us will pick up an old song and rework it - that happened with 'Coffee by the pool' for example. Sometimes we pick up an old song and rework it for some other performer. So, yeah, there's plenty of songs that never make it."

"Right, something different. This is not a song I'm doing for the band, it's just a 'me' song. Maybe one day it will get recorded, but probably not....". Carol played a very simple acoustic song - as she said, it was nothing like the CJDL stuff - but everyone seemed to like it.

"Ok, let me finish with an absolute classic from about 40 or so years ago, sing along if you like!", and Carol sang 'American Pie'.

After coming off stage, Carol passed Steve. "Hey, thanks for that" he said to her, "it's not often that someone shows their appreciation like that. I'm guessing you saw what happened earlier?"

"Yeah, I did, and from the little I could see, you were doing the best you could, and he didn't appreciate it! I almost went and had a word with him, but thought doing what I did would be better for everyone."

Carol returned to where she was sat, and put down her guitar next to it. "Spot on what you said about Steve, Carol" said Kevin. "Something tells me that you work with a happy tech team when you're on tour".

"I like to think so," replied Carol, and she explained about the time Jenny had a bit of a meltdown, and had been rude to the stage crew during a soundcheck. "The next day she apologised to the crew in person, and gave them all a load of nice beers. She had even managed to get a load of t-shirts done that she insisted they all wear that night, that said 'Jenny says sorry' on the front. She wore one herself during that evening's show - probably confused the hell out of the audience!".

After chatting for a few minutes she excused herself, and went and visited a couple of other tables, where one girl - not Susan this time - nervously asked if Carol could sing a song with her, and was delighted when she said yes... even better was that she'd printed out the songs lyrics for her. Whilst the girl turned out to be a fairly average singer and player, singing the duet was fun for both of them, and the audience certainly appreciated it.

"Ok," said Carol, "I'm probably going to regret this but...  I'm probably going to be here next time, so if  anyone else would like me to sing with them, then please ask. Bring some printed lyrics with you though, it's a LOT easier than trying to read from a phone!" she added waving the sheet she'd just been singing from.

Carol went and sat down at a table where there were a couple of spare seats. As she took a mouthful of her beer, a guy came over to her table.

"Hi, mind if I join you?"

"Sure, take a seat..."

Offline Sparky

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Re: Carol
« Reply #19 on: 24. December 2022, 18:50:27 PM »
Chapter 8 - Tom, the DJ

"So, I'm Tom, I'm actually a DJ on 'Croydon Radio'," he said, as he sat down.

"Oh, hi there, Tom!" said Carol. Tom sat down, and put his drink on the table. To be honest, he was a bit in awe: whilst he had met many other musicians, CJDL were up in the premier league as far as musicians go.

"Thanks!" he continued. "Tell you what, that song you played, it was really good, quite different from what you normally do!". That was when Tom smiled, and Carol realised that he had braces. Proper metal braces, just like Jenny had (and unlike the retainers that she had). To be honest, Carol thought he was generally quite good looking, and those braces looked rather good on him, they suited him.

"Thank you! That's one of the reasons I've started coming here, it lets me try out playing different stuff. A couple of weeks ago I played some CJDL stuff I was working on, and it went down well, so that's why I did the 'update'. But that third one was one I was  working on with Linda the other week. So you're with Croydon Radio then! What sort of show do you have then?"

"I do the mid-afternoon show, so predominantly chart stuff, and yes, before you ask, I DO play your stuff!"

"A man of taste then! But the question is: whilst you may play our stuff, do you actually like it? And please be as honest as possible, I'll promise not to hold your music tastes against you!"

"Ok... well, whilst I wasn't too keen on your early stuff, I really like the newer stuff you've been doing. I believe that was Jenny's doing..."

"Yeah, she went and fell for a guy that didn't really know about our music, he likes indie rock stuff, and when Jenny listened to what he likes, her brain just seemed to go 'boom'! Looking back on it, I'm actually quite glad, we couldn't have stayed with what we had been doing for ever."

"True, although I suspect you lost a few fans as a result..."

"But gained even more new ones on the way! And to answer a question you've not yet asked: yes, I do like the way things are going, but it's going to be interesting to see what happens if we can get Linda actively writing some stuff for us. Anyway, someone like you would never come to join someone like me unless there was something that they wanted!"

"Guilty as charged, I'm afraid! I was wondering... is there ANY chance... that I could persuade you to come and do an interview for my show sometime?"

"Hmmm...". Carol picked up her glass, and took another drink from it as she thought... and once again she took another look at his braces. In principle, there was no reason why she couldn't do an interview: if she had been Jenny, she would have jumped at the idea, but Jenny was so much more used to doing that sort of thing. "Ok, so I'm not going to say no, but... can I have a listen to your show first, get a feel for what it's like?"

"Sure, of course you can. And I'll promise to be very nice to you when I interview you! Here, let me give you my details, then you can just call me. And if I don't hear anything, I'll just come here in a couple of weeks time, and annoy you again!".

"Don't worry, I promise I'll call you! So, what do you think of the music this evening?"

"Quite a mix, isn't it? You and Kevin are both very good, but there's also a few beginners here too... but I love the way you're willing to go and sing with them.."

"Yes, that's actually good fun. It's something I can do to encourage them, it reminds me of where I started out."

"You're local, aren't you?"

"Yeah, we all are. Jenny, Dianne and I met at the local 6th form college, and got together as a band for our annual college concert. Linda was there too, but in the year below us."

"Oh, wow, I hadn't actually realised that...". The guy who was on stage finished playing, and Steve, the sound guy, called out that Carol and Susan were next.

"Sorry, got to perform again!" said Carol. Like Carol, Susan had already sung a few songs by herself, but Carol had agreed to do a duet with her.


The next day, Carol made a point of listening to Tom's show on Croydon Radio. He sounded rather good, and quite relaxed, talking to the listeners as if they were good friends. Maybe because he knew she would probably be listening, he played out an interview he'd done with someone a few months before - it seemed to be a very pleasant and relaxed interview.

Carol called Brian (Jenny's dad, their manager), just to check he didn't have a problem with her going on the radio, then after the show ended, she called Tom.

"Hi, Tom, it's Carol here, from last night..."

"Hey, Carol, thanks for calling back so soon. I don't suppose you listened to my show, did you?"

"Yes, I did. And whilst I'd be happy to come and do an interview with you, I have something else that I think you might prefer, but I need to ask a question first."

"Oh, what's that then?"

"Is there enough space to bring a guitar?"

"Yeah, there's plenty of space in Studio 1..."

"And how about, rather than just doing an interview, I join you for your whole show?"

"You kidding me? All 3 hours?"

"Why not, it could be fun for both of us, and I'm sure your listeners would enjoy it."

"In principle, I love the idea! I'll need to run it past my bosses, but I suspect they'll be ok with it. Apart from that minor detail, when would you like to come along?"

"Well, it's not like I'm actually 'working' at the moment, so I can make pretty much any day..."

"Ok, so how about one day next week? We can talk again to work out which day, but it will give us time to sort everything out."

Offline Sparky

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Re: Carol
« Reply #20 on: 06. January 2023, 17:17:24 PM »
So, I'm taking a short rest from my "Invasion from the 8th realm" story, to let my brain have some more 'thinking time', so while I do that, let's find out a bit more about what Carol is up to...


Chapter 9 - on the radio

"Well, good afternoon everyone, and welcome to 'Afternoon-time' here on Croydon Radio. And if you've been listening to us this morning, then you'll know I have a special guest with me in the studio today. She's actually going to be with us for the whole show, so we're going to have plenty of chance to chat together. But before we introduce her, let's play you a song that's currently at number 4 in the charts....."

Carol sat there looking at Tom as he completed the first link of his show. She had liked his voice when she had first met him at the open mic night, but his 'on-air' voice was so sexy!

She had arrived most of an hour before the show: she had brought along a load of audio clips which they might want to use during the show, stuff recorded while creating their songs. She's also brought her acoustic guitar, so they needed to set up the mic for that too. They had spent some of that time discussing what they might talk about.

"A new one there from Elton and Britney: 'Hold me closer'. Well, it's time to introduce my guest. Let's just keep it simple: she's one of the members of the chart-topping girl band CJDL... I'm absolutely delighted to welcome Carol Danvers to the show. Hello there, Carol!"

"Hello Tom! You know, I'm actually looking forward to the next three hours... normally when we do an interview it's a bit like an SAS raid: in quick, spend a few minutes talking, then goodbye. Maybe today we can take things more gently, and let everyone learn a bit more about the REAL me...."

"I'm really looking forward to that. Why don't we get in the mood by listening to your last single... it's still just about in the charts....."


"So, when I asked you earlier if there were any topics I should avoid, you said no....". In fact, the only thing they had agreed not to mention was her singing at The Crown, otherwise a rather pleasant regular event might get a bit over-busy.

"Yeah, if you only have 5 minutes to talk, then certain things can very easily get mis-understood, but we've got plenty of time today, so I'm happy to talk about pretty much anything, and I know you have a long list there..."

Tom laughed. "Well, I have to be prepared, don't I? Ok, so I thought I'd start by getting you to give us a potted history of your life.... so, I believe you're actually a local girl?"

"Yeah, I was born over in Wallington, went to Harris Junior, then the County Grammar, then off to Croydon College..."

"Yeah, that's definitely local! So, when was it you first realise that you liked music?"

"Oh, from a very young age. I used to LOVE singing at primary school, and I was even able to sing in tune! Any concert, I would be there, singing my heart out. Same when I moved on to secondary school... Of course, in secondary school, I was able to learn to PLAY music too...."

"So I'm guessing that's where you first met Jenny and Dianne then?"

"No, not really. Jenny was in a different class, and Dianne was actually at a different school.... it wasn't till I went to 6th form college that I really met up with Jenny and Dianne"

Over the next half hour, in between bits of music, Carol gave a potted history of her life, and the band's life while they were at college.

"So, what about your parents in all this? You never seem to talk about your parents..."

"I think I've just wanted to protect them from all the press attention. So, my dad is an accountant at a big accountancy firm. Mum also used to be an accountant - till they married and had us kids. They met at work, but mum became a full-time mum when she had my sister, Rosie. After having us two, she did a lot of great stuff in the community. Rosie's 4 years older than me, got married when I was 18, so she was..... twenty two, I was finishing at college. She now has a couple of really lovely kids, and whilst we don't get to meet up in person that much - she's up in Leicester now - we keep in touch, and get on well....."

"So, have your parents always supported your life of music?"

"Not all the time, no. There were a few harsh words exchanged after my year at music college... We left college so full of hope and enthusiasm, but that wasn't enough."

"What do you mean?"

"We had problems getting gigs, and trying to get ourselves a record contract.  We were all working part-time, I worked in a couple of shops, then a café. Eventually we got a residency at a holiday camp for several months, that was actually good for us. Finally after that we got ourselves a record contract: Jenny's mum & dad were already acting as our managers, so they made sure the record company didn't rip us off."

"Ok... so you got a record contract... I guess that led to you recording your first record? How did it do?"

"It bombed, got nowhere near the charts. That was a really low point for us. But the record company seemed to like us, so we got a second chance, and they pushed it a lot more: that one made the top 40, so they let us do yet another one, which got up to number 5. That felt really good, plus the record company was VERY happy! And it got us noticed too, that's when we started getting on TV, doing interviews and playing our song."

"Then your next one made number one!"

"Yeah, that was a very good day for us! Made up for the many not so good days we'd had on the way there. Overnight, life went from being reasonably busy to going completely crazy!"

"I bet! Of course, that then led to further hits, and a couple of tours.... Ok, let's leave it there just for the moment, and listen to some music....". Tom introduced the next bit of music. "You ok with how things are going?" asked Tom, off-air.

"Yeah, I'm fine, absolutely fine...".

"Can we go back to your mum and dad, then maybe chat about your ex-boyfriend?"

In any other interview, she would have said no, but Tom was being really relaxed about things, letting her explain stuff, without any pressure. Besides, he sounded very sexy, and looked rather sexy too. It was mainly when he smiled, showing off his metallic teeth.

"And we're back chatting with Carol, from CJDL. Carol, you said your parents weren't too happy with you becoming a musician... can you explain a bit for us?"

"There was a bit of a feeling that 'music isn't a proper job'... and 'how can you hope to live as a musician?' 'Musicians are poor', that sort of stuff. And in the early days, they were right, we were struggling. Of course, the joke of it now is that I'm probably responsible for generating far more money for people around me than my dad ever could. You know, when we're out on tour, we're keeping all the stage crew in jobs, then there's all the venue staff, and the hotels and restaurants near the venues and even local transport... they all stay in business because of bands like us. Having said that, without all those amazing people, we'd be nothing!"

"So your parents are ok with things now?"

"Yes, although I thing they sometimes still struggle to understand exactly what we do. They could probably cope better if I had any sort of 9 to 5 job." Carol chuckled. "Maybe next time we're on tour, I should take them along for a couple of days, let them see what we actually do."

"Yes, I suspect they might get a bit of a shock, I know it can be hard work when you're on tour. Now, while the music was playing earlier, I mentioned your boyfriend, your ex-boyfriend should I say - John wasn't it?"

"Yeah, John and I met soon after we finished at music school. We lived together for a couple of years, we had a really good relationship...."

"So what happened? I believe you don't have a boyfriend right now..."

"It was just before our first tour, he was having problems coping with my new lifestyle, you know, all the media attention and stuff, and to be honest I can't blame him. I chose this life, but he didn't. It was actually a reasonably amicable break-up. Hey, tell you what, John, if you're listening, get in touch, it would be nice to say 'hi' again! Even if you have a girlfriend, just bring her with you!". As she was talking about John, she was subconsciously looking at Tom. Well, more at his metal smile.

They continued talking between the music, and the first hour passed very quickly.

"And welcome back to 'Afternoon-time' here on Croydon Radio, with me Carol Danvers! Oh, and Tom's here too...."

"Thank you, Carol..." said Tom slightly laughing, letting Carol see his attractive smile once more. "So Carol has brought her guitar with her, so we thought we'd stop talking for a bit, and let Carol play us something!"

"Yes, I think you guys understand how important music is in my life. So, whilst Jenny usually writes the music, and then Dianne and I work on the words, this is one where I've written both the music and the words. It's still a bit of a work in progress, so it doesn't really have a title yet...."

Carol started to strum her guitar gently, then started singing. As she finished, Tom, and the two others in the studio clapped their appreciation.

"Hey, Linda, if you're listening in, call the station... and if you're NOT listening in, then why aren't you?". Carol and Tom talked for a bit more.

"Ah just got a message to say that there's someone on the phone for you...." said Tom. "Hello Linda?"

"Hello there Tom, I assume Carol can hear me?"

"Hi Linda! Yes, I can. Hey, go get your guitar, then put your phone on speaker....."

"Already ahead of you on that one..... I have a feeling you'd like to play something together?"

"Yeah, how about that one we wrote together the other week... up for it?"

"Sounds like fun..."

"Well, you lead, and I'll follow you, because I suspect you won't be able to hear me once you start playing!". It was very clear that Carol and Linda were enjoying themselves.

"So, Linda, welcome to the show! Carol said you've been trying to write some music together...."

"Yeah, so up till I started working with the girls, I was a session musician, so played other people's music. When I started working with.... no, wrong word! When I started PLAYING with CJD, whilst I was helping them 'tweak' their songs, I still wasn't writing. So Carol invited me over to make me write something."

"Well, from the sound of what you just played, I'd say it went ok!"

"Thanks, Tom. And Carol will be very happy to hear that her jump-start has inspired me, I'm working on another song at the moment!"

"Oooh, nice, look forward to hearing it" said Carol.

"So, Linda, you're the 'new girl', how does that feel?"

"It's not as bad as you might think. For a start, I knew Carol, Jenny and Dianne when they were in the upper sixth: I was in the year below them - back then they called themselves 'just 3 girls' - so we had met before. And then, before I officially joined the band, I'd been working with them for most of six months. But I still feel like I'm 'the new girl' a tiny bit!"

"I was talking with Carol earlier about how her parents reacted to her becoming a musician, can I ask how your parents have reacted?"

"Yes, I heard that. In many ways I think it was easier for my parents: I gently eased into being a session musician and singer whilst doing other work, then I started playing full-time with the girls, and then going on tour with them... I think that gave mum and dad a chance to get used to my new lifestyle."

"And have YOU got used to it yet?"

"It's not really kicked in yet! I guess I started to get used to it on the tour."

"Any brothers or sisters?"

"I have a younger sister, so early 20's, and when she heard that I'd joined CJDL, she went absolutely wild! She was so pleased for me."

"Ok, so a slight change of tack: who do you listen to when you're not listening to CJDL then?"

"Oooh, good question. Ed Sheeran, Billie Eilish.... oh, and Aziya is someone new I just started to listen to."

"Yes, I've heard of her. Tell you what though, I've got some Billie Eilish here, let's take a short break and listen to her latest song...."

Tom had another brief chat with Linda, before she left, then Tom asked Carol about her musical tastes.

"Oh, I hate to admit it, but I like Ed Sheeran too. Then I guess there's people like Taylor Swift and Rihanna. I mean, there's some really great singers and groups around right now..."

"So, if someone were to walk through that door, and offer to sing with you, who would it be?"

"Oh, definitely Ed Sheeran!". As Tom smiled at Carol's response, once again she took a look at the lovely shiny metal that adorned Tom's teeth.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Carol
« Reply #21 on: 07. January 2023, 23:10:45 PM »
Chapter 10 - still on the radio

They continued chatting, as well as playing music, both were enjoying the show.

"So, while that last record was playing, you pulled out a small audio recorder, and started playing your guitar..."

"Yup, inspiration hit me, want to hear it?"

"Of course....."

Carol started strumming again... "I'm on the radio today.... la la la.... I'm in Studio One, playing this song.... la la la......". She played a bit more, then stopped. "I need to get Jenny, or maybe Linda, to look at the tune there.... who knows, maybe it will be our next number one?"

Just then, the studio door opened - which is something that should never happen, not when someone in the studio is live on air - and in walked Jenny, followed by Ben.

"Jenny!!! Ben!! What are you guys doing here? I guess I should explain to the listeners that my band-mate, Jenny, has just this moment walked into the studio, with her fiance Ben!". Jenny walked over to Carol's microphone.

"We heard you on the radio, so thought maybe we should drop by and say hello!"

"Jenny, Ben, welcome to the show.... what an unexpected surprise! Let me play some music while we get you guys sorted out!" said Tom.

One of the other guys at the station found another couple of microphones on stands for Jenny and Ben, and they all lined up opposite Tom.

"You're listening to Croydon Radio, I'm Tom Daly, and with me today is Carol Danvers, along with a couple of surprise guests who have just dropped by, Jenny, one of Carol's band-mates, and her fiance, Ben. Hey, Jenny, could I ask you a question?"

"Sure, fire away..."

"The story is that you and Ben met through a dating app... is that actually true?". Tom knew it was, because Carol had already told him when they were at the pub, but it made for a good opening question.

"Absolutely! We'd just finished our first tour last year, and were all having a few weeks down-time... partly to recover from actually doing the tour, but also to give us a chance to start working on some new material. I was getting a bit bored, so put my profile up on a dating app..."

"Something tells me that it did NOT say 'pop-star wishes to meet'....!" said Tom, smiling, showing off his metal.

"No, it was pretty non-descript" explained Jenny.

"If I remember right, it was something like '24, works in an office, but likes music, films and being with people'. Which, in hindsight, was actually the truth," added Ben, "Jennifer didn't actually tell any lies... she just left a lot out! I mean 'works in an office'??!!".

"Well, that's true! I have an office where I write my music....." said Jenny. "And don't forget the picture!".

"Yes, her picture, whilst rather nice, was NOT of 'Jennifer, the pop star'!

"So you had no idea who she was when you met her?"

"None at all. I'm not into the sort of stuff CJD were doing back then, so I'd never seen her picture or anything. Besides, Jennifer is actually very good at making herself not look like herself, if you know what I mean! But she looked rather cute in her picture."

"So when DID you find out who she really was?"

"About two weeks later!"

"Yeah, the famous 'gig'..." said Carol.

"Do explain..." asked Tom

"Through Ben, Jenny had met a small local rock band, Three-Play, and ended up playing a couple of songs with them at a local pub." explained Carol. "Of course, her performance was simply perfect! That was the first time I actually met Ben: Dianne and I were at that gig too, hiding in the audience with Ben. And I guess that's where Dianne first met Mike, her current boyfriend - he's Three Play's drummer. Anyway, after the performance she pulled off that night, there was no way she could keep her identity secret from Ben any more!"

"Yeah, that was a fun night. So intimate compared to where we normally play," commented Jenny.

"I'm guessing you were a bit shocked by that revelation, Ben?"

"A bit, yes! But it suddenly explained a lot of things."

"Now, earlier on when I was asking Carol about her ex-boyfriend, she told me that they split up because of the band's fame - that doesn't worry you?"

"No, not too much... I've discovered that these guys are actually amazingly normal people underneath. Also, Jennifer sort-of shields me from the worst of it. I still work part-time, my boss has been really good about giving me time off to be able to be with Jennifer. "

"Which reminds me, Ben..." said Jenny, "you're going to need some more time off... Carol, want to hear some hot-off-the-press, not yet confirmed news? But whatever you don't tell anyone, especially anyone listening in on the radio!" She whispered that last bit loudly, with a big grin, fully aware that they were, indeed, live on air.

"Go on..." said Carol with a smile, and also whispering loudly. "I'm I'm all ears, and I'm sure noone else is listening!"

"How do you fancy a trip to Korea?" asked Jenny.

"Korea? I hope you mean SOUTH Korea? What's happening?"

"So, remember that song we did ages ago, 'Sexy Yellow Rollerskates'? Anyway, we tweaked it a few months ago for a K-pop girl group, and they've gone and made number 2 with it in Korea! And they're expecting it to make number 1 next week. So their production company have just been in touch with dad - oh, for Tom's sake, I should explain that my dad is our manager - and they would like us to go over there to perform on TV with them."

"And when might this be?" asked Carol.

"Probably next week... So, what do you think?" asked Jenny.

"So we get to be a K-Pop band?" Carol started to giggle. "Oh, yes! Definitely yes!!!" she added very excitedly.

"I will admit, I hadn't thought of that angle - it's gonna be a bit like we were a year ago, with our older music, won't it? I think we could have some fun over there!" said Jenny.

"Actually, your saying that raises a question:" interrupted Tom, "after your first tour, your music style started to change - what caused that then?" Whilst he knew the answer - again, Carol had told him at the pub - it was a good question for the listeners.

"Ben!" said both Carol and Jenny in unison.


"Yes, not only was Ben definitely not into girl bands, but it turned out he WAS into indie-rock and that sort of stuff, so I started to listen to some of HIS music. BOOM! My head just exploded with ideas! So, yeah, blame Ben!". Jenny leaned over and gave Ben a big hug.

"So I'm guessing that's related to the gig you guested at, with Darkest Knights?"

"That was a special birthday treat for Ben! He absolutely loves Darkest Knights, but I couldn't get any normal tickets to their gigs, so my brother Callum got some back-stages. One thing led to another, and I got the band, along with the crowd of over 10,000, to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Ben! Then I played a couple of songs with the band!" explained Jenny.

"That was quite a night!" said Ben. "Not only did I meet the band, but then Jennifer went and played with them. The best birthday present ever!"

"Sounds fun! Let's just pause there for a moment, and play some more music. You're listening to Afternoon Time on Croydon Radio, with me, Tom Daly, along with my special guests, Carol, Jenny and Ben...".

"Korea?" asked Carol, "You for real?"

"Oh, absolutely... sounds like you're definitely up for it."

"Yeah, so where we staying? And who's the band that's got the hit with our song?"

"Oh, come on Carol, I only found out about it like 30 minutes ago! We all need to get together and discuss it. With Korea being something like 7 hours ahead, we need to do an early morning call tomorrow. Anyway, we can talk about it more after you've finished here."

The record ended. "Ok, so I just added 2 questions to that long list I created before the show. The first one is to Ben: I noticed that, whilst everyone else calls her Jenny, you call her Jennifer? Any particular reason?"

"Yes... when Jennifer made her post on the now infamous dating app, she did it as Jennifer. Then, when we met, I continued calling her Jennifer... she never corrected me, and I guess it's the name that's now stuck in my head. Besides, I rather like it!"

"And so do I!" added Jenny. "He's actually the only person who calls me that name, and I'm not planning to tell him to stop any time soon!"

"Ok.. so the other question: you just mentioned about maybe going to Korea: have you actually played abroad before? I apologise, I really should have checked on that..."

"It's ok, we'll forgive you!" said Carol. "And the answer is actually yes, on our first tour, which seems so long ago now, we did several dates over in Europe... The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Germany and a couple of other places too."

"Do you actually ENJOY the touring?" asked Tom.

"That's a hard one to answer. There's good bits and bad bits. The good bits are when you're on stage, actually performing, that's when we come alive... but also when we meet our fans. The not-so-good bits are having to live in hotels, living out of a suitcase, moving on every day or two. I know Jenny struggles with that bit..."
"I hear you have quite a good reputation for being willing to meet your fans..."

"That's mainly Jenny's doing, but yes, it's actually rather nice to meet them in small groups. Jenny's the one that does the social media, and organises most of the meets, but she's trained them well: they know that, as long as they behave themselves, we'll chat with them, and do selfies with them. One of the best bits is when we're staying in a hotel for a couple of nights, and we can organise a 'fans breakfast', for any fans staying over at the hotel."

After chatting for a little more, Jenny and Ben left Carol to continue the show with Tom. In the third hour of the show, Tom got a few callers on the phone, and a few questions online too, and Carol answered their questions.

"Well, sadly time has just flown today, and we're at the end of our time. Carol, thank you so much for coming along and chatting to me, it's been a realy interesting and enjoyable afternoon!" said Tom, starting to wind up the show.

"Yeah, I've enjoyed it too, I hope your listeners weren't too bored!"

"I'm sure they weren't! So thanks to all our listeners for joining in today. After the news, Brian Smith will be with you, and I'll be back with you again tomorrow at 1 o'clock, see you all then...", and he started his last record.

A few minutes later, with the news going out, they were done. A middle-aged lady walked in to the studio.

"Ah, this is Anna, our 'Head of programming'. Anna, meet Carol."

"Nice show there, Tom, well done! And nice to meet you Carol, thank you for coming in and being so open, it was amazingly interesting, picking up on your inside stories!"

Carol looked over at Tom yet again: all through the last 3 hours, she had been looking at him: he was rather good looking, a lovely smile, and what was inside that smile was good too. And his voice, that was rather nice too....

"Hey, Tom, you in a rush to get home?"

"Not especially, why?"

"Fancy going to grab a coffee somewhere?"

Offline Sparky

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Re: Carol
« Reply #22 on: 08. January 2023, 17:50:34 PM »
chapter 11 - planning for Korea

"You fancy him, don't you?" commented Jenny.

"Pardon?" replied Carol.

"Tom, at the radio station. I saw the way you kept looking at him! I will admit, he is pretty good looking, and his voice is rather nice too...."

Carol couldn't actually deny it, yes, she DID fancy Tom. Something rotten. And for the very reasons that Jenny just said. Plus, for some strange reason, she also found his braces to be strangely attractive... although she was certainly not going to admit THAT to Jenny. No, far too weird!

"Hello Carol!" said Jenny's mum. "We listened to you on the radio today - you came over VERY well. Sounds like you enjoyed yourself too!"

"Thankth... and yes, it wath quite a nicthe way to spend an afternoon.". As she spoke, she smiled enight for Jenny's mum to see a wire across her teeth.

"Oh, do have braces too?"

"Sort-of, thethe are retainerth, I need to wear them for a month or two." Carol decided to not try and explain WHY she needed them. Oh, and if you're wondering why Carol didn't lisp while she was in the radio: well, she didn't want to sound like a dick-head, nor raise any un-needed questions, and simply hadn't worn them.

So, yes, all four girls had come over to Jenny's parent's place to have dinner, and talk about going to Korea. They had all brought an overnight bag, so they could stay over, making it a lot easier for them to have an early morning conference call with the Korean production company.

Of course, come dinner time, Carol needed to remove her retainer. Still feeling a bit self-conscious about it, she went to the downstairs toilet, took advantage of being there, then put her fingers into her mouth, and pulled down on the retainer's clasps, to remove her retainer. She spent a moment looking it it: made of clear pink plastic, it had rather a lot of wires on it: as well as the normal molar clasps, there were c-clasps that went around her front pre-molars, as well as the labial bow with the strange springs on it. With the extra clasps to hold it in place, it was actually reasonably comfortable. With her retainer out, she rinsed it, then put it into the retainer box that she had in her bag.

"So," started Jenny's dad over dinner, "I had an email and then a short phone call earlier today from a company called 'MPC': they are media production company based in Seoul. One of their many groups, Jelly Fish, are the ones that wanted to record 'Sexy Yellow Rollerskates'. Anyway, they recorded it, and it seems it has gone viral, and today went straight in at number two in the charts, and they reckon it's probably going to make number one next week. They are rather hoping that you guys might be interested in going over to appear on TV, and sing the song with them."

"Oh, come on, it won't just be 'sing the song on TV', what else do they want us to do?" asked Dianne.

"From what I could gather, as much as you can in the few days you're there. They also mentioned something about maybe doing a short spot in some sort of local music festival."

"All the way to Korea for 'a few days'? If we're going, we need more time there, I want to have a look around, feel the culture. Didn't you see that TV series recently, that popular UK presenter went there, and he loved the place!" said Dianne.

"I was half thinking about that, but I was also thinking about something else too." said Carol. "These Korean production companies actually spend a lot of effort to train their kids: singing, acting, dancing and so on. What I'd love to do is spend a couple of weeks with them doing some dance training: it's been AGES since we bothered anything serious, and I think we need to 'up our game' a bit...".

"Yes, I like the idea," said Linda, "I mean, you guys have done a bit of training relatively recently, I've done nothing since college. Think they might be up for it?"

"There's no harm in asking," replied Jenny's mum, "maybe you can offer something in return? I'm thinking maybe some sort of song-writing masterclasses? Or hints and tips for anyone coming to perform in Europe?"

"Jenny, you've been uncharacteristically quiet: what's your thoughts?"

"Yes, I'd definitely like some time to see the place... although I think I'm only going to be interested if Ben can come along."

"Very fair point. And the dance classes?"

"It would be interesting to see if they are interested in that: if they are, then I'm up for it."

"And Dianne, would you want to ask Mike along?"

"If he's willing, yes."

"I'm assuming that Callum would come with us?" said Jenny.

"Yes, absolutely, and I was thinking that Paige might want to come and 'document' the visit."

"Ah, yes, 'CJDL do Korea', I bet she'd like that! Of course, if we stay longer, I guess that means they'll want us to do more stuff?" said Carol.

"Yes, and for which we will be suitably recompensed. Effectively they will be the equivalent of 'the tour company' we use when you guys are on tour, so they'll be organising everything, and the more they make, the more we make. But I also understand that it needs to be fun and interesting for you guys too. So, if you're on TV, I guess you'll want to sing?"

"Silly question, dad! Of course we will!!"

"So, what do we know about the group... Jelly Fish didn't you say?" asked Carol.

"Yes, Jelly Fish. All I know is they are like you, 4 girls, early 20's, but I was told they should be joining us on the vidconf tomorrow, so you'll have a chance to talk to them."

"Yeah, I mean, if we don't get on with them, or if they don't speak good English, it's gonna be a bit of a bummer! Any mention yet about where we'll stay?"

"I'll make sure the hotel is good, don't worry..."

"Korea's quite a long flight, I think we should be insisting on going first class!"

"Yes, I was rather assuming that too. We managed in business class for the short European flights on your first tour, but we were on a tight budget back then. But no, I agree about going first class. Anything else coming to mind that we need to ask?"

"A couple of practical things:" said Callum, "we'll need interpreters pretty much all the time. Local mobiles. Transport easily available. Decent WiFi wherever we are."

"Good thoughts there... anything else?"

"Well, if they want the girls to preform live, then we'd need to think about instruments: I mean, taking guitars isn't a big deal, but not keyboards or drums. Also headset mics and that sort of thing - from what I've seen, they tend to use hand mics."

"Good comment, let's see if that becomes relevant first, and if it does, then you can liaise with them on the details."

"Definitely going to need my audio recorder," said Jenny, "I have a feeling that the change of surroundings is going to inspire me!"

"Maybe Linda will get a bit more inspired too...." said Carol.

"Hey, stop picking on me!" replied Linda.

"Not picking on you at all! You proved today, when we played together on the radio, that you can write good stuff, so soak in what Korea can give you, maybe work with Jenny too. I think you've got some good stuff inside you!"

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #23 on: 12. January 2023, 18:46:22 PM »
Chapter 12 - the video-conference call

"Hello, can you hear us ok?" asked an asian voice in very clear English. The same as where the girls were, in asia a whole group of people were gathered around a table

"Yes we can." replied Brian (that's Jenny's dad).

"Oh, good. So, I'm Kim De-Jung, we spoke on the phone yesterday!"

"Ah, yes, hello, I'm Brian, Brian Stevens, this is my wife Lisa, we manage CJDL. Would you like everyone to introduce themselves?"

"Why not, that sounds like a good idea!".

The four girls introduced themselves. "And this is my brother, Callum, he looks after anything technical for us... and this here is Paige, she does anything that's media related for us. By the way, she asked me to check that you don't mond her filming us all: if we come over to Korea, she wants to film us, with the view of putting together a program of 'CJDL does Korea!'"

"Well, thank you, and nice to meet you. And no problem with you filming there, Paige!  So, I have the 4 girls from Jelly Fish here with me..." The four girls from Jelly Fish introduced themselves: Ahnjong, Min Jee, Taeyang, and Yun Hee.

"Nice to meet you all!" shouted our four girls: everyone was smiling.

"So, I'm assuming from the fact that you are all here today, that you are definitely interested in coming here to perform with Jelly Fish?"

"Yes, we all talked about it last night," replied Brian, "And the girls are pretty much up for anything you'd like them to do while they are in Korea. However, Carol came up with something, and I think as it was her idea, I'll let her explain..."

"Yeah, can I start by you a question, De-Jung: would I be right in saying that you guys run a sort of 'training school' to train up people like Jelly Fish to be performers?"

"Yes, we do..."

"So, I was thinking that it was silly to come all the way over to Korea for just a week. So I was wondering if there was any way we could come to your 'school' for a couple of weeks and do some dance and choreography lessons?" 

"Oh, yes, that's a very interesting idea! I have no idea if it's possible, but leave it with me, and I'll ask."

"We were thinking that maybe the girls could pay for their 'tuition' by giving some masterclasses of some sort to your students, share their own experience. And of course, if they are there for longer, that gives you more opportunities for extra TV appearances, and that sort of thing." said Lisa.

"Yes, I can see a lot of possibilities, and a lot of positives, I'll go and talk to people about it, and get back to you as soon as possible. I guess I'll need to speak with you, Brian and Lisa, about the money side of things, but I think whatever we can do with be worthwhile for all of us. Ok, so next, I have a question about your accommodation...."

"Yes, go on...."

"So, the obvious option is for you all to stay in a suitable hotel, but there is another option, and if you are going to be here for a few weeks, I think you'll like this. Yun Hee, maybe you can explain the idea?"

"Hi everyone! So, all four of us share an apartment, it's provided by the company, and it's really quite nice, we each have a large room, and there's a lounge and a kitchen area we all share. And at the moment, there's an empty apartment next door to ours, and we thought you might like to stay there instead. I think you might prefer it to a hotel, plus then we could all spend time together, have breakfast and dinner together, that sort of thing!"

Our four girls looked at each other: clearly the idea was very appealing.

"How big is the apartment?" asked Brian.

"I think it's the same as ours, so 5 bedrooms..." said Yun Hee.

"Yes, 5 bedrooms, they can be either doubles or twins: would that work for you?" said De-Jung.

"One for me and Ben... one for Dianne and Mike, one each for Linda and Carol, so  that's four...  so that leaves just one for Callum and Paige... that's one short!"

"Hey, Linda, fancy sharing?" suggested Carol. "that way there'd be a room each for Callum and Paige"

"Yeah, why not... as long as you don't snore...." replied Linda.

"It sounds like the girls like that idea!" replied Brian.

"Oh, that's great!" said Yun Hee.

"Mum, dad: Sorry, I guess you two will just have to 'slum it' at a nice five-star hotel!" said Jenny.

"Yes, there's a hotel not far away from the apartment. I'll follow that up for you. So, the next thing on my list was the festival appearance: we've tentatively persuaded the organisers to give you a 30 minute slot: is that going to be ok? To be honest, we were lucky to get even that at such a late stage as this."

"I'm ok with that," said Carol. "what about you guys?". Everyone was happy with the idea: yes it was a very short set, but he was right, at this late stage they were lucky to even get a slot. "I guess Callum will need to talk to someone about what we'll need on the technical side?"

"Yes, I'll give Brian the contact details for that. Ok, next... ah yes, flights: you said there's 10 of you in total didn't you? We've reserved 10 first class seats on the Korean Air flight out of London on Sunday afternoon, so you'd be here on Monday afternoon: does that work for you?"

"Most probably. We can all discuss it, and get back to you if there's a problem."

"Ok, that's good. The actual TV appearance will be live, on the Thursday evening, so that gives you time to recover from the flight, then the girls have suggested that maybe you can work on your dance routine on the Wednesday and Thursday?" said De-Jung.

"Don't worry," said Taeyang, "there will be plenty of time to other things those two days too!"

"So, is there anything else you need to ask us?" asked De-Jung.

"I have a couple of things. First of all, none of us speak Korean, we'll need interpreters..."

"Yes, good point. Luckily we all speak good English, so that will help, but I'm sure we can make sure there's always someone around, maybe some of our students can help?"

"That sounds good. Another thing was transport: with 10 of us, plus several of you..... that's a lot of taxis..."

"No problem, we have contacts we use a lot that have small busses, we can usually get them quite quickly... we use them for the bands a lot."

"Ok, yes, that sounds good. And mobile phones: any chance you can lend us some local phones for us all to use while we are there?"

"I'm sure Samsung would love to give you some of their latest phones, leave that with me!" said De-Jung with a smile. "Anything else?"

"Not at the moment, but I'm sure we'll think of things..."

"Of course, just let me know. Ok, why don't I go and see if I can talk to something about you four coming to our school... while I do that, I suspect the girls might like to get to know each other...".

For the next half hour, the 8 girls, plus Callum and Paige all chatted, exchaging WhatsApp and Zoom details, then De-Jung re-appeared.

"Ok, good news: I've spoken to our school, and they would be very happy to give CJDL some dance training, and they also like your idea of sharing their experience with the students: it's not often we get someone that can share their knowledge of what happens in Europe... we can discuss the details of all that over the next few days, and even after you get here."

"Yes, that's great news!" said Carol.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #24 on: 20. January 2023, 17:17:54 PM »
chapter 13 - 'We're going to Korea!!'

"Oh, goody," said Dianne, "I have an excuse to buy some new clothes!"

"Absolutely!" said Jenny. "Hey, Linda, now you're a full member of the team, you need to get a few more clothes in your wardrobe too... so fancy coming shopping with me?"

Carol wasn't at all surprised by their comments, those two enjoyed any excuse to buy new outfits for when they would be 'out on display'. But Dianne did actually have a good point: they would be using this 'mini-tour' to get themselves publicity: they were currently pretty unknown in Korea, so it wouldn't take all THAT much effort to up their online sales.

Jenny turned to Carol. "So, they like your idea of us doing some dance lessons... and I must admit, I'm looking forward to it: you're right, we really do need a good 'refresher'!".  Carol smiled: it was nice to get such positive feedback from Jenny. "Hey, Carol, why don't you have your retainers in?"

"God, you sound just like my mum used to be: 'Did you remember to brush your teeth properly? Don't forget you need to brush your retainers too. Why aren't you wearing your retainers?'" said Carol in a silly voice. Jenny was right though, she should put them back in, so she found her bag, and took out the retainer box, and opened it.

"Wow, those are fancy retainers!" commented Dianne, who happened to see them as Carol opened the box.

"Yes, they are. I noticed one of my teeth seemed like it had moved a tiny bit - I'd broken my old retainer trying to put it in - so I went and saw Jenny's ortho. He gave me these, they have some extra clasps to hold it in place, and these springs are applying a bit of pressure to hopefully move the tooth back. However, not had them long, so I still have a lisp - which is why I left them out. I didn't want to sound like a teenage dork!". Carol by now had the retainers in her hand, and she put them into her mouth, clippinbg them into place.

"Tho, if noone has anything planned, how about we go to the muthic room and play a bit: it's been a few weekth thince we've all been together." thugethted Carol (damn, she's making ME do it now!!!).

"Yeah, I'm up for that" replied Dianne.

They spent the rest of the morning in the music room. The first thing they did was to listen to Jelly Fish's version of their old song, 'sexy yellow roller-skates': whilst it was amazingly similar to their own version, they had made a few small changes, so it made sense to make sure they could sing the new version without making any silly mistakes.

Jenny also played them a couple of ideas she's been working on, and Carol persuaded Linda to play them what she'd been working on recently.

"Tell you what, Linda..." said Jenny, "I'm liking your style.... it's pretty similar to our recent stuff, but slightly different enough to make it interesting... What I'm saying is: don't stop, keep trying out ideas! I'd really love to have someone else in the band that can write music, and I'm thinking we ought to spend a bit more time together!"

"I guess you'll have plenty of time when we're in Korea... I mean, we can only practice dancing for SO many hours each day!" said Carol.

"You know, the more I think about it, the more I'm looking forward to going to Korea," said Dianne. "We're gonna have a load of time together, staying in one place, and without the pressures of being on tour. I think we should all make a big effort to work together on some new material: I'm sure we're going to get inspired both by the place, and by their music."

Lisa, Jenny's mum, came into the music room. "Lunch is ready...."

"Oh, thanks Mrs S!" said Carol. They all went back into the main house, and into the dining room, where Jenny's mum had done them all some simple lunch. Having sat down, Carol realised that she needed to remove her retainers, but she'd actually left her bag, which contained her retainer case, out in the music room. Whilst she could have gone and got it, she didn't bother. Instead, in full view of everyone, she put her fingers into her mouth, and removed her retainers, and put them on the table, in front of her, feeling a little bit of 'excitement' as she did so, knowing that everyone else could see her retainers.

"So, Brian, has anyone told the press yet that we're definitely going to Korea?"

"No... why don't you call up your friend at the radio station, let him know... I'm sure it won't be long after that that the world knows!"

So, about an hour later, at about 1:30, Carol calls Croydon Radio, knowing that Tom will be on the air. The other 3 girls, plus Paige (who is filming all of this) are with her, and Carol has the phone on speaker, so everyone can hear..

"Hello, Croydon Radio!" said the voice that answered the phone.

"Hi, this is Carol.... Carol Danvers...." said Carol. "And you ain't gonna believe that unless I say something like 'I went out for a coffee with Tom after the show yesterday'".

"Hello Carol! Wasn't expecting to hear from you again so soon." replied the voice, "It's Ravi here..."

"Oh, hi Ravi! Look, I thought Tom might like a bit of exclusive breaking news about us going to Korea... Any chance I can speak to him?"

"Hold on Carol, I'll just have a word with him". She heard a click, then heard music, which she assumed was what they were broadcasting. Just over 20 seconds later, there was another click.

"Hi Carol..." said Tom.

"Hi Tom!" said Carol.

"Hi Tom!" said Jenny.

"Hi Tom!" said Dianne a bit louder as she was a bit further away.

"Hi Tom!" said Linda.

There was a laugh from the phone. "I'm guessing all four of you are there today? Hi everyone!". Of course, Tom was a bit chuffed: today he was talking with all four of CJDL! So how are you today?"

"Well, apart from having to get up stupidly early for a vid conf, I'm fine. I have some news, I thought you might like another bit of an exclusive...."

"I'm assuming it's about Korea?"


"For broadcast?"


"Tell you what, let me put you onto the desk, and we can have a chat in the next link... that ok with you?"

"Sure...". Another couple of clicks, and she heard music again... it was kinda like calling the local council, and being stuck on hold! At least the music was reasonable, it sounded like it was Lewis Capaldi.

"Pointless there from Lewis Capaldi, topping the charts this week. Well, remember yesterday
I had the pleasure of Carol Danvers - one of the girls from CJDL - in the studio with me for the whole show, well, she's just called me, she tells me she has some interesting news to share with us. Hello there, Carol!"

"Hello Tom!" said Carol again.

"Hi Tom" said the three other girls.

"And hello also to Jenny, Dianne and Linda, who I believe are all with you today..."

"Yeah, we're all round Jenny'th parent'th place, in the music room, it's actually the firtht time in a few weeks that we've all been together, so we were trying out a few new thongs earlier on."

"Sounds like you guys are enjoying yourselves. Now, first of all, thanks for coming in yesterday, not only did I enjoy it, but it seems many of our listeners did too."

"My pleasure!"

"So, yesterday on the show, your band-mate Jenny dropped by, and we heard you 'secretly whispering' rather loudly something about going to Korea, and I believe you've called in to give us an update?"

"Well, that'th athuming your listeners would like an excluthive bit of confirmed newth?". Carol's lisp was, by now, reasonably soft, with some words causing her more issues than others, but it would probably be another week or so before she was fully used to wearing her new retainers. (I'll stop typing her lisps now, you can just imagine them....)

"Oooh, yes, definitely...."

"So, I can officially confirm that we, that's CJDL of course, have been invited to go over to Korea: Jelly Fish - they are a K-Pop band - are currently at number 2 in the Korean charts with a single that we wrote: 'Sexy Yellow Roller-skates", and they fully expect it to be number 1 next week. And they want us to perfor m with Jelly Fish on the Chart Show program..."

"Wow! Now we spoke after the show yesterday, and you said you were hoping it would happen, so how you feeling about it?"

"Oh, yeah, it's gonna be such fun! Not only will we be performing on TV, it seems there's a small festival a couple of days later, so we're going to be playing at that too. And then we're going to stay over there for a couple more weeks, and do a bit of dance training. And I'm sure they'll line up some radio or TV appearances too." explained Carol excitedly. "It's going to be the first time we've done anything outside Europe."

"I have a feeling you guys are going to be working hard, but also having a lot of fun. So how has the press reacted so far?"

"Well, they haven't: you're the first to hear about it!"

"No way! So you're telling me that we just got an exclusive from you?"


"So, let me get this right: CJDL are about to go to Korea for a few weeks, you're going to be singing one of your songs on TV with... ah, yes, Jelly Fish, then performing on stage at a festival - is that by yourselves or with Jelly Fish?"

"It seems they've squeezed us in for 30 minutes, and I guess we'll be onstage by ourselves... Jelly Fish are now one of the headliners, so I guess there's a possibility we my drop by for their set."

"I must admit, I've never actually heard of Jelly Fish, who are they?"

"Like us, there's 4 girls in the band: um, half a second...". Jenny was scribbling, and passed the paper to Carol. "So, they are Ahnjong, Min Jee, Taeyang and Yun Hee. I'd say they are a couple of years younger than us. We met them online this morning, and had a nice chat with them all, we all seemed to get on pretty well."

"Ok. So then you said something about dance training?"

"Yeah, things are a bit different over in Korea compared to here in England. They have large... I was going to say 'record companies', but they are a lot more than that, they are 'production houses': they train the kids up.... some of the kids start as young as 14... not just as singers, but as performers, dancers and actors too. So I thought it was time we brushed up on our dancing, so I asked if we could stay a bit longer, and join their dance classes. And they said yes."

"Nice one! So how you all going to cope being stuck in a hotel all that time?"

"We won't... well, Jenny's mum and dad will be, but we're going to stay in an apartment, next to the one Jelly Fish live in."

"Oh, my... what a thought: eight girls all together for... what is it, three weeks?" said Tom, laughing.

"I think it's going to be fun being all together again. Looking back over the last year, the only time we normally all get together for more than say a week, is when we're on tour together.. but then you're getting stressed... performing, and going to a new hotel every few days. This is going to be quite different. And it's going to be interesting being immersed in Korean culture - I can't wait to try out some of their street food!"

"Is it the sort of thing that's likely to inspire you to write some new stuff?"

"Hey, Tom, Jenny here... I have a feeling my head is going to explode with new ideas when I see Korea..."

"Hi there, Jenny! Hey, is Ben going with you?"

"Of course - I mean, how could I survive three weeks away from home without him there to keep me sane?"

"Well, girls, Carol, thanks for the call, and thanks for the exclusive news. Hey, make sure you call us when you're over there! In the meantime, I'd better get back to the show. That was Carol Danvers there, with the other girls from CJDL. Sounds like a prompt to play you their current single...."... Tom started the music, and there were a couple of clicks.

"Hey, Carol, ladies, thank you SO much for that!"

"No problems... it's nice to help our local station... something tells me that Ravi is about to be very busy editing that bit down, and putting it online! Hey, you free after the show again today?"

"Yes, but only if you let me buy the coffees, if that's what you were about to suggest?"

"It was... ok, I'll see you after the show!". Carol hit the 'red button' to end the call, at which point there were a few 'oooh's from the others.

"You really like him, don't you?" said Jenny. "Go on, admit it...". Carol was thinking about Tom, and that smile of his. And what was inside that smile.

"Yeah, I guess I do. I mean, it's alright for you and Dianne, you've both got someone, but Linda and I are both single. Well, I'm assuming Linda is still single?"

"Don't bring me into this!!" said Linda.

The four girls were definitely enjoying being back together again.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #25 on: 01. February 2023, 15:39:50 PM »
Chapter 14 - More about Tom

Carol arrived at the radio station just before 4pm, when Tom's show ended. She waited outside the studio until he had switched into the news: she had noticed yesterday that those few minutes before the news seemed to be a little more stressful for Tom, probably because he needed the switch into the news to sound good, without the previous record over-running.

"Hiya!" said Carol as she walked in. Like yesterday, Carol was dressed very casually, wearing a pleasant blouse, and jeans. Her long brown hair fell nicely around her face, and down to her breasts: it's style wasn't anything special, no fringe like Jenny now had, since she got her hair cut short. Plus she wore minimal makeup... it was all part of trying to not look too much like a pop-star, and strangely, most of their fans respected this: if they were dressed up as CJDL, then they expected their fans would want their attention, but dressed like this they tended to keep their distance. And if one of their fans DID approach one of the group, they tended to be very 'cautious', and would ask very nicely. Well, most of the time!

"Hey, Carol, nice to see you again. So, you're all off to Korea... I guess you'll be busy the next few days getting ready - so when you actually flying out?"

"We fly out teatime on Thunday, tho we get there mid afternoon on the Monday." said Carol smiling. She was smiling for a couple of reasons: first, she was actually quite excited about going to Korea, in fact, the most excited she had been for a while - it's not quite so easy to get as excited about touring around the UK the second time around. And the second reason was because she'd just seen Tom's smile... and more specifically the metalwork on his teeth. "Tho, any feedback on our newth yet?"

"I don't really know, I've been stuck in the studio pretty much all the time since you rang, let's go ask Ravi.... But before we do that, I have a question: I didn't realise you had had braces recently. I mean, on the show yesterday you mentioned you had braces as a teenager..."

"That's becauthe I've not actually had braces rethently. However, a few weekth ago, I thpotted that one of my teeth seemed to have moved, and when I put my retainerth in, the top one was very tight, and I actually broke its wire. Tho I went and saw Jenny'th ortho, and he's made me a new one, with a few extra bitth on, to hopefully move the tooth back a bit."

"Ah, ok! I can hear that you still have a bit of a lisp, I guess your tongue is still getting used to it?"

"Yeah, that'th right." Carol was kinda glad Tom had mentioned her retainers, because that meant she could now ask Tom about his braces. "Tho how come you got braces ath an adult then?"

"Well.... as a teen, whilst not perfect, my teeth weren't bad enough to get braces on the NHS, but in the last couple of years, they've got worse: my ortho thinks it might be related to my wisdom teeth finally coming through. What do you think then? Do they make me look nerdy or cool?"

"They actually thuit you well, so more cool than nerd! Your brackets are tho much thmaller than mine were though, had them long?"

"About 3 months so far. I was surprised how comfortable they are, I was expecting them to catch my cheeks more: I remember back at school, the kids that did have braces always complained about that. Anyway, you going to let me buy you this coffee?"

Just like yesterday, Carol and Tom had a very pleasant chat over their coffee. Carol was telling Tom a bit more about going to Korea.

"When I rang in, you said I should call your show from Korea: you serious about that?"

"Why not? It could be fun for everyone! Assuming you're ok with it? Although rather than using the phone, we have some high-quality audio link software we use over the internet, probably better to use that."

"Ok, so what you thinking of, just a chat?"

"If you would like to sing something, or do something with the other girls, or even the Korean girls, then that's ok too: the feedback we've had after yesterday's show was surprisingly positive, and to be honest, it's nice to do something that not just 'play another record' or 'read out about a local event'. Yesterday became quite 'personal', and people seemed to connect with that. I mean, Linda calling up, then Jenny and Ben dropping by, that was such fun, and was great radio!"

"Yes, I enjoyed the afternoon myself too... as you say, it was something different.". Carol was thinking that whilst Tom now knew quite a bit about her, she knew very little about him. But should she ask him? It's really the sort of stuff you find out when you're in a relationship, although maybe she could ask some simple stuff now. "You know, you know loads about me, but apart from your name, and what you look like, and the fact you work at Croydon Radio, I know nothing about you..." she said, slightly nervously.

"Well, my name is Tom, Thomas Aaron Sharpe. I'm 23, I was born and brought up in West London, but moved down to Croydon last year, to work on Croydon Radio. I have a brother who's a couple of years younger than me. Dad works at the council, mum is... well, a mum, she helps out at a local charity. How's that for a potted biog?"

As Tom spoke, Carol looked at him: she didn't understand why, but his braces looked... well, both cute and sexy.

"Definitely VERY potted! Come on, tell me a bit more. Like... um... what sports did you do at school?.... what do you do in your spare time? That sort of stuff..."

"Well, at school I played soccer: I wasn't great at it, but I enjoyed it. Of course, in summer we all did a bit of athletics too. What do I do in my spare time? I sometimes go and join in the 5km Park Run on a Saturday morning, but I socialise with a few people I've met, also play games with them."

"As in online games?"

"Some of that, but we quite enjoy silly games - for example, you ever played 'Dobble'?"

"No... what is is?"

"A very simple, but fun, card game. When you're back from Korea, I'll show you...".

The two of them chatted for a bit longer, with Tom telling Carol a bit more about himself.

"Well, I need to go get some food to cook myself some dinner" said Carol.

"You cook? You don't go out for dinner?"

"Of course I cook! It's bad enough when we're on tour, having to eat a mix of really crap stuff and rich hotel and restaurant food... it's not healthy to eat out so much, so yeah, I cook. Tell you what, when I'm back from Korea, I'll cook you dinner..."

"So what do you do? Sausages? Fish fingers? Ready meals?"

"Yes, all of those, but most of the time it's a bit healthier, like a casserole, or chops and a load of veg.... Ok, yeah, sometimes a pizza or a chinese...". Tom smiled: Carol actually sounded to be surprisingly normal.


The rest of the week, and the weekend flew by, there was so much to do. We may joke about 'Carol needing to buy some new clothes' but if she was going to be seen in public a lot over the next 4 weeks, she needed a load more clothes. When you're on tour, you're either sleeping, relaxing with the rest of the band, rehearsing / doing sound checks or performing, and only occasionally 'going out'. The trip to Korea was going to be quite different, they would be on TV, mixing with people, going out and all that sort of thing. Their actual performing would be pretty minimal.

While the girls  made sure they had enough clothes, Callum and his dad were working out the practicalities of travelling: getting the girls guitars ready to go on the plane to Korea, getting a load of SD cards for the cameras, and hard drives to copy the video too (if you remember, Paige was going to video the girls, for a 'CJDL do Korea'), spare cameras, lightweight tripods and so on.

Plus Callum needed to make sure that there was a suitable drumkit for Dianne, and keyboards for Jenny, for the festival they were playing, along with headset mics.... it's amazing how much needs to be done!

Whilst they would all have liked to fly first class over to Korea, the reality was that first class is STUPIDLY expensive, plus there's only 8 first class seats on the plane, so they were all booked into 'Prestige Class' seats, which were almost as good, and luckily still gave them 2 quite large suitcases each. All the tech kit & instruments had to be booked in seperately, and paid for extra. Mind you, most of the girls still had problems squeezing everything into two large suitcases!

Carol called Tom on the Saturday morning. "Hey, what you doing today?" she asked him.

"Not a lot...."

"Well, I need to do a bit more shopping for our trip, so why don't you come and have lunch with me... My treat..."

To be honest, Tom was slightly surprised. Having a cup of coffee with Carol after his show was one thing, but this was a step up from that, and it raised a few questions. Tom actually enjoyed chatting with Carol, he was enjoying her company, but was Carol the sort of girl that he fancied? That was a difficult one, he'd never dated a pop star before! But at a personal level, as 'Carol the person', she was someone he would certainly consider dating. It was the other 80% he knew little about. Carol the pop star. Carol all dressed up for her fans. Maybe he was just thinking too much about things? Carol was probably just being friendly. yes, that was it...

"Ok, sounds like it could be nice..."

Lunch was actually rather nice for both of them: much of what they talked about was the trip to Korea, and how Carol really MUST call into his show while she was there.

"I need to get a couple more bits, you're welcome to come along with me if you like... and if you do, but you get bored, you can leave at any time..."

"Yeah, ok, why not?  I'm interested to see the sorts of places you shop."

Carol chuckled. "Oh, it's not THAT exciting!"

A few minutes later, as they were walking through the shopping area, they passed one of those 'party costume' places.

"Hey, let's go in here....." said Carol. There was one outfit that she fancied having: she wasn't QUITE sure when she would wear it, but if they actually HAD it.... oh YES, they did! Carol tried it on: now we're not talking high-quality costumes here, it was much more about the look.

"What do you think?" she asked Tom.

"Yes, it does suit you, you just need to get your hair right now..."

"Oh, I'm sure they'll have the matching wig..." A quick word with one of the shop assistants, and she had the matching wig. She looked at herself in the mirror: it was just PERFECT!

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #26 on: 04. February 2023, 02:53:50 AM »
Chapter 15 - the flight

So far, their experience had been really good: whilst "Prestige Class" was Korean Air's version of "Business Class", it was supposed to be much closer to First Class than most Business Classes. At check-in, despite the large queues for economy check-in, they only had to wait about a minute at the priority checkin, and despite their large amount of luggage, they were dealt with quickly and politely.

They were also able to use the priority queue at security: those of you who have been through security on a Sunday afternoon at Heathrow will know the queues can get quite long, but again, there was little delay, and they were dealt with courteously.

They knew that, whilst the fancy shops would be nice, they also knew that many of them would be stupidly expensive, so after a brief look around, they had headed to the lounge, where a very pleasant surprise awaited them: space, luxury, nice food, you name it, it was there! Whilst they had all had a nice lunch before leaving Jenny's parents home, and they knew they would get a meal once in the air, there was a big gap in the middle, so most of them tried some of the food at some point.

With their flight being at just before 7, they had arrived early as advised ("just in case...."), and still had most of 2 hours to wait. Luckily, Ben had been practical, and had bought some small silly games with him, and they managed to spend most of 30 minutes playing "Dobble", before moving on to playing cards.

It was at about six when a Korean Air representative came over to them. "Good evening everyone. I'm afraid there is a very slight delay to your flight, no more than 10 to 15 minutes, meaning you'll not need to leave to get to your gate until a little after half past: it's only a 5 minute walk to your gate from here. I'll come back and let you know when you need to go." As she smiled, Ben took a look at her teeth, and he was certain that she was wearing clear aligners!

As they got to the gate, there was a call on the PA for any Prestige Class travellers to board, so they got to go straight onto the plane, where they were welcomed by one of the cabin crew, and shown where their seats were. The seating in Prestige class is in 'pods', which are in pairs: they had managed to secure a group of seats adjacent to each other. Clearly Jenny was with Ben, her parents were together, Dianne was with Mike, leaving Carol, Linda, Paige and Callum: Carol had chosen to sit next to Paige, so Callum was next to Linda. The pods were surprisingly comfortable, with their own large screen TV with a very fancy remote control, plenty of space to put stuff, and a very comfortable seat that looked like it could lay completely flat.

It was DEFINITELY better than economy class!!

Prestige Class seats are split into two areas, with a dozen seats at the front, just behind the 8 first class seats, and the other 40-ish seats being in the next section, behind the galleys. They were in the front section, and there were only 3 other passengers there, so they were nicely secluded.

They had hardly sat down when another member of cabin crew came over, welcomed them, and started pouring out glasses of juice for them all. "I'm sorry, we can't serve the champagne until we're in the air!" she explained.

Carol checked her watch: they still had over 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time, and she knew that would really mean more like 30 to 45 minutes before they actually took off. They were, of course, all quite excited, and they were all talking to each other.

Finally, they could feel the plane being pushed away from the gate, and a few minutes later, the engines started, and they started to taxi. Again, if you've ever been to Heathrow late on a Sunday, you'll know there's often white a queue for take-offs, so they weren't airborne for another 20 minutes, after which the engines were running at full throttle, and they climbed.

Suddenly, Carol could hear Jenny singing one of their songs. "They're playing one of your songs on the 'chart channel'," explained Ben. The others quickly put on their headphones, and 'tuned in', and all four of them sung along to their song!

About 15 or 20 minutes after take-off, the engines were throttled back, and the plane continued it's climb more gently... at which point the Cabin crew came over with champagne and a small 'snack' - a bit of fish with asparagus. At the same time they were given a menu, and asked to choose whether to have the 'Western Menu' or the 'Korean menu'.

"Well, I'm definitely going Korean!" said Jenny, "I wanna get in the mood...". Carol and Paige also went for the Korean option.

Of course, when the food came, Carol was wearing her retainers, so needed to remove them: luckily there few others around, so she removed them discretely, and put them into her retainer case, in her bag.

"Your retainers don't seem to worry you that much, do they?" said Paige, "and I can hear that your lisp is almost gone now!"

"Yeah, you soon get used to them." replied Carol. Paige knew about why Carol had them, and also knew she's had full braces a few years before. "Hey, did you ever need braces?"

"Yes, I had a thing called a twin block, it helped my lower jaw to grow a bit more."

"A big chunky thing? One of the girls I knew at school had one of those, she hated it! I guess you got normal braces after that?"

"No, I didn't... my teeth were actually quite straight, so I never needed them. Just had the twin blocks for about 9 months."

They were not disappointed by the food: the quality was excellent! After a salad appetiser, they had their main course, followed by a couple of crackers and some cheese, and finally some fresh fruit with ice-cream. All assisted with a glass or two (or maybe it was three?) of wine! And unlike what you got in economy, it was served on proper plates, with proper metal cutlery!

Whilst they were all quite excited, and had been talking about all sorts of things, with dinner now behind them, Carol was starting to feel tired: by now it was after 9pm (so 6am in Korean time) and it had actually been a long and tiring day.

Carol put on the noise-cancelling headset on, playing some gentle music, as she lay back, and with the nice blanket over her, she closed her eyes. The meal and the alcohol all helped to let her fall asleep. When she woke up an hour or two later, the cabin was dark, with all the window blinds down, and lots of people were asleep. For her part, Carol had just had a bit of a strange dream, and while she had forgotten most of it within a minute or two, there were a couple of bits that she remembered. Flying... as in her flying through the air, not in an aeroplane. And an enormous friendly shaggy dog. She looked over, and saw that Paige was asleep, so she let her mind wander a bit, and as she did so, some words started to come to her.

Carol got up, and went to the locker, and got her bag down: it contained things like her makeup kit, her tablet, but it also contained her laptop, which she got out, turned on, and started to type in the words. They were a bit messy to start with, but after a while she had the basis of a song: two verses and a chorus.

"Hey, what you doing?". It was Linda: she had spotted that Carol was awake and doing something on her laptop.

"Oh, hi Linda! umm... some words for a song....". She wasn't lisping if only because she'd not bothered to put her retainers back in again after dinner.

"Let's have a look then..." Linda read the words. "Interesting, where did THAT come from?"

Carol explained about her dream. "Hey, I have an idea: would you like to write a tune to go with it?"

Linda smiled. "Why not, I'll give it a go!"

"Actually, I have an even BETTER idea! I'm also gonna get Jenny to write some music for it too: I would love to see what the two of you come up with... promise you won't talk with her about it, I really want to see if we can have two very different songs from the same words!"

Carol copied the document onto a memory stick, which Linda took away with her. She also copied it onto another memory stick, and went over to Jenny, who had her noise-cancelling headphones on, and was also working on something on her laptop. She tapped her gently in her shoulder, and she pulled the earphones back.

"Hey, what you up to? Writing something by the look of it..."

"Yeah, I've had one of my 'inspirational moments' - I guess we're closer to God when we're up here, as 35,000 feet!". Linda looked at the screen: what she saw looked FAR more complicated that what she would normally expect to see. There seemed to be 4 different staves of music, and multiple lines of words, all at the same time.

"Looks kinda weird..." commented Carol.

"Yes, it seems to be pretty complicated, I haven't quite got my head around it, it's coming to me in bits, and I've been told to 'take my time, it will all become obvious'. What I can say its going to be a 4-part acapella, with each of us singing different things some of the time. But, apart from sleep, what else is there to do, we still have about 8 hours to go before we get there! So what's that in your hand?"

"Ah, well, you're not the only one getting inspiration! I had a bit of a strange dream, which inspired me to write some words..." she said, passing over the stick. "I've also given this to Linda, I thought it would be interesting to see what you could each come up with by yourselves. No conferring allowed, of course."

Jenny smiled. "Yeah, I'm up for that, probably won't be tonight though, I feel I need to finish this off first!". Jenny plugged the memory stick and copied the file over to her laptop, then took a quick look. "Oh, interesting! It's going to be fun to see what Linda and I come up with."

"I'll bet they will be totally different!". Carol looked at Jenny's screen again, where the music was, and started to sing one of the lines of music and words in her head... then tried the second, the third and the fourth. Wow, her mind was trying to imagine how they would sound together - it was a VERY interesting combination. "This one's going to be interesting though, isn't it? Very powerful words, and a strange musical construction. Something tells me this won't be something we can learn in 5 minutes!"

"No, you're right, but I have a feeling that God is giving me something a bit special this time, something that will challenge us a bit. And I don't know about you, but the idea of having a challenge sounds like fun to me!"

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #27 on: 04. February 2023, 23:01:40 PM »
Chapter 16 - they're there!

When they landed in Seoul, it was late afternoon, and they had to get through passport control: after that it was straight through to the exit... their luggage (of which there was quite a bit, by the time you include guitars, other technical stuff, and a large number of suitcases for the large number of clothes they would need over the 3 or so weeks they would be in Korea) was specially 'tagged' and the ground staff would get it through customs, and delivered to their bus. In addition, they dropped off the bags they'd taken on the plane.

They were of course being filmed by Paige: she had been fiming them a bit on the plane, plus all the way since getting off the plane (well apart from in passport control - they don't like that!), and would follow them as they 'met their public'. Callum had a bag full of extra camera cards and batteries, as well as a spare camera that he was occasionally using to film from a different angle.

Once 'landside' (but before they went through that last set of doors where they assumed most of the press would be, and maybe even a few fans) they were met by 4 photographers, who were instantly taking pictures of them. Jenny knew exactly what she needed to do.

"Good afternoon everyone - do you speak English?" she asked. They all nodded. "In that case, we can spare you two minutes..... so why don't I introduce everyone... Let me start with my mother and father: so this is Brian and Lisa Stevens, they are our managers. This is my brother Callum Stevens, he looks after our tech needs."

As Jenny introduced each of them, the photographers took pictures. "Next, hiding behind a camera, and currently filming you guys - oh the irony of it - is Paige, she works with the band, and looks after anything related to media. Dianne, over to you?"

"Ok, so I'm Dianne, this is my boyfriend Mike!" said Dianne.

"And this guy here is my fiancé, Ben". Jenny leaned over and kissed Ben, holding the pose for a few seconds, to make sure everyone got enough pictures. "So that just leaves the four of us..."

The four girls lined up, to allow the photographers to take pictures of them. "Hi, I'm Carol!". "Hi, I'm Jenny!". "I'm Dianne...". "And I'm Linda!"..... "And together we are CJDL!". Cameras clicked quickly as they quickly took up a variety of poses.

"Ok, time for us to go... thank you all..." said Jenny. She led the girls in a courteous bow to the photographers.

"No, thank YOU for making time for us!" and the photographers bowed back.

"So, do you know what is outside, waiting for us?"

"I believe a few more photographers, at least two TV crews, and probably a LOAD of fans...." said one of the photographers with a big smile. "Have fun!".

"Ok" said Jenny's mum, "We'll go outside first, Paige, you and Callum follow, because you'll be wanting some pictures of the crowds and their reactions when the girls come out. Then a bit of a pause, then you four come out. Ok?"

"OMG, I'm actually a bit nervous!" said Carol.

"You know, so am I! Isn't this fun!!" replied Dianne.

Jenny's parents, then Callum and Paige went through the big doors that led 'outside'. The four girls counted to 10. "Ok, let's do this!" said Jenny. As they walked through the doors they could see the fans. So many fans! And they all started screaming! The girls stood there smiling in front of the fans (luckily they were all the other side of a barrier!), letting them take pictures and videos.

Carol noticed that there were two TV crews in the middle, and went over to the first one: the interviewer came over to her. "Give me your microphone!" said Carol, pointing at it. She passed it over. Then she went to the second crew, and got their microphone too. Then, making sure the logos were the right way, she held them both up to her mouth. "Can you hear me ok?" she asked, looking at the two cameramen, who had headphones on. They both gave a thumbs up.

"Girls, over here!" shouted Carol. The four of them lined up, letting the cameras get good shots of them. Carol held the microphones in front of them all. "Hi, I'm Carol!", "I'm Jenny!", "I'm Dianne!", "and I'm Linda!". "And we are CJDL"!. Carol then held the 2 mics in front of her again.

"Thank you all for coming to meet us: this is our first time here in Korea, and it is a pleasure to be here, we're all looking forward to seeing your lovely country!". She passed the mics to Jenny. "We've come here to perform one of our songs with Jelly Fish, as well as play at the Park Festival next weekend!" said Jenny. "And I'm sure you'll see us on TV too," added Dianne. As Linda took the mics from Dianne, she spotted 4 girls coming towards them. "And look who has come to greet us!". As the 4 of them walked over to meet the girls from Jelly Fish, Linda passed the mics back to the TV teams.

As they met, they all hugged: needless to say, with all 8 girls now there, the crowd was screaming out rather loudly!

Luckily, where they were standing, there was plenty of space, so they didn't need to rush: they were ALL very aware that publicity was so important to keep their names in the news, and their songs selling. After posing together, Jenny and Carol went over to the crowd of fans: some of the ones at the front had autograph books, so she took a felt tipped pen out of her handbag (yes, they had expected to have to do this, so were prepared!!), and started to sign autographs. There was one girl, a couple of rows back, who had a placard saying "Wilcome CJDL!", so Carol motioned to her to come to the front, and took the placard off her for a moment, corrected the spelling mistake, and then all eight girls signed the placard, and passed it back.

Jenny indicated to the other 3 of them to stand back a bit: Jenny then put her forefinger to her lips, saying "shhhhh": the others did the same: strangely, the crowd actually went silent.

"Hello everyone..." said Jenny. As few people started to cheer, so the girls "shushed" them again. "Hello everyone, thank you SO much for coming to meet us! You know, it's so much nicer when you are quiet like this... want to try and stay like this for a bit more? So, why don't we introduce ourselves?" Jenny looked over at Carol, who knew exactly what they were going to do.....

"Hi, I'm Carol ..."


"And we are CJDL!!". They let the crowd scream out for a bit, but then quietened them down again. Paige and Callum were both standing over to the side, filming all this, and enjoying every moment.

"Would you all like to meet a couple of special people?" asked Jenny: there was a quite gentle "yeah" from the crowd. Jenny waved to Ben and Mike to join them, then nodded at Dianne.

"This is my boyfriend, Mike...." said Dianne. A gentle cheer went up.

"And this is my fiancé, his name is Ben...." said Jenny. Another cheer.

"Do you think you can stay quiet for long enough to let the girls from Jelly Fish introduce themselves to you?" Again, there was a cheer, but without any guidance, the fans quickly quietened down again: the crowd was realising that, by staying quiet, the girls would talk to them nicely... Yes, Jenny really DID know how to control her fans! The four girls from Jelly Fish: Ahnjong, Min Jee, Taeyang, and Yun Hee all introduced themselves. The crowd had behaved themselves for long enough, and erupted once more, then quietened down again, letting the girls talk to the crowd again.

"You know, I think the girls from Jelly Fish should take some selfies of us four with you all.... now, how can we do this? Do you think you can organise yourselves in smallish groups, and come up to the barriers, and we'll stand in front of you? And once we've taken your picture, allow others in too? The crowd clearly understood English, and realised that, if they did as asked, they would get something special. Jenny had realised that the local stars, Jelly Fish, would have their own socal media that the fans would see, so was a better way than the CJDL team doing something.

At the same time, Ben and Callum got their phones out, and took some pictures and video too, which they would get Paige to post online for their UK fans.


Eventually, they all got onto the band's bus - they hadn't rushed earlier because they knew that it would take some time for all of their bags and kit to get through customs, and brought out to the bus. Whilst they had already introduced themselves on the several video calls they had had, everyone looked different in person, so with big smiles, they all introduced themselves to each other once more.

"Wow, Jenny, I don't know how you managed to control the crowd back there?" said Min Jee. "I mean, they just did what you said!"

"It's a strange skill that Jenny seems to have: she manages to make her fans realise that if they are nice to her, she'll be nice back to them." explained Carol, "I assume you've all posted those pictures?"

"Of course, you should see all the feedback!"

"Tell them that, if they all behave themselves if they should happen to see us, then they might get more treats in the future..." added Carol.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #28 on: 10. February 2023, 17:36:57 PM »
Warning: the worms in this story are probably well under the age of consent!!!! They are dead though...


Chapter 17 - Korean dinner / the apartment

"Good evening! I'm Park Hon Su, we all chatted on the video call. So welcome to Seoul! I hope you all had a pleasant flight!". Hon Su was Jelly Fish's manager. They had left the airport, and were on the way to town, in a very comfortable bus / coach. "So, for the next few days, you'll be spending much of your time with the girls here from Jelly Fish, so do ask them if you need anything, but we'll make sure there's always someone nearby who can speak English while your here. I've given Callum a box, with all your phones in: they are a gift from Sumsang, and they are yours to keep. They are all set up with all the phone numbers you might need while you are here, use them as you wish - although I'm sure Sumsang would be very pleased if pictures got taken of you whilst you were using them!" he added with a smile.

Callum started to hand the phones out: they were the latest folding models, one for each of them, and better than the other phones they currently had.

"So, we thought that, rather than going to your accommodation first, then having dinner, we thought it might be better for you all to have dinner first, if that's ok with you?" Everyone nodded. "It just means that when you get to the apartment, you can just fall asleep without unpacking, if that's what you want! So, while you have dinner, your luggage will be taken to the apartment.... Mr and Mrs Stevens: if you can tell the bus driver what is yours, then he'll take it to your hotel, and leave it with the concierge. Your hotel is only 5 minutes walk or taxi from the apartment."

"What sort of place are we going for dinner then?" asked Callum.

"Actually, the girls chose it... Ahnjong, want to explain more?"

"Yeah, when we spoke, you were all saying you wanted to try loads of authentic Korean food while you were here, so we're going to a place we've been to many times. It's not particularly expensive, but it's nice, the food is really good and very much typical of what we eat here in Korea!" explained Ahnjong.

"So, when we take you to the apartment later on, we're assuming that you'll not be ready for us until tomorrow afternoon, but there will be someone nearby who can organise breakfast and lunch whenever you need it. If you get any questions, then our girls have your itinery too, and they're only next door, or you can call me."

As they looked out of the windows, they were pleasantly surprised how green everything was, and they could see the skyline of the city in the distance. As they got to the city, they could see it was so much more modern than London, all the buildings looked so crisp and clean.

Soon after, the coach pulled up: it was a wide street, with shops, cafe's and restaurants all around.

"It's that one over there" explained Yin Hee. Paige and Ben grabbed their cameras: Paige had been taking a few bits of the girls just looking out of the windows on the way there. Yin Hee lead them all into the restaurant, with Paige still videoing. "Ah, Yu-Eye, you made it!"

"Did you just say 'Yu-Eye'?" asked Linda

"Yes, she's helping produce our album."

"So, the same Yu-Eye that's written and sung loads of Anime OST's? Oh my god, I'm so in awe!" said Linda, VERY excitedly.

"Yes... I guess you'd better meet her. Yu-Eye, this is err...."

"Linda. I'm Linda! It's so amazing to meet you! I just LOVE your singing, especially all those Anime OST's! You have such a powerful voice!"

Yu-Eye was probably a little embarrassed, not expecting that 'one of the English girls' actually knew who she was.

"Ok, Linda, 'fess up.... how DO you know about this lady?" asked Carol.

"Don't you ever watch any Anime stuff? And listen to the amazing music in them!? I've actually been thinking I'd like to have a go at writing something like that myself, but I'm not sure quite where to start. Plus I suspect it would be far too metal for us to play!". Linda turned back to Yu-Eye: "Yu-Eye, it's so amazing to actually meet you!"

"And it's nice to finally meet all of you too: I will admit, I'm also a little in awe of how you changed your music style..." replied Yu-Eye.

"Ben!" replied Linda, Carol and Paige in unison.

"Pardon?" asked Yu-Eye.

"Ben's the reason our music style changed. Jenny fell in love with him.... and he likes Indie rock and that sort of stuff!" explained Carol.

They all sat down at a large table...all 16 of them. The meal was one of those sharing ones, so everyone could try a bit of everything.

Paige had stopped eating, and grabbed the camera again. "What's this one?" asked Dianne.

"Let everyone try it, then I'll tell you....." replied Min Jee.

"Oh, right, one of THOSE...!" said Dianne.

"Don't be scared, it's actually quite tasty!" said Min Jee. Dianne tried some of it - and discovered it was actually rather good.

After everyone (who wanted to, that is) had tried some, Diane asked again: "So, what did we just eat then?"

"Oh, just nice tasty worms...." replied Min Jee.

"WORMS?" said Carol. "WORMS??"

"I thought you liked them?"

"Yeah, but....."

"You need to be willing to be open minded, we have all sorts of great food that you guys aren't maybe used to. Hey, have you tried the Kimchee yet? Its the most important Korean dish! And don't worry, it's just a sort of pickled cabbage."

"Yeah, I did, it was nice...."

Everyone enjoyed the meal, although a couple of them were a bit worried about exactly what they had actually eaten! And Paige managed to capture several priceless expressions, as the girls had tried out the foods. So, it was then back to the apartment.

Their apartment was on the 6th floor of a modern building, and luckily Mr Park had organised that a couple of people had already taken all their luggage upstairs, so they didn't need to do anything.

"Wow!" said Dianne as she opened the door and walked in. The apartment was very modern, and she had walked in to the large 'common area', where there was a kitchen and large table on one side, and a large lounge area with TV etc on the other. Around the sides were several doors, obviously leading to the bedrooms and bathroom.

"Ours next door is the same." explain Min Jee. "We came in and checked the place out earlier, they've got you a load of food and drinks in the fridge in the kitchen, and the rooms are set up as 2 doubles, a twin and 2 singles...."

"Hey, check it all out, then come in to our place next door for a sit down and a drink...." suggested Yun Hee.

"Sounds like a good idea to me!" said Carol.

Of the eight of them, Jenny had actually slept the least on the flight, as she had been working on the new song. "I have a feeling I'm gonna have to crash out..." said Jenny.

As they looked around their home for the next few weeks, Yun Hee went back to their apartment, to get things ready.

"I think this is gonna be so much nicer for us than staying in a hotel!" said Carol.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #29 on: 12. February 2023, 20:26:11 PM »
Chapter 18 - I need coffee

Carol was actually the first to wake up. She left Linda in their shared bedroom still sleeping, and went out to the kitchen to make herself a drink. She was wearing a rather nice dressing gown that had been provided, and was hanging on the back of the door.

"Good morning!" said a happy voice: it was Taeyang, who was sitting in their living area, drawing a sketch. "I thought I might as well do this in here, so someone would be here when you woke up. Sleep ok?"

"Yeah, not too bad, and thanks for being here. Yeuch! My mouth tastes disgusting - I got horrible retainer breath! I think I need a drink." replied Carol.

"What do you fancy? If you fancy coffee, then I can make us both some..."

"Oh, thanks, yeah, that would be nice! So, what's the time?"

"About 10:30. And thanks to you guys, we effectively have a day off today!"

"So, where are we? Today is... Tuesday?"

"Yup. After lunch we'll find out if we made number one. Then tomorrow and Thursday we need to practice singing and dancing together, ready for Thursday evening on TV."

"I'm actually looking forward to the dancing, if only because I KNOW it's gonna be such a different style to what we normally do. Now that we're playing our instruments most the time on stage, rather than having a backing band or a recording, it's not so easy to dance, and I guess we've got out of the habit. That's part the reason I suggested we stay on a bit, and do some dance classes."

"Makes a lot of sense," replied Taeyang. "Want any milk or sugar in the coffee?"

"No, plain black is the only way to drink coffee!"

"Well, don't worry to much about the dance routine, we specifically tried to keep it fairly straight-forward for you."

"So, how long have you been doing this then?" asked Carol, as they sat down together with their coffees.

"Me? I started at FY when I was 15. I mean, I wanted to be a singer since I was about 7 or 8, but I only signed up 4 years ago. Some of the kids started even younger: I think Min Jee was only 13."

"Really? Wow! So, what did you do you do in your 4 years?"

"Well, there's a certain amount of normal school work, including learning English and some Chinese... but on the performance side, we get to do everything: singing is the obvious one, but dancing, acting, and musical composition too."

"So how long have the four of you been together? As Jelly Fish I mean?"

"I was put with Ahnjong, Min Jee, and a girl called Su Lee almost a year ago. We worked together for about 3 months before they decided to move Su Lee into a different band, and that's when Yun Hee joined us."

"You four get on ok?"

"Yeah, it was a bit strained with Su Lee, but when she left, and Yun Hee joined us, things got SOOO much better! Hey, you used to be just three of you originally, weren't you? Like when you wrote 'Roller Skates'?"

"Yup, we three got together at college, and have been together since. But last year, when Jenny started writing our new style of music, we realised we needed a fourth girl in the band, so we employed Linda: she was a session musician back then, and she fitted in with us three really well."

"So you didn't know her before then?"

"Yes and no: she was in the same college as us, but a year below, so whilst we didn't really know her, she definitely knew us, and I think that helped a lot. We've all been working on her since she actually joined the band as a member to try and do some song-writing: as a session musician that wasn't something she ever needed to do. But she's written a couple of bits, and I think she actually might have some talent inside trying to escape... so do encourage her! have you written much?"

"Not really, that's not my strong point. Yun Hee writes a bit, but everything we've done since our debut has been written by someone else. Linda was saying last night that it's all very different over in England."

"Yeah, we don't really have the "music and performance factories" like you guys do. We all just went to a normal school then college, and took up the option to do some music, although that's not REALLY geared up for the modern music industry. Then onto a year at music college, then trying to find some work playing our music. Then eventually we got a recording contract, and recorded some stuff."

"Wow, I don't think I could do it like that. I quite like the way that our training is planned for us. I guess the big downside is that, whilst we now have a chart hit, and we're going to be touring, we won't actually earn much till our debt gets paid off."

"What do you mean?" asked Carol. Taeyang explained that, until they 'break even', FY take money from their earnings to pay for all their training, which could take 2 or 3 years... this rather shocked Carol.

"You know, I'm feeling kinda guilty. Yeah, our record company and tour company take their cuts, but the rest is 'ours'. Although I guess we are still paying the loan for our year in music college, and we did have to work part-time jobs for a while...." Carol smiled. "Yeah, probably NOT all THAT much different.

"The big downside is that they do control our lives a lot. I mean, Jenny wouldn't be allowed to date Ben over here. And they wouldn't let her have braces either."

"You're kidding? So none of you have a boyfriend?"

"Nope. And Yun Hee wants to get her teeth fixed, but they won't let her."

"Yeah, I spotted her teeth were a bit out of line, although they're not THAT bad. But why? That sounds stupid!"

"I guess they think things like braces might make us 'less desirable' for our fans."

"Now THAT is just crazy! When Jenny got hers, our fans went crazy! Even more so when she started wearing her headgear out in public, and on stage."

"Headgear?" asked Taeyang. Carol got her phone, and pulled up a picture showing Jenny on stage in her pink headgear. "She wore THAT on stage?"

"Yup. Crazy, but that's Jenny all over, but as I said, the fans loved it, and I have no doubt it helped us quite a bit."

"What about your braces then?"

"Ah, these are just retainers. I had braces long before we formed CJD, but recently I had to go see the orthodontist, as one of my teeth seemed to be moving a tiny bit. Only had these about... hmm, two or three weeks now. So I've not been out in public that much with them on. Maybe I need to post something about them sometime. And as for Yun Hee needing braces, I think maybe Jenny and I need to speak to someone, help them understand the positives."

"Me and you do what?" said a voice: Jenny had just come out of her room.

"Good morning!" said Carol. "How you feeling? Sleep well? You seemed to crash out just after we got here."

"Yeah, that happens when you pretty much miss a night's sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night to discover I was still in my clothes. By the way, these dressing gowns are rather nice, aren't they? So what was it you were saying we need to do?"  asked Jenny

"Ah yes..." replied Carol, and she explained.

"That's sounding pretty short-sighted of them. I'm guessing it's one of those cases of a rule that they made up years ago, but the world has moved on. Hmmm, I think we'll need to go a bit higher than their manager though, but I have a feeling that we might have some leverage. They're gonna want us to go on TV, aren't they? Do nice positive interviews..."

"Oooh, Jen, you can be evil at times!"

"No use having leverage if we can't sometimes use it. So, what does a girl have to do to get a coffee round here?"

"Sorry, I'll get you one!" said Taeyang.

"Thanks, err... errr...??"


"Sorry, Taeyang, there's a lot of names and faces I need to still match up, and I was only half with-it last night!"

"That's ok... what did you say your name was?" replied Taeyang laughing. While Taeyang made Jenny a coffee, she messaged the girls, to say that the 'new girls' were starting to wake up.

Offline Braceface2015

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #30 on: 12. February 2023, 20:35:16 PM »
I think Sparky ran out of fingers and toes, either that or he hasn't had enough sleep. It should be chapter 18.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #31 on: 13. February 2023, 00:02:07 AM »
I think Sparky ran out of fingers and toes, either that or he hasn't had enough sleep. It should be chapter 18.
Read the chapter title: "I need Coffee"!!!

changed it...

Offline Braceface2015

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #32 on: 13. February 2023, 00:55:46 AM »
My wife woke me up at one in the morning and I couldn't get back to sleep. 14 hours later and I going to try to finally get some decent sleep. I combined all the files for "Surrogate" and wrote two more chapters for 'The Seamstress", one of which I posted. My mood has improved somewhat.

I'm enjoying reading your stories, and I may try to add the latest chapter to TheArchive before I go to bed, but don't count on it. :)

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #33 on: 15. February 2023, 20:58:32 PM »
Chapter 19 - Did they make number 1?

By 12:30pm, everyone was awake and dressed. They were all in Jelly Fish's apartment, and Brian and Lisa were there too, as well as Hon Su, the Jelly Fish manager.

The radio was on, as they were listening to the chart run-down show, with the girls explaining and translating what was being said. Paige had set up the camera, to record everyone's reactions when the news came through to whether Jelly Fish had made number one. The radio had just started playing the number 10 song, when Hon Su's phone rang. He spoke to someone for a while, then explained to everyone: "It's the radio station, they are wanting to speak to us live when they announce the top two. I assume you're all ok with that?"

"OMG, they did that with us when we had our first number one!" said Dianne. "It's so nerve-wracking! Good luck, girls!"

Hon Su talked on the phone again, then told them that they could listen to the radio until they started playing the number 3 song, then they would need to listen on the phone, ready to be interviewed. He kept the phone nearby, ready to respond as needed.

The number 3 started to play. Min Jee turned the radio off, and a voice came from the phone, now on speaker: it seemed that they wanted to check the sound levels, then they were all listening to the radio via the phone. The record ended.

"And now, on the phone, we have some very special people" said the presenter in English. "But before I speak to them, I'd like to speak to their guests: I believe the girls from CJDL are there?"

The girls quickly looked at each other, and nodded: they knew exactly what to do. Getting a bit closer to the phone, Carol started: "Hi there, I'm Carol!". The rest followed, and they ended with their "And we are CJDL!" callout.

"Welcome to Seoul, ladies! So this is a song that you wrote for Jelly Fish: I'm guessing you're probably as excited as them to hear if they've made number one this week?"

"Absolutely! We're keeping all our fingers crossed for them!" replied Jenny.

"So, Ahnjong, Min Jee, Taeyang, Yun Hee: are you all ready to hear which record is at number two this week?"

"Only if it's not Jelly Fish!" called out Taeyang.

"Well, I can tell you that number TWO in this weeks chart is..... there was a short pause, and a record started to play... and it wasn't 'Sexy Yellow Rollerskates"! The girls screamed out loud: Yes, Jelly Fish were at number 1!! 'Click': Paige and Callum were catching the moment on their cameras.

The presenter then said something in Korean, which Hon Su explained was that they would be talking to the girls after the record had played. The four girls from Jelly Fish were still screaming and dancing around the room, and hugging everyone.

Yes, they had actually done it! They had made it to Number One!

Finally they calmed down, and waited for the number two song to finish. The presenter again said something in Korean, then started talking English again. "So, let's talk in English, so the girls from England can understand us. So, yes, Jelly Fish are indeed number one this week, with the song that CJDL wrote for them: Sexy Yellow Rollerskates. How does it feel girls?"

"Amazing! Wonderful! Wow!" they all started shouting out.

"Ok, Ahnjong, let me speak to you...."

"Oh, my, this is absolutely wonderful! And I'm so glad CJDL are here to share this moment with us!"

"What about you, Min Jee?"

"It makes all the hard work of the last 5 years so worthwhile!"

"I bet it does. Yun Hee, I guess you'll be performing the song again on TV this week?"

"Yes, but this week we're going to be joined by the four girls from CJDL."

"That sounds like it should be fun. Taeyang, you looking forward to that?"

"Oh, yes. The four girls only got here last night, but their smiles are as big as ours right now!"

"Well, congratulations to you all on getting your first number one! Hey, maybe one of the girls from CJDL would like to introduce the song?" Carol quickly moved closer to the phone: they had all done this sort of things many times before... in fact, Carol had introduced quite a few of the songs when she spent the afternoon on Croydon Radio.

"Hi, I'm Carol, from CJDL. Well done to Jelly Fish on their first hit record: this week's number one is 'Sexy Yellow Rollerskates' - yay!!". The song started to play, then after 5 seconds cut off, and the presenter was talking to them off-air.

"Thank you, err.. Carol, for that perfect introduction. And girls, well done on making number one: thanks for talking with me!". He then talked with them and their manager in Korean for a few moment, before Hon Su ended the call.

"You did it" said Dianne, "but I suspect you deserve it! Now, just take a few minutes to 'enjoy the moment'!". She turned to Linda: "Of course, you've not officially been through this yet, have you? Maybe we need to 'get our skates on' too, so you can celebrate your first number 1." Dianne was referring to the fact that they had had their last number 1 during their tour, before Linda had formally joined the group.

"I feel SO much better now that the waiting's over" said Taeyang.

Hon Su had gone over to the kitchen area, and returned with a couple of bottles of champagne that he'd taken out of the fridge. Lisa (that's Jenny's mum, in case you forgot) went to the kitchen, and found some glasses.

"You four deserve this, I know you've been working hard recently!"

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #34 on: 16. February 2023, 21:08:52 PM »
Chapter 20 - At the National Museum

"So, what do you want to do this afternoon then?" asked Taeyang, after they finished the lunch that had been prepared for all 15 of them in the apartment.

"Is there a nice park somewhere around?" asked Jenny. It was clear her mind was in gear and thinking fast.

"Yes, there is..."

"Ok, so how about going to a park, and sharing an hour with your fans? It's a midweek afternoon, so I'm guessing not TOO many people will make it."

"You're kidding?"

"Not at all. They're the ones that got you to number one, so go and give something back! Don't worry, we'll be there too!"

"Hon Su, are we allowed to?" asked Taeyang.

"I don't see why not. Jenny's right, your fans are important, and I bet we'll get a load of coverage online. Let me have a word with the 'bosses', we might need a couple of extra security guys."

"Ok, when you make the post, you need to spell out the 'rules'..." and Jenny explained how the CJDL fans in England had quickly learned that if they behaved themselves, they got to spend a bit of time with their idols.


The Korean social media channels had been buzzing. First of all, Jelly Fish had been posting a few pics and messages, to celebrate their success. Then Jenny had, with help from the girls, posted a message, explaining 'the rules of engagement' if they did a 'fan meet', making it VERY clear that if there were ANY problems, they would all need to just leave, if only for their own safety. They she hinted that they might make an un-announced public appearance, but with no details about where or when.

They had decided to visit the National Museum of Korea: whilst there probably wasn't THAT much of interest for them to see, there were large paved areas (with seating) and parks around it, and while they were there, both Jenny and Min Jee posted messages saying where and when to meet them. The location had the great advantage that there was plenty of space and plenty of public transport to get there.

Finally, it was time to meet their fans. The three security guys who were with them went out first, and stood discretely back, keeping mainly out of the way, but ready to take action if needed. It goes without saying that Paige was recording all of this for her future documentary.

Already there were a couple of dozen fans waiting for them, and Ben, who was by now very used to these 'meets', went with Brian and Hon Su over to them.

"Hi, I'm Ben, I'm Jenny's boyfriend." Hearing Jenny's name, there were a few screams and cheers. "The girls are about to come over to see you: please, try and stay relaxed, I know you are all excited, but try and make this as much fun for THEM as it will be for you. Ok?". Hon Su repeated that in Korean. "The girls from CJDL have done this in England many times, and as long as you are all relaxed and are nice to them, then they will sit with you, talk to you, take selfies with you and so on. But if things become... 'difficult'... then they WILL walk away! Do you all want to have fun?" Again, Hon Su translated. Ben then briefly explained that Piage would be filming them all for her English documentary, and if this was a problem for them , then they should leave. Ben then walked back to where the girls were.

The girls, whilst dressed smartly, were dressed fairly casually, so when they came out of the museum, they weren't THAT obvious. The eight girls, plus boyfriend, brother and parents walked across to where the fans were, and the small group cheered loudly, but then quietened down.

"Hi everyone!" said Jenny, smiling and purposefully showing off her metal smile. The small crowd screamed out, but quickly quietened down as Jenny 'shushed' them "It's nice to meet you all! Let me introduce 'my team', then I'm sure one of the girls from Jelly Fish will introduce themselves too." Jenny introduced everyone. "And this is Min Jee....". Again the crowd shouted out, but quickly quietened down, as Min Jee introduced the girls from Jelly Fish.

So far, the fans were being very restrained, and behaving themselves surprisingly well: it was clear that they were willing to 'play ball' if it meant they got to spend some time with their idols.

"So, we're going to stay with you for a while, we're not in a big rush" said Carol. "I'm thinking that we should do some selfies first, then we were thinking that it might be fun for us to ask the girls from Jelly Fish some questions, and they can ask us some. Then I'm sure some of you will have some questions too. And more selfies for the late-comers before we go!" Taeyang, whose English was probably the best of the 4 Korean girls, quickly translated that into Korean. With help from Ben and Callum, the fans all got their cameras ready, passed them over, then sat with one or both bands to have their pictures taken. There were a LOT of smiles! Whilst most of the fans were wanting to have their pictures taken with Jelly Fish, Carol was pleasantly surprised - given how short a time they had actually been there - how many were wanting pics with them too.

"Ladies, we just found somewhere better for you to sit, if you're going to be talking to each other, it's only over there...." said Mike (Dianne's boyfriend), pointing. They all got up and walked the small distance. A few more fans had arrived, so Brian and Hon Su met them, explained what was going on, emphasising that as long as they were restrained, the girls would be more willing to spend time with them.

"So, can I start the questions?" asked Carol. As there were no complaints, she continued. "I'd like everyone to tell us how many brothers and sisters they have, and whether they are older or younger. Let me start: Just in case you forgot, I'm Carol. I have one sister, and she's four years older than me. Ahnjong, what about you?".

"I have a brother and a sister: my brother is two years older than me, my little sister is three years younger, and I love them both! Jenny?"

"Oh, right, yes, I'm Jenny, although my full name is actually Jennifer, which is what my boyfriend Ben calls me: no one else does though! I have 2 brothers: Michael is 3 years older than me, and Callum - come on over, Callum! - Callum here is 2 years younger than me. He works with the band. Oh, that's my mum and dad over there, they are CJDL's managers! ummm... Taeyan... do you have brothers and sisters?"

The questions session actually went on for about 20 minutes: it served two purposes. First, if they were all going to work together, and pretty much live together for the next 3 or 4 weeks, it was good to know a bit about each other. But second, and just as importantly, the fans loved it.

"Hey, I see we have a load more people here now, thanks for coming along. Don't worry, we'll make sure you all get selfies before we leave!" said Dianne. "By the way, if you haven't worked it out, those 4 girls over there are Jelly Fish, and we are CJDL. We're visiting Seoul because we wrote Jelly Fish's current song, and we're going to be on TV with them on Thursday to sing it with them." The girls from CJDL were showing off their experience at dealing with a small crowd of fans. Jenny was the one who had started doing it, but during their last tour, they did quite a few informal 'fan meets', and the other girls in the band were getting quite good at persuading the fans to stay calm.

"Ok, I bet you guys have a lot of questions for us too, don't you. Shhhh! Tell you what, rather than screaming out, put your hands up, and Ben, you can randomly choose someone... how does that sound?" suggested Jenny. Yes, they really WERE good at this. Ben 'randomly' chose a girl who was showing off a lovely metal smile (naughty boy, Ben!!!).

"You're Jenny, aren't you? How long have you had your braces? And haven't they been a problem, as a singer with CJDL?". Both Carol and Jenny smiled: after their earlier chat with Taeyang, they couldn't have wanted for a better question.

"I got my braces about 9 months ago now, it was between our first and second tours. In fact, if I remember right, it was two days after I met Ben for the first time! And no, they have never been a problem, in fact, I'd say the opposite: our fans found the fact that I had got them to be a very positive thing. I was in a position to show that braces, and things like headgear too, are actually quite 'normal' things, and people shouldn't be made to feel awkward and embarrassed if they have to wear them. I guess I'll have them for another three to six months, then, like Carol there, I'll have to wear retainers. I see you have braces too: got long to go?".

The questions continued, mainly aimed at the girls from Jelly Fish: some were quite simple, like "what's your favourite colour", others were more serious, asking them about boyfriends (no they don't have boyfriends), and why they wanted to become idols. The girls were good, they were realising that they could use their status to encourage their fans in positive ways.

"Ok," said Jenny, "I think that's enough questions - thank you for them, by the way, I think we all enjoyed them! I can see that a load more of you have joined us, and I absolutely KNOW you'll want to have selfies, especially with Jelly Fish, so let's try and get organised! We can sit over here, Jelly Fish over there. Get into a very British queue, camera apps ready: when you get to the front, pass your camera over, and one of the team will take a picture. If you want pics with both of us, then join the other queue too! Taeyang, want to translate for me?"

"Sure..." said Taeyang, who translated what Jenny had just said. Fifteen minutes later, all the pictures had been taken.

"Ok, final pictures... we'll stand over here, and you guys can take pictures of us." suggested Carol. They got themselves in two rows, with Jelly Fish standing at the back, and CJDL kneeling down in front of them.

While they had been doing this, Hon Su had called the coach driver, and he was now waiting for them.

"Hey, our bus is here!" said Yun Hee, "We need to go!"

"Thank you all for coming along, we all really enjoyed it, I hope you did too!" called out Jenny to the crowd. Minutes later, they were back in the relative calm of their coach.

"Well, I just had a text from Ben Jin at FY:" said Hon Su, "they've seen what's been going on online, and I think they are impressed at how well things seemed to go. So well done, everyone! And Jenny, thank you, that was a great idea - and I STILL can't work out how you managed to to keep all those fans so well behaved!"

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #35 on: 17. February 2023, 20:25:28 PM »
Chapter 21: We need to talk about braces.

Back at the apartment, Jenny went over to Hon Su, Jelly Fish's manager.

"Excuse me, Hon Su, but have you got a few minutes? Carol and I need to talk to you..."

"Sure, of course."

"Why don't we go into our apartment, it will be a bit quieter in there?" suggested Carol. Hon Su followed Jenny and Carol throught to their apartment.

"So, is there a problem?"

"Well, no... and yes. It's about braces..." said Carol.

"Braces?" asked Hon Su.

"Yes, these things..." said Jenny, smiling and showing of the medium-sized metal brackets on her top and bottom teeth.

"Ok, what about them?"

"Look, I can understand why FY have rules about their idols not having boyfriends or girlfriends and that sort of stuff, but what's the big issue about your idols having braces?"

"Ah, right, you've been speaking with Yun Hee, haven't you?"

"Actually no, we were talking with Taeyang about it this morning, and how Yun Hee wants braces, but it seems that you won't let her. Why not? It's crazy! I'm sure she'd look a lot nicer if her teeth got fixed."

"Well, yes, you're right, although I should say that it's not me saying she can't have braces, it's just one of the FY rules...."

"Sounds like the rules are wrong! Outdated. I mean, yes, maybe ten, fifteen years ago, braces had a bit of a bad image, but these days, all sorts of people have braces, even members of well known English girl bands! Braces are so normal, and no one REALLY cares that much about them. Were you there when the fans started asking questions earlier on? That one about my braces?"

"Yes, I heard that, and I do admit that, to quite an extent, I agree with you. And yes, you're right, I suspect those rules were written not too long after when FY started up, so about 15 years ago."

"Sounds like maybe it's time to get the rules changed, don't you think, bring them up to date? Hon Su, you actually work for FY, don't you? Can't you have a word with some one?"

"Yes, I probably can, but....". Hon Su paused

"...but why would they listen to someone like you? Is that what you were going to say?"

"Yes, I guess I was."

"Sounds like you need a bit of 'leverage', something to make them pay a bit of attention to you?"

Hon Su smiled. "Yes, I guess I do, and something tells me that you're about to give me some..."

"You mean like... erm... you have 4 visiting English girls, who are upset by FY's stupid and outdated rules about braces, and you're worried they may not be wanting to promote FY quite so positively? I'm sure we could think of a few more like that, if you need them!" said Jenny with a wry smile.

"You know, your father is a good negotiator: I can see you've learned very well from him!" replied Hon Su with a smile. "Let me see what I can do!"

"Thanks, Hon Su, we can't really ask for more than that!"

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #36 on: 21. February 2023, 00:01:54 AM »
Chapter 22: time to get dancing!

They all managed to get to bed at a sensible time on the Tuesday evening, which meant they all felt a lot better when they woke up early on the Wednesday. They now had 2 days - well, probably more like 1.5 days - to learn and perfect the dance routine from Jelly Fish that they would be performing on TV on Thursday evening.

Not only did FY effectively have its own school (technically it wasn't their school, but they had a LOT of their students there!), they had their own music practice rooms and dance studios that the bands could use to practice in: Park Hon Su, the band's manager, had booked one of the rooms for them for the next two days. The CJDL team had also asked him to book them a music room for the Friday, so they could run through their set, as well as check out the borrowed electric drum kit and piano: they didn't really want any surprises when they performed on stage on the Saturday.

They were met by a guy called Holangi, a choreographer and dance trainer. The morning started with our four girls first of all 'limbering up - they hadn't danced for weeks! Next they were learning several specific dance moves, working on them until they became completely familar with them. It wasn't QUITE so bad for Jenny, Dianne and Carol, because they had, historically, had some professional choreography training before their first tour, and done a lot of dancing onstage. By comparison, Linda, as a session musician, had had no need to do any ongoing dance training, and so was struggling a bit! Of course, the four girls from Jelly Fish were just taking things easy: they were already up to speed on the dance routine, they just needed to be able to dance with CJDL.

Callum and Paige were also there, filming bits of what they were doing: Mike and Ben had gone out with Jenny's mum and dad to do a bit of 'sightseeing'... much to the annoyance of our four girls.

"Oh, I'm aching in places I forgot I had" said Linda, when they stopped for lunch.

"Don't worry," said Yun Hee, "you're actually doing pretty well."

"Yeah, you're all doing far better than I thought you might!" added Ahnjong.

After having a long enough break to let their lunch settle, they ran through the dance routine again, then spent time working on a few of the more difficult bits, then did another run through the whole thing.

"Ok, let's all take a break, then how about we try it whilst you all sing the song, like you'll be doing tomorrow evening?" suggested Holangi. Dancing whilst singing is a bit harder, but they already knew the song very well, plus they'd been singing along quite a bit throughout the day.

They had an early finish, at about 4pm: by then, the girls had really had enough, and just needed to rest a bit.

"Hey, Holangi, thanks so much for today! See you again tomorrow." said Carol.

The girls went and showered, and put on some fresh clothes. "Don't bother with too much makeup," suggested Carol.

"Ah, Carol wants to go out in public...." suggested Linda.

"Absolutely! I didn't come all this way to never go out and see some shops! I'm sure there must be SOMETHING near here!"

"Yes, there's a nice shopping centre about 10 minutes walk away...." replied Taeyang. "If all of us are going, I suggest we split up into 2 or 3 groups, we might be a little less conspicuous."

As they did their hair, they did things they normally didn't. Carol normally wore hers down, so she put it up into a ponytail. Yun hee, on the other hand, normally wore a ponytail, so she put hers down, and Min Jee clipped hers back in a slightly different way. Yes, if you looked at them from a few meters, you're recognise them; but from a distance, it would be less likely. And, of course, Taeyang was right: context is important: if they went as a group of four, it becomes more obvious who they might be, but in smaller mixed groups, they were more likely to get away with it.

Their coach was waiting at the back, so they went and spoke with the security guys who was waiting there, and he agreed to go with them to the shopping centre. He would be with one of the groups, and if anyone else had an issue, well, they all had phones!


"Thanks guys, I enjoyed that, it was nice to get out, and it was fun to see the sort of shops you have here" said Carol to their 4 hosts a bit over an hour later. Most of them had just been looking, but Ahnjong and Taeyang bought a couple of simple bits of clothing.

While out, they got a couple of 'looks', from people maybe wondering if they had recognised them, but otherwise, they had a pleasant and anonymous time.

Finally, they got back to the apartment, where they met up with Jenny's parents, Ben and Mike, and Hon Su.

"How did it go today?" asked Jenny's mum, as Jenny hugged Ben.

"Well, as expected, our 4 hosts here had no issues, but I think the rest of us have a few aches from bits we've not really used for a while!" replied Jenny. "Other than that, the routine is looking ok, I'm sure a couple more hours tomorrow will do it!"

"I'm guessing you're probably all hungry?" said Hon Su. There were various nods and comments of agreement. "Good, I thought we'd go to a place that's not too far away: it's not a fancy place, but does good food, what I'd call 'home food': I suggest we use the coach to get there, and we can walk back afterwards."

Dinner was good, and four of the girls (Carol, Linda, Taeyang and Yun Hee) took a diversion to a small 'street bar', which was basically a pop-up tent with chairs and tables, where you can both drink and eat.

"I think, sometime, we need to come out and have dinner at a place like this," said Linda.

"Absolutely!" replied Carol. "The food I've seen looks better than what you'd probably get at one of those donner places down in Croydon!"

"Hey, that's not too hard to do!" replied Linda.

"Ok, next week sometime?" suggested Yun Hee.

"Yeah. We can let the 'couples' go somewhere nice, and the rest of us can come out and eat and get pissed!" said Carol, raising her glass of soju.

"I'll be glad when tomorrow and Saturday are over, then we can take a bit of a break." said Taeyang.

"I doubt it: I bet we'll need to do some TV shows and other stuff next week ..." replied Yun Hee.

"Welcome to our world!" said Carol. "My experience is that it goes in spurts: you're busy doing TV and out on tour for a bit, but then you get a bit of down-time, time to write some new material. I know it's probably a bit different for you guys, but after all the excitement of 'rollerskates' dies down, make sure you get Hon Su to give you a bit of a break." 

Whilst they could have stayed out late, and easily have got drunk, they realised that the next day was going to be a busy one, so went back 'home' after a couple of drinks.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #37 on: 21. February 2023, 17:33:29 PM »
Chapter 23: We're going on TV!

"Hey," said Holangi, I have an idea, come with me!"

They had started dancing again at about 9:30, and worked gently over the next two and a bit hours, taking several breaks. It was now just after 12, and they were looking forward to having a break for lunch.

Holangi grabbed the large Bluetooth speaker he was using to play their backing track, and lead them down to the cafeteria area, where many of the other students were sitting, having their lunch.

"Oh, lunch already?" asked Carol.

"Not just yet!" said Holangi, "You guys really need an audience, don't you? Here's a very discerning audience for you...". Carol smiled: yes, she actually liked this idea! Holangi clapped his hands a couple of times to get everyone's attention, then said something in Korean: the only bits Carol recognised were the words 'TV', 'Jelly Fish' and 'CJDL'.

While he did that, Paige set up the camera, so that she could see both the girls dancing, plus the 'audience'.

"Ok guys, take your positions in the open area over there....". With the eight girls in position, the music started, and although they weren't using a PA system, the place was small enough that with eight of them singing, it didn't really matter. Everyone stopped eating their lunch for the 4 minutes the eight girls were dancing and singing. After that, everyone started clapping and cheering, and many of them came over, and started talking to the four girls from Jelly Fish... clearly they knew them quite well.

A couple of older people, clearly a couple of the teachers, came over, and spoke to them all, expressing their pleasure at how well they had just done.

Holangi came over to our four girls: "There you go: they all think you're ready for tonight! And so do I... grab some lunch, then have a break, then we'll do a last run through, before you go and freshen up, and get yourselves ready to go to the studios."

Carol took a moment, and went over to Paige. "Hey, how you doing? You ok with doing all this filming?"

"It's not all that bad, actually. I mean, earlier when you guys were practising, I didn't really need to do a lot. Whats more fun for me is watching you guys practising and doing stuff, I've never been so close to you for such a long time, to REALLY see what you guys have to do. Yesterday and today, you guys have been working hard, you have my respect!"

"Just wait till next week, when we REALLY start doing the dance practice, I have no doubt they are going to push us hard!"

"Something tells me you won't mind that..."

"I don't think we will, I think we are all realistic enough to know what we'd be letting ourselves in for. Tell you what, package up one of the run-throughs we do this afternoon, and post it online will you? I'm sure our fans back home would like to see what we're doing. Also, you could do something when we're rehearsing tomorrow for the live gig...."

"Yeah, ok, I'll let Callum know, I'm sure we can quickly pull out a couple of minutes of the video later on!".


After taking them all back to the apartment to get freshened up, the coach took all of them (including Ben etc) off to the TV studios. Whilst the show was live at 7:30, they needed them there by about 4pm to get ready and do a run-through.

The four CJDL girls were used to this, having been on so many TV shows, so were quite relaxed. The girls from Jelly Fish had been on far fewer shows, so were a little more stressed out. While they were waiting, Jenny went and had a word with the four Korean girls.

"Remember, whilst you may think you're very important, these guys have to deal with people like us every week, we're just 'cattle' to them, so when they tell you to do something, don't argue, just do it, it's easier for everyone, and to be honest, they'll probably respect you more for not making their lives any harder than they are already!" explained Jenny. "If you have a problem of any sort, tell Hon Su, that's what he's paid for, to sort out your problems. Get someone to do a visual check on you too, check you look ok. Don't take your phones onto the set, leave them with Hon Su. And make sure you take a pee before you go out there, even if you don't think you need one! We all have one job tonight, and that's to go out there, look pretty, and sing as we dance. I'm sure you all know most of that, but better for it to be said than we all end up looking stupid!"

Jenny thought back to one of their earlier TV appearances: she'd been drinking loads of coffee and soft drinks, and almost peed herself in the middle of one live interview! She'd never been caught out again though!

They had been and checked out their costumes yesterday: JY had organised them, and most of them fitted well, although Carol's needed a slight adjustment to make it fit her properly. So they got changed, then went into makeup. Paige was able to video them as they waited in their 'green room', also when they were in makeup, but she had been clearly told that she could not do any filming on the studio floor.

There was a lot of sitting around and waiting, which is pretty normal whenever you go on TV, but finally they were called on to set to perform, which all went very well: being the number one act, they performed last, so soon after they finished their performance, the show was over.

Back in the green room, Hon Su came in with someone they didn't recognise. "This is Park Ben Jin, he's one of the executives of FY Entertainment".

"Thank you everyone, you all performed well," he said. "Ho Su, which are Carol and that other girl I need to speak to?" he asked Hon Su quietly.

"Carol, Jenny, do you have a moment, Ben Jin would like a quiet word with you." They all went to the other end of the room.

"I understand that you aren't to happy with the rules we have at FY." he said.

"Um, yes, it's just that.." started Carol. Ben Jin held up his hand, to say 'stop'/

"And I'm glad you said something. Yes, those rules were written when we first started the company, about 15 years ago, and as a result of your comments, I'm going to be reviewing all of the rules, bring them up to date. As for the braces rule: yes, back then, braces were not a popular thing, but now, yes, they are very much more popular. Someone showed me your posts when you first got your braces: you definitely know how to use the internet to your advantage, don't you."

"So, you're going to get rid of the braces rule then?" asked Jenny, smiling and making sure that Ben Jin saw the metal on her teeth.

"Yes, I think so, and as long as people are sensible, I can't see an issue."

"And Yun Hee?"

"I think she should be the first of our idols to get braces, don't you? Shall we tell her?"

"I have a feeling she's gonna be very pleased!" said Carol.

"Tun Hee!" called out Ben Jin, "can you join us please?"

"Err, yes sir?" said Tun He when she came over.

"Don't worry," said Jenny, "it's actually good news..."

"Tun Hee, Carol and Jenny here highlighted that our rule about braces is a bit old and out of date. Would you like to have braces?"

Tun Hee's face lit up. "Really?"

"Yes, really, and as a gesture, I'll make sure that FY pays for them! Just make sure you get some good publicity for us!"

"I will, sir, don't worry!"

"Ok, so now I need to have a word with your manager, Mr Stevens, isn't it?"

"Yes, that's my father, he's over there with my mum, they both manage the band."

"Well, Carol, Jenny, it was nice to talk to you, and thank you both for being willing to stand up and make your opinion known!", and he went of to talk to  Jenny's mum and dad.

"Oh my goodness.... so what did you say?"

"We passed a message up the chain via Hon Su, strongly suggesting that FY's rule maybe needed revamping, especially the one about no braces." said Jenny.

"You missed out the bit about 'maybe not wanting to promote FY quite so positively'!" said Carol.

"We got the feeling that it would be quite hard for you guys to make such comments, but we're not working for FY, so they can't really do much to us if we start bad-mouthing them! But it needed to be said!" added Jenny.

"Thank you both so much, but how did you know I wanted braces so much?" asked Tun Hee, smiling widely, and not worrying about showing off her crooked teeth.

"Well, apart from the fact that, when you look it's pretty clear you need them, we were talking with Taeyang the other morning," explained Carol.

"Ah, right. Hey, I'm going to have to find out from you about braces now, aren't I?"

"We'd be very happy to help.... Anyway, lets get back to the others." said Jenny, turning around. "Hey, where's mum and dad gone?"

"Hun Su's gone too..." said Tun Hee. About 10 minutes later, Hun Su returned.

"Hey, you know where mum and dad are?" Jenny asked him.

"Yeah, they needed to go off with Park Ben Jin, they need to speak with someone in London, but they said they'd call you soon."

"Ah, ok. I wonder what that's all about?"

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #38 on: 23. February 2023, 22:33:48 PM »
Chapter 24: Gig Rehearsals

After performing on TV, they were 'abandoned' by both of Jenny's parents, so they went back to the apartment where dinner had been planned for them all. Callum got a phone call from her dad, which caused him to go off to his room, to do something, but he was back a few minutes later.

"So, what's going on then?" asked Jenny, "What's mum and dad doing that's so important that they can't be with us?"

"They said they would explain all, but seems they were having an important meeting, they needed to play them some of your new stuff..."

"Very interesting... but I thought we were signed up with 'Big Dog Records'?" said Dianne.

"You are," replied Callum, "but that covers just the UK, and I'm pretty sure, Europe too. I get the felling that FY are hoping to make some money from you guys!"

"Well, if it means a bit more money for us all, then I'm not going to complain" said Linda.

"Sadly, Linda, you're not named on our old stuff, so you'll only get something on our new stuff. But don't worry, I can't imagine it's going to make us three millionaires in the next six months! I mean, I can imagine there's only a small interest in us here in Korea." said Carol.

"Actually, don't underestimate yourselves, there's been a lot of stuff going on online after you were all on TV earlier."


The Friday was 'just' a rehearsal day: they were already pretty familiar with the stuff they planned on playing, but they DID need to rehearse 'Rollerskates', which they would play as their encore, as Jelly Fish were going to join them. Also Jenny needed to check out the piano, and check that her configs would work ok, and Dianne needed to check out a drumkit she'd never used before.

They got to the rehearsal rooms by just after 9:30... initially Jelly Fish were rehearsing in one room, CJDL in another. The good news was that Dianne managed to get her electric drum kit set up pretty quickly, and the piano, as promised, was exactly the same as the one Jenny had, and her configs loaded from her USB stick first time. After a quick run-through of their 30 minute set - mainly to check their timings - they went to where Jelly Fish were practising with a backing band.

They were a VERY different band: while CJDL were now singing while they played, Jelly Fish didn't play themselves, they had a backing band - no doubt made up of session musicians - leaving the group to sing and dance... so their rehearsal today was as much about dancing as singing.

"You guys are such good dancers...." said Jenny, as they ended a song.

"I guess it's something to do with the 4 years of practice!" replied Min Jee.

"So, you guys want to come and run through 'rollerskates' then?"

"Let's have a quick break, then yes...." suggested Min Jee, as she went and grabbed some water. They were sitting relaxing when Brian, Lisa and Hon Su arrived. Jenny got up and went over to her mum and gave her a hug.

"So what were you guys doing last night that was so important that you couldn't join us for dinner?"

"Yeah, sorry about that, but we had a long meeting with Park Ben Jin and a couple of others, hopefully earning us all some money!"

"I'll let you off then. So what's happening?"

"Well, first of all, you guys need to go over and overdub your voices onto Jelly Fish's recording of 'rollerskates' later on. They want to release a version with all eight of you singing, but it needs to happen straight away if there's any chance of it selling."

"So you've signed a record deal for us with FY?"

"Not quite - well, not yet anyway. We've signed a contract with FY for 'rollerskates', and we're discussing terms for a more general deal. We had a long phone call with the guys at Big Dog last night, and while they cover you for Europe, they are very interested in some sort of deal with FY for your back-catalogue, plus any new stuff you do... for distribution here in Asia. Also, if you guys are interested, there's the possibility of more 'joint ventures', either with Jelly Fish, or other idol groups."

"Oooh, interesting!" said Jenny.

"Yes. But lets get tomorrow out the way first... oh, and the recording bit done" said Brian. Brian's phone beeped. "Ah, that's an email back from Yu-Eye - she's the girl's producer, you met her the other evening - she asks if you can make 5pm tonight? She says the studio you'll be using is pretty small, so can you make it no more than six of you in total?"

"Five o'clock should be fine," replied Carol, "We'll have finished getting ready for tomorrow by lunchtime, and this afternoon I was rather hoping we can just try out some of our new ideas, so we can be ready whenever."

"Talking about rehearsing," said Linda, "we need to go and run through 'rollerskates' a couple of times? It's going to be a different performance if we're playing and Jelly Fish are singing to something they aren't quite as familiar with."

"In that case, we'd better 'put our skates on', literally." said Taeyang.

"What, you gonna perform in skates?"

"We're not sure yet, we want to try it out, see if it's sensibly possible".


"So, on the flight over, you'll remember I didn't get a lot of sleep, because I was working on something?" said Jenny to the other three. They had finished lunch, and had decided, as suggested by Carol, to work on some new stuff.

"Yeah, you've not said much about it since..."

"Sorry about that, been working on making something you can sing from..." Jenny passed out copies of music and words, in colour.

"What's all this lot then?"

"It's a worship song. Let me try and explain: it's not one of our normal 'we all sing it together' things, this is a 4-part acapella, with 4 very distinct parts. I can kinda hear it in my mind, and I know it's not going to be an easy one... which is probably why God gave it to us. I think he's trying challenge us a bit, stretch us. But I have no doubt that we can do it. So, you've each got a printout that's unique to you: your part is the top one, the other 3 parts are underneath, a bit fainter, so you can see how the four parts go together..."

The three girls spent a moment looking through the music that Jenny had given them.

"You said 'challenge' didn't you... it's definitely going to be a challenge, isn't it?" said Dianne, with a big smile on her face!

"I suggest we all go away and find somewhere quiet to familiarise ourselves with our own parts, maybe sing it through a few times. Then get back together in maybe an hour?" suggested Jenny. Jenny went over to Ben, and hugged him. "Don't you find this boring?" she asked him.

"A little bit, but it's actually quite interesting, watching how you four work together: you guys do most of your rehearsing when I'm not there, so it's a side of you I don't see that often."

"But you've seen us rehearse on tour?"

"That's different, that's mainly things like sound checks, or when you're messing around together back at the hotel. This is different. I mean, when you were working with Jelly Fish earlier, that really was quite amazing: I'm looking forward to seeing what that looks like on stage tomorrow!"

"Yes, that should be fun. Oh, Ben, thank you for... well, just BEING here with me!" said Jenny.


"Hey, Linda, want to work together on this?" suggested Carol about 15 minutes later.

"Yeah, ok..."

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #39 on: 26. February 2023, 18:38:01 PM »
Chapter 25: The recording studio

By 5pm, they had arrived at the small recording studios. 'They' being the four girls, along with Paige and Callum (who would do some more videoing): it seems that the others' had decided to find a bar, and have a gentle drink together, while the girls did their over-dubbing!

It was a bit different from the studios they tended to use, with just a relatively small booth for recording voices. Outside were various keyboards and so on, all electronic (so no audio issues!), and if they needed something bigger for any reason, then they would go elsewhere. For what they needed to do today, it was excellent, but would not have worked for them if they had to lay down some guitar and drum tracks as a band.

"Hi, come on in..." said Yu-Eye, Jelly Fish's producer they had met the other day at dinner.

"Nice to meet you again!" said Linda, who was still excited to meet one of her 'heros'.

Paige was with them, and was filming what was going on: this was exactly the sort of footage that would be good for a program about CJDL's visit to Korea.

"Right, I'll give it 30 minutes and two takes..." said Carol.

"Pardon?" said Yu-Eye, not fully appreciating what Carol had just said.

"A maximum of two takes, unless we screw up, and we're out of here in 30 minutes...." explained Carol. Yu-eye looked a bit perplexed.

"Look, Yu-Eye," continued Carol, "with the greatest of respect to you as a producer, but we're hardly working on a piece of art here, and our careers hardly depend on this song doing well, let alone being 100% perfect. We're giving the bedroom a quick coat of paint to brighten it up, we're not trying to paint a Picasso! We know the song well enough that, unless we really screw up, one or two takes will give us what we need: the twentieth take would be no better.... besides, I need an alcoholic drink, plus I'm hungry, and want some dinner!"

Jenny looked at Carol, thinking about what she had just said. "Actually, I think you're probably spot-on right there, Carol. This is just a quick 'commercial job' to earn us all money, it's gonna be forgotten about in 4 weeks time! Come on, let's just get on with it...."

"But we need to set up a couple more mics..." said Yu-Eye.

"I see two mics in there, that'll do us!" said Carol. "Look, we've been in profession studios enough to know what we need to do, let alone the countless time we've done this at home. Trust me, you might just get a surprise!" said Carol. In real terms, Carol was right. Besides, Yu-Eye wasn't actually THEIR producer... like them, she was there to help them knock off a quick bit of commercial music.

Yu-Eye rolled her eyes (no doubt thinking something like 'bloody young pop idols, think they know it all...'), and the girls went into the booth, followed by Paige: again this would be good video, watching the girls getting prepared. The tech guy came in, and made sure their headphones were ok for them, and the girls limbered up their voices for a few minutes, during which time the tech guy set the levels up.

"Hey, Mr tech guy, what's your name?" asked Dianne.

"Umm... I'm Park Ji-Hun"

"Well, nice to meet you, Ji-Hun, and thanks for everything you're doing here today!". Ji-Hun smiled: clearly he wasn't that used to getting thanked by the artists he recorded.

"Hey, let's try a run-through without any music playing" suggested Jenny.

"Actually, before we do that, I think we should just stop for a moment" said Dianne.

"Ah, yes, good point! Linda, why don't you lead us?" said Jenny.

The four girls all held hands, closed their eyes, and dipped their heads. "Hey, God, thanks for everything so far, I think we're all enjoying this trip to Korea. But that doesn't mean we're not humble enough to know that you gave us these skills we're about to use, so, as ever, we ask you to be with us as we do this! Amen!". Linda didn't actually SAY that, she SANG it, and the 'amen' at the end was loud and powerful.

"I like the style there, Linda!" said Carol.

"Ah, it's boring just saying it, singing it's much more fun, plus I'm hoping he likes the gesture!" replied Linda.

"Right, we ready to do this?" asked Carol.

"Need me to leave?" asked Paige.

"Nah! You know how to be quiet, so why not stay, and get some good close-ups of us?" suggested Linda. Yu-eye and the tech guy didn't say anything, no doubt looking forward to seeing the girls screw it all up.

"Hey, make sure you record this, maybe we'll release an acapella version of it!" said Carol with a big smile. They positioned themselves, Linda and Carol in front of one mic, Jenny and Dianne in front of the other. "Ready? One.. two.. three.."

Three and a half minutes later, after a perfect acapella rendition, Yu-Eye had a big smile on her face: yes, they really WERE good at this, and she now understood that what they had said about '2 takes' wasn't showing off, and she now suspected they would probably do what was needed on the first take. "Nicely sung, ladies. Let us know when you're ready to do it with the music." said Ji-Hun.

"You going to give us the whole thing, with the 4 girls on, or just the backing track?" asked Dianne.

"Probably better to give you the whole thing... do you want the vocals a bit quieter though?" asked Ji-Hun.

"Let's go with full levels the first time, we can get you to turn them down on the second take, if it's an issue." replied Carol. "Want to play a bit of it now, so we can get our headphone volumes right?"

As Ji-Hun fed them the music, they all adjusted their headphone volumes, and started to sing along. "How does that sound?" asked Carol.

"It sounds fine to me!" said Yu-Eye, "You all ready?".

Carol looked quickly at the others. "Yeah... let's do this!". The music started, and the girls joined in at exactly the right point. "So how did it sound?" she asked afterwards.

Yu-Eye had a smile on her face. "Ok, so that was probably just fine, but lets do a second take... you never know, it MIGHT be better!". All the time Paige had been recording what was going on: this was great video!

"Hey, Carol..." said Jenny as they finished the second take, "you just did all that with your retainers in!"

Carol smiled, at the same time running her tongue around her mouth. "Yeah, I did, didn't I? Hey, Yu-Eye, did that actually sound ok?"

"Don't worry, it sounded just fine to me! And you guys have my respect: you just did what you said you would, and I wasn't really expecting that. I guess you've been doing this a bit longer than many of the bands with FY have! Hey, before you go, you got ten minutes? I have something I'd like to talk to you about, not sure if it's of interest to you, but it's worth asking."

"Yeah, ok..." said Linda as they left the voice booth, and came out into the 'office' area.

With the four girls all out of the voice booth, Yu-Eye looked over at Ji-Hun and nodded. Music started playing out of the speakers, and Linda recognised it straight away: it was the OP (= theme tune) from 'Dragon Slayer - Umibo', one of the many songs that Yu-Eye was known for. Just as the vocals were due to start, Linda started to sing, and then suddenly realised that Ji-Hun had set the vocal track level to be quite low.

"Go on.." said Yu-Eye, "I'd love to hear you sing it....". Linda continued to sing the song: she couldn't remember all the words, and missed a couple of the notes, but otherwise gave a quite amazing rendition. Rather than what you might have expected Linda's voice to sound like - if she had sung normally - this was a very much more 'girlie' voice, as you'd expect to hear on an anime OST.

Jenny, Carol and Dianne were all looking on, in awe. "Where the hell did THAT voice come from? That was pretty spectacular, Linda!" said Jenny.

"Oh, I was in the choir at school, didn't I tell you?" replied Linda, smiling, and feeling rather proud of herself.

"Anyone else want to give it a go?" asked Yu-Eye.

"I think I'd need a bit of practice first!" replied Carol. "So what's this about?"

"The other day, Linda said that she not only liked that sort of music, she said that she wished she could write some, but wasn't sure where to start. Several weeks ago, I was approached by a production company, asking if I was at all interested in working on an OST for a new anime they've started working on. After meeting you the other day, I had a listen to your music: I was assuming it would be more stuff like 'Sexy Rollerskates', but got a very pleasant surprise when I heard your more recent stuff. So I thought I'd play that track, and see what your reaction would be... to be honest, I rather hoped that one of you, maybe even Linda, might sing along, but I had no idea she would be quite so good as she was! Look, I guess the big question is: would you guys be at all interested in maybe working with me, to put together a load of stuff for the OST? They don't want it to be quite as 'full-on' as that one was, but it probably needs to be a bit 'rockier' than what you're doing now. Linda... the rest of you... interested?"

"Wow. I'm certainly not going to say no, but I think we all need to talk about it a bit more. Seems to me that maybe you two guys should join us all for dinner!" replied Linda.

"I need to mix this down, they need it ready tomorrow morning at the lastest, but why don't you join them, Yu-Eye?" replied Ji-Hun. "And ladies: very nicely sung tonight, I wish many of the other idol groups were as disciplined!"

Offline anton08

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #40 on: 27. February 2023, 07:45:23 AM »
Sorry, but I can´t help wishing more braces aspects in this story.  :(

Offline Braceface2015

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #41 on: 27. February 2023, 09:04:09 AM »
Patience, my friend. Sparky is telling the story the way he feels it should go. Not all stories are about the braces, some stories have braces in them as part of the story.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #42 on: 27. February 2023, 13:14:57 PM »
Whilst I could give everyone in the story some braces, it would be totally unbelievable, and would quickly get boring.

I can tell you that one of the Jelly Fish girls wil get braces soon....

Offline xxxforce

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #43 on: 27. February 2023, 18:02:46 PM »
Just keep on the good work Sparky - You can't meet everyones taste ;)

I really enjoy this Story (with and without braces) :)

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #44 on: 27. February 2023, 18:32:08 PM »
Just keep on the good work Sparky - You can't meet everyones taste ;)

I really enjoy this Story (with and without braces) :)


One day, I was feeling a bit silly, and wrote this as an abrupt end to the story:

Chapter xx - Off to rehearsals

The following morning, the eight girls, along with Paige and Callum, got onto the bus to go and do their dance preparation for the TV show on the Thursday.
On the way there, the bus had a tyre blowout, causing it to swerve into the oncoming lane of traffic, where it was hit by two very large trucks.
Despite the paramedics best efforts, all 10 passengers, and the driver, were declared dead at the scene.

The End.

Yeah, ok, maybe a bit brutal!!!

Offline xxxforce

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #45 on: 27. February 2023, 19:42:01 PM »
This "ending" is definitely no option ;)

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #46 on: 27. February 2023, 21:44:39 PM »
It's kinda tempting to spend a couple of hours writing some short - but abrupt - endings.... things like:
- plane crash
- mass poisoning
- street shooting
- restaurant shooting
- other sort of attack
- fairground ride failure
- sign drops on her in shop
- accidental impaling
- fall off a tall building
- on-stage light falls on her

Some fun ones on here too:

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #47 on: 27. February 2023, 22:05:02 PM »
Chapter 26 - getting ready for The Park Festival

Over the last 4 years, they had been at a few of the UK festivals. Initially, they would get the less desirable slots, late morning, and early afternoon. Last year, they got much better times, early evening: the later evening slots were for the REALLY well known bands, bands who had been around maybe 10 or 20 years. CJDL have a few years to go before they got there! So today was a bit like taking a big step back in time: their slot was at 1:30pm! But they couldn't REALLY complain, it was better than not performing at all.

Callum had gone there quite early in the morning, with a couple of the tech guys from JY, to make sure that all of CJDL's kit was there and ready... so the borrowed piano and drums, and the girls guitars and pedals. The venue was providing the guitar amps and, of course, the PA.

Callum also had (but kept) the moulds for the girl's in-ear monitors, although he had confirmed that they connected up ok with the in-ear monitor receivers. He'd also confirmed that there would be 4 head mics, one each for the 4 girls, plus 4 hand-held mics for when Jelly Fish joined them. One of the JY guys had the ear moulds for the Jelly Fish girls, and had checked them out.

With a 1:30 slot, they needed to be on site at least an hour (or two) beforehand, and ready at the stage when the previous band came off, which was at 1:00.

Mid morning, Brian received a text and an email: the text was from Callum, confirming everything was ready for them; the email was from Hon Su to say first of all that their over-dubbed version of 'roller-skates' had been released, and second, could they do a live TV interview that evening?

"What time?" asked Dianne.

"7pm, so we'd need to be there well before that" replied Brian.

"We'll miss out seeing Jelly Fish perform, I really wanted to see them!" complained Jenny, "Must we?"

"I absolutely hear what you're saying Jenny," replied her dad, "but I think that, if you'd really like to get yourselves known here, doing the show tonight is essential. Performing with Jelly Fish the other night seems to have been picked up by the press here, and with your combined song now released, plus the fact that you're performing today, you're a hot topic, so let's use it! Besides, I have a feeling you'll be able to see Jelly Fish perform again before we go back home."

The girls were a bit disappointed at not being able to see Jelly Fish, but understood the importance of going on TV to promote themselves.

"Is it just talking, or will we need to perform too?" asked Carol.

"No performance this time, just chatting."


They got to the festival site before noon, giving themselves plenty of time to get ready. There were several large 'trailers', with plenty of space for all of them - they were in #5.

Whilst they wouldn't be 'dressing up' as such today - so just wearing some t-shirts they'd had printed, with jeans and trainers, they still needed to do their makeup and hair: JY had organised a makeup lady to be there for them. In addition, they had organised some lunch for them, which arrived soon after they did.

"Hey, guys, good to see you," said Callum, as he walked in to the trailer. "So, today, I'll be with the lady who's doing the mixing desk: she speaks good English, so I don't see any real issues, but I'll be the voice in your ears today."

Whilst Carol was happy to hear that Callum would be keeping an eye (or an ear?) on their sound, it did mean that he wouldn't be at the side of the stage, as their 'go-to guy', like he normally was.

"They're being pretty strict on the timings, so the previous band will be off-stage moments after 1 o'clock. So, about then, I'll be here with one of the stage crew, to fit you all up with your mics and in-ears. Everything on the stage is on wheels, so they'll take a matter of maybe 5 minutes to get the old kit out the way for us... then I'll go over to the desk, you guys can go onto the stage, and we can doing a sound check. Dianne, your drums are all set up, on a small 'stage on wheels', so that will take moments to get into place. Jenny, your piano is all ready and on the stage at the back, so that won't be a problem, and the guitar stacks are being used by loads of bands, and are already side stage, just need to be wheeled into place... so you'll just need to plug your guitars in... and then we can do the sound check. I've watched them do the change-over a couple of times, and they seem to know what they're doing, so I don't think we'll have any problems."

"Thanks, Callum, I'm so glad you're here with us! Today feels different from when we've done festivals in England. Not sure what it is... maybe the lack of English voices, and a lack of people we know and trust? It's odd, I'm just not feeling quite as relaxed as I normally am." said Carol.

"Yeah, know where you're coming from," replied Linda, "I'm feeling the same. But I'm sure we'll be ok!"

All the time they were doing this, Paige was getting more video. With Callum busy elsewhere, Mike, Dianne's boyfriend, was helping Paige where needed. Callum had already made sure that the batteries and memory cards for the camera were all ready, but Mike would still need to carefully log and store the cards as they got used, and make sure the batteries were kept topped up.

They had a bit of spare time, so they decided to practice 'that acapella song': they had actually spent some time the previous day working on the different parts, then trying to sing it all together, and whilst it was slowly coming together, they'd not actually managed to sing it through completely without any mistakes yet. Today was marginally better, and they sang it through three times, but they still didn't quite get it quite right.

"Don't worry," said Jenny's mum, "It's getting better, and you'll get there in the end. And when you do, I can see that it's gonna be quite an amazing song!"

Having had a bit of lunch, it was time to get dressed, and their makeup done: another great time for Paige to video them, and ask them all a few questions.

Offline braces37

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #48 on: 28. February 2023, 21:45:56 PM »
I really appreciate your works, Sparky. You provide a kind of story that no one else does. As an aside, do you have experience in the music industry?

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #49 on: 01. March 2023, 02:41:12 AM »
I really appreciate your works, Sparky. You provide a kind of story that no one else does. As an aside, do you have experience in the music industry?

No, but I'm involved in tech and broadcast radio, so I know the sort of tech used for recording and on stage....

Offline m1090y

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #50 on: 01. March 2023, 11:36:04 AM »
I really like the parts of the story where the celebrities from the band interact with the public, such as in the open mike nights.  This is a really good story.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #51 on: 01. March 2023, 21:21:30 PM »
Chapter 27 - on stage at The Park Festival

They could hear the cheering as the previous band left the stage, and a few minutes later, they were getting their mics and earpieces 'installed'.

"Guitars?... ok. Jenny, got your USB's in case you need to re-program the keyboard? Dianne, drum-sticks? Headsets comfortable? Don't forget to put your ears in once you're on stage. I'll leave you with Dae-jung, he'll take you to the stage. Ok, let's do this: ladies... have fun!" said Callum, as he left to go over to where the mixing system was: it would take him a few minutes to get there.

The girls were suitably impressed when they got on to the stage: as promised, all they kit was in place already, and a couple of stage crew were ready to give Linda and Carol their guitar leads. As they walked to their respective places, to check all the tech out, they put their ear-moulds into their ears.

"Can you all hear me ok?" asked Callum over the talkback to them.

"Jenny here, yes..."

"Go for Linda!"

"Dianne here too..."

A pause. "Carol, you there?" No reply.

"Hey, Carol, can't you hear Callum?" Jenny called over.


"Callum, Carol can't hear you" said Jenny.

Callum spoke to Dae-jung, who came over to Carol. "In-ear's not working?" he asked.

"No, it's dead." replied Carol.

"Ok, let's take a look..... ah easy one, it got turned off somehow! Try it now..."

"Callum... talk to me."

"Hello Carol, you there now?" asked Callum.

"Loud and clear, thanks to Dae-jung!"

"Ok, Linda, let's get your levels set up first...". This was the sort of thing they would do hours before a normal gig, but they didn't have that luxury today: they had a mere 30 minutes to change from one band to the next, and had to do this in front of the changing crowd (of course, the main PA itself wasn't on, so it wasn't too obvious what they were doing). While Linda and Carol sorted out their local guitar amp levels, and Callum then set up the mixer levels for the guitars, Jenny and Dianne were checking out their instruments: the good news for both of them was that the setups they had done yesterday were still there, so they had little to do.

"Ok, let's check your mic levels... Jenny, want to start?"...

Apart from Carol's receiver not being on, the sound check went well, and once more, Paige was there, on the stage, videoing them doing their setups. For Paige, today was another busy one, but she didn't mind, as she knew that once today was over, things would get a bit quieter for her as the girls did their dance training. She and Callum had already looked at some of the footage she'd got, and it was looking pretty good: there should be no problems getting a good program - or even several programs - out of it.

As they went off the stage, they saw Ahnjong, Min Jee, Taeyang and Yun Hee: they had been in a different trailer to get ready, and were now doing their sound check with Callum, which was a lot simpler, with just 4 mics!

So, their first song would be sung to a backing track, which would allow them to just walk onto the stage and sing. Then after the first song, they would be playing 'properly'. 'Roller-skates' would be their encore, and that's when Jelly Fish would join them. 

Dae-jung was effectively doing for them what Callum would normally do: he was with them as they waited to go on stage, and if they had any problems, then he would be their 'go-to man', and he would be the one to get things sorted out. Luckily he seemed to be a pretty pleasant guy, and his English was very acceptable.

Yu-Eye came over to them. "Hey, what you doing here?" asked Linda.

"You think I'm going to miss seeing you guys play live? Besides, they've asked me to introduce you!" she replied. In a sea of so many unknown faces, it was good to have a few they recognised.

Jenny was with Ben: they all knew the calming effect Ben had on Jenny... he only needed to be there, and Jenny felt so much better. And he'd been there for her every time since the 'Birmingham meltdown', which meant Jenny was in a good place.

By comparison, Carol was still feeing a bit stressed by the unfamiliarity of the place and the people... Things were different, albeit not in big ways, but she wasn't as relaxed as normal.

"Ok" said Dae-jung, "You guys ready to go on?"

"Oh, shit, I still have my retainers in!" said Carol. She quickly reached in to her mouth, and took them out, and then wondered what to do with them.

"Want me to look after them?" asked Callum, who had both heard Carol, and watched with joy as she had removed her retainers in a relatively public place. Not that Carol knew - but of course we all know - that Ben has quite a thing for braces. Whilst a pair of saliva-covered retainers might seem a bit disgusting for many, Ben got some rather nice feelings as Carol put the still-wet retainers into his out-stretched hand.


The girls all put in their ear-moulds, and checked their headset mics were ok.

"Good afternoon everyone" said Yu-Eye to the crowd from the middle of the stage. She spoke in both English and Korean. "I'm Yu-Eye, and it's my pleasure to introduce a band that I only met for the first time this week, but already love their music. You saw them perform with Jelly Fish on TV on Thursday, today they are here to play their own music. Please welcome to the stage the four ladies who are CJDL!".

As the crowd cheered loudly, the four girls walked onto the stage, Paige followed a bit behind, and ended up to the side of them, but right at the front of the stage, so she could get some good shots of them.

"Hi, I'm Carol..."

"Yay! I'm Jenny!"

"Hey there, I'm Dianne..."

"And I'm Linda, and together...."

"We are CJDL!!!". The four of them were in a line, and they each had a t-shirt with their initial on it, so the four of them together spelt out the band's name. The crowd cheered again, and a moment later their backing track started, and the girls started singing. Once they had started their set, their stress levels started to reduce a bit.

"Thank you.... thank you!" said Jenny to the crowd as they applauded at the end of the song. "So that was our first number one hit in England, over 2 years ago. Since then, our music has changed a bit, so I hope you like it.... oh, and from here on, we're playing live!".

They walked over to their instruments: Linda and Carol quickly strummed their guitars once to confirm they were still ok. Jenny pressed a couple of the keys on her keyboard. Finally, Dianne hit the bass drum three times, and they all started to play, exactly in time.

They were at the end of their third song when Carol spotted Paige had gone off the stage: she guessed she needed to change the camera batteries and cards again. They were just a couple of bars into their 4th song when Carol spotted Paige, apparently arguing with a security guard over to the side: it looked like he wasn't letting her come back on the stage. Paige was waving her 'stage access' security pass at him, but he seemed to be ignoring it. Noone else seemed to be wanting to help her, and the rest of 'the CJDL team' were actually on the other side of the stage. Carol's already high stress levels suddenly stepped up quite a bit.

Carol stopped playing, took her guitar off, and walked over to Paige and the security guy, the rest of the band stopping a few moments later.

"What's the problem?" asked Carol rather loudly.

"He's not letting me back on stage!" replied Paige.

Carol turned to the security guy - he was quite young, so probably a bit inexperienced - and shouted at him "She's f***ing allowed on stage!", and pointed at Paige's pass. Clearly he didn't understand English, so did nothing. "Someone here speak English?" screamed Carol. "Anyone? Dae-jung?"

One of the other stage crew rushed over. "Is there a problem?" he asked.

"Yes, she's part of the band, so she comes onto the stage with me... and he... just get him OFF MY STAGE!!!" screamed Carol, and pointing at Paige's stage pass. Callum had quickly turned Carol's mic down, so luckily the crowd heard almost nothing of what was happening. The stage crew guy looked quickly at Paige's pass: "Yes, you're fine, go on stage!", and quickly took the security guy away from the situation.

"You ok there, Carol?" asked Callum in her ear.

"Yeah, just give me a second!". Carol's stress levels had just gone WAY up! She took a couple of deep breaths, then walked back on stage. Linda had put her guitar down, and went over to her, and put her arms around her. She'd heard everything through her in-ear monitors, and realised that she needed to help Carol quickly calm down. "Come on, let's get playing again, that will help you calm down...". Carol picked up her guitar again, and they started to play again: yes, playing quickly calmed her down again.

Finally, 25 minutes into their 30 minute set, they stopped playing, and walked off stage. Stage crew passed them towels and bottles of water. The crowd was cheering, and were calling for them to do another song.

"Wow, it's so hot out there!" said Dianne, wiping herself off with the towel. She went over to Carol... "feeling ok now?" she asked.

"Yeah, it just p*ssed me off, it shouldn't have happened! Wouldn't have happened back in England!".

Paige was still out on the stage, taking the opportunity to film the crowd, and zoom in on the tech teams in the middle of the crowd that were running the PA, and was even able to see Callum. She knew that the four girls would be back on stage again to do their encore any moment, so went further out onto the stage, pointing her camera over to where the girls were, ready for when they came out again.

"Ok, we all ready?" asked Jenny. She could see that the four girls from Jelly Fish were also there, ready to join them shortly. They walked out onto the stage once more, all four of them walking to the front. It goes without saying that the crowd were cheering.

"Thank you everyone!" said Linda, "In fact, we'd like to thank a few people.... first of all, a BIG thank you to all of the stage crew, and that includes the guys out there who run the PA, do the lights, and run the awesome videos you've been seeing... without them, we couldn't be here... so come on, let's give them a big cheer!" The crowd did as asked.

"I think we also need to thank JY Entertainment, for bringing us over here, and letting us perform today!" added Carol. Another, smaller, cheer.

"Hey, I hope you don't mind me saying this, but I'd like to thank God, he's given us a great day, and we're all in such a LOVELY place, here in the park!" said Jenny.

"And finally, we'd like to thank all of YOU, our fans, for being here today and supporting us!" added Dianne, and the four of them all bowed to the crowd in thanks. Yes, they had learned that showing a bit of respect in Korea always went down well. They then went back to their instruments.

"So, we're going to play you one more song," said Jenny, "One I'm sure you'll recognise, although this is the original version, and it's slightly different from the one you're used to... 'Sexy Yellow Roller-Skates'!", and they went straight into the song, as the crowd cheered.

They got to the end of the first verse of the song, and as they went into the chorus, four girls, each wearing what is probably best described as 'cheer leader outfits', along with yellow roller-skates, skated out and onto the front of the stage, and started to sing. It took the crowd just a moment to realise who they were: Jelly Fish! As they started to sing, the crowd went wild! As the four girls from Jelly Fish sang, they skated around on the stage, just as they had rehearsed the day before: the crowd loved it!

As the song ended, the four CJDL girls joined Jelly Fish at the front of the stage.

"Jelly Fish everybody...." said Jenny, confirming who they are.

"And put your hands together for CJDL!" said Min Jee in both English and Korean.

All eight of them held hands, bowed to the crowd, then turned and walked off the stage: they were all smiling!

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #52 on: 03. March 2023, 23:14:12 PM »
Chapter 28 - backstage and on TV again

Back in their 'green room' trailer, Dae-jung took off their mics and in-ear monitors, disconnecting their ear-moulds and attached tubing from the belt-pack units, carefully putting them into the box that they had specifically for them. He then took the girls two guitars, wiped them over, and put them back into their flight cases.

On stage, the stage crew had already removed the drums and keyboards: after the stage was ready for the next band, they would bring them over to the band's trailer.

The day was hot, so the girls were towelling themselves dry yet again, as well as grabbing some more cold water to drink.

"Hey, Carol, you want these?" asked Ben. In his hand, he held out Carols retainers. "I'm guessing you probably want to give them a rinse, I just put them in my pocket." Carol took her retainers from Ben, and found her bag, where her retainer box was, and put them back in there.

Hon Su and the four girls from Jelly Fish came in, still wearing their stage costumes.

"Very good set!" said Hon Su, "the fans definitely like you! And as for your encore: just perfect!" Hon Su was very pleased that not only did all the girls get on so well, they performed well together too.

"We heard you won't be able to watch us tonight..." said Taeyang.

"No, we have a TV interview this evening, we'll have to watch you on TV!".

Just then, there was a knock on the door. Hon Su went over, saw who it was, then turned to the girls. "TV team, they'd like to do the post-performance interview..."

A cameraman, a presenter and a producer came in, and Paige grabbed her camera, quickly swapping out the memory card and batteries: this would be another worthwhile thing to video. As the TV presenter had a quick pre-interview talk to both CJDL and Jelly Fish, Callum arrived back.

"Hey, sorry I took so long, there's a lot of fans out there I had to get through! Hey, Mike, thanks for backing up Paige out there." - with Callum not being on-stage, Mike had volunteered to work with Paige: his job wasn't actually THAT hard, mainly logging the used memory cards, and making sure the batteries went into the charger. Callum would offload the memory card contents onto disk and into the cloud later on.

"So, we're backstage with CJDL, and Jelly Fish are her too... let me speak with CJDL first though..." The interviewer spoke good English, which is why she had specifically been asked to do this interview. She asked the obvious questions: why were they here in Korea? Were they enjoying it? When were they going back to England? Then she asked about the different styles of music: "Your first and last songs were very different from the rest, why is that?", giving the girls an opportunity to explain how things had changed, and let Jenny introduce Ben.

"Jelly Fish joined you on stage, will you be joining them later on?"

"Sadly not," replied Carol, "We've been asked to go on a TV show this evening."

The camera then panned over to Paige, who turned to the cameraman herself: two cameras looking at each other. "I understand this lady is videoing you for a documentary?"

"Yes, this is Paige, she works with us, and she's been videoing us loads, you might have seen her on stage earlier too." replied Jenny.

"So, Jelly Fish joined you for your encore: I'm guessing you are enjoying working together? Any more plans for the future?". That gave her a chance to move over and have a quick chat with Jelly Fish.

"Well, that you ALL for talking to us!" then turning to Jelly Fish, added "and we'll see you guys again, after your set this evening!".

The TV crew left, and the CJDL girls needed to change, but not after hugging the other girls. "Have a great set tonight!" said Linda, "Sorry we won't be there to cheer you on!". The four Jelly Fish girls left to get changed.

"Clearly, I'll be staying with my four girls, but Dae-jung will stay with you, and there should also be a couple of other guys you've already met waiting on the coach," explained Hon Su.

In the background, they could hear the next band starting to play, and a bit after that a couple of stage staff came in, and loaded up their guitars onto a small trailer, to take them to their coach.


For pretty much the first time since being in Korea, the CJDL team were separated from the Jelly Fish team: Hon Su was with Jelly Fish, along with a couple of others assistants from JY, as they would be staying at the festival to play in the evening.

So, JY had organised Dae-jung and a 'yet-to-be' idol (who lived in an adjacent apartment) to be with them as they went back to their apartment to get freshened up, then go off to the TV station. Even better news was that FY had realised that they needed to get to the TV station early, so had organised someone to make them a bit of light snacky food, to keep them going - unsurprisingly, it included gimbap, noodles and kimchee, as well as other rather nice Korean stuff!

They all made it to the TV studio in plenty of time, and were sitting around in their green room for ages, so they were able to watch the start of Jelly Fish's performance on the TV, as they helped themselves to the light buffet that had been organised for them. Their TV appearance was relatively short, but was carried out very pleasantly. The questions were very similar to their earlier interview, plus they got to see a short clip of their earlier performance, the bit where Jelly Fish joined them on stage.

Yes, it had been a good performance!

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #53 on: 05. March 2023, 23:20:30 PM »
Chapter 29 - Pictures

It's Sunday morning.

Last night, they all got back to the apartments within about 30 minutes of each other. They were all quite tired (the girls I mean, it had been a busy Saturday for them!), and after chatting for a bit, they all went to bed, leaving Callum and Paige who sat together chatting for a while.

Carol slept amazingly well, and got up a bit earlier than the others. After getting dressed, she went through to the Jelly Fish apartment, where she found Taeyang sketching again: Taeyang seemed to be a bit of an early starter, compared to the other 3 girls. After getting a coffee, Carol went over to see what Taeyang was drawing: it was a landscape.

"Hey, done any other sketches recently?" asked Carol.

"Yeah, I did a couple while we watched you play yesterday..." replied Taeyang. She closed the sketch pad, then re-opened it at an earlier page.

"Hey, that's Jenny, at the piano, it's really good!" said Carol taking a look. Taeyang went to the next page. "Ah, Paige on the drums. I like the sweat! Very realistic!"

"Yeah, that was about halfway through your set. Hey, can I do one of you?"

"Sure, what do you want me to do?"

"Just sit down there, and drink your coffee!"

"Oh, that's easy, I'm well practised at coffee drinking!" said Carol, sitting down. "So, what you going to do with all these drawings?"

"Just keep them, I guess..."

"You could do something good with them..."

"What do you mean?"

"Sign them, add a letter of authenticity, and sell them for a charity. It would give Jelly Fish some VERY good PR!"

"You think so?"

"Look, Taeyang, you guys have just made number 1, you're big now, like us. Fans and collectors will pay stupid amounts for anything of yours. Now make them one-offs, created by a band member... see where I'm going? We're talking substantial amounts."

"What about FY, won't they mind?"

"Ah yes, I forgot: you signed a contract that lets them own your souls as well as your first-born, didn't you!" replied Carol, starting to giggle, revealing the wire of her retainers. "Ok, question: did they teach you how to draw?"

"No, I just found I could do it... so I guess I'm self-taught."

"So they're going find it hard to own something you did in your own time, aren't they? Besides, you're not selling it for you, it's all for a worth cause. And in any case, any PR they get will be huge - the kind of good PR that's almost impossible to buy. Let me give you an example: Jenny used to have long hair, and had it cut. She donated her hair to a charity that does wigs for kids with hair-loss. She's now an ambassador for them. Both we and the charity got so much positive feedback out of that. We actually got a couple of the kids who had wigs to join us on-stage at one of our gigs, and promoted the charity, and had the stage crew collecting money in buckets as the fans all left. It was a win-win all round!"

"Hey, look at me for a moment, and smile..." asked Taeyang, "just want to work out exactly how that wire goes across your teeth...". Carol turned, and smiled widely, letting her see the wires of her retainer that hugged her teeth.

"Oh, it looks a bit more complicated than a normal retainer - is it some sort of special appliance?"

"No, it's pretty much just a retainer, but with a couple of extra springs to help pull this tooth in a bit." said Carol, pointing. "It started to move a bit, and it seems to be working to pull it back into line again."

"Tell you what, Yun Hee is really looking forward to get her braces, she's very grateful for what you and Jenny did."

"Another example of using our 'powers' for good. Hey, Taeyang, I don't think you're the sort to do it, but don't let the fame take you over."

"What do you mean?"

"There's some bands out there, when they get really big, well, they seem to forget WHY they started playing music. They let record companies and managers turn them into a 'money machine'. They go on long tours that they don't really enjoy. That sort of stuff. Take Jenny for example, she struggles on her own when we're out on tour. She'd be struggling here too, but luckily Ben is really good for her, allowing her to cope!"

"What is it that she struggles with?"

"The same as the rest of us, just seems to have more problems with it: having to live out of a suitcase. Different beds in different hotels almost every night. Problems sleeping. That's why, when FY offered us the apartment, it was a no-brainer choice for us all! But we're lucky, with Jenny's parents being our managers, they'll not push us that hard. I guess what I'm saying is don't be scared to say 'no' if you really don't want to do something. Whilst the money is nice, remember WHY you wanted to become an idol in the first place!"

Taeyang smiled: like her band-mates, she appreciated the free 'coaching' that the CJDL girls were willing to give them. "Want to take a look?" Taeyang passed her sketch pad over to Carol.

"Yeah nice, you're good at this!" replied Carol. "Sign it, and let a charity make some money! You should do a set of all four of us, then do the same for yourselves, sell them as a set of eight...."

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #54 on: 13. March 2023, 01:05:00 AM »
Chapter 30 - Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Brian and Lisa had been invited to Hon Su's house for lunch on the Sunday, leaving the rest of the team free to do what they wanted: someone would be coming in later to make some sort of evening meal, but they would need to go out somewhere and get themselves some lunch.

"I'm thinking that, if we all went out as a big group, we'd probably have big fan issues, so how about we split up into 3 or 4 smaller groups: one of us with some of you guys." suggested Yun Hee.

"I'm up for that!" said Dianne. "How about one of you come with me and Mike, another one of you with Jenny and Ben, and something similar for the rest of you?"

"Just for a change, Paige, would you like to pair with me?" asked Carol.

"Yeah, why not, that would be nice. So I guess that means Linda will be with Callum?"

"Ok with me," replied Linda, "you ok with that, Callum?"

"Sure! So who's going to team up with us then?"

"Jenny, would you mind if I joined you?" asked Yun Hee, "I'd like to ask you about getting braces, if that's ok?"

"Yeah, that's ok with us!" replied Jenny, knowing full well that Ben would also thoroughly enjoy talking about braces!

Soon after, Carol and Paige left with Taeyang: where she had decided to take them was maybe 10 or 15 minutes walk, but it was so nice to actually be able to get out and actually walk. It also let Paige and Carol 'get a feel' for what Seoul was like. They ended up at a slightly smaller shopping mall, but it had several places they could eat, as well as a few other shops they had a look at.

After wandering around, and buying some of the rather strange-looking Korean sweets, they went for lunch, at a very typical Korean style of restaurant. It was busy, but not full, and they managed to get a table.

"Ok, so no worms today!" said Carol. "Or anything like octopus or squid either....".

"Oh, you are so boring at times, Carol" replied Taeyang with a big smile. Around them were lots of small family groups, as well as a bigger group that looked like they were celebrating a birthday or similar, and no one seemed to be paying any attention to them, which the three of them were very happy with.

"Beer or coffee?" asked Taeyang.

"Uh, beer please!" replied Paige. "Hey, I always thought tea was a popular drink in Asia, but all I have seen here so far, apart from beer, is coffee. Don't you guys do tea?"

"You're right, we're all about coffee, aren't we, no idea why though." Taeyang ordered for them, and the food arrived soon after.

Carol was just about to start eating, when Paige said "Hey, Carol, aren't you forgetting something?"

"What?" replied Carol.

"Well, you normally take out your braces when you eat..."

"Ah, yes, good point. How COULD I forget that?". Carol got her retainer box out of her bag, then removed her retainers - sucking the drool off them as she did so - then putting them in the retainer box, and slipping it back into her bag. "Shows how used to it I've got!"

It was actually a pleasant change for them all to be in such a small group: the last few days, there were a dozen or more of them eating together, so today, with just the three of them, they could actually have a nice simple conversation.

"Hey, after lunch, can I draw you?" Taeyang asked Paige.

"Yeah, sure, of course you can!"

"I'm trying to persuade Taeyang to draw all of us, and donate the sketches as a set to a charity - I'm sure it would make them a load of money, and it would be great PR for jelly Fish too!" said Carol.

"Oh, yeah, great idea! You really should do that, Taeyang!"

Over lunch they chatted about Korean food, shopping in Seoul, and stuff like that.

"Hey, there's that big tower up on that big hill, can you go up on it to look out?" asked Paige.

"That's the N Seoul Tower. Yeah, you can, and there's a couple of there restaurants too. You can see all over Seoul from up there."

"In that case, we gotta go sometime!"

"We were thinking of maybe taking you there this week sometime, have a meal, make it an evening out. Fancy going up on the cable car?"

"There's a cable car? Oh, yeah, sounds like fun!" said Carol. "So, what we doing after lunch? It would be nice to kinda go somewhere..."

"Fancy trying out our busses? We could maybe go down to one of the parks by the river, and have a bit of a walk? And I could do a bit of drawing."

One of the joys of having split up into small groups was that it was a lot less likely that they would be recognised out in public: people would most likely be looking for four girls together, and and expecting them to be dressed up a bit more than they were now. So going out in public wasn't too much of a worry for Taeyang. As for Carol, who would recognise her, here in Seoul?

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #55 on: 17. March 2023, 21:00:46 PM »
Chapter 31 - Let's take the bus to the park...

It wasn't long before the bus arrived that would take them to the park by the river. As they walked towards the back of the bus, a voice said "No way! Carol bloomin' Danvers, is that really you?"

Carol turned to face the person who had just spoken, a very Korean face, but with excellent English. "You're kidding me? Nabi? What on EARTH are you doing here?"

"Oh, I'm living back in Seoul for a bit," replied Nabi, "heck, what's the chance, eh? I mean, I KNEW you were in Seoul, I saw you at the Park Festival yesterday, but meeting you on the bus?"

"You two know each other?" asked Paige.

"Yeah, she was in the same year as me at Croydon College!"

"Yeah, everyone knew you three, you were going to be the ones to make it big out in the world of music... and you did!"

"I guess we did, but it did take a bit longer than we hoped. So you saw us yesterday?"

"Yeah, I went with a friend, I'm on my way back from her place to my place, I stayed over. It was a great day, and I loved your set, I'm a big supporter - for obvious reasons! Tell you what though, you didn't half tease us with Jelly Fish at the end of your set! We assumed that Jelly Fish would come out as soon as you started playing your encore, but no, you made us wait.... and then when they DO come out, they're all on rollerskates! Absolutely amazing!"

"And how were Jelly Fish? We had to go on TV, so didn't really see them..."

"Oh, they were great too!"

"Well, this here is Taeyang, she's one of the girls in Jelly Fish... And by the smile on her face, I'm thinking she's happy with your comment there!"

"Oh cool, nice to meet you, Taeyang.." and they spoke briefly in Korean.

"Hey, you in a rush to get home?"

"Not especially, why?"

"Well, we're off to a park by the river, just to chill out a bit, and Taeyang wants to draw a sketch of Paige here. Paige just finished at Croydon College last year, and she works with us now."

"You know, it would be nice to catch up with you. So which swanky hotel are you guys staying  at then?"

"We're not, we're in the apartment next door to the one that the Jelly Fish girls live in. You'd be very welcome to come back and say 'hi' to everyone, I'd guarantee they'd love to see you too!"

"Hmm, let me think a moment. Go back home all alone, or join two top girl bands back at their place. Hard decision!" said Nabi.

"Hey, we're almost there..." said Taeyang.

At the park, while Taeyang sketched Paige, Nabi and Carol had a chat. Nabi had come over to the UK with her parents when she was about eight, and had done most of her schooling in England. After college, she got an internship at a merchant bank in London and had done well, and about six months ago, was offered a two year posting in Seoul, her home town. "It was a no-brainer, coming back here for a couple of years. I've been able to meet up with a load of extended family, and being that I'm from here, I seem to fit it really well. Although I do miss London a bit... but wow, bumping into YOU, that was the last thing I expected! So, you're CJDL now... who's the fourth girl, the 'L'?"

"That's Linda, she was actually in the year below us, also did music. I wonder if you'll recognise each other?"

Nabi and Carol had most of ten years of catching up to do. Carol told her what the band had been upto since college, and Nabi explained what she'd been up to.

Paige got up, and went over to Taeyang, who by now had finished her sketch. When she saw the sketch, she smiled. "Hey, guys, take a look, it's nice...".

"Wow, that's pretty good!" said Nabi, "If you ever get fed up with being an idol, then you could always just do that! Something you learnt at school?"

"No, just something I found I could do, and something that I find relaxing. I sometimes sketch when I'm waiting for us to perform, it take my mind of getting stressed!"

They all went for a bit of a walk through the park and along the river. While they did so, Paige called up Callum. "Hey, Callum, you guys back at the apartment yet?"

"Yeah..." he replied.

"In that case, can you get the two cameras ready for when we get back. Point one at the door, the other at Jenny, Dianne and Linda. I'll let you know when we get back..."

"Oh, what's going on?"

"We were on a bus, and Carol bumped into someone they all knew at Croydon College, so it's gonna be interesting to see them react when she comes back with us. And definitely worth filming!"

"Yeah, like it, no probs... see you later on then..."

"Don't say anything to them, just make up some bullshit, like you normally do! See you later!"

Paige explained to Carol what she'd asked Callum to do. "Yes, it's gonna be priceless seeing how they react. Shame you didn't catch me earlier on when I first saw her!"

"That would have been amazing, but its too late now. I was thinking that maybe you and I could also have our phones videoing when we get back...."

"Sure, good idea..."

They all sat down at the edge of the river and just sat there looking around for a while: whilst there was a little bit of traffic noise in the background, it was otherwise quite peaceful.

"We all ready to go home yet? If so, I'll get us a taxi..." suggested Taeyang.

"Yeah, I think I've seen enough of this park and this river! It's nice and relaxing, but I want to see how the others react when we get back!"

Taeyang used a local Seoul Taxi app: a taxi arrived within minutes, and took them all back to the apartment. On the way back, Paige texted Callum, so he had the cameras running.

"Ok, Taeyang you go in first followed by Carol," said Paige, as they went up in the lift, "I'll wait behind you all, using my phone to video you.... ".

Finally they were outside the Jelly Fish apartment. Taeyang opened the door, went in, closely followed by Carol. Carol could see that, apart from Jenny's parents, they were the last to return.

"You'll NEVER guess who we bumped into this afternoon!" said Carol, looking at Jenny and Dianne. Carol stood aside, letting Nabi come in. There were a couple of very surprised girls.

"Nabi?" said Dianne, "What the fuck are you doing here?"

"Nabi?" added Jenny, "No way! OMG, it's actually so good to see you again, it's been YEARS! So, yeah, what ARE you doing here in Seoul?"

Nabi had a big smile on her face too: yes, they hadn't seen each other since they all finished at Croyden College, so about 6 or 7 years ago. "Well, I'm actually living here now..."

"What? I though you'd gone to work at a bank?"

"Yeah, I did, and six months ago they needed someone to work in Korea, and they knew I was from Seoul, so asked if I was interested in working here for a couple of years! Wow, it's so good to see you guys again!"

Jenny and Paige by now had flung their arms around their long lost friend....

"Hey, Callum, you're all grown up now! It's good to see you too.... so who is everyone else then?" asked Nabi.

"Well, this is Linda, our most recent recruit to CJDL, then that's Ben, Jenny's fiance, and that's Mike, who's Dianne's fella. Then we have Min Jee, Ahnjong and Yun Hee... along with Taeyang they are Jelly Fish. I should explain for the rest of you that we three were at college with Nabi."

"Hey, guys, it's great to meet you. Yeah, we had a bit of fun back then, didn't we? Carol's been telling me what happened to 'Just Three Girls'... Oh, and before you ask, yes, I did see both all of you perform at the Park Festival yesterday - the whole day was amazing."

Paige went over to Callum. "Good call there, Paige, the look on their faces when they saw Nabi was priceless!"

"Yeah, shame I didn't have a camera running when Carol saw her on the bus, that was even better!"

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #56 on: 21. March 2023, 22:57:11 PM »
Chapter 32 - A live stream

Late afternoon they were all in the Jelly Fish apartment, sitting around and chatting, when Brian, Lisa and Hon Su arrived.

"Hey there, it's nice to see so many smiles from you all!" said Brian.

"Hey Dad! Don't be so negative, we smile!" replied Jenny.

"Didn't see so many smiles yesterday..."

"Yeah, ok, well it was a bit stressful, we always get a bit stressed when we're waiting to perform, and yesterday doubly so," added Jenny. "Anyway, do you remember Nabi?"

"Oh, yes, hello Nabi..." replied Lisa after a few moments, turning to face her. "You were at college with Jenny and the girls, weren't you?"

Nabi explain what she was doing in Seoul, and how she had met Carol earlier.

"So, how was lunch?" Callum asked his parents.

"Oh, we had a lovely time with Hon Su, and his wife and their two lovely kids. And some lovely food too. But what did you all get up to?"

"Oh, we all split up, and went shopping and had lunch in small groups," explained Dianne.

"Yeah, after lunch, Taeyang, Paige and I were on the way to the park by the river, and that's when I bumped into Nabi, and invited her back." added Carol.

By now, someone had come in and was setting out some simple cold food and cakes for their tea: the place got a bit crowded with 15 of them there, but it was fun.

"Hey, Nabi, you want to join us in a live-stream?" suggests Jenny after they had all eaten.

"You kidding me? Of course I will! That would be so cool!" she replied.

Jenny had been teasing their fans back in England that they would probably do a live stream on the Sunday, either lunchtime or early afternoon. So, it's about 8pm in Seoul, and thus about 1pm in England... Callum and Paige got the camera and microphone out, and connected up to the laptop, and checked it all out, while Jenny put out a message, telling everyone to expect the stream to start soon.

"Ok, you guys ready?" asked Callum, maybe 10 minutes later.

"Yeah, let's do this!" shouted Jenny.

"Ok, we're streaming!"

"Hey there everyone, this is Jenny from CJDL, reporting live to you from Seoul! Currently we're all crammed into in Jelly Fish's apartment. Hey, we got any viewers yet?" Jenny asked Callum.

"Yeah, plenty..." he replied.

"Oh, good! So, let me introduce everyone....". Jenny started with the members of CJDL, introducing Ben and Mike. Then she introduced her mum and dad, then Callum and Paige. "So, these four girls are the main reason we're out here...", and she introduced the 4 Jelly Fish girls.

"There's one more person we need to introduce, and I'm going to get Carol to explain why she's here..."

"So," started Carol, "at lunchtime today, we split up into four small groups, and went off for lunch. Taeyang, Paige and I went and had a lovely traditional Korean lunch, and decided it would be nice to go and see the river, so we got onto a bus to get to the park by the river, and as I was walking down the bus, I bumped into someone that we were all at college with... meet Nabi! I mean, who'd expect that I'd bump in to her almost half way around the world?!"

"Hi everyone" said Nabi, waving. "Yeah, the last time I saw these girls was two or three years ago, back in England, but I'm now working here in Seoul, and when I saw Carol, well, I don't know who was more surprised. But haven't they all done so well? Tell you what, I saw both CJDL and Jelly Fish at the Park Festival yesterday: both of them were absolutely awesome! The best bit was when these guys were doing their encore, and the four girls from Jelly Fish came on stage to join them: in rollerskates! Guys, my respect!"

"So yeah, as you know, we came over last week, primarily to go on TV with Jelly Fish, to sing 'Sexy Yellow Rollerskates' with them, then we did a 30 minute set yesterday at an open-air festival. And today we've been chilling out a bit, before we start 2 weeks of dance classes!" said Jenny.

"They are asking online where we are..." said Callum.

"Oh, yeah, OK," said Linda. "I'm sure you know we're staying in the apartment next door to Jelly Fish, well, this is their place. It's a bit of a squeeze with 15 of us, but it's a nice place, much nicer than staying in a hotel, plus we get to spend loads of time with these great girls! Hey, let's try and show you you the place...". Paige picked up the camera, slightly limited by the cable, and looked around the place as Linda described it. "And before you ask, NO, we're not going into ANYONE's bedroom!!!"

They spent a bit just generally chatting about all sorts of things. As they chatted, Carol went over to see what people were putting in the chat.

"Ok, let's see if I can answer some of your questions. 'Have you been writing anything new' and 'Has being there inspired you to write anything yet?'. Well, Jenny was inspired with an amazing worship song on the flight here, something we're still trying to get to grips with. I've certainly have a few ideas already, but it's been too busy this last week to do anything, but maybe the next couple of weeks. Anyone else has inspiration?"

"It kinda hard NOT to be," said Dianne, "things here are so different, yet at the same time, a lot is similar. Take the food for example, it's so different from what we eat in England, but it's really nice to get to try it out. Maybe we should write a food song?"

In the background, Ahnjong started singing "I love Kimchi, Kimchi and Bimibap too....", causing several giggles from the others.

"What I want to know..." asked Linda, "is, when I've watched Korean programs on Notflix, why is there so much food and eating going on?"

"Oh, we Koreans just like our food!" replied Yun Hee. "Especially the Kimchi!"

"But, you asked about inspiration: I've got a couple of ideas in my head that I need to do something with, so I guess I need to see who else fancies working with me on them..." added Linda.

"They want you to sing something!" said Callum.

"They want us to SING?" said Dianne. "Hmmm, anyone got any suggestions? I mean, if ONLY there was a song that we all KNEW..... Tell you what, give us a minute or to to get some guitars and so on, and I'm sure we can all sing you 'Rollerskates'!"

A couple of people went and got the three acoustic guitars that were in the flat, and they also found a tambourine and a 'shaker', then all 8 of the girls got in front of the camera, and sang an acoustic version of 'Sexy Yellow Rollerskates', with many of the others there joining in for the choruses. Needless to say, they got a lot of positive feedback.

"Hey, would you like us to play another one of our songs?" asked Min Jee. With everyone saying 'yes' they played a couple of their other songs. While they did that, Carol once again checked the chat.

"So, someone here is asking about my braces.... Yes, Jenny isn't the only one with braces right now, although mine are just retainers." She bent down closer to the camera, and smiled, letting everyone see the thick wire of the retainer across her teeth, plus the extra bits of wire over her canine. "I was having a problem with that tooth there..." (she pointed at the tooth) "It had moved a tiny bit, and I managed to actually break my my old retainers when I put them in, so I got an updated pair of retainers, to hold everything else in place but also pull that tooth back into line. And it seems to have done it's job pretty quickly, but I guess I now need to keep wearing them, so that it settles into place, and stays there long term. Yes, I had a lisp to start with, but I don't think I have a problem now. Yeah, I took it out when I sang on stage yesterday, but I sang with it in just now. Hey, Jenny, wanna give an update on your braces to our viewers?"

Paige panned then zoomed the camera in on Jenny, and the microphone got passed over.

"Yeah, my braces are doing well. As you know, I started off with headgear and an expander, but the expander got removed ages ago, and I only wear the headgear for fun, like I have a couple of times on stage." Jenny smiled, showing her metal smile. "So, just the metal brackets now... you know, I do like the look, so I'm not really in a rush to get them off, but my teeth are pretty much where they need to be, so yeah, it's going ok!". Of course, when she said 'I do like the look', whilst she did enjoy flaunting her braces, it was more Ben that enjoyed her braces!

They answered a few more questions: some were about Jelly Fish, but most were about CJDL.

"Ah, someone is asking about who's behind the camera! Go on Paige, introduce yourself..." said Callum.

"Hi, I'm Paige, you've seen me online quite a bit, I do a lot of posts for the group on social media, but this is actually my first video stream I've been been on... So, maybe I shouldn't be telling everyone this, but Callum and I have been videoing the girls a load since we've been here, and we're hoping we can persuade someone to use the footage to make some sort of 'CJDL do Korea' video. Next week the girls are going to be doing some dance classes, that's going to be fun to record!"

With that last news, the chat exploded... people were definitely hoping there would be a program made.

"Ok, I think we've been streaming long enough" said Jenny, "So how about we end with us singing a song... I'm thinking we should do one of our new ones, something you won't have heard yet... so an exclusive preview for you all".

After singing the song, they all waved, and Callum ended the stream.

"You know," said Yun Hee, "we've never thought of doing a live stream like that, maybe we should?"

"You should... It's kinda like meeting your fans, but a lot easier - and safer - and they love it. I think I've probably done a load more live streaming than these guys, but I think we all enjoy it!"

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #57 on: 23. March 2023, 20:44:13 PM »
Chapter 33 - Acapella

Nabi left soon after they finished the streaming, and everyone just chatted for a while.

"Hey, anyone want spend a bit of time trying our new song again?" suggested Jenny.

"Yeah, why not. Maybe we should go next door, so we don't annoy everyone?" replied Carol.

Having gone back to their own apartment, they found their music sheets, then spent a minute or two warming up their voices.

"Ready?" asked Jenny. Everyone nodded, and Jenny started to sing. About three lines in, Linda made a mistake, but they carried on, and by the end of the song, they had all screwed up at least once. They took a quick break, then tried again: still just as bad: about the same number of mistakes, just in different places. Over the next hour, they must have tried singing the song a dozen times, and still hadn't managed to sing it without making a mistake.

"What's wrong with us tonight? asked Jenny, "we should be able to do this! Yes, it's hard, but so is some of the other stuff we do!" They sat down and took a few minutes break.

"Come and stand in a circle," said Linda, "then join hands." They all held hands. "now close your eyes". The four of them were standing silently, in a circle, holding hands, with their eyes closed. "Dear God, you've given Jenny an amazing song for us to sing, and we'd really like to sing it for you, but we seem to be having a few problems. I'm pretty sure that we are capable of singing it, so maybe we just need to ask for your help. Please help us as we have another go at it: we really want to sing this for you... Amen!"

"Amen" echoed the other three. They stood there quietly for a bit longer.

"Nicely said Linda!" said Dianne, "we ready to try again?".

This time they managed to sing the song through without anything going wrong: it sounded pretty amazing.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #58 on: 23. March 2023, 20:48:46 PM »
Chapter 34 - Tom

They were all in Jelly Fish's apartment, chatting and laughing, having had their dinner. Carol looked at her phone yet again: she had been messaging Tom since lunchtime, but hadn't had a response, and was feeling a bit pissed off. Ok, yeah, they weren't actually dating, but simple common courtesy said he should have replied.

The doorbell rang, and Taeyang got up and went to the door, and opened it.

"Carol, it's someone for you...."

Carol got up, and went to the door.

"Tom, what the hell are YOU doing here?" asked Carol excitedly.

"I've been missing you, so I decided to jump on a plane and surprise you! I would have told you, but that would have rather spoiled the surprise!"

"I was wondering why you weren't answering my messages.... come on, let go into our apartment, it will be a bit quieter there...". Carol quietly closed the door behind her, took Tom's hand, and led him next door. With the door closed, they were now alone, and very unlikely to be disturbed.

"Tom, I've missed you so much. Missed talking to you, sharing cups of coffee...." said Carol, as she gently put her arms around him. She did think for a moment that maybe she was being a bit presumptive in doing that, but heck, if Tom had no feelings for her, why had he just jumped on a plane and flown for 12 hours to get to Korea?

Tom reciprocated, gently putting his arms around Carol, who was looking at him. Tom smiled, letting Carol see his lovely teeth, and more importantly, those lovely metal braces that he had on his teeth. She had no idea why, but a pleasant shiver went down her spine: Tom's braces made her feel good.

Of course, Carol and Tom had never actually kissed, and Carol so wanted to put her lips to his. More specifically, she wanted to run her tongue over his braces. But she was worried that, if she made the first move, Tom might think she was a bit 'forward', but after thinking about it for maybe as much as 1.5 seconds, she leaned towards Tom. Luckily, Tom was having similar thoughts, and he leaned towards Carol: their lips met.

Carol wasn't quite sure how it affected Tom, but she felt as if she was in the middle of a fireworks party! It had been a long time since she had kissed a guy, and this felt good. VERY good! Their lips parted briefly, but touched again. And again. And again. This time their lips stayed together, and then she felt a tongue gently poking between her lips, so she let her tongue meet it: their two tongues danced together for a while, then Tom pulled his tongue back, letting Carol's tongue into his mouth, letting it finally touch the metal on his teeth. To Carol, his braces felt like they were full of electricity, and as she touched them, she was sure she could feel sparks: the feeling was simply amazing.

Carol slowly ran her tongue along his top braces, getting about as far as his canines, then came back along the bottom. Carol had wondered what it would be like to kiss Tom with his braces, and now she knew: it was definitely good.

Carol pulled her tongue back into her mouth: she wanted Tom to feel the wire across her front teeth, and the plastic of the plates inside her own mouth, and Tom's tongue obliged. Whilst she couldn't actually feel his tongue touch her plate, she could tell he was doing so, and again, it felt really good. Tom seemed to be enjoying it as much as she was.

Their kiss finally ended. "Come into the bedroom, in case someone comes in here..." suggested Carol. With the bedroom door closed, she motioned to Tom to lie with her on the bed. Once again they cuddled, and once again they started kissing. And again, it felt very good.

Then Carol felt someone touching her shoulder, but she ignored it, assuming it was somehow Tom. Then there was another touch, this time with a bit of a shake.

"Carol...." said a voice. "Carol....". Carol turned around, and realised that Linda had somehow crept into their shared room without her realising it. "You ok there?" Linda asked. Carol turned back to kiss Tom again, but he wasn't there, he had disappeared. Instead, Carol realised that she was tightly hugging - and had probably just been kissing - her pillow.

"I wasn't sure if you were having a good dream or a bad dream" said Linda, "so thought maybe I'd better wake you."

Offline xxxforce

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #59 on: 24. March 2023, 13:43:54 PM »
NiceOne  ;D But they should definitely come together  ;)

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #60 on: 25. March 2023, 20:27:36 PM »
Chapter 35 - Dancing 101

CJDL are now starting their second week in Korea. They knew that there was the possibility of another TV appearance, but the the next two weeks were going to be a bit different for them, as they would be learning to dance properly. Whilst they had in teh past had a choreography tutor, to help them prepare some specific (and usually fairly simple) routines for when they went on tour, they had never done any sort of 'basic dance' training, so that's what the had specifically asked to be shown in the next two weeks.

They had gone to bed soon after the live stream and the singing practice the previous night, so were able to get up in plenty of time, and had arrived at the 'school' a bit before 8:00 (which is when the day starts). Apart from Paige and callum, who were with them to film what happened, they were alone. For teh first time since arriving in Korea, the 4 Korean girls weren't with them, to help explain things, and to translate if needed.

Luckily, someone was waiting for them at the school, and he spoke really good English. He explained that they had managed to adjust their normal class schedules, and they would therefore be joining a small class of other students, amost all of whom could speak at least some English. He gave them a timetable, but explained that they had asked a couple of the students to act as 'chaperones' for them.

"So, would you like to meet you teacher and class-mates?" he asked. He led them to the room where the other students and teacher were already talking: he knocked on the door and led them in.

"Hello and welcome, I'm Hajoon, perhaps you can intoduce yourselves to us all?"

Jenny looked at Carol, as if to say 'Heck, we might as well...', So carol started: "Hi everyone, I'm Carol..." Jenny continued: "I'm Jenny", "I'm Dianne", "and I'm Linda... and we are CJDL!" The students all applauded and cheered: they knew exactly who they were, in fact most of them had seen their set on Saturday.

"And this is my brother Callum, and Paige, who works with the band," explained Jenny. "They are going to film us some of the time, for a possible documentary about our trip to Korea: if anyone doesn't want to be in the video, please tell Callum or Paige, and they'll make sure you are not shown."

"We were just discussing how training to be a singer in England is very different to how we do things here.." said Hajoon.

"Oh, yes, very different," replied Carol.

"Maybe you could explain how you trained to get to become a pop group? I think we'll all find it quite interesting."

Carol explained how, up until they were 16, music was just one of many subjects they did at school, although most of them played music at home to. "When we were sixteen, we went to a 'sixth form college', where we could specialise in what subjects we wanted to study: we all did some form of music, I know Jenny also did 'music tech', but that's where Jenny, Dianne and I met. Linda was actually in the year below us, she did music too, but she only joined the band a few months ago."

"So when you say music... just music? No dancing or performing?"

"Some students specifically studied dance, and we did a couple of very simple 'beginners dance' classes, but otherwise no. After that, we spent a year at a 'music school', where we learned more of the practical stuff about being a pop band."

"And when you left, they helped you record your first song, and get a recording contract and that sort of thing?"

"No. We recorded a couple of demos in that year at Music School."

"So how did you get to 'debut', and get a record deal and all of that?"

"With difficulty, and with help from our parents. It wasn't easy. We all worked part-time jobs for a while. Then we were lucky, and got a 'residency' for 3 months. Then we - well Jenny's dad actually, he was, and still is, our manager - got us a record deal."

"It sounds quite different from here in Korea then?"

"It is. The girls in Jelly Fish explained to us how things work over here, and from our perspective, it seems a lot more 'controlled', but is seems like it's a much more 'complete' system. You teach the students how to sing, how to dance, how to sing and dance at the same time, how to perform. And several years later, you produce a load of 'idols'. And that is good, if that's what you want to be..."

"Is that what YOU wanted to be?" asked Hajoon.

"I'm not sure. But it's certainly not what we are now. I know that K-pop Idols are very popular here, but in Europe, the music is very different. I'm not saying that what you guys are doing is at all bad, it's just not what we in England are used to. It's just different, and from what Taeyang told me, your system works very well for people like her!"

"So, you asked to do some basic dance training.. and from what you just said, I can understand why you've asked for that. Although, I saw you all on TV last week with Jelly Fish, and you did pretty ok"

"That was two days of solid training for one very simple bit of dancing. And as you said, it was 'ok'. Not 'good' or  'great', but 'ok'.  We know we can't expect a lot in 2 weeks, but we'll take whatever you can teach us! If you can teach us some of the basics, then we can build on that when we get back home."

Hajoon smiled. "Sounds like you all have a good positive attitude, and if you're willing to work hard - and you're all professionals, so I think you'll be willing to work hard - I'm sure we can teach you all something helpful. So, welcome to our school!"

After talking for a bit, they started working with the other students on some of the basics they needed to know, and it was clear that their enthusiasm to learn was inspiring the Korean students to maybe work harder than they might otherwise have done.

During a short rest break, Hajoon came over to them. "is this the sort of thing you weere hoping for?"

"Absolutely!" replied Carol.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #61 on: 28. March 2023, 01:40:15 AM »
Chapter 36 - We do it for the fans

So, they had all spent a large part of the morning working fairly hard in their dance class, had just had some lunch, and had gone into the large hall. At one end was a stage, set up ready for a band. They all looked at each other... Dianne was the first to move, walking over to the stage, up onto the stage, then sat behind the drum kit. She picked up the drum sticks, and started to drum a gentle beat. Linda was next: she went up, and found the bass guitar: the amp was off, so she turned it on, and started playing a bass line along with Dianne. Next was Carol, who went up and did the same with a normal guitar. Finally Jenny went up, and turned on the keyboard, and the amp it was plugged into. A few people were looking at them, but clearly this sort of thing happened quite a bit.

Paige was also there, and had already picked up her camera and was videoing.

"Rollerskates?" asked Jenny. Everyone nodded. "Ok, one, two, three, four...." said Jenny relatively gently, and the four of them started to play 'Sexy Yellow Rollerskates' - the original CJD version they played at the festival. They were a couple of lines into the song when the PA suddenly came to life: Carol looked to the back, and could see someone up on the balcony giving them the 'thumbs up'. By now, everyone had stopped and was watching: they had all realised exactly who was playing. Not some group that was yet to 'debut', but the popular English group they had heard was visiting them for a couple of weeks, and that many of them had seen at the festival on Saturday! As the song ended, the small crowd in the hall all cheered and applauded. Four smiling faces looked out: yes, this was fun!

"Hi everyone, we're CJDL!" said Jenny. "Did you all enjoy that? We did!!" Another cheer went up.

"You know" said Carol when things had quietened down a bit, "I think this could be a good time to share some of our experience with you guys - would you guys like that?".

"Ok, well first of all - whoever that is that's running the PA up there: thank you!" The four girls bowed to the tech guy in thanks, then took off the guitars, and put everything back where it was before. Then Carol went and sat down at the front of the stage, with the other three joining her.

"So, here's a question for you all: why did we just do what we just did?" asked Carol.

"Because you like showing off?" suggested one person.

"Absolutely NO to THAT! Anyone else?"

"Because you like playing?"

"That's part of it....". There were a few more suggestions.

"So, as we were all growing up, I think we all realised that we had been given a gift. We can all sing. We can all play a load of instruments. Jenny there is really amazing at writing music, and Dianne and I are good with the words. Linda there hasn't been with the band all that long, but she's starting to discover that she's able to write music and words too. We believe that we were given these gifts for a reason, and that's why we honour our God, who gave us these amazing gifts, by using them. So we use our gifts to bring joy to our fans, to people like you. As we were playing a few minutes ago, I could see lots of smiles on your faces. And THAT is why we do it: for the people who are watching us and listening to us. So, try to remember that: you are NOT performing to become rich; you are NOT peforming to make yourself look good.... its for your fans, and without any fans, you simply don't exist... never forget that!" said Carol.

"Yeah, so also remember that when you go out, with your 'band' clothes on: you belong to your fans. Don't ignore them... without them, you'd be absolutely nothing." said Jenny. "Hey, Paige, come over here a moment!". Still filming, Paige joined the four girls. "Ok, give me the camera...". Jenny took the camera from Paige - it was something she often did, even when on stage. "So, Paige, tell these guys how you first met me....".

Paige spent a couple of minutes explaining the story of how a small group of them from college had gone to the park, and had met Jenny, and had a great time, discovering along the way that Jenny was an amazingly normal person. She explained how the group of them became Jenny's 'superfans', doing stuff for her. How they would almost 'coach' the other fans into behaving, allowing Jenny - and the others - to meet them when out and about.

"So, how do they all feel after being able to meet us?"

"I think they love it!" she said with a smile.

"So, why are you with us here today?"

"Because I work for you guys?"

"And how did that happen?"

"Well, at one of your last shows in London, you got a load of the kids from college - I guess I should explain that I was at the same college where all four of the girls here went - to join you in singing and dancing, and I was on stage with you, videoing you for the streaming. And when I left college, you asked me to work for you."

"You know, I realise I've never actually asked you: do you enjoy working with us? And if so, why?"

"Yes, it is amazing. Why? I guess it's such fun to see you bringing joy to so many people... to your fans!"

Jenny turned the camera around, and scanned the students. "Never forget your fans, that's our message for today!"

"Absolutely! Hey, want to do something like this again tomorrow?" asked Carol. A cheer went up. As the crown dispersed, an older man came over and introduced himself: he was the 'headmaster'.

"Ladies, it is a pleasure to finally meet you all! I was planning to talk with you about what 'master classes' you can do for us, but that was a GREAT idea, thank you. And by all means, feel free to use the kit on the stage again!

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #62 on: 02. April 2023, 21:23:10 PM »
Chapter 37 - Any new songs?

"So, I got an email from your record company earlier..." said Brian.

"Oh, I guess that's a follow-up from your late-night calls last week?" said Jenny.

"Yes, partly. So, three things. The first one is that they now have sub-master copies of the version of 'roller-skates' you over-dubbed on Friday, plus they've agreed with the TV company here to use footage from the TV show last week as the video. If you have no violent objections, they plan to release it quietly in the UK this week: I don't think they are expecting it to be especially big, but you never can tell. They just feel it would be stupid to ignore an opportunity like this."

The four girls had a very quick discussion. "Ok with us!" said Carol.

"Good. Second thing: they are looking forward to your next single, and they were wondering if you have anything new in the pipeline that you think might be suitable, or if there's a particular track on your last album you feel would make a good single. They're not looking for an immediate answer, but maybe something you guys can chat about?"

"Hey, Linda, you definitely get a say in this one!" said Dianne.

"Yeah, but you did ask me last time, but yeah, I know I wasn't actually a band member at the time." replied Linda.

"And a final one: they were asking, not pushing in any way, how you were getting on with your new material?"

"I don't know about the others," said Dianne, "but I've been getting ideas the last few days, listening to all the Korean stuff around us. I'm hoping I might get some time the next week or two to work on it, along with the others. And that's before I add in the stuff I was doing before we came here. Anyone else getting inspired? Well, apart from Jenny, who I KNOW was inspired when we were up at forty thousand feet!"

"Yeah, that was FAR more import than any CJDL song though!" said Jenny, smiling.

"Ok, I'll let them know that you're all working hard!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #63 on: 09. April 2023, 22:58:28 PM »
Chapter 38 - It's charts day again

Carol, Jenny, Dianne and Linda had spent the Tuesday morning doing more dancing. Rather than simply learning a dance routine - which is the sort of thing they would do with a choreographer when preparing for a tour - they had gone back more to the basics, understanding how to use their bodies, and how best to carry out various dance moves. At college, they had only done a tiny amount of dancing, so they were all very much enjoying being able to do this... and of course, it's part of the reason that Carol had suggested that they do it.

And while they were dancing, Paige and Callum were recording what they were doing. Much of it was a bit boring, but it they could tell that they were quickly getting into the swing of things, and that it would be interesting later on to watch their progress. And as a bonus, they had a couple of bits where the girls had fallen over whilst trying stuff!

Through the morning they had several breaks - dancing is pretty physical, so breaks are essential. Finally it was lunchtime, and like yesterday, they went to the cafeteria to get some food. Whilst they were eating, Jenny's phone rang: it was her dad. He had been called by the radio station, and they wanted to talk to them again on the chart show. Jelly Fish were elsewhere, and had been contacted separately, but they wanted to talk with both Jelly Fish and CJDL, like they had last week.

"I've given them your phone number, so expect a call, similar time to last week."

"So, did they say where Jelly Fish is in the chart?"

"No, but I'm guessing there's an interest since the new joint version of 'Rollerskates' got released on Saturday"

"Oh, yeah, of course....".

Normally having a new song release was a much bigger thing for them: they would have worked on it for ages, been in the studio to record it, then recording a video, then discussing a release date with their record company, then watch it climb the charts. But this time, it was Jelly Fish who had done almost all of that, they had just 'popped in' to a recording studio to add their voices to the existing song: time taken? Under 30 minutes! Yes, they had been on TV - but that was to support Jelly Fish's version of the song - and been at the Park Festival, but that was playing their own music, with Jelly Fish simply 'guest appearing'.

After having some food, they went into the big hall, where they discovered that someone was playing the chart show through the PA system. Suddenly they was a large "ooohhh.." from almost everyone on the hall. As you'd expect, Paige was recording, in case anything interesting happened.

"What's wrong?" Carol asked one of the other students.

"Oh, Jelly Fish has dropped right down to 15! And they're not playing it for some reason."

"That can't be right..." said Carol, "They want to speak to us again this week. Maybe something has happened with the new version.".

"What do you mean?"

"We over-dubbed the Jelly Fish version on Friday evening, so it now has all eight of us singing, and it got released on Saturday."

"Ah, ok..."

Suddenly the audio was faded down, and the guy she had just been talking to called up to the guy running the mixing desk in Korean, and the audio came back on again. "I told him that we needed to keep listening..."

They sat with the other students, listening to the chart show: it was interesting to hear what music was popular in Korea. They had got to number 5 when Jenny's phone rang: it was the radio station, and hearing the show playing in the background, they asked if they could all go somewhere quieter.

"Got to go somewhere quiet, that's the radio station...." said Carol to the guy she had been chatting with. The four girls, along with Paige and Callum, went off to one of the small practice rooms that was empty, and waited with the phone on speaker. Paige had set up the tripod, and was by now filming the four girls.

"Hello... can we just do a sound-check with you all...." asked a voice on the phone.

"Sure thing, say when..."

"We're ready now.."

"In that case, hi, I'm Jenny, and I'll let the others all say something too."

"Hi, this is Carol, I hope I'm ok."

"This is Linda..."

"And I'm Dianne, I'll keep speaking a bit more, so you can make sure the levels are right. How are we sounding?"

"That is perfect, thank you very much. So, the presenter will be speaking live with both you and Jelly Fish at the end of the next record...". The audio went back to the feed of the show, the song ended, and the presenter introduced the next song. A couple of the minutes later a voice came on to say "Please be ready, we'll be with you soon..."

The record ended, and the presenter came on, saying something in Korean, then he spoke English. "So, that was the number two in the chart, and we have a brand new number one...". The four girls looked at each other with huge smiles: if Jelly Fish were down at number 15, and there was a new number one, and they were waiting on the phone, then it could mean only one thing.

"... so what is this new record? Well it is completely unexpected, it was only released on Saturday, but it has sold so well that after only three and a half days, it's gone straight to number one: it's Jelly Fish singing with the English band CJDL, and on the line we have both bands. First of all, Jelly Fish, sorry that your version dropped to number 15, but how do you feel?"

"We were very confused when we heard our version was at number 15, but also knew you wanted to talk with us, so yeah, it's great to continue being at number one, but it's great that it's also with CJDL!"

"CJDL, how do you feel?"

"Well, for Carol, Dianne and me, this is not our first number one. However, Linda only joined the band fairly recently, so this is actually her first number one! I think Linda needs to have a quick scream!".

Linda screamed out, as suggested. "It's absolutely amazing," said Linda, "and my first number one has happened in Korea, how crazy is THAT?"

"Well, congratulations to all eight of you! So lets hear this new version of 'Sexy Yellow Rollerskates.". The music played, then the presenter came back on the phone again. "Thank you all very much for that, especially to you, Linda, I hadn't realised it was your first number one!".

They ended the call, and walked back to the large hall, where they entered to a big round of applause from all the students.


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #64 on: 10. April 2023, 20:08:26 PM »
Chapter 39 - Braces for Yun Hee?

The four girls, Callum and Paige had got back to their apartment after a day of dancing, and were relaxing with a cup of coffee. Brian and Lisa had gone out for the day as tourists with Mike and Ben, and were expected back at some point soon, when Yun Hee came into their apartment.

"Hey, Carol, Jenny, are you free after school tomorrow?" asked Yun Hee. "They've organised an appointment at the orthodontist at 4:30pm, and I was hoping you'd come with me..."

"I'm very happy to come along with you," replied Carol, "how about you, Jenny?"

"Yeah, why not, that's the least we can do for you!"

"Thanks, I really appreciate it: to be honest, I'm a little apprehensive, and knowing you guys have been through having braces, I know that any advice you give me wlll be for personal experience. Actually, I have some questions I'd like to ask, if you don't mind?"

"Ask away..." said Carol.

"So, when I went with you on Sunday, Jenny, we had a bit of a chat about braces, and you said that I should get metal brackets, rather than those invisible aligners... Carol, what's your thoughts?"

"Well, I'm probably not quite as knowledgeable as Jenny about braces, I got 'free' braces when I was a teen. But from what I've heard, whilst the clear aligners seem to be a good solution, you always need to remove them if you want to eat, or even have a drink that's anything more than water... then brush your teeth before you put them back on again - otherwise all the nasties on your teeth are inside the aligners and will mess up your teeth. With metal braces, like Jenny's, and what I had too, then yes, you're supposed to brush your teeth after eating, but to be honest, it's probably only a bit worse than when you don't have braces, and eat something but don't brush. And you can drink what you like. But that side of it's really only half the story for you."

"What do you mean?" asked Yun Hee.

"Well, the way I understand it, part the reason Jenny got the braces she has - and she could have had much smaller metal brackets - was that she wanted to make a statement..." Carol looked over at Jenny."

"Yeah, she's right! I decided that, if was going to have braces, I wanted there to be no doubt that I had them. Come on, I know you hardly know me, but you know how I love a bit of media and fan attention. From what I've learnt since, clear aligners would have been a right pain in the butt, and hardly anyone would have seen them. And as I said on Sunday, after a couple of weeks they didn't really hurt my cheeks any more."

"Look," continued Carol, "You'll get a LOAD more interest from everyone, and that is ALWAYS good for people like us, you can never have too much publicity! Jenny's right about the discomfort: after a few weeks you almost forget you have them. There is, of course, one big downside to metal - or ceramic - brackets, and that's that it does take longer to brush your teeth."

"Get a water pic!" suggested Jenny, "Best think I did. Plus loads of those tiny flossing brush things. Hang on....." Jenny popped into her bathroom. "this is the water pic, sprays water on your teeth, and more importantly between them. And these things are so easy to use..." she passed Yun Hee  pack of the tiny brushes.

"Ah, yes, I've seen these - they really help do they?"


"I wish I'd had those when I had braces, I don't ever remember seeing them. I had to use floss, that was a right pain! I bet those are LOADS better!" commented Carol.

"Oh, they are!" said Jenny. "So, have we persuaded you that you need to get metal brackets then? The ortho will assume that you'll want them to be as invisible as possible, so I have no doubt that top of his list will be aligners, followed by ceramic braces, so you'll need to be firm.... but we'll both be there for you!"

"Yes, I've actually been thinking about it a bit, and yes, I'd like to try and be like you, and be bold about them!"

"Of course, unless you also also get a headgear, you'll never QUITE be as bold as I was!" said Jenny, with a massive smile!

"Hey, did you ever show her any of the videos of you onstage with headgear?"

"No, I didn't. So, Yun Hee, not only did I have headgear, and wear it out in public, I even wore it on stage. The first time I wasn't even performing as CJDL, I was 'guesting' with 'Three Play', that's the band that Mike's with. You should ask him about it when he gets back!"

"I was in the audience with Ben and Dianne, it complemented the rest of the costume very nicely! Hey, Callum, got a moment?"

"Sure, what do you want?"

"You able to find the vid of Jenny at that Three Play gig, the one where she came on in the pink dress and braces?"

"Sure, give me a moment.... " Callum smiled as he went and got his laptop, then spent a minute or two searching. "This one?" he asked, and played the video that someone in the audience had taken.

"Oh, yeah, wow! I see what you mean! I bet they weren't expecting that!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #65 on: 13. April 2023, 20:19:08 PM »
Chapter 40 - Radio Croydon

The others soon arrived back, and they all ate dinner together at the apartment. The person who cooked for them was actually quite good, and they all agreed that, whilst it ws nice to go out for a meal, it perhaps wasn't the healthiest way to eat, so eating 'at home' was a good option.

"Tell you what, we really must go out and eat at one of those street places, in a tent!" said Carol.

"Yes, I think we might be arranging that later this week" replied Ahnjong.

"Oh, excellent!"

A bit after dinner, Carol called Tom during his show, and they had a relatively quick chat off air about what she and the others were up to. They also agreed to do something more substantial, with all the other girls, the following week, their last week in Korea, but decided that they would have a quick chat now.

"So, the time's coming up to half past one here in Croydon, which I'm thinking means it's about half past eight in the evening over in Seoul... and that's where Carol Danvers, and the other members of CJDL are right now. Hello there, Carol!"

"Hi Tom, and a big 'hello' to all the Radio Croydon listeners from Korea!"

"So, what's been going on, Carol?"

"Well, if you remember, the reason we came over here was because a Korean girl band called Jelly Fish were at number 2 in the charts with one of our songs, and they wanted us to go on TV with them. The day after we got here last week, they were up at number one, which was even better."

"And are they still at number one this week, or are we too early in the week?"

"Well, sort of..."

"Sort of?"

"Well, you see, THEIR original version went down to number 15, but...."

"Oh, come on Carol, stop teasing us all!"

"So last Friday, we over-dubbed their original recording, so it's now got all eight of us singing on it. And it made number one today!"

"Oh, nice! I bet you weren't expecting that were you?"

"Well, I think we hoped it might get to number one, but we weren't expecting it to happen this week, not so soon!"

"Ok, so well done on that. I guess the big question is whether we're going to hear the song here in the UK?"

"Yes, we heard earlier that our record company will be releasing it, so just make sure you play it! We're a poor and destitute British girl band, we need the cash!" said Carol, starting to giggle.

"Nah, pop starts are never poor! Anyway, it's evening in Korea, so where are you right now?"

"Well, most of us are staying in a nice apartment, and next door to that is the apartment where the four girls from Jelly Fish live, and that's where we are now!"

"When you say 'we', who do you mean?"

"Well, why don't I get everyone to introduce themselves? Let's start with Jenny's parents..."

"Hi, I'm Brian..." "and I'm Lisa, and we're CJDL's managers."

"Hi everyone, I'm Callum, I'm Jenny's brother."

"I'm Paige, I work with the band..."

Next was Mike and Ben, then Carol got the four girls from Jelly Fish to introduce themselves.

"And finally...." said Carol... "I'm Linda...", "I'm Dianne...", "I'm Jenny...", "and I'm Carol... so that makes us, erm, LDJC? Bah, you all KNOW who we are!". Tom laughed.

"You told me earlier that you're staying over there for another two weeks: what are you doing?"

"We started some dance classes yesterday, and they'll be going on this week and next week: I'm already getting aches in muscles I never knew I had, but we're enjoying it, and we're all looking forward to the rest of our dance training!"

"Well, I hope you all enjoy yourselves over there: maybe we can chat again next week, and find out how things are going for you..."

"I'm sure we can do that!" replied Carol.

"Well, Carol, and the rest of you, thanks for calling in and letting us know what's been going on. I actually managed to get a semi-official copy of your Korean number 1 hit, so let's play it: Jelly Fish vs CJDL, and Sexy Yellow Rollerskates!".


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #66 on: 14. April 2023, 21:40:05 PM »
Chapter 41 - Hi mum! Hi sis!

Everyone else was either still in Jelly Fish's apartment, or in the lounge of CJDL's, so Carol went into the bedroom.

She dialled the number, and after 4 rings it was answered. "Hi mum!"

"Carol, lovely to hear from you!"

"Hey, go get your tablet, then we can see each other...."

"Ok, I'm ready!" said her mum a minute later. Carol called her again.

"Sorry I've not called, it's been a bit busy!"

"Of course, you're over in Korea, aren't you! How's it going?"

"Well, as I said, last week was rather busy..." and she explained about the dance practice and the TV programme, then about the appearance at the Park Festival. "Hey, you'll never guess who I bumped into on Sunday.... We had gone out for lunch in small groups for lunch, and Taeyang suggested we could go to the park down by the river. So rather than get a taxi, we caught a bus, and we met Nabi, remember her?"

"Yes, I do, a lovely Korean girl who you were at college with.. what's she doing there?"

"Well, she's from Seoul, but she's working for a commercial bank, and they offered her a 2 year placement over here. So she came back with us, and spent the evening with us all."

"How amazing...."

"How's dad? How's his back?"

"His back seems to be ok again, which I think he very happy about, and of course, he's at work right now. So, what's Korea like then?"

"Not really had a chance to see a lot, after all, we are working... well, now we're back at school. But I think we'll be doing some sight-seeing at the weekend. The others - so Jenny's parents, and Jenny and Dianne's boyfriends have been able to have a bit of a look-around already."

Carol and her mum chatted for a while: Carol got on pretty well with her mum. Well, she got on well with her dad too, but he wasn't there to talk to.

"Hey, have you spoken with Rosie recently? You know she really does like it when you call her. You ought to go see her sometime!"

"I was actually going to try calling her after we've finished talking. Hey, I'll try and call you at the weekend, then I can say hi to dad... but tell him I called, and give him a big hug from me, will you?"

"Don't worry, I will...."

"So what have you been doing then?"

Her mum told Carol about the stuff she'd been doing for a couple of local charities, and how she'd met up with some friends for lunch earlier today.

"Well, mum, it's good to talk to you." said Carol a little later. "I'll call you again soon...."

Carol felt really positive after chatting with her mum, so decided to call her sister, Rosie.

"Hey, Carol, I thought you were in Korea?"

"I am, but thought I ought to call you. Just been having a lovely chat with mum!"

"Oh, good, she said she'd not heard from you for a couple of weeks..."

"The last couple of weeks have been stupidly hectic, but things are a bit quieter now. So how's Natalie been at school?"

"Oh, she's settled in nicely, seems to be really enjoying it. And Sam is enjoying his pre-school too. So, come on, tell me all about Korea, and what you've been up to..."

Carol gave her a run-down of the last couple of weeks, preparing for the trip, the flight, and the last week in Korea, and told her about bumping into Nabi.

"It's a small world, isn't it, I bet you got a surprise when you saw her?"

"Oh, yeah...."

"So, last time we chatted, you said something about a radio DJ you kinda fancied... any news there?"

"Not really. I called into his show earlier, and things were good between us, but it's hard to go for a coffee when I'm out here, and he's still in Croydon."

"Something tells me you really do like him... am I right?"

"Yes, of course you are, you've always been able to 'read' me, haven't you!"

They chatted a bit more. "Hey, you really must come up and see us again sometime, it's been ages, and I wanna see my little sis!"

"You're right, it HAS been a while. I'll really make an effort when I'm back, coz I'd like to see you too. And the kids."

"You could always bring Tom with you..."

"Yeah, just need to persuade him to be my boyfriend first!"

"You know, next time you do a tour, you need to play in Leicester, then we can come and see you!"

"Hmm, I can imagine the conversation: 'Ok, it's important that we do a gig in Leicester'. 'Why Leicester?' 'Coz my sis lives there, and wants to come and see us!'. Is there anywhere big in Leicester we could play? That's usually the problem."

"Well, there's De Montfort Hall... but I don't think it's all that big."

"Maybe we should do a few gigs at smaller places, it would be nice. That's why I love going to the open-mic evenings at the local pub."

"You're doing open-mic evenings? That sounds like fun for you..."

"It is, it's nice and intimate, and I'm getting to know a few of the people who come along too. That's actually where I first met Tom. But they've been amazingly good at not telling too many people that I go along. It's actually this Thursday - it happens every 2 weeks - and I'm  hoping to record something to send them tomorrow!"

"There's a pub near us does an open-mic night, you could go along when you visit us..."

"Oooh, yes, another reason for me to come and visit then...."


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #67 on: 15. April 2023, 20:56:47 PM »
Chapter 42 - Yun Hee goes to the ortho

By the Wednesday, the 4 girls were getting into the swing of the dance classes. It was quite intense, but they were learning a lot of stuff, and learning how their bodies could balance and stretch in different ways.

At lunchtime they played another one of their songs in the hall, and then chatted with the students again. After lunch, they did their first 'masterclass', where the talked about the British, and European music scene, and how people become musicians - very different from the way K-idols get trained - but it seemed sensible to explain how other countries 'train' their musicians.

After their classes, the mini-coach with Yun Hee and one of the admin / security team on it arrived to collect the four girls, Callum and Paige: after dropping off Jenny, Carol and Yun Hee at the orthodontist's office, the others went back to the apartment. It had been decided that, as this was something personal for Yun Hee, Paige and Callum would not be filming them.

Carol had no idea what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the Orthodontist had a very modern office. Yun Hee checked in at reception, and all three of them went into the waiting room: a very pleasant and comfortable experience. There was no doubt that this was not only a provate practice, it was a pretty up-market one too! I guess that being a #1 k-pop idol has it's perks!

It wasn't long before a youngish lady came through and asked Yun Hee to go with her. Yun Hee explained that she wanted both Carol and Jenny to come with her, and when she realised that they were English, she spoke to them in English. "Hello Carol, Jenny, it's nice to meet you. Please, come on through!". Carol had assumed that she was the ortho's assistant, but she was in fact the orthodontist.

In the surgery, she asked them to sit down and  then introduced herself: "Hello, I am Bong-Cha, I am a qualified orthodontist, and I would like to understand why you are here. I know that your two friends are English, so I will try to speak English, but I may have to speak Korean at some point."

"Well..." explained Yun Hee, "I've had these crooked teeth for several years, and I would like to have nicer teeth".

"Ok... do you have any specific problems? I'm thinking about maybe pain, or discomfort, or even problems eating."

"Not really. I sometimes have problems biting some things, but I think that's simply because my teeth are just crooked." she replied, smiling and letting Bong-Cha see the obvious problem.

"Well, that is good to hear. Is there anything else you would like to tell me?"

"I don't really think so right now... I assume you'll be looking at my teeth in more detail?"

"Yes, I was going to suggest that you could come over to the treatment chair, and let me take a look at your teeth. Then I'll scan your teeth, so we can see them on the computer screen, and I can explain the option for treatment".

Yun Hee went and sat in the large chair. "It's probably simpler if you two wait here for the moment, but when I scan her teeth, you are welcome to come over and watch on one of the screens!" said Bong-Cha. A younger, and quite pretty, girl came over. "This is my assistant, Mishil."

Mishil looked at Yun Hee, then looked over at Carol and Jenny, and suddenly realised who they were. "Excuse me," said Mishil, "but are you who I think you are?"

"Well, it depends who you think I am... if you think I'm one of the girls in Jelly Fish, then yes. And Carol and Jenny are in CJDL, they're the English girls that are visiting us." explained Yun Hee.

"I guess you saw us all on TV last week?" asked Jenny.

"Yes, I did! It is so amazing to meet you!"

"Sounds like we need to all do some selfies before we leave, doesn't it?" suggested Carol.

"Sorry," said Mishil, "I interrupted!"

"That's ok, I don't mind!" replied Yun Hee: she was still getting used to the idea that, as a successful pop idol, people would now recognise her.

Bong-Cha started to speak in Korean to Yun Hee. "Don't worry, I'm just explaining to Yun Hee what I'm about to do," she added afterwards.

Mishil gave Yun Hee a pair of dark glasses, then Bong-Cha lay the chair almost flat, and lifted Yun Hee up. After adjusting the bright lamp, she started speaking to Yun Hee again in Korean, clearly asking her to open her lips, and do certain bites and jaw movements. Next she fitted Yun Hee with lip-spreaders, and started to look at her teeth in more detail, finally removing the lip-spreaders.

"Your teeth are all in excellent condition, and whilst your teeth are not particularly straight, your mouth does not seem to actually be crowded. The width of both your top and bottom jaws are both good, and they fit together reasonably well: this means that your treatment should be fairly simple. Let me scan your teeth, and then I can make sure my feelings are correct. Carol, Jenny, please come over and watch on the screen over there...."

After re-fitting the lip-spreader, Bong-Cha took the wand that Mishil had passed to her, and started to scan Yun Hee's mouth and teeth. Of course, whilst Carol and Jenny had seen her - quite crooked - front teeth, they had never actually looked right into Yun Hee's mouth, so they found it interesting to see what her teeth really looked like. As Bong-Cha had explained, her teeth were not actually over-large, and seemed to fit her mouth well. One of her upper pre-molars was definitely a bit out of line, with two of her lower premolars being slightly out of line too,  but most of the issues seemed to be with Yun Hee's front 12 teeth.

It was clear that Bong-Cha was very familiar with the scanner, because she was able to get a really good scan of Yun Hee's teeth very quickly. With the scanning done, Mishil removed the lip-spreaders, and Bong-Cha sat the chair up again, whilst at the same time turned off the bright light.

"I'm going to spend a few minutes using the computer to move Yun Hee's teeth into something very close to a final result: I need to confirm that there's enough space. You are very welcome to watch!".

All three girls watch on in fascination as Bong-Cha manipulated the teeth, moving them into much nicer positions: the end result looked very good.

"As I thought, there is enough room... so, come back over and let's talk....". The four of them went back to the chairs on the other side of the room.

"So, you are an excellent candidate for clear aligners. I see from your notes that you are a singer, so that would work well for you..." suggested Bong-Cha. Yun Hee was silent.

"Actually, Yun Hee specifically doesn't want clear aligners," said Jenny.

Bong-Cha looked a bit surprised. "But I assumed...".

"I would actually like braces similar to what Jenny has..." explained Yun Hee. Jenny smiled, showing off her braces.

"You see," explained Jenny, "there's several reasons for getting braces. Yes, the most obvious is to get your teeth straightened, and whilst I needed an upper expander and headgear to start with, I too could have had clear aligners for the rest of my treatment. But, like Yun Hee, I'm a singer in a well-known girl-band, and I wanted to make a statement. To tell our fans that 'there's nothing wrong with having braces!'. As I said, I was offered clear aligners, as well as white ceramic braces, and I refused both."

"Ah, OK, I was wondering why someone in your position had metal brackets - and I notice that they aren't small metal brackets either. And your friend, Carol, has traditional retainers too..."

"Actually, it's more than a retainer," explained Carol, "there's a spring clasp here, to move my canine tooth back into position - I had braces several years ago, and everything was fine, until I spotted that tooth had moved a tiny bit. Yes, I guess I could have had clear aligners, but to be honest, while they are described as 'invisible', by the time you get those little bumps on the teeth, they are actually surprisingly visible. And I knew Jenny was happy showing off her braces to the world, so I decided that I might as well make my braces a bit more visible too!"

Bong-Cha smiled (showing off a 'perfect' set of teeth!). "I admire you both, many people in your position would go for the aligners, but I understand your reasons. So, Yun Hee, you are certain you'd like to have metal brackets?"

"Yes, I would. I want to be proud of the fact that I am having my teeth fixed!"

"Ok, I can certainly treat you with metal brackets. The brackets that Jenny has are relatively large, and there's much smaller brackets available, although I suspect Jenny will tell me - quite correctly - that your treatment would take a bit longer with smaller brackets. They would, of course, be less visible. And if you REALLY want your braces to be visible, I could specially order some even larger brackets for you!"

Yun Hee smiled. "No, I don't think I would like to go with anything bigger!"

"Jenny, I saw that you have molar rings on your rear teeth.."

"Molar bands, you mean? Yes, I do. I needed them for my headgear."

"Ah, ok. Yun Hee, you won't actually need to have molar bands like Jenny does, as I won't need to move your molar teeth at all. Which means I could fit your braces this afternoon, if you like?"

Yun Hee was actually a bit surprised: she had assumed that she would need to come on another occasion to get her braces fitted. After getting over the shock and surprise, she smiled. "Yes please..."
"You know, she's so lucky," commented Jenny, "no molar bands means no separators!"

"Oh, yeah, I remember those!" said Carol, wincing.

"What's separators?" asked Yun Hee.

"Oh, little tiny rubber rings they put between your molars, to make them move apart a bit, so the ortho can fit a metal band around the tooth. They may only be small, but they really hurt for a day or two!" explained Jenny.

"Before I can treat you, I need to complete a treatment plan for you to sign." said Bong-Cha. "FY Entertainment have already agreed that they will be paying for your treatment, you are just signing to accept the actual treatment. And I'm sure FY will be happy with your choice of braces, as it will actually save them some money!"

Having signed the treatment plan, Yun Hee put the dark glasses on again, and lay back in the treatment chair while Bong-Cha cleaned her teeth, etched them, and one-by-one glued the 24 brackets to her teeth. As Bong-Cha did this, she explained to Yun Hee what she was doing. With the brackets now fitted, Mishil temporarily removed the lip-spreader, allowing Yun Hee to both rinse her mouth out, as well as have a feel of her brackets with her tongue.

"To start with, I will fit a very gentle wire." explained Bong-Cha. "Then, as your teeth get straighter, I'll fit stronger wires. I would also suggest that you might want to consume some pain-killing tablets when you get home."

"I'd definitely agree with her on that!" said Jenny. "Also take some before you come for an appointment: when she fits a new archwire, it will hurt... I say that from my own experience!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #68 on: 16. April 2023, 17:53:43 PM »
Chapter 43 - Yun Hee's braces

"So, now you have a big decision to make," said Bong-Cha.

"Ligature colours?" said Jenny and Carol at the same time.

"Ah, 'lig-a-tures', I was wondering how that word was pronounced!" said Bong-Cha. "Yes, what colour err... lig-a-tures... would you like?"

Yun Hee looked over at Jenny and Carol. "What do you think?".

"I guess it depends on what sort of 'look' you want." said Jenny. "Black or dark blue ligs are nice. If you want to be bright, then neon yellow, green or orange can be fun."

"And you can always mix them up. I remember mixing light blue and pink...." added Carol

"I guess I'd like them to be very obvious."

"In that case, mix up the neon colours! I assume they have some?"

"You mean like these?" said Mishil, holding out several different colours.

"And don't worry, you'll need to come back for your first check-up appointment in just 3 weeks time, so you can change the colours then." said Bong-Cha.

Yun Hee lay back in the chair again, lip-spreaders in her mouth, as Bong-Cha fitted her archwires, along with a mix of brightly coloured ligatures. Finally, Mishil passed Yun Hee a hand-mirror. As Yun Hee looked at her newly braced teeth, she was positively glowing.

"Yes, they look amazing! Thank you!" she said.

"So, I think we need to start teasing your fans... let me take some pictures that you can post, plus I need some for our social media too....".

Jenny took several close-up pictures, the first showed a smile with some brackets just visible. Then bigger smiles, showing all the braces. Then some full-face ones.

"What I did, was to just post a picture like this one, no comment: I was surprised how quickly people started commenting."

"Yes, that sounds like fun!". While she posted that first pic onto the Jelly Fish page, Jenny and Carol organised some selfies of all of them with Bong-Cha and Mishil, and some with just Yun Hee with Bong-Cha and Mishil.

Jenny posted a picture of Yun Hee's mouth on the CJDL site: "Someone just got braces....". It was morning in England, so she expected to get some responses pretty soon. "Hey, anything on your page yet?"

"Yes, a couple of people asking who it is, and if they are actually braces..."

"Leave it a bit, then put a second picture up, but no comment..."

Yun Hee's phone 'pinged'. "Ah, Ji-Ho is here...". Ji-Ho was one of the drivers that FY employed, he had driven them a couple of times before. They went out, and as they got to the car, Ji-Ho got out, and opened the door for them. This was one of the company's quite well-sized limos, with plenty of room for the three of them. As Yun Hee got in the car, she smiled at Ji-Ho.

"Oh, wow, you got the braces already!" he said. While Ji-Ho drove them back to the apartment, the three girls were watching the Korean and English social media. The English media went a bit like this:

- Oh, who's that then?"
- Can't be Jenny, she already has braces. Did Carol get proper braces again?
- No, that's not Carol. Hey, is it one of the Jelly Fish girls?
- Yes, definitely not one of OUR girls!
- Yeah, didn't Jenny say that one of the Korean girls wanted braces?

Jenny decided to make another post, with a picture of the three of them she'd taken:
- The girl super-group 'Jelly Fish vs CJDL' welcomes it's latest brace-face!
- Hey, isn't that Yun Hee?
- Yes, definitely Yun Hee: hey, Yun Hee, your braces look really cute!
- All those Jelly Fish girls look cute anyway!
- Nice smile there, Yun Hee!

"Well, our fans seem to like what you've done, how's your fans reacting?

"They seem to be a little confused..."

"Good, time for you to post that next picture....". The second picture, showing a full smile with braces also got a good response. It wasn't long before they arrived back at the apartment: clearly the other three girls had spotted the posts, and were all over Yun Hee as she walked into the apartment.

"Oh, wow, you got them already!"

"How do they feel?"

Yun Hee was smiling wide, showing her metal brackets: she was so pleased by the reactions she had got so far.

"It's getting busy online" said Ahnjong, "they are wondering who it is!"

"Maybe it's time for me to come clean?" said Yun Hee. She posted the full face picture she'd taken earlier, then the one with her, Carol and Jenny. "Thank you, Carol and Jenny, for coming with me to get my braces! Do you think they suit me?" she asked. Of course, that was a silly question, and the social media feed went mad...

"Hey," said Paige, want to really give your fans something to talk about? Why don't you  live stream to them...".


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #69 on: 17. April 2023, 19:10:02 PM »
Chapter 44 - Wednesday evening: Open Mic Recording

So, this next chapter describes the recording that they all made later on that Wednesday evening, but I decided it was more fun to write it from the perspective of the next evening, when it got played at the Open Mic Night at the pub!


It's Thursday night at The Crown, so once again it's Open Mic Night.

"Hi everyone" said Steve, the guy who did the sound, and basically ran the event. "So, I have some bad news and some good news for you all. The bad news, that you probably worked out for yourselves already, is that Carol Danvers can't make it again tonight, some feeble excuse about 'being over in Korea'. The good news is that she sent me something she recorded yesterday to play to you all instead, and I'll guarantee that you're all going to love it! So watch the TV screens, and enjoy!"

"Hi everyone" said Carol on the video. "Sorry I can't be with you again this week, but as you probably heard, I'm over in Korea with the girls, and it's more than a 10 minute drive to come over to The Crown! So I thought it would be fun to send you a video instead. Ok, let me start by introducing Linda, you've heard me mention her before. This is a song that Linda started to write... well, just before I came along to the Open Mic Night for the first time... ready Linda?"

The camera had panned out when she introduced Linda, and the two of them started to play acoustic guitars (that belonged to Jelly Fish) then sang together. When they finished, the crowd at the pub all applauded.

"Right, so maybe it's time to introduce everyone that's here. I should explain that everyone except Jenny's parents - they're our managers - are staying in the apartment next door, and we're currently all squeezed into Jelly Fish's apartment! So, this is Linda, who you just saw playing with me. Then we have Jenny, and her Fiance Ben..." as she spoke, Paige, who was behind the camera, zoomed in to Jenny and Ben. "Then there's Dianne, and her fella, Mike... and Callum, Jenny's brother. Behind them is Jenny's mum & dad, they are our managers. Behind the camera is Paige...". Paige walked around to be in front of the camera, and waved.

"And finally, let me introduce the four girls from Jelly Fish: we are are jointly number one in the Korean charts with them with one of our songs, which is why we're all here... so say hi to Ahnjong, Min Jee, Taeyang and Yun Hee".

"So, I asked if a couple of the Jelly Fish girls could sing us some sort of traditional Korean song... so over to Min Jee..."

"Hi everyone! This song is a traditional Korean romantic folk song, called 'The Story of Kap Do-li and Kap Soo-ni', we hope you like it!". While Min Jee and Yun Hee played guitar, all four of them sang the song. At the end, everyone in the pub clapped again, as did everyone else on the recording.

"Wasn't that lovely?" said Carol, who then paused for a few seconds. "Next up is something special, but I think I need to explain a bit about it first. Over the last year or more, Jenny has been 'given' some amazing worship songs from God. Now, you're probably poo-pooing that idea, but let me explain: Jenny is really great at writing music, but she'd be the first to admit that she's not so good at doing the words..."

"Oh, I'm crap at writing lyrics!" said an off-screen Jenny.

"So if she writes a worship song, and it has beautiful words, then clearly it wasn't her writing them, and that leaves one other 'person' who could have, and that's God! So, anyway, we're on the plane on the way over here, up at about 35 thousand feet... so maybe that makes up a bit closer to God? I had just woken up after a bit of a sleep, and went over to see Jenny: she was wide awake, writing music and words on her laptop... I took a look, and could see that it was a 4-part acapella song, and it didn't look particularly simple."

"That's one hell of an understatement!" said Linda loudly, also off-camera.

"So, we've been practising it since then, we've managed to sing it correctly just twice so far... so we're hoping to make it the third time tonight!". There was a slight cut in the video, and the video now showed Carol, Linda, Jenny and Dianne standing in a line. "Are we ready?" asked Carol. We hear a few notes being sung, and the video cuts again.

"Take two?" asked Carol. Another cut.

"Third time lucky?" asked Carol. Yet another cut.

"Ok, girls, let's hold hands.... Dear God, once again I think we need to admit that we need your help! We really want to sing this song to praise you, so... please?". A short pause, then Jenny starts to sing. Over the next few minutes we hear a quite spectacular song: in some places the girls are singing the exact same thing together, in others they are singing harmonies, in others they are singing different things, almost against each other, and in other bits there's even a hint of discord. The four of them finish singing at exactly the same time.

The girls stood in silence for a moment, then everyone else on the video started to clap, as did everyone at the pub.

"It's interesting, but the only times we've managed to actually sing that has been after showing a little humilty to God." said Carol. "I think the message has finally got through to us!"

Ahnjong joined Carol in front of the camera. "Tell you what, we gave it a few tries too, and we managed to sing about 3 or 4 lines before we went wrong! Respect you you guys, that was amazing!"

"Thanks, Ahnjong!" said Carol, with a big smile on her face. "Right, so last song coming up, and as you know, I love to end with one that you can all sing along to. However, before I go any further, I think I must ask your forgiveness for what I'm about to do! Most of these guys here have no idea what's about to happen... Ahnjong and Taeyang do, coz they're gonna be playing it, and Paige knows half of what's about to happen, so she can point the camera at the right people. I'll get Callum to put the words on the video for all of you when he edits it, so you can all sing along, and I have some words here on a pad that I'll show everyone here. This song is actually American, I think, but a certain Korean YouTube video made it rather popular... So, before we start, let me show the camera the words for the first verse...."

Carol moved closer to the camera, so noone else there could see, and turned the first page, to reveal 2 words: 'Baby Shark'. Paige smiled as she saw it, and the crowd at the pub all cheered, realising what was about to happen.

Carol turned to Ahnjong and Taeyang: "Ok, when you're ready!". As they started to play, the words 'Baby Shark' appeared on the video, and the camera started to pan in on Jenny, then Carol showed them all the words, at which point everone in the apartment reacted.

"Ok, let's go...." said Taeyang... "Baby shark, do do, do do do do... Baby shark, do do, do do do do... Baby shark, do do, do do do do... Baby shark!". The camera zoomed back to reveal everyone doing small 'shark mouth' actions. Carol turned the page for the second verse.... The camera zoomed in on Jenny's mum. "Mummy Shark, do do, do do do do... " they all sang... as did pretty much everyone at the pub.

Next verse was, of course, 'Daddy Shark' (with much larger 'biting jaws' actions), followed by 'Brother Shark'. With the family all covered, it was 'Boyfriend Shark' for Ben, 'Lovers Sharks' for Dianne and Mike, 'Cameraman Shark' for Paige, followed by 'Linda Shark' and 'Carol Shark'. All the time, people were making 'biting jaw' movements, and singing and laughing.

The camera now turned to the four local Korean girls, and the words on screen were now 'Jelly Fish...', with everyone now doing strange 'wobbling' actions.

Finally, it was the last verse... 'We're All Done! do do, do do do do...'. By now, in both the pub and on the video, there was a lot of laughing and clapping.

"I really am so sorry for doing that to you all, but it just HAD to be done! By the way, they've had over 12 BILLION views for that on YouTube, and earned a HUGE amount from it... maybe we need to post OUR version online?" said Carol. "Well, I hope you all enjoyed our performance from Korea, I'm hoping to be there with you in person in 2 weeks time. Bye for now!" The camera panned back, showing everyone waving.

While the noise at the pub slowly subsided, Kevin went up on the stage: he was still grinning.

"Wow, what can I say? For a start, I will say that there's NO WAY that I can beat THAT! Completely amazing, and Steve, please tell Carol that we all thoroughly enjoyed what they did! So, what can I sing you? Maybe I should start with..." and he started to strum his guitar.. "Baby Shark, do do do...", and quickly stopped again. "Ok, maybe not....." he added with a giggle.

The next day a new CJDL video appeared online... it was their 'Baby Shark' performance, editted down by Paige and Callum.


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #70 on: 18. April 2023, 16:05:05 PM »
Chapter 45 - Jelly fish go back to school

On the Wednesday night, after they had recorded the video for the open mic night, Carol and Dianne went and spoke to the four Jelly Fish girls.

"Didn't you say you're free tomorrow?" asked Carol.

"Yes, we are, why?" asked Min Jee

"Would you like to come to school tomorrow lunchtime, and have lunch with us?" said Carol.

"Something tells me it's more than just lunch...."

"Yeah, we've been doing these lunchtime sessions in the hall, and we were thinking that, if you'll do it, you can come and share your experiences since you left school, debuted, and got to number one. I get the feeling that the other students don't really get the chance to talk with guys like you, and I think it would help them a lot. Oh, and we can play 'RollerSkates' first'!"

"But surely you've already explained it?"

"We can share our experiences of what happened to us, but that's in another country, with a VERY different way of doing things... You can tell them about the way it has been here, for you. So, you up for it?"

Thus, after their morning dance classes finished, the eight of them (plus Callum and Paige of course: they weren't going to miss a good filming opportunity!) had lunch together at the school's canteen (where their presence caused quite a stir).

Carol stood up, and spoke loudly over the noise: "Hey, everyone, come to the hall in about 10 minutes, you've seen who's here, and they want to share their experiences with you. Oh, and we'll probably want to play a song first!"

On the way out, Carol spotted the guy who had done the PA for them before. "Can you help us again today?" she asked.

"Sure, no problems, give me 5 minutes!" he replied.

"Thanks. We'll go get the stage stuff ready.". While Paige got the two cameras set up, Callum helped the girls get 4 mics on their stands set up at the front of the stage, then they checked out the instruments. By that point, the PA guy was upstairs and ready for them, so they did a quick sound check.

Jenny came to the front of the stage, and spoke into one of the mics. "Hi everyone! Ok, so today you're going to get the 'proper' version of 'Sexy Yellow Rollerskates', and then the chance to speak to the 8 girls who are currently at number one! It's probably been a while since they've been here at school, so give the girls from Jelly Fish a big cheer!". Already there was quite a crowd gathered in the hall, with more of them coming in, and they all cheered: many of them knew Ahnjong, Min Jee, Taeyang and Yun Hee, and were pleased at their success.

Before they started to sing, Ahnjong said a few words in Korean, basically saying hello to the many people they knew. Then it was into the song, which the 4 CJDL girls played, and the 4 Jelly Fish girls sang. The other students cheered and clapped as they finished.

"Ok, everyone, did you enjoy that: your own personal perfomance by the girl-mega-group known as Jelly Fish vs CJDL!" asked Carol. There was another cheer. "So, we invited Ahnjong, Min Jee, Taeyang and Yun Hee here today to talk to you all, and answer your questions, specifically about the difference from being here at school, to being out in the big world, with a number 1 hit. Don't feel you need to speak English just for us, I think it's going to be better for you if you just speak Korean... unless you have a question for us too, that is! So, we'll all sit down on the front of the stage, and let's get a couple of mics sorted out...
Ahnjong  and Taeyang started, by describing some of the practicalities of what had happened to them since leaving the school. Then they asked for questions. There were several questions, which the Jelly Fish girls answered, then a girl asked a question in English: "You've spent over a week now with the girls from England: what have you learned from them?"

"Oh, yes, that's a nice question...." replied Min Jee. "Well, one thing they taught us, I think it was actually the second day they were here, was how important our fans are, and how good it can be to actually go and talk with them. We all went to the gardens at the National Museum, and met up with a small crowd of our fans. We took pictures, we talked. Carol asked us all questions, then we let the fans ask questions too. To be honest, I think we enjoyed it as much as the fans did."

"Yes, Min Jee is right," added Yun Hee, "I was a bit scared of meeting our fans, but they were actually very nice to us, and appreciated us spending our time with them. So there's another thing I learnt, specifically from Jenny and Carol: now that we are in a position of 'relative power', it's actually ok to use that 'power' to do things."

"What do you mean?" asked the girl. "Can you be more specific?"

"Jenny, maybe you would like to answer that question?" said Yun Hee.

"Sure. Carol had been chatting with Taeyang, and she had told us that Yun Hee wanted to have her teeth fixed, but that there was an FY Entertainment rule that they wouldn't allow idols to get braces. Fifteen years ago, that was possibly a reasonable rule, but things have changed since - changed a lot. So, yes, we 'used our power', and had a word with their manager, sort-of hinting that the company ought to review their rules if they wanted a certain visiting group of English girls to stay happy!". That comment raised a laugh. "It wasn't a contentious thing, but was something that needed to be fixed. You don't have to actually hold a protest, you just need to hint that it might be better for everyone, if someone actually listens to what you say. One of FY's bosses spoke to us later on, he was really nice about it... and that's why Yun Hee now has her braces!"

"Hey, Yun Hee, what's it feel like having braces? I see you've been teasing your fans!" said another guy.

"I'm really glad to have them... I rather like the look, you know! Jenny was right, these metal brackets look ok! My cheeks are feeling a bit sore right now, but Jenny says that will go away in a few days. And yes, our fans have been really good about them. It was Jenny who suggested that I should 'tease' our fans!"

"I can still remember the day Jenny posted some similar pictures... it was about a month after we'd finished our tour, and she'd told noone that she was getting them. Hey, Jenny, do you think your being so open about them has helped?" commented Carol

"If it has made it easier for just one kid to cope with getting braces, then it was worth doing! And I get the feeling it made it easier for you to get your new retainer too."

"Yes, it did. So, yes, don't be scared to carefully use the power you get, just use it wisely. Hey, Jenny, Dianne, Linda: what have you learnt as a result of meeting our four hosts?"

"Remember to enjoy the moment!" replied Dianne. "It's easy to forget that, but I've been reminded about how it was for us. Hey, Linda, this was actually your first number one, that was a special 'moment' for you too...."

"Yes, whilst the other girls had a hit while I was working with them, I wasn't a member of the band at the time, and so THIS was my first number one. And I'm trying very hard to remember how it feels. It's an amazing feeling."

All the while they were answering questions, various of the students were taking pictures and videos - after all it's not every day a top idol band drops in for lunch!

"How has it been working with another group of girls?" asked another guy. "That's for ALL of you?"

"Well, we've worked with a couple of other bands before, but this is quite different" explained Jenny, "because Jelly Fish and us, we're so different now - I'm thinking musically - but hearing their sort of music, and other Korean music around us, I think it's inspired us to think a bit differently. I know I have a few ideas buzzing around in my head...."

"I've really enjoyed learning about how people become musicians in England, it's so different from all of this..." said Taeyang, pointing around at the school. "And, if we ever get over to Europe to perform, I think it will help us understand the other bands we would meet a lot better. You know, I can think of something else I have learnt, specifically talking to Carol, and it goes back to 'using your power for good'. You probably don't know, but I enjoy sketching and drawing, and Carol has been pushing me to sell some of my drawings to help some charities. It's something I had never thought about before, but she's right, it's something I ought to do. It will be good for the charity, and I have no doubt it will be very good for us too!" Taeyang paused a moment. "You asked about working with another group: it has been nice to talk to someone else that you respect, and take on some of their experiences and ideas, and I think I'll be more open to other's ideas in the future too! I'm really glad they came over to Korea."

The questions reverted to being in Korean for a while: clearly all the students were enjoying being able to talk to Ahnjong, Min Jee, Taeyang and Yun Hee. Finally, one of the students said "Hey, everyone, we really need to get ready for classes this afternoon. To the eight ladies here on the stage, can I just say a big thank you, I think we've all enjoyed asking you questions, and more importantly you have given us some really good answers!". He, and all the others started to clap.

As the students slowly left the hall, the 'headmaster' came over to them, and gently bowed. "Ahnjong, Min Jee, Taeyang and Yun Hee, it is good to see you all again! Congratulations on making number one. And thank you for coming in today to talk to the students: I was listening in, and there were some really good questions and answers there." He then turned to the CJDL girls, and bowed. "And to our English ladies - thank you for organising it: I've heard some very good feedback from many people, not just about these lunchtime sessions, but it seems our staff and our students have enjoyed your 'master-classes' too!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #71 on: 19. April 2023, 22:45:03 PM »
Chapter 46 - Thursday evening - call from a TV production company.

The last few days of dancing had been fun for the CJDL girls, but a bit tiring. In the evening, Jenny and Ben along with Dianne and Mike had gone off with Brian and Lisa for a 'couples meal out', while the rest of them had opted to join the Jelly Fish girls for dinner in their apartment.

After dinner Paige, Callum, Linda and Carol went back to their own apartment, and were sat drinking some beers, when Paige's phone rang.

"Hello, this is Andrew Fisher from BD Media Production in London, is that Paige Turner?" said a voice on the phone.

"Yes, that's right."

"So, I spoke with Brian Stevens earlier on about a possible CJDL documentary, and he had some video sent over for us to look at. But he said you were driving things, so to speak to you..."

"Ah, ok... hey, look, Callum also needs to hear whatever we talk about, so why don't we make this a video call, then everyone can listen in?"

"Sure, go ahead!"

Paige pressed a few 'buttons', and got the video call working. "So, I'm Paige... let me introduce the rest of who's here..." Paige pressed a couple more buttons to activate the front camera. "This is Callum, he looks after a lot of the technical stuff, and we have Linda and Carol here too!" Carol was taking a sip of beer when Paige pointed the camera at her.

"Oh, sorry, did I call at a bad time?"

"Not at all, we've all had dinner, and now we're just relaxing with some beers. So, you saw the stuff that Callum sent you then?"

"Yes, we have: there's some amazingly intimate footage you have there, something we don't see very often, and it's enough to tell us that we'd absolutely love to work with you on this. Hey, Carol, that bit where you told that record producer 'what's what': my respect there!"

"Hey, don't be too nasty about Yu-Eye, she's actually a great singer, and a nice person too" said Linda.

"Oh, I'm sure she is, but it was just nice to see you guys being in control of things. Anyway, Paige,  what's your actual relationship with the band? I'm guessing that, if you're drinking beers together, it's pretty close?"

"Yes, I work for the band, I look after a lot of the media and press releases and stuff, and when I discovered about a week and a half ago that we were all coming to Korea, I just felt it should be documented."

"Oh, so the trip was only arranged recently, I hadn't realised. So it's just you doing the camera then? I'm not implying it's a bad thing, just a question..."

"I'm doing most of it, but Callum often runs the spare camera, and we have some GoPro's too, that capture some fun bits, and sometimes the girls do bits on their phones too. Am I doing it ok?"

"Oh, absolutely! I mean, it's clear that you've never really had any proper professional training, but that doesn't matter, the footage is actually very good, and it has a nice 'raw' feeling to it at times. So don't change, keep on doing what you're doing!" Paige had a big smile on her face. "So, how many hours of video do you reckon you have so far?"

Callum was thinking... "So, we've been here a week, and Paige, you must have done about 2 to 4 hours most days, if not more, then more the day we flew out, then a load extra on Saturday, and several cameras.... must be about 30, maybe even 40 hours so far. Although I suspect the daily amount will go down a bit from now... Is that enough?"

"Oh, yes, that is plenty enough!"

"So, is anything else you think we should be doing?"

"I'd say to avoid the sort of stuff that we can just get from mainstream media, it's the close-up intimate stuff that will make this interesting. Hey, done any interviews with the band yet?"

"No... not quite sure I'd be much good at that either" suggested Paige.

"Hey, how about we just interview each other?" suggested Carol.

"Now that could be an interesting angle, so yeah, why not? Yes, we can do more formal interviews when you're back in England, but you guys doing them there, well, it's just going to 'fit-in' better. A quick suggestion, I know it will be hard, but try and keep the questions as second-person as possible... so 'you' rather than 'we'... make it an interview rather than a conversation. By all means do some chats too, but keeping the actual interviews second-person will make it a lot easier to edit them down. So, how's it going there, over in Korea, what are you actually doing there?"

Paige explained about the song, and Jelly Fish, and the Park Festival, and the dance lessons.

"When you go on TV, I'm assuming you can take back-room footage, but not out on the studio floor?"

"That's right.."

"In that case, if you are able to get any contacts at the TV company, it would be useful, then we'll have an easier job getting some of the TV footage."

"I'll try and do that," said Callum, "I suspect someone will want the girls on TV again before we come back to England"

"Well, it has been great talking to you all! I guess we just need to negotiate the details with Mr Stevens... hey, Callum, would I be right in saying he's he your dad?"

"Yeah, Jenny's my sister, and mum and dad are the band's managers, so yeah, you need to talk with dad..."

"In that case, I'll say goodbye for now. Nice to have seen you all! Ladies, have a great time over there, and just make sure Paige films all the good bits!!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #72 on: 02. May 2023, 23:24:49 PM »
Chapter 47 - It's the weekend!

On the Thursday, Brian explained that they had been asked if they could go on a TV show, which would have been recorded on the Saturday afternoon, but they all put their foot down.

"We've been busy this last week. Yes, it's been fun, but it's been tiring, and we need some 'down-time'. Plus we need to catch up with you guys on being tourists! I'm not coming all this way, to not see some of the sights!" Jenny told her dad when the question came up. 

Her mum and dad understood what she meant. "There's also some talk about a TV show one evening mid-week, you guys going to be ok with that? Plus they'd like to have you on the radio in the bit before the chart show, on Tuesday."

"I'm ok with the TV, as long as it's after school: the guys at FY have been really good about giving us this opportunity, I don't want to p*ss them off... we've actually learnt a lot this week, and I'm really looking forward to next week. As for the chart show, that's in the middle of the day, so we won't have the time to go to the radio studios." replied Jenny.

"Maybe they can come to the school?" suggested Linda, "I'm sure we could use one of the training rooms".

"If we do it at school, then we should do it in the hall, get all the other students there too! I'm sure the 'headmaster' won't mind, as long as we give them a bit of publicity!" suggested Jenny.

"You know, from the day I first met you Jenny, I've noticed that you've always had a good business head on you, haven't you?" said Linda.

"I obviously taught her well then!" said Brian with a smile. "Ok, leave it with me, I'll speak with everyone who I need to..."

"Thanks dad!"


So, finally, it was Friday, classes had finished for the week: it was the weekend. No dancing classes. No lunchtime sessions with the students. No master-classes.

"So, we have a busy weekend lined up for you, which I think you're all going to enjoy," said Taeyang. "But I hope you guys still have some energy left in you today?"

"Why, what are we about to do?" asked Dianne.

"We thought we would take you to Hongdae, it's a district near the university, and there's lots of things to do there..."

"Like?" asked Dianne.

"Well, there's a pretty cool market. And street food in the market! Games places. We could go to a noraebang if you like too..." suggested Teayang.

"A what?" asked Linda.

"Oh, a karaoke room."

"Yeah, we HAVE to do that! I wanna see you guys sing some metal, or something strange like that!" suggested Paige.

"There's usually a load of street performers around too." added Min Jee. "And we can end up at a club, if you haven't fallen asleep by then! You guys up for it?"

The general consensus was "Yeah!". They had organised two fairly young security guys to come with them: they had told them that they would be part of the group, and to dress accordingly (rather than being a couple of 'guys in suits'!).

"By the way," added Ahnjong, "don't go too mad tonight, we have things for us to do tomorrow morning too! You have a load of 'tourist stuff' to catch up on!"

"I hope you're both coming along too?" Jenny asked her mum and dad. They looked like they maybe didn't want to. "Oh, come on, guys, when was the last time you saw us do Karaoke?"

The two security guys arrived: as requested, they had dressed suitably, and all 14 of them went down to the small coach that was pretty much always ready for them. On the way, they had a conversation, and it was suggested that it would be difficult for all of them to stay together, so maybe split up into two groups, and one of the security guys would be with each group. The issue was that, unlike a fan meeting, where the other people's behaviour would be relatively predictable, tonight they would be in public, in a fairly busy area. They accepted that, at some point, they would get recognised (so made sure to have pens with them!!), but such things could happen at almost any time.

Clearly, Paige and Callum wanted to take some good video, but didn't really want to carry all the camera kit around, so decided to leave the larger cameras on the bus (which would park nearby, allowing to get them later on if needed) and just took the go-pro's with them... Callum gave one to each of Mike and Ben, and told the girls to 'use their phones if they got inspired'!

For the first part of the evening, they wandered around the market, and whilst there were several looks, no one actually approached any of them, and the girls bought quite a few local 'knick-knacks', plus tried a few of the snacks.

The road opened out to a large plaza, where there was a group of six dancers, a mix of guys and girls, dancing to music from a 'boom box', and, of course, collecting money from the passers-by. They watched them dancing for three songs, then Min Jee went and had a word with one of the dancers when they finished the dance: there was smiling, and a couple of nods of agreement.

"Ladies," said Min Jee, "I hope you're all up for this, I just volunteered us: we're going to dance with these guys, we all know the song!". The other seven of the girls actually liked the idea: it was one thing to dance in a studio - be that a dance studio or a TV studio - but they had never actually danced out in public like this before. Callum, Paige, Mike and Ben got themselves into suitable positions to use the GoPro's, and the girls took their places, joining the other six dancers. The music started, and all 14 of them danced to Sexy Yellow Roller Skates. At the end, there were huge smiles on all of their faces, and the assembled crowd cheered and applauded.

"That was FUN!" said Linda, giving Jenny a high-five.

"Yeah, it was," replied Jenny, "it's so different being so close to everyone!"

"Of course, it does mean that our 'cover' is probably blown!" commented Carol.

"Look, we're not in a rush, I say we hang around for 10 minutes, let them all take all the pictures they want: publicity is always good for us..."

Taeyang had a word with one of the security guys, who went and spoke to the crowd: yes, he realised that they probably recognised who the girls were, and whilst they were actually on an evening out, the girls would hang around and let them take pictures or selfies for a few minutes. And while the crowd did so, the four guys kept filming on the GoPro's.

"You set us up there, didn't you?" Dianne said to Min Jee a bit later.

"In a way, yes. I knew there would be some dancers here, and I actually knew that guy I spoke with, so it was easy to ask him. But I think you enjoyed it, didn't you?"

"Absolutely! I don't think any of us have ever danced in public like that before, it was fun! Brings a whole new meaning to 'dancing for our supper'... so where ARE we eating?"

"There's a place not far away that Ahnjong and I have been to before: simple, but great food." Min Jee was right: the place was very simple, probably one of many family-run restaurants, and the food was excellent. Of course, after eating, Yun hee, Jenny and Carol all needed to go to the loo to sort out their braces.

"Hey, Yun Hee, how's the braces feeling? You've had them for 3 days now, and you seemed to cope ok with eating tonight!" asked Carol.

"The soreness of my actual teeth has almost gone, my cheeks are still a bit sore though..." she replied. "I'm still getting used to how to actually clean my braces after eating though."

"Hey, watch me, I'm quite used to it now...". Jenny coached Yun Hee in how to make cleaning her braces a bit easier.

Of course, things were a LOT simpler for Carol: she just needed to quickly clean her mouth out, and put her retainers back in again!

"That's one thing I'm looking forward to, when I get retainers," said Jenny.

"Yeah, compared to having brackets, a retainer is a doddle!" replied Carol.


"So, our suggestion is that we go to a typical bar, and have a beer, then we can try out some Karaoke...." said Yun Hee.

"Tell you what," said Callum, "Would one of you like to come with Paige and me: we could do with getting the better cameras and tripods to record you all doing karaoke, and we don't want to get lost!"

"What do you mean 'you all', you're gonna be singing too!" said Taeyang. "But sure, I'll come with you."


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #73 on: 04. May 2023, 21:22:03 PM »
Chapter 48 - Karaoke

Paige and Callum set up the two main cameras on their lightweight tripods, and also put three of the GoPro's around too: not only did they want to see whoever was singing, they wanted to see people's reactions.

"So, who wants to start?" asked Taeyang.

"I think mum and dad should!" said Jenny, "while we look to see what else we can sing to..."

"Well, what English stuff do they have?" asked Brian.

"Let me see..." said Min Jee, typing on the keyboard, and managing to get a list of English stuff. "Do you know... 'Elton John'?".

Brian smiled. "Yes, he's very well known in England!" Brian took a look at the list. "Hey, Lisa, want to be Kiki Dee?"

"'Don't go breaking my heart?' Yeah, ok...." replied Lisa. Thus it was that Brian and Lisa started off the evening with a duet.

"Can it sort by 'duets'?" asked Jenny. Moments later, Jenny and Ben sang 'You're the one that I want' from Grease: Ben was surprsingly in tune, and of course Jenny was pitch perfect. Dianne and Mike did 'I got you babe', the classic Sonny and Cher song - despite being in a band, Mike's singing wasn't all that great, but noone cared! While they were singing, their tray of drinks arrived.

"Ok, we something for Callum and Paige to sing.... hey, how about 'you don't bring me flowers, that should be easy enough for both of you!"

After doing duets, the 4 CJDL girls challenged Jelly Fish to a couple of Spice Girls songs. In return, CJDL had to sing Bananarama. Then it was Pussycat Dolls, followed by All Sints, and Atomic Kitten... and then someone found some old 60's songs, including some Supremes songs, and stuff like that.

"Ok" said Min Jee, "I think it's time for you to sing some K-Pop songs!"

"What, in Korean?"

"No, don't be silly, there's plenty in English!". So they sang some Blackpink, Miss A, Sistar, and a few other female K-Pop bands. Then the Jelly Fish girls found some  male K-Pop stuff for the guys to sing!

"Shame no-one can speak Japanese... I just found a couple of Baby Metal tracks!" exclaimed Ben.

"Baby Metal?" asked Callum.

"Never heard of Baby Metal?.... you gotta look them up on YouTube! 'Give me chocolate' is great!". Ah, finally, some 'Darkest Knights' stuff...." said Ben joyfully. "Jenny, fancy doing some 'Darkest Knights' songs?"

"Only if you sing them with me. Then after that, maybe Mike can join us?".

Carol had a word with Taeyang. "Looking for some anime songs - any idea if there's any on here?"

"Should be - looking for something in particular?"

"Yeah, what's that big song that Yu-Eye did?"

"Ah, yes, know the one you mean: you gonna have a go singing it?"

"No, I'd like to hear Linda sing it: you weren't there when we dubbed 'Roller Skates', but Yu-Eye played it then, and Linda sang to it, she was pretty good, just didn't know all the words."

"Ah, here you go... Linda, Carol says this next one is for you.....". This time, Linda sang the song flawlessly, hitting all the high notes perfectly, gaining herself a big round of applause from everyone else there.

They all had a great couple of hours both drinking and singing: they even got the two security guys singing too! Finally, they arranged for their coach to collect them nearby.


Back at the flat, with the two security guys gone, and Brian and Lisa dropped off at their hotel, most of the girls sat in the lounge, drinking a variety of things, including beer and coffee, although Jenny and Dianne had already left with their fellas.

"Well, thank you Taeyang for organising this evening... what you got lined up for us tomorrow then?" asked Carol

"Well, I think Ahnyong has organised an e-bike tour of Seoul for us all tomorrow morning."

"I'm so glad you put the letter 'e-' in front of the 'bike' word there, I'm not sure how much energy I'll have tomorrow! But yeah, that actually sounds like a great idea. I trust you have something special lined up for lunch?" said Linda.

"Yes, we're going have a wander around the big market, and then have lunch there too."

"Oh, great, at last!" said carol.

"Oh, this isn't one of those 'restaurants in a tent' that you want to try out, this is real street food, eat it while we walk, or sit at tiny tables.... don't worry, we'll find you a 'pop-up-bar' later in the week!"

"And after lunch?"

"More sight-seeing around Seoul, then somewhere special for dinner! You're gonna be busy tomorrow, but I think you'll enjoy it!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #74 on: 06. May 2023, 19:06:20 PM »
Chapter 49 - Saturday

"Ok, before we go, I need to do a quick clothing check:" said Ahnyong, "No heels, sandals or silly shoes? No, that's good. Socks above the ankles - don't ask! - yup! No-one is drunk, are they? Right, let's go!". There were 16 of them in total: the two 'security' guys from last night were with them again, not forgetting Brian and Lisa.

The e-bike ride was enjoyed by all: they had effectively split into 2 groups, with 2 guides, although they didn't all stay in their original group. The bike ride lasted 2.5 hours, and took them to some rather out-of-the-way parts of Seoul, that you would not normally have expected to see.

"Thank you, Ahnyong, that was really good!" said Carol.

"Yes, it was, thanks for organising it!" added Linda.

Next, they went to the Namdaemun Market, which was BIG, a mix of actual small individual shops, shops in a big hall, and smaller 'portable' stalls. As well as food (cooked and raw) and clothes, there were places selling anything and everything you could think of.

For lunch, they ended up in a building that contained lots of places making food, all of which had counters with stools at the front. "Just sit down wherebver you like - probably best in groups - and choose what you want, then we'll pay for it!" were the instructions from Taeyang.

"This food is GREAT!" said Carol, who was clearly enjoying the different tastes.

"Yes, but it really gets stuck in my braces!" said Yun Hee.

"It doesn't matter," said Ben, who had been admiring the food that Jenny had in her braces, "you still look cute!"

After lunch, Yun Hee, Jenny and Carol all went and found a toilet, where they could brush their teeth, and make sure there was nothing still stuck in their teeth: this wasn't as easy as it sounds, as the 'mirrors' were made of metal, and were badly scratched... so Jenny and Yun Hee had to help each other out a bit! It goes without saying that they all had fun doing this!

In the afternoon, they went on another, very different, tour of Seoul, this time in a small bus, and visited one of the many palaces in the city. Whilst several people did spot them during the day, no-one interrupted them: I think they realised that, as part of a large group, they wouldn't want to be interrupted... so they didn't.
"Ok, you've been keeping quiet about this evening," said Carol, back at the apartment, "What you got lined up for us this evening?"

"We are going to take you all up to the Namsan Tower, where you can look across the city, and we're having dinner up there. Park Hon Su will be joining us, and our two friendly security guys are coming along too."

"Oh, that's the big tower up on the hill, isn't it? Nice! I bet the views will be good!" replied Carol.

"Yes, they are, especially from the viewing area. And I guess they will have made sure the restaurant has good views too!"

The 16 of them went to the bus, which took a slight detour to collect Park Hon Su and his wife, and then went to the Tower. Well, when I say 'the tower', they were dropped off at one of the cable car stations: there they got onto a cable car that took them up to the tower, along the way, giving them some amazing views.

"Wow, that's amazing!" said Dianne, looking over the city from the cable car.

"So, is the restaurant up the top?" asked Jenny

"There IS a restaurant up the top, but it's a French style place, and we thought you'd prefer something that did Asian or Korean food, so we're going to 'Cheiljemyeonso': it's a Korean Noodle place, but it closes at 9 o'clock, so we thought we would eat first, then we can go and visit the observation deck afterwards, so you'll get to see Seoul at night. But we have almost an hour before our booking at the restaurant, so we can have a good look around first!" explained Taeyang.

The cable car reached the top, and they got out. "Especially for Jenny and Ben, and Dianne and Mike, we need to go visit the 'Love Lock Bridge'...." suggested Taeyang. After the two couples bought their locks, the 'locking on' of the locks became a good photo opportunity, during which time quite a few other people had recognised them, and also wanted photos of Jelly fish and CJDL. At the same time, Paige and Callum were filming too.

"It's ok," said Taeyang to their two security guys, "I expected this, we have time...", so the eight girls posed for the small crowd, while the security guys kept watch. The four girls from Jelly Fish had learnt from Jenny and the others that, if they made time for their fans, their fans would not only remain calm, but be much more willing to let them go afterwards. They even got the two security guys to take some pics on their fan's cameras.

The views over Seoul from there, and all around the tower were spectacular, and eventually they made it to the restaurant, where their 'table for 18' was ready for them. Whilst it was a 'chain restaurant', both the food and the service were good. After that, they went to the observation tower, and - as promised - the night-time views over the city were amazing.

"Well, I'm a bit tired, but I have absolutely enjoyed today!... so what we doing tomorrow then?" asked Linda, on the bus back home.

"Well, we thought we'd give you a more gentle morning, so let you all get up a bit later." said Hon Su. "Now, remember the day you met your fans, at the National Museum: you didn't get much time to look in there, so we thought we might like to spend an hour or two there. After that, we have been invited to a very nice restaurant for lunch."

"Invited? Who by?" asked Linda

"Remember Mr Park Ben Jin - he's that boss of FY you met after the filming at the TV studios? Well, he's invited us all, along with Yu-eye, for lunch. I think you'll enjoy it!"

"Oh, ok... You know by now that I'm a BIG fan of your food!" commented Carol.

"Yes, and because of that, we decided that, in the afternoon, you need a bit of exercise, so we're going to take you out to Bukhansan National Park... we can either walk, or rent some bikes, but there's some great trails out there!" said Yun Hee, smiling

"Oh, how far away is that then?"

"Less than 10km... It's a really big place, so we're only going to see a tiny bit of it, but I think you'll enjoy it!"

"Wow, you're so lucky, you have so much nature so close!


Offline Braceface2015

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #75 on: 06. May 2023, 19:09:37 PM »
You've got two chapter 48's.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #76 on: 07. May 2023, 21:23:06 PM »
Chapter 50 - Sunday

Whilst they were tired after everything that had happened on the Saturday, they weren't ready for bed when they got back, so the 8 girls spent some fun time working on a few musical ideas...  Once more, Paige and Callum filmed things, but it was pretty easy, as no one was particularly moving around. Eventually, they went off to bed.

Carol woke at about 9am feeling surprisingly refreshed, and was surprised to find that she was actually one of the last of them to wake up. Clearly the exercise and excitement from yesterday had made them all sleep well. Knowing that she would be eating well at lunchtime, Carol had a very light breakfast.

By the time they had showered and dressed, Hon Su, his wife, plus Brian and Lisa had arrived, and they all went in the bus to the National Museum, where they were able to have a leisurely walk around. Whilst in concept it was like many other museums filled with 'old stuff', it was more interesting because the 'old stuff' was Asian, rather than European, and so a bit different. Linda and Carol both spent some time looking at the paintings on the second floor. Of course, they all enjoyed looking at the many items of craft and jewellery, inclusing the old crown.

It was a relatively short visit, but gave them an insight to Korea's history and culture.

Korea seems to work earlier than England - which is why their dance lessons started at 8am, but ended at 4... meaning that lunchtime was typically from 12 till 1pm... thus they had to get to their bus by about 11:45, to make it to the restaurant in time. When they got there, it was clear that this was a VERY upmarket restaurant. Mr Park Ben Jin and his wife had only just arrived themselves, and Yu-Eye arrived only minutes later: they were shown into a large private dining room, where there was a long table, with enough seats for all 18 of them!

"Hello everyone!" said Mr Park, "thank you all for coming along, I hope you enjoy the meal!". Mr Park and his wife had taken seats in the middle of one side of the table, and he asked the eight girls to sit close to him, so he could talk to them. The food was, as expected, delicious, and after the 'main course', but before any 'puddings' were brought in, Mr Park spoke to them.

"First of all, congratulations to Ahnjong, Min Jee, Taeyang and Yun Hee, for getting their first number one!" he said. "Then, I need to thank Carol, Jenny, Dianne and Linda - and the rest of you too - for coming over here: not only did jelly Fish make number one, but you ladies added your voices to the song, and made THAT a number one: so congratulations to you all too!". The 4 girls all nodded, indicating their appreciation of the thanks that Mr Park had just said.

"Now, I have a question for you: Carol, I believe it was your suggestion to ask to take some dance lessons: how are the lessons going?"

"Well, I think we are all thoroughly enjoying them. It's hard work, but we have learned a lot, even in just one week!" replied Carol.

"Absolutely," added Jenny, "I'm so glad Carol suggested it.

"Well, I had a talk with the 'Principal' at the school, and he tells me that his teachers have been very impressed with you too. He didn't think you'd take the dance lessons quite so seriously, but it seems you have been working very hard. He also says that the feedback from his teachers and students about your 'msterclasses' has been very positive too. But what he was most excited by was what you've been doing on a lunchtime in the hall... not so much your short performances, but talking with, and inspiring the other students. I think that, because you're all the same sort of age as the students, they are so much more willing to listen to you. So thank you... there is absolutely no doubt that you have already... how do you say it... 'earned your keep'!"

The four girls had big smiles on their faces: things were going very well for everyone.

"Now, I hear you turned down a TV appearance yesterday..."

"Yes, we've been busy since we got here, we need a bit of 'us' time, to sort-of relax, and be tourists for a day!" replied Carol.

"Absolutely, and I support your decision completely. However, we're working on maybe one or two TV appearances for you this next week, I am hoping that you'll be willing to do those? You probably don't realise it, but there has actually been a lot of interest in you all, and that then reflects onto Jelly Fish too: it's all good publicity for us all, and we all win from it!"

"I don't think we'll have a problem with that." said Linda.

"Fine with me too!" said Dianne.

"Thank you. I also need to thank Brian and Lisa for their hard work this week: we have managed to reach a preliminary agreement with your English record company to distribute each others records, which I think will help everyone concerned: I believe they already released your joint version of 'Roller Skates' in England."

"Finally, Yun Hee...". Yun Hee was a bit surprised to be singled out. "With a bit of persuasion from Carol and Jenny, I see you already have your braces! How are they?"

Yun Hee smiled, showing off her metal smile. "Thank you for letting me have them: they are still a bit sore on my cheeks, but I'm getting used to them!"

"That's good news... and it has been good to see the positive comments you've got online: Carol, Jenny, you were absolutely correct in what you said, and I'm so glad you brought it to my attention! So, finally, I just want to thank you all for taking the time at very short notice to come over to Seoul: please enjoy your third week here, next week!" said Mr Park.

With his 'formal speech' done, he turned to the 8 girls. "I hear you are all getting on together very well...." he said.

"Yes, I think we are!" said Linda. "I'm so glad we have been able to stay in the apartment next to them, it has let us spend a lot of time together, something we wouldn't have been able to do if we'd been in a hotel!"

"So, tell me, are you being musically inspired, either by the girls, or by being here in Korea?"

"Well, I certainly have been!" said Linda, "and I'm pretty certain the others have too. Even last night, we were all just messing about, singing and playing..."

"Would you be interested in writing another song for Jelly Fish, or maybe for one of our other groups?"

"A definite possibility. Any idea what sort of song you'd like?"

"Ah, now for that, you need to speak to Yu-Eye, which I'm sure you'll do, as I hear that she has other things that are of interest to you too!"

They all continued talking as they ate their deserts.

"To your liking, Carol?" asked Taeyang as they left the restaurant.

"Absolutely, the food there was excellent. Tell you what, I'm thinking I need to move here, just for the food!" said Carol, laughing.


In the end, they decided to walk in the Bukhansan National Park that afternoon, rather than ride bikes. They split into 3 smaller groups, and had a very gentle afternoon, enjoying being surrounded by nature. As they walked around, some people approached them, others were 'looking from a slight distance': in all cases, they took a few minutes out to let them take a few selfies, knowing full well that the publicity would be good for them.

Jenny - who was with Ben, Callum and her parents, and was accompanied by Min Jee - met an English couple on the way, and they chatted with them for some time as they walked. Jenny enjoyed times like this, when she could almost forget she was a pop-star, and just chat with people 'normally'.


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #77 on: 08. May 2023, 16:27:47 PM »
Chapter 51 - a day of many things, including a broken bracket!

In the first week of classes, the girls had run three masterclasses, sharing different bits of their experience: it seemed that these had gone down very well. Today, the Monday of the second week, they had a masterclass just before lunch, which they called 'Stage Etiquette', in which they tried to pass on their experiences they had gained from being on tour. Things like 'remembering the  crew's names, if you can', 'don't forget to thank people', and probably most important 'remember that you are part of a team: so, for example, if you upset the sound guy, then expect your sound to be bad!'. The students, none of whom had yet 'debuted' (= had a live performance / had a record released), were grateful to receive these hints and tips. Yes, they would occasionally get visits from 'idols', but this wasn't the sort of thing they usually talked about!


Just as they went for lunch, Jenny got a call from her dad. "Hiya. I've had a call from the radio station that does the chart show..." he said.

"Oh, they wanting us on the chart show AGAIN?"

"No, they are hoping you would like to do a 15 minute or so interview with you in the hour before the show..."

"But we're at class: if we need to go to the studios, it's going to wipe out half the morning and half the afternoon!"

"Hey, what's going on?" asked Dianne, who had overheard the last part of the conversation.

"Oh, the radio station wants to do an interview with us before the chart show tomorrow, and if we go to the studio, we'll miss half our dance classes!"

"So why don't they just come here?" suggested Dianne.

"Hang on, let me put the phone on speaker. Dad, did you hear that?"

"Yes, what you thinking, Dianne?"

"I'm sure we could use a practice room, get the station to send a simple outside broadcast setup, then we can do the interview from here. Maybe have a simple video call to the studio too, so we can see what's happening there..." said Dianne.

"Forget the practice room, we should do it in the main hall, let all the students watch and listen in.... all good training for them to see what goes on..." said Jenny.

"I can see a lot of sense in both those ideas," replied Jenny's dad. "Tell you what, leave it with me, I'll chat with Callum, the radio station, and your 'principal', see what we can do... nice idea there ladies!"


"Oh, damn it!" said Jenny. The four girls were by now having lunch in the 'school canteen'.

"What's wrong?" asked Linda.

"I think I just broke off a bracket...". Jenny put a finger into her mouth to have a feel. "Yup, I've got a loose bracket... damn it!"

"Well, I know an ortho you could go to!" said Carol.

"Yeah, I'll have to get it fixed, it'd be at least a week before I'd be able to get it fixed back home. I'll give Yun Hee a call after lunch..."

After they finished eating, and before they went into the hall, Jenny called Yun Hee, and explained she needed to see the ortho, and could she, please, please, please, organise an appointment.

As with every other lunchtime, they went into the hall, and they decided that Carol and Linda would use a couple of acoustic guitars to sing the song they had sung for the open-mic night the previous week. The other students were pleasantly surprised to hear something quite different, and after they had played it, Carol suggested that they would just answer any questions that anyone had, which kinda kept the whole event much lower key than on previous lunchtimes.

They also suggested that there MIGHT be something a bit special happening on the Tuesday lunchtime...

Jenny got a call back from Yun Hee: she had arranged that Ji-Ho would collect the six of them after classes as normal, but would take them to the ortho, where Bong-Cha would be able to fix her broken bracket.

Just after 4, when they finished for the day, Ji-Ho was waiting for them outside with the nice limo: even though they had seen it before, a lot of the students were taking notice, and weren't actually THAT surprised to find that it was for the 6 English visitors.

"Hello!" said Ji-Ho. "I hear you need to go to the orthodontist again, but for you this time?"

"Yes, one of the brackets fell off my teeth, I need to get it fixed." replied Jenny as they got into the car.

"That's annoying: I had braces as a teen, and I remember losing a couple of brackets." commented Ji-Ho.

"You had braces? Cool! Anything special?" asked Jenny.

"No, just simple metal brackets.... Hey, is it any easier having braces when you're an adult?"

"Yes, I think it is. Hey Carol, what do you think?"

"Well, like you, I had braces as a teen, but I didn't really enjoy them, probably all the comments from the other kids didn't help. When I recently had to get a replacement retainer - one of my teeth had moved a bit - it wasn't a big deal at all... so yeah, I think it's a LOT easier as an adult. But that's true for so many things, even simple stuff, like having glasses."

"Well," said Dianne, "I'm impressed that Yun Hee was able to get you an appointment so quickly!"

"Funnily, that's almost exactly what I said to her. She just quoted back some song lyrics..."

"Oh, what lyrics?" asked Dianne.

"'Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?' Not really quite sure what she was on about though. Also said something about 'Bruce will probably know'. Anyway, all that really matters is that I got an appointment."

The traffic was busy today, so it took about 20 minutes to get to the orthodontist's office: Jenny loved the name: 'Sunshine Smiles Orthodontist'!

"I'll wait down here for you..." said Ji-Ho. As they all got out of the car, Carol realised that this was actually the first time they had been somewhere and done something in Seoul without someone else being with them, someone who could act as a translator. It was a bit of a scary feeling. Of course, having been here a few days before, they knew where they were going, so it wasn't quite so bad.

"Ah, I assume one of you is Jenny." said the receptionist as the six of them walked in.

"Yes, that's me! I'm here to see... Bong-Cha?"

"Yes, that is correct, please, go and sit in the waiting room, she will be with you soon.".

"Oooh, this is a nice place, better than the old place I went to when I had braces" said Dianne as they all walked into the waiting room. "Yes, VERY nice... clearly not NHS!"

"You know, I have no idea if they do free braces for kids here in Korea, but this place is definitely private!" replied Carol. "Actually, Jenny's ortho has a quite nice office - but he's private too!"

"So, do you think this ortho lady will be ok with me videoing you?" Paige asked Jenny. Paige had brought up the main bag with the cameras in.

"I'm not sure, but I suspect she'll be ok. Leave it with me, I'll ask her"

It wasn't long before Bong-Cha came in to the waiting room. "Oh, I wasn't expecting so many of you!" she commented. "Hello again, Jenny, I believe you have a broken bracket?"

"Yes, I do. Maybe I should introduce everyone?" said Jenny, explaining who everyone was. "So, Paige is filming the band while we're here in Korea: would you mind if she filmed us while you fix my bracket?"

"That shouldn't be a problem. Come on through... there's space for you all, if you want to come and watch!"

Mishil got a pleasant surprise as they all walked in.

"Hello again, Mishil!" said Carol, who happened to remember her name. "We're all here today..." and she introduced Dianne and Linda. "This is Paige, she's going to be filming what's happening, and Callum, well, he's Jenny's brother, and does all the tech stuff for us, and is helping Paige!"

"So, it would be good to get the whole thing, so where's a good place for me to be, with a tripod?"

"If you go just THERE, that will give enough space for Mishil to get to me." While Paige set up one of the main cameras, Callum got a couple of GoPros out too, giving one to Jenny, the other to Carol. "Just turn them on, leave them running, and point as needed!" he explained.

The rest of the team stood back, out of the way.

"So," said Jenny to camera, "I broke one of my brackets off at lunchtime, so we've come to Sunshine Smiles Orthodontist to get it fixed... it's the same place where Yun Hee came to get her braces." Jenny turned, and the camera followed her: "This is Bong-Cha, she's my orthodontist today, and Mishil is her assistant.... so, shall we do this?"

"Of course. Jenny, please sit in the treatment chair." Paige followed Jenny as she sat in the chair, and Bong-Cha reclined the seet back. "So, where is the bracket that came off?" Jenny pointed, and Paige zoomed in, as Bong-Cha's finger touched then moved the disconnected bracket. "Have you had a bracket come off before?" she asked.

"Yes, I lost one at the beginning of my treatment, but nothing since."

"Ah, good, so you know what I'll need to do.... I guess I ought to explain for the camera... I'll start by taking off all of Jenny's upper ligatures, then remove the archwire. I'll need to clean the tooth, to make sure there's no old glue there, then I'll need to find a new matching bracket, and glue that on. Then I'll replaces the archwire, and put on new ligatures... you ready to start, Jenny?"

"Yes, go on...."

Mishil passed Bong-Cha some lip-spreaders, pretty much the same as Jenny's ortho in London used, and put it into Jenny's mouth. Carol was next to Jenny, and used her GoPro to get some close-up pictures of Jenny's mouth. Bong-Cha very quickly used a long pointed tool to remove the ligatures from Jenny's top teeth, then pulled out the archwire, with the broken brackets still on it.

"Jenny, if you like, I could change your lower ligatures to match the new top ones - these ones are already a little stained."

"Uh hu!" grunted Jenny, also nodding. No more than a minute later, Jenny's lower ligs and archwire had also been removed. Bong-Cha removed the lip spreaders.

"Would you like to brush your teeth while the archwires are out?"

"Do you have floss?"

"Yes, of course."

"In that case, definitely!!!". Bong-Cha pressed the button to bring the chair back to a sitting position, so Jenny could get out. She got her toothbrush and paste from her bag, then went to the sink, where Mishil gave her the floss.

Callum was there with the second camera, so Jenny turned to it. "If you've ever had braces, you'll understand what a joy it is to be able to floss your teeth normally! Normally the archwire is in the way, and you end up either threading the floss through yout braces, or use a tiny brush thing. Back home, I have a water pic, and that's great, but NOTHING beats having a proper floss like this!" said Jenny enthusiastically.

As Jenny enjoyed flossing, then brushing, her teeth, Callum stood back a bit: if this bit was included in a program, the viewers probably wouldn't be wanting to see all the gory details!

Finally, and with a large smile on her face, Jenny turned again to Callum, and the camera: "That feels so good!". Callum managed to get a great shot of Jenny's teeth, with metal brackets but no archwires or ligatures. There was, of course, one tooth with a missing bracket.

While Jenny was brushing her teeth, Bong-Cha had found a suitable bracket. As Jenny sat down, she explained: "It's not identical, but close enough".

"Why can't you just re-attach the old bracket" asked Paige.

"It's not easy to remove all the old glue from the bracket: in this case, the glue fractured on the surface of the tooth, leaving it all on the bracket. So, we use a new one, they aren't particularly expensive." Bong-Cha held the two brackets up for Jenny to see, and Carol used her camera to try and get a good shot. "It's not perfect, but it's very close - are you ok with that, Jenny?"

"It looks close enough to me, and I doubt anyone will notice... well, apart from maybe Ben!"

Jenny lay back in the chair once more, and had the lip spreader fitted again. "So, first of all, a good clean: I'm sure Jenny already brushed well, we need to do it a bit better!" With a small brush and some paste, she gave the surface of the naked tooth a good clean, then rinsed it well. "Next I etch the tooth surface: that gives the tooth a microscopically rough surface, to make sure the glue will stay on this time!"

"Whose fault is it, when a bracket comes off?" asked Paige.

"I never blame anyone, it just happens. Jenny probably accidentally hit it or bit on something. The glue may have already been starting to fail, maybe the tooth wasn't prepared properly originally, it's hard to tell. Some kids get all upset and worried because a bracket has come off... they shouldn't, it happens, and whilst it takes a few minutes to fix, it's not normally a big deal. Of course, if someone's not being sensible about what they eat, that's something different, but it doesn't happen often!" While she was speaking, she had been etching the tooth, rinsing it, and had just put some glue onto the tooth. She picked up the replacement bracket, and placed it on the tooth. Before using the UV lamp to cure the glue, she inserted the archwire. "I just want to make sure the bracket is in exactly the right place, the archwire will make sure it is." she explained.

All the while, there were three cameras pointed at her mouth: Paige's, Carol's, and the one that Jenny had. Getting her bracket fixed would probably be the best documented bit of the whole trip!

Bong-Cha removed some excess glue, then used the blue-light wand to cure the glue on the bracket, then double-checked that it was fixed firmly.

"So," said Carol, "I reckon you should have the same ligs that Yun Hee has... That way, you can be braces buddies!". Jenny tried to laugh, but it was difficult with the lip spreaders in, but she nodded enthusiastically, and gave a thumbs up too.

Mishil remembered the colours Yun He had, and got them out. Everyone watched as best they could as Jenny had a set of bright neon-coloured ligatures put onto her braces.

"What do you think guys?" asked Jenny moments later, when her lip-spreaders had been removed.

Jenny got her phone out, took a picture, which she posted online: "New bracket, and new ligs! I hope you like the look! Off to see my braces-buddy, Yun Hee!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #78 on: 10. May 2023, 01:16:52 AM »

Chapter 52 - A bit more time at the ortho

"Your treatment is going well, Jenny!" said Bong-Cha, "I'm guessing maybe another six months to go?"

"Yes, about that!" replied Jenny. "They are a lot better than they were, but there's still a few tiny things that aren't yet right." Jenny got out of the treatment chair, and joined the others.

"While you are here, it would be very remiss of me to not offer to take a quick look at the teeth of the rest of you... Ok, I won't be able to treat you, but it might encourage you to go to an orthodontist when you get home..." suggested Bong-Cha. "Carol, why don't I start with you?"

"Well, my teeth are fine, my ortho - ok, well really Jenny's ortho - said so. But I don't mind you taking a look! I guess I'd better take my retainer out..."

Carol took out her retainers, sat in the big seat, and Bong-Cha reclined it back. "So, you recently had treatment?"

"No, it was several years ago, as a teenager, but recently I spotted on tooth had moved a tiny bit, that's why I got the new retainers: I broke my old ones!"

"May I see your retainer?" asked Bong-Cha. Carol passed them to her. "Ah, I see, so your ortho used a spring to move your canine back into position....". Bong-Cha fitted Carol with a lip-spreader, and spent a minute quickly looking at Carols teeth, asking her to bite, and move them.

"Yes, your teeth look really good! You've looked after them well, and I would say that canine is back in it's proper place again. I'm glad you went to see someone to get that fixed! And I don't think I need to tell you about wearing your retainer, do I?"

Carol got out of the seat. "Go on, Linda... get in the chair!"

"Oh, all right!". Of course, Linda had never needed braces as a teen, so had never been checked out by an ortho before. With Linda now lying back, Bong-Cha asked if she had ever had braces, to be told that she hadn't.

"In that case, I'll have a better look at your teeth...". With a fresh lip-spreader inserted, and Linda now lying back, Bong-Cha carefully looked at her teeth. A few minutes later, she sat her up again, and removed the lip spreader. "You are very lucky, Linda, you have very good teeth, and they are naturally lined up well. Yes, there are maybe one or two very minor things that could be done, but if you are happy with them, I'd leave them as they are, they seem to be very stable. So, who wants to be next?"

"That will be Dianne..." suggested Carol. Dianne, didn't move. She knew that her teeth - specifically her lower front teeth, had relapsed: her lower wisdom teeth finally started to errupt about 3 years ago, and had clearly moved her lower teeth a bit. "Go on, Dianne, it won't hurt..."

Whilst Dianne was rather apprehensive - her memories of her treatment as a teen were not good - she realised that she couldn't ignore the problem forever, so reluctantly sat in the chair. "Before you ask: I had a load of braces when I was about 12, pretty much everything I could have had. By the time I was about 15, they were fine, and they were fine until my wisdom teeth came though....". As she was explaining, Bong-Cha reclined the chair.

With yet another lip spreader inserted, Bong-Cha could see that whilst her upper teeth were generally ok, her lowers were suffering a lack of space, and had started to twist. "Yes, as you say, your top teeth aren't too bad, but these lower front ones are a bit crowded. I know you won't want to hear this, but you really should visit an orthodontist when you return to England, and have this treated. The first thing is that you'll need your third molars removing, and then you'll need braces... it might be that you can get this fixed with invisible aligners... I guess it depends if you want to be like Jenny and Yun Hee or not!"

Bong-Cha turned to Callum - Paige was still behind the camera - "would you like me to check yours?"

"Why not" he replied. As he sat in the chair, he explained that he had never had braces before, and whilst his teeth weren't 100% perfect, he was ok with them, and they never seemed to have moved at all. Bong-Cha, lay him back, and with lip-spreaders inserted, examined him, asking him to bite, and move his teeth left and right, then forwards and backwards.

"As you said, they aren't quite perfect, but if you're happy with them, I'd leave them as they are: as you say, they are all in nice stable positions, and your jaws are big enough that your third molars don't seem to be causing you any issues."

"Well, that just leaves you, Paige, want to be checked out?" said Callum, as he got out of the chair. "Pass the camera to me...".

"I'd actually rather you didn't film me..."

"Ok, I don't think we actually NEED to film your check-up, do we?". Paige sat in the chair, and opened her mouth: she had a lovely set of whiter-than-average straight teeth.

Without being prompted, she explained her history: "I had brackets, but before that I had a twin blocks for a bit. I still have clear retainers, and wear them twice a week at night, and they still fit ok!"

Bong-Cha hardly spent any time at all checking her teeth: if her retainers still fitted her well, then her teeth would be as good as they looked!


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #79 on: 15. May 2023, 17:00:05 PM »
Chapter 53 - Dinner, fans and a new fun song

"Hey, Yun Hee, come take a look - Jenny has matching ligs to you now! You're officially braces-buddies now!" called Carol as they walked into the Jelly Fish apartment. Paige had guessed that something fun would happen, so her camera was all ready. Jenny smiled, then so did Yun Hee: whilst slightly differently arranged, their lig colours were the same.

Yun Hee high-fived Jenny: "Yay, braces buddies!" said Yun Hee. "Where's my phone?" she asked noone in particular.

"Here..." said Ahnyong, picking it up and taking it over to her.

Yun Hee unlocked the phone, then took a selfie of the two of them: she had learnt well from Jenny about making lots of fun posts online.

Pictures taken, Jenny went to Ben, kissed him, and let him have a look. "Yes, definitely bright, probably the brightest you've ever had. But they DO look good!"

"So, what's the plans for dinner then?" asked Carol.

"Well....." answered Taeyang, "I believe Brian and Lisa are going out with Hon Su and his wife again, so it's just the 12 of us. We definitely need to eat out, there's no-one coming in to cook tonight. Ah, yes, Do-yun and Ha-ru will be with us again too, just in case...."

"I have an idea, how about we go to Myeongdong?" suggested Ahnjong.

"Yes, we must take them to Myeongdong!" replied Min Jee.

"What's at Myeongdong then?" asked Carol.

"Well, as well as a load of shops that are open till late, there's all sorts of places to eat... Let's go there, and decide what to do when we're there, shall we?". Taeyang called their driver to let him know their plans.

"Umm, we're likely to be recognised if we go there," commented Yun Hee, "so I guess we need to plan in some time for that?"

"Yay, Yun Hee, I'm proud of you, you're starting to think like us!" said Jenny. "So, thinking out loud... an hour or so to eat. Food places close when?"

"Mostly around 10pm..." replied Yun Hee.

"Sounds like there should be plenty of time, let's get there and eat, and then look around and meet with any fans after that? I'm kinda in the mood to chat with some of our fans...."

They were ready surprisingly quickly, and their bus took them to Myeongdong. As ever, they told their bus driver what sort of time they would be needing to return, and that they would call him in plenty of time. As they got off the bus, Yun Hee grabbed the guitar they had decided to bring with them, and put it over her back.

For a change, Callum and Paige decided not to take the larger cameras, instead taking all the Go-Pros, keeping one each, and passing others to Ben, Mike, and Carol. "There's plenty of battery and storage, so just turn them on and film everything..." said Paige. 

Rather than just find a restaurant, they decided to try out different bits of street food as they wandered around. Ok, maybe not quite so 'up-market' as eating in a restaurant, but it was fun and it was different, and much of it certainly looked a lot healthier than what you might find in an equivalent English market!

"Oh, my goodness, guys, you HAVE to try some of this!" said Carol, who had just bought 'something' on a skewer. "It's amazing!"

There was one stall selling what was clearly grilled squid, but none of the English visitors were brave enough to try it. "It's actually quite tasty". Dianne went for a fish dish. Taeyang had a sausage on a skewer, that had a spiral-cut potato on it, all in batter and fried.

"What's that then?" Carol asked Ahnjong.

"It's called 'Bindaetteok'... it's a sort of 'bean pancake, this one has onions and prawns in, and the sauce is just onions and soy sauce... try some!" Everyone enjoyed trying bits of each others food.

Having eaten quite a bit of savoury food, they decided it was time for some sort of desert. Having found a stall that did ice-cream, Carol asked Taeyang to explain a couple of things that were of offer.

"Well, this one is called "Ice cream honeycomb bungeoppang". The Bungeoppang bit is the pastry bit that holds the icecream," (what we might call the 'cone'), "On the top is raw... I think you call it 'honeycomb'".

"Yup, I'm having one of those!" said Paige. As the stall-holder made it, she filmed it on her camera. "Wow! It's lovely!!" she said. Next they found a stall doing churros, so a couple of them had churros with ice cream. Jenny got something called a 'Hotteok', a strange sort of fluffy pancake, hers had sesame seeds  and syrup inside it. Callum got a ice cream filled waffle, while Ben tried a sweet bread, in the shape of a turtle, and Dianne bought some doughballs made of rice, and apparently made with wine.

"Hold on a moment..." said Jenny. She had just spotted a stall selling those typically Korean coloured biscuits with a creamy filling. "Let's buy a load, and give them to any fans who join us." So far, probably because they were walking around the food market, they hadn't actually been approached by any fans (and part of that was probably because Do-yun and Ha-ru were doing their job - they had quickly learnt how to be very discrete in what they needed to do).

"So, what next?" asked Linda.

"I think we should find somewhere we can sit down, have a drink, and let some of our fans meet us." suggested Jenny. Min Jee and Taeyang had a word with Do-yun and Ha-ru, who seemed to be fairly familiar with the area.

"There's a bar not far from here, has a large seating area outside, sounds just right."

"Well, Min Jee, your idea of coming here was great!" said Linda as they got to the bar.

"Absolutely, the food here has been such fun, so many different things, and they just look amazing! Well, maybe not the squid...".

At the bar, they all sat down: it wasn't long before a girl came over to see what drinks they wanted.

"What's the stuff in small green bottles called?" Carol asked Taeyang.

"Oh, you mean Soju..."

"Yeah, that's the one, I'll have that!". Whilst the two security guys, Do-yun and Ha-ru, had soft drinks, the rest had either soju or beer. It didn't take long for the drinks to come. Carol took the top off her bottle, and was about to pour it, when Taeyang stopped her.

"Carol, you can't do that!" said Taeyang.

"Why not?"

"Manners. Tradition. Give it to me....". Teayang took the bottle from her, and poured it for her, and passed her the glass. "You see, you're not allowed to pour your own drink. Oh, and never drink the whole glass unless you want it refilling... just leave a little in it. And you drink the first shot like this..." Teayang took her glass in both her hands, turned sideways, and drank the whole shot.

"Ah, ok, in that case, would you like another?" asked Carol. Carol had noticed that Taeyang had used two hands to hold the bottle, so she did the same. Taeyang smiled.

"You're learning our drinking rules quickly!"

Having had their first glass of soju, Carol spoke to Taeyang. "Look, surely the owners of this place will not be too pleased if fans come and sit here with us, but don't buy drinks.... I have an idea." Taeyang and Carol went inside, and had a word with the owner: Carol would buy their fans drinks, so please ask them what they would like, and Carol would pay.

"That might cost a bit, you ok with that?"

"Look, you guys, or should I really say 'FY' have been paying for pretty much everything so far, so it's NOT a problem!" They went back outside, and after explaining to the others, Carol picked up the guitar. "Hey, anyone got their recorder with them?". No one did, so she got out one of her phones, and started recording. "Hey, you probably want to start the GoPro's too!". Carol started strumming the guitar, she clearly had a melody in mind. She paused, took another drink of soju, then continued.

"Braces buddies, braces buddies, Yun Hee and Jenny are braces buddies...." she started to sing, much to the delight of everyone. She repeated the same words. "Neon ligatures and silver brackets, they are braces buddies....". By now, both Yun Hee and Jenny were smiling, showing off their matching shiny multicoloured smiled. Carol played a bit more, as she tried to think of more words.

"Hey, pass the guitar over here!" said Jenny, who started to play a tune very similar to Carol's. "Braces buddies, braces buddies, Yun Hee and Jenny are braces buddies...." sang Carol and Jenny. "Neon ligatures and silver brackets, they are braces buddies....".

"She's my buddy, with the same sort of braces, all nice and shiny, with silly bright colours..." sang Yun Hee, joining in the fun. A few minutes later, Yun Hee took the guitar, and tried out the tune, tweaking it a little more, with many of the girls joining in the singing. By now, a few passers-by had stopped, and were looking at them, one had taken their phone out, and was videoing them. At a suitable point, Yun Hee stopped playing. "Come on over, and join us!" she said to them.

Two girls came over, rather hesitantly. "Are you.....?"

"I'm Yun Hee, this is Jenny, and that's Carol......".

The girls bowed. "I'm Jae, this is Binna... So you ARE Jelly Fish?"

"Yes, and these are the girls from England, CJDL." said Yun Hee, pointing. "Come, sit down, and have a drink with us..... She turned to the others who were still standing and looking - about 6 or 8 of them: "Do come over and join us!". They were clearly rather surprised: how often does a number one pop group ask you to join them?

Some of them came over, and spoke to Yun Hee in Korean. She smiled, and turning to Carol said "I explained that they need to have a drink, and that YOU are paying!".

"Thank you!" said the group of four to Carol.

"So, you like our new song?"

"Yes, it is nice... when did you write it?"

"About 5 minutes ago, as I played the guitar!"

As more of their fans came along, the original group spread out a bit onto other tables, making space.

"Carol! Jenny!" said a voice that they both recognised. "What are YOU guys doing here in Myeongdong?"

"Nabi! I could ask you the same! The girls brought us here to have dinner, and we thought it would be fun to meet some of our and their fans! Come and have a drink with us!" replied Carol, getting up and giving Nabi a quick hug.

"OMG, did you just say Nabi?" said Dianne. "Hey, is she stalking us?"

"This is my friend, Sook, she's the one I went to the Park Festival with..."

"Ah, ok... hi there, Sook, nice to meet you!"

"Nabi told me all about you guys!" said Sook.

"Good stuff, I hope?" said Carol with a smile.

Slowly the whole seated area outside the bar / cafe filled up, so a total of around 50 or 60 people. Everyone seemed to be very relaxed, probably because it was evening, and everyone there was over 18. As people chatted, our girls tried to move around a bit, giving as many people as possible the chance to meet them.

Linda ended up with a small group around her, while she worked on some words for the braces song that Jenny had started earlier.

And Carol enjoyed drinking the Soju... in fact, she was getting a little 'tipsy'. We can tell that from the texts she sent Tom. Whilst they started off as 'having a great time drinking with a load of fans here in Seoul', they turned to 'wish you were here...' and 'missing you!'.

"Ok, let's give this song a go!" said Linda. She started strumming the guitar, then sang the words she had written down:

'Braces Buddies, they are braces buddies... Yun Hee and Jenny are braces buddies... with matching metal braces.... and matching neon colours... they are a pair of braces buddies'. There was a short chorus, and a second verse too, and once they got going, loads of others joined in on the 'Braces Buddies' bits! At the end, she got a well deserved round of applause.

Carol stood up. "Nice one, Linda. Now, I'm thinking that we should all sing a song... if only there was a song that everyone knew... it's a shame we don't have a song in the charts..... half a moment, we DO have a song in the charts!" Everyone laughed. "Ok, so how about we... and by we, I mean us four in CJDL, how about we sing the first verse, the girls from Jelly Fish can sing the second verse, we can all sing the third verse, and as for the choruses... EVERYONE can join in with those!" Linda passed the guitar over to Carol, who started strumming. Paige, Callum, Mike and Ben had started recording on their GoPro's, all from different angles.

"Ok, ladies, are we ready?". Carol, Jenny, Dianne and Linda sang the first verse. Ahnjong, Min Jee, Taeyang and Yun Hee sang the second verse, all eight of them did the third verse, with almost everyone joining in on the choruses. At the end there was a lot of clapping and cheering.

When the noise died down, Nabi stood up, and spoke in both English and Korean.. "Hi everyone, I'm Nabi: I used to go to college with Carol and Jenny and Dianne, in England - they did music, I did maths, but we got on pretty well despite that! I actually bumped into Carol the weekend before last, and ended up spending the evening with everyone: and what a lovely bunch of girls and guys they are! I suspect that some of you aren't quite sure who everyone is, so maybe I should introduce them.... So, over here is Carol: a big thank you to Carol, coz I believe she's paying for our drinks tonight!!". A big cheer went up. "That's Jenny, and her boyfriend Ben. Then there's Dianne and her boyfriend... erm... Mike! Then we have Linda, the newest girl in the group, she was in the year below us. Over there, with cameras, is Callum - he's Jenny's little brother - and Paige: they both work for the band, and they are putting together something that might become a TV program about their visit here. And then, of course, we have Ahnjong, Min Jee, Taeyang and Yun Hee, who are the members of Jelly Fish!"

Nabi paused for a few seconds as people clapped. "Anyway, I just want to say 'thank you' to them for tonight, I don't know about you, but I've had a great time.. so thank you!!" Nabi bowed at the various girls.

"Actually, you missed two of our team!" said Taeyang, standing up. "Over there is Do-yun and Ha-ru, they are our 'security guys', but you have all been so well behaved that all they've had to do is sit and drink coffees!!! Guys, thanks for coming with us tonight, it's good to know you're here if we need you!." She turned back to their fans again: "But thank YOU all for sitting with us, we've had a great time chatting with you, and it's been so relaxed too. Before meeting the girls from England, I don't think any of us would have even thought about doing something like this, but yeah, it's been good. I guess all that's now left to do is pay the drinks bill!"

Taeyang went in with a tipsy Carol to pay the bill. "There's a lot of zero's there!" said Carol, looking at the bill. "Luckily I can remember that 1000 Won is under a pound, so I know it's really not that bad!"


"You ok there, Carol?" asked Linda.

"Yeah, I got a bit tipsy last night, didn't I?" said Carol looking at her phone.

"Yes, you did, but you behaved yourself ok... what's the problem?" Carol passed her phone over, and Linda looked at the texts that Carol had sent to Tom, and started to giggle. "Ah, yes, right.... definitely texts sent whilst drunk!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #80 on: 15. May 2023, 22:47:00 PM »
Chapter 54

The four girls were in their dance class, so was Callum, although Paige wasn't, she had gone out to the toilet.

Suddenly, the door burst open, and a guy (well, he could have been a girl!) came in: he wore a hoody, and had a mask over his face. In fact, the only parts of him that were visible were his hand and his eyes. The scariest bit was what he had in his hands: he had two small guns.

He shouted something in Korean. All the Korean students, and their teacher, went down onto the floor. He shouted something else, this time more angrily, then, without warning, fired shots at our four girls who hadn't understood what had been said, and were still standing. Jenny fell straight down, and they fired more shots at the others: this time, being closer, they hit their targets.

All four members of CJDL lay on the floor, with blood <redacted>, appearing to be very dead.

Callum, seeing what had just happened, shouted out, and he too was shot <redacted>, falling to the ground.

Paige was about 20 feet behind the guy, and was actually standing in the doorway - about to walk into the room - when the first shots rang out. She momentarily froze, then took a step back, and a couple of steps to the side, making sure that there was solid wall between her and the guy with the gun.

As she stood there shaking, she heard a second set of shots, then soon after that a third. She fell down on the floor, feeling very sick.

Whilst the room was sound-proofed, the gunshots were quite audible from outside, and other students ran off: the good news is that about 2 minutes later, 2 security guards arrived, with guns in their hands.

"There's a man in there with a gun...." sobbed Paige. The two guards looked at each other. One got ready to shoot, the other got ready to open the door for the first guard. Another shot rang out, this time from the guard's gun....


On the far side of the hallway was a man who looked to be in his 20s, reasonably tall, short red hair and a beard. Dressed in jeans and some sort of polo top, and actually not all that bad looking. On his back he had a rucksack, and he had something large on his left wrist.

"Oh, sh*t!" he said, "Not in THIS version of the storyverse too?" He pressed the yellow button on the piece of kit he had attached to his left wrist, and promptly vanished.


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #81 on: 03. June 2023, 21:34:55 PM »
Chapter 54 (again!)

"Boy, am I happy to see you guys!" said Paige. She had just walked out of her bedroom, to find Carol and Linda in the lounge area.

"What do you mean?"

"I just had a terrible dream. You were at dance class, I'd just gone to the loo, and when I came back, this guy walked into the dance studio... he had two guns, and he shot you all d.....". Paige felt bad just thinking about it. "Then I saw this guy, in his 20s, reasonably tall, short red hair and a beard. Dressed in jeans and some sort of polo top, and actually not all that bad looking. And he pressed something on his wrist, and just disappeared..."

"When you say a guy with red hair and a beard, not like that guy who just appeared over there?" said Carol, rather surprised.

Paige turned. "Yeah, just like.... what the F***?"

"Oh, sorry, I'm Bruce, and I must say that I'm also very happy to see that you guys are alive too..."

"What the hell are you doing here, in our apartment? And how come you were in my dream?"

Bruce held his hands up, trying to be as non-threatening as possible. "Ok, first question first. This thing on my wrist, it takes me between story-verses, and more recently, multiverses. I just left another story-verse, and it brought me here. The second question... your dream: how did they all die? Was it poison gas, a bomb, a guy with a bazooka, or a guy with guns?"

"A guy with guns... " said Paige, very confused.

"Yeah, that's where I just came from. I adjusted my 'gizmo' - the thing on my wrist that lets me jump - and since then I've been jumping between different versions of the same story."

"Stories? What are you on about?" asked Carol. It was just then that Ben, disturbed by the noise, came out of his bedroom.

"Who on earth are you?" he asked the red-headed guy.

"Hi, I'm Bruce, although some people call me 'The Story Wanderer'."

"The Story Wanderer.... why does that sound familiar?" Ben thought a moment. "Hey, do you know Danny?"

"Yeah, I met a Danny a bit ago... has a girlfriend who's a bigwig lawyer? You know him?"

"Yeah, he said something about you.... so why you here?"

"Ben, what you talking about?" asked Carol.

"Oh, you know Danny, Amanda's boyfriend. He met Bruce several months ago, although I did find it hard to believe his story. As I understand it, Bruce is on some sort of never-ending journey through the multiverse, or something...."

"Close. I started off travelling through the multiple story-verses, but recently it's been different version of the same story-verse."


"Yeah, we don't really exist, this is just a story. And there's loads of other stories out there too."

"Oh, come one, you don't expect me to believe that do you?"

"Ok, let me see if I can show you... you got a laptop or a tablet?". Paige picked up her laptop which was on the table, and turned it on. "Ok, search for ''"...

"Yeah, got it...."

"Ok, go into the 'General' section, and do a search for 'Asian Braces 2'.. you'll probably need to go to the second or third page of the story before Danny meets Amanda... Hang on a moment, you said you're Ben?"

"Yeah, that's me?"

"You're going out with a girl in a band called..... starts with a 'J' I think..."

"Jenny.. what about her?"

"She proposed to you on stage, didn't she? And Danny and Amanda were there too...?"

"Yeah, so what?"

"Go to the end of that story...."

Ben went to the last page, then back one.... Chapter 73, 'The gig'. It described EXACTLY the night that Jenny proposed to him, from Danny's perspective. It also described what happened backstage, after the gig.

"No way!!!"

"I'm sorry to have to tell you that we are all no more than characters in a story."

"In that case, where's OUR story then?"

"Ah, your story will only be there in OTHER story-verses, you're LIVING this story, if you see what I mean. So, back to where I came in: you're all still alive and unharmed it seems. Would I be right in saying that it's early Tuesday morning?"


"Ah, good, it hasn't happened yet then..."

"What hasn't happened?" asked Linda.

"You four girls in the band getting killed....". The blood drained out of Linda's face.

"Maybe I ought to tell you about my dream I had, then Bruce can fill us in." suggested Paige. "You four and Callum were in the dance studio, I had gone to the loo. As I came back, there was this guy in front of me, he went into the studio, while I was in the doorway. He shouted something in Korean, then before I knew it, he was shooting at you. Jenny went straight down, the rest of you were hit. I kinda quickly backed out of the doorway, and collapsed on the floor. Then there were more shots, then soon after two guards came and killed the guy, but it was too late, you four looked like you were dead, Callum was injured. And I saw Bruce over the other side of the hallway, then he suddenly disappeared, and that's when I woke up."

"Yeah, pretty much what I just saw. In the other versions, he came in with a small poison gas cannister, a bazooka gun, and a bomb - seemed to not be worried about killing himself. I wonder what he'll try to do today? I don't think it's anything personal, he was just wanting to 'do something' and in the last story-verse - the one that Paige dreamed about - you just happened to be in his line of fire.

At least we can do something to stop it today...."

"What's going on out h..... oh, who on EARTH is this?" asked Jenny, as she came out of the bedroom.

"I think maybe we need to get everyone out here, and explain what's going on." suggested Ben.

After Bruce explained everything, he added a simple question: "Hey, in every other place I've been, there's always been a link to braces, and someone who likes them. So my question is: which of you is it that has a thing for braces. Bruce wasn't the only one to get a surprise, when four hands went up.


Bruce watched on as 'the guy' walked in the front door of the academy. Bruce nodded at the small 'Special Operations Team' who were nearby to let them know that this was their target.

Moments later, the guy was surrounded by three members of that team, all pointing automatic rifles at him. "On the floor! arms and legs apart!". He quickly did as he was told. A fourth member of the team searched him, finding a couple of poison gas grenades in his small rucksack. Moments later his arms and legs were tied with zip ties, and he was carried away by the team: crisis averted in less than a minute.

Bruce walked over to the studio where everyone was waiting. "You're all ok, they got him..."

"Thanks Bruce!" said Paige, giving him a hug.

"Glad I was able to help. Look, I hope you all won't mind if I don't hang around, I get a feeling that I should be somewhere else....". He held up his left arm, then pressed the green button on the small bit of equipment strapped to his wrist: a couple of lights flashed briefly. Then he pressed the Yellow button. Moments later he had disappeared....


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #82 on: 04. June 2023, 19:14:38 PM »
Chapter 54 (again again!)

"Hey, Paige, wake up!" said Linda, "You must have forgotten to set your alarm.

Paige jumped out of her bed, and hugged Carol. "Oh, Carol, thank goodness you're ok!" Carol looked very confused - mainly because she WAS confused. "I just had the weirdest of dreams, it felt SO real. In fact, I had a dream in my dream... ". Paige started to explain about it.

"I thought *I* was the only one who had too much to drink last night!"

"No, I didn't get drunk. Ok, hang on a moment...." Paige picked up her tablet that was charging next to her bed, went to the '' website, and looked for the same story that she'd looked up in her dream: it was there, exactly the same as before. "Hey, you know the band's copyright lawyer, don't you? Amanda, and her boyfriend Danny? They were at Wembley when Jenny proposed.... Just read this..."

"No way!" said Carol when she'd read it. "Hey, did you say the guy in your dream was 'The Story Wanderer'? Take a look 3 stories above...."

Paige looked: the story was called 'The Story Wanderer'. She turned to Carol: "Hey, a quick question: do you REALLY have a thing for braces?"

Carol's face went a noticeable deep pink colour....


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #83 on: 04. June 2023, 19:17:11 PM »
Chapter 54 (the REAL Chapter 54!) - New dance routine?

"Hello there, Min Jee..." said Paige. It was late-morning on the Tuesday, and the girls were still in their in dancing classe.

"Hi Paige, I thought it better to ring you, in case the girls were busy. Are any of them free?"

"Yeah, let me put you on speaker and take you to them. Guys, it's Min Jee on the phone, wants a word with you..."

"Hi Min Jee... Carol here..."

"Oh, hi Carol! We've had a call from the TV station about Wednesday night: they want us to perform 'Roller Skates', but were hoping we could do a slightly different dance routine for it."

"I guess we can do that, but when can we do it?"

"Well, who's teaching you right now?

"It's Park Sun Hee."

"Oh, she might be willing to help, can I speak with her?"

"Sure, just a moment...". Carol walked over to Sun Hee. "Hey, do you have a moment? I have Min Jee on the phone here, she would like to speak to you."

"Hey, Min Jee!" said Sun Hee, and she and Min Jee spoke in Korean. Finally, Sun Hee passed the phone back to Carol.

"So, what's happening?" asked Carol.

"Well, after you've had your break, you need to get Callum to show the class our dance routine, then Sun Hee is going to get them thinking about what we can do to change it. They all know what you guys are capable off, and it will be good training for them to have to think up a slightly different routine. Then we'll come in with you tomorrow, and we can all work together!"

"Sounds like a win-win to me! Great. So, see you guys tonight.


"Ok, everyone, something a bit different next" explained Sun Hee, their dance teacher, after their break. "Tomorrow morning the four girls from Jelly Fish will be joining us: they are going to be on TV tomorrow night with the ladies here from CJDL, and they need to modify their dance routine. So, Callum will show us their current routine, then I want you all to spend a bit of time coming up with suggestions for changes that they will be able to so in just 2 or 3 hours of practice tomorrow."

Callum connected his laptop to the projector, and played the dance routine.

"I think we've learnt a lot this last week, and you have all seen what we can do, so I'm sure we can do something a lot better than that!" said Carol. "I'm thinking that Taeyang and the others will be able to do whatever we ask them to, it's just us you need to think about!!!"

The class were quite happy to be doing something different. Not just different, but 100% relevant: this wouldn't just be something they would do in class, Jelly Fish and CJDL would be doing this on TV.


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #84 on: 05. June 2023, 18:05:30 PM »
Chapter 55 - On the radio

The radio station had taken up Dianne's idea of coming to the school to interview them. Late morning, Callum had helped them set up the small amount of kit needed on the stage, and had also connected it up to the hall's PA system, so all the students would be able to hear what was going on.

Brian had spoken with the 'Principal', who supported the idea completely, and had even organised some lunch to be ready for them all, after which the 4 girls were ready to be on the radio again. A table had been set up across the stage, with 4 chairs looking out at the students. The tech-op girl was on the end of the table, wearing headphones, as were the 4 girls. They spent a few minutes doing a full sound check, to not only ensure that the studio could hear all of the girls clearly, and that they in turn could hear the studios, but also make sure that, whilst the students there could hear what was going on, the PA wasn't causing any feedback.

"Hello everyone, we'll feed you station output, and our presenter will be with you in a few minutes to have an off-air chat with you." said a voice from the studio, which all the students could also hear. A few minutes later, another voice came through. "Hello, this is Gim Hyun, I will be interviewing you. First of all, can you hear me ok?"

"We can!" replied Linda.

"Great! Nice to talk with you again, we talked briefly on the chart show last week, but today we have a bit more time. So, I was hoping that we could talk about why you have come here to Korea. Obviously we will talk about your number one song, but I'd like to talk about what you're doing there at the KX Academy, as well as how K-Pop training is different from what you have in England. Is that all ok for you?" asked Hyun.

"I think that's all ok for us!" replied Jenny.

"Ok. Finally, can I just check I am saying your names right: Carol, Jenny, Dianne and Linda?"

"Your pronunciation is just fine, Hyun!" said Linda, "and your English is about a thousand times better than our Korean!"

"Oh, thank you. I think we'll have another song, then I'll talk to you!"

His voice was replaced by music, and several minutes later his voice came on again. "So, as promised, we are joined by the four members of the English band, CJDL, who are visiting us here in Korea. But they are not here in the studio - Jenny, maybe you could tell everyone where you are?"

"Hello there, Hyun. Where are we? We're on the stage in the main hall at the KX Academy, and not only am I sat here with Carol, Linda and Dianne, but there's a whole load of students here too!". Needing very little encouragement, the students all gave a loud cheer.

"It's good to hear so many happy voices there. So, Carol, could you explain briefly why you are here in Korea?"

"Sure. About three weeks ago, FY Entertainment called us, and explained that one of their bands - Jelly Fish - were at number 2 in the charts, with one of our songs.... and would we like to come here to perform with them on the TV chart show?". They all understood how important it was on these sort of occasions, to 'mention in passing' the names of the businesses that were 'sponsoring' them.

"Ok, but that all happened over a week ago now, so why are you still here?"

"Well, I knew about how your K-pop bands get trained, and I suggested that it would be good if we could spend a couple of weeks over here doing some dance training. They liked the idea, and suggested that, at the same time, maybe we could share some of our experience with the students here at the KX Academy!"

"And how is your dance training going? Maybe Dianne could tell us?"

"It's going really well: the teachers and students here at KX have been really good to us: it was a bit strange for them all the first day, but they are treating us just like normal students now."

"But surely you would have learnt dancing at your school in England? Jenny, maybe you can answer that question?"

Jenny explained the differences between how the idol academies worked in Korea and how bands in England generally had to 'do their own thing'.

"That was an interesting explanation, thank you. Let's take a musical break - I've actually got one of your songs lined up here, maybe you could introduce it for me, Jenny?"

The tech op lady quickly held up a piece of paper that she'd written the song title on, allowing Jenny to introduce it.

"Ok, can we talk about 'Sexy Yellow Rollerskates' next?" Hyun asked off-air.

"Sure. By the way, are you aware that it is actually Linda's first number one?"

"No, I wasn't: sounds like it's something we can talk about.... ok, we have about 2 minutes, I'll let you listen to the music." When the track finished, the presenter back-announced it. "So, back to the four members of CJDL... maybe you can all remind us of your names?"

The girls quickly looked at each other, nodding. "Well, I'm Carol"... "I'm Jenny"... "I'm Dianne"... "and I'm the 'new girl', Linda!"... "And we are CJDL!!". Linda had decided to give the presenter a useful 'hook' to talk about.

"Now Linda, I'm glad you introduced yourself like that: you haven't been with the group all that long, have you?"

"No, the band used to be CJD, so no 'L' for Linda. But I started working for the band last year, I was a session musician...." and she explained her story.

"So, Linda, I guess that means that this is actually your first ever number chart hit?"

"Yes, it is, but only because my voice is on it! It was originally written a bit before I joined the band."

"So, Dianne, maybe you can tell me a bit of background about the song?" Dianne explained that Carol and Jenny had written the song a while ago, that whilst it was on their first album, it was not one they played that much.

"So, how did Jelly Fish get to sing it then?"

"Jenny, I think you know more about that, don't you?" said Dianne.

"Yes, we had an email about 6 months ago..." said Jenny, and she went on to explain how they made a couple of minor adjustments to the song, and let Jelly Fish record it.

"So, when you first came over, and danced with Jelly Fish on TV, you were dancing to their version of the song... but I was told there's a story about when you went and added your voices to it?"

Carol laughed. "Ah, yes, THAT!"

"What do you mean?"

"Well," explained Jenny, "We went to the recording studio after a day of dancing, and to be honest, I think we all wanted to go for a drink to help us wind down a bit. As we walked into the recording studio, Carol said something like 'I'll give it 2 takes and 30 minutes': she was wanting that drink!"

"And how long DID it take then?"

"We sang the song just twice, and I think they used our first take! And yes, we were out of there in about 20 minutes! It's a song we knew well, so it was really easy for us to do!"

"So that would have been about 10 days ago: the song was released on the Saturday, and was number one just days later..."

"Yes," replied Linda. "They had the chart program playing here, in the restaurant: everyone wanted to hear how their heros, Jelly Fish, were doing. People were a bit shocked when it was announced that it was down at something like number 15, but we'd been asked for a short interview again, so guessed that something was going on, and told them to keep the radio on."

"So, Linda, how did you feel when you realised that you had just made number one?"

"Oh, it was a great feeling, and I realised how the girls from Jelly Fish had felt the week before, when THEY made number one!"

"Now, I hear you guys are staying in an apartment near where Jelly Fish are: does that mean you are spending time with them?"

Carol quickly nodded, to indicate that she would answer the question. "We're actually staying right next door to Jelly Fish's apartment, so we spend a LOT of time with them. They are a lovely group of girls, in fact they organised a really great weekend for us this last weekend!"

"Oh, what did they organise for you then?". Carol nodded to Dianne, letting her answer this question.

"On Friday evening, we went to... Hondae? We had a look around the market, went to a nice Korean restaurant, and ended up at a karaoke place..."

"Oh, I would LOVE to have heard THAT!" interjected Hyun, "but do go on..."

"Oh, yes, the karaoke was great fun! Anyway, on Saturday morning we went on an e-bike ride, and visited some amazing bits of Seoul. In the afternoon, we did a bus tour, and also visited one of the temples here. Seoul is a facinating place, an interesting mix of old and new.... Then in the evening we had dinner in the tower!"

"Ah, yes, you HAVE to go there! It sounds like you've had a good sight-seeing day then?"

"Yes, then on the Sunday, after visiting the National Museum, we went out to that big park just outside the city..."

"Ah, you mean the Bukhansan National Park - another great place to go to! So, you have just under one week left, what do you have planned?"

"Well, I believe we're going to be on TV on Wednesday evening" said Carol. "I'm rather hoping that the Jelly Fish girls will take us out to one of your 'pop up bars'... I've seen them on TV, and I want to go to one! Anyway, I guess they might want us on the TV chart show again, if we're still at number one...."

"Yeah, come on, Hyun, are we still at number one this week?" said Linda, butting in.

"Yeah, we deserve to know!!" added Jenny.

"Oh, ladies, you KNOW I can't tell you that yet, you'll have to wait till later in the show!"

"Oh, I HATE people like you!" said Dianne, jokingly.

"So, thinking about music, has your visit inspired you to write anything new?"

"Definitely! I think all of us have been getting ideas..." replied Dianne.

"Great news. Ok, one last question, a bit of an odd one: I hear that Yun Hee recently got braces, and that you were partly responsible? Is that true?"

"It is, yes," replied Carol. "I was chatting to Taeyang, and she said that Yun Hee really wanted to get her teeth sorted out, but that FY had a 'no braces' rule. So Jenny and I - we both have braces at the moment - spoke to the band's manager, strongly suggesting that the management of FY needed to re-visit their stupid rules. And respect to them, they changed the silly 15 year old rule, and yes, Yun Hee now has a lovely set of braces! In fact, Jenny had to go and see the same orthodontist last night for a quick repair to her braces, so Jenny and Yun Hee now both have matching braces!"

"Yes, I saw the pictures online! Very cute! Well, ladies, thank you all for joining me today, it's has been a PLEASURE talking to you! Enjoy the rest of your stay here in Seoul!"

"We will," replied Jenny, "but just before we go, can I say a big thank you to FY Entertainment, and everyone here at the KX Academy for looking after us so well!". As Jenny said 'KX Academy', the students all cheered again.

"And do remember to keep listening, to see if you are still at number one... ". Moments later, a jingle played out, then music was playing again, and Hyun spoke to them off-air. "Ladies, thank you VERY much, that was really good. And thanks to all the students that are there with you too!". As the local tech-op cut the radio, all the students started to applaud: for most, it was the first time they had seen 'behind the scenes' of a live radio interview.


As before, they played the chart show in the main hall, with quite a crowd listening in. Carol had suggested that they should have a bit of fun, and dance along to Roller Skates. Of course, they had no idea where in the chart it was, so they were sitting on the edge of the stage, listening nervously. They were playing the number 5... then 4... then three.

"So, we had a lovely chat with the girls from CJDL earlier, and they were wanting to know where they were in the chart. Well, I can tell them that, at number TWO in this week's chart, just one position from number one, it is...." Music started to play. "Up 7 places from last week, 'Ive', with their new song, 'Kitch'...".

"Oh my god, that must mean we're STILL at number one then!!!" said an excited Linda. While the number 2 played, they got onto the stage, ready to dance.

"And I can now finally tell the ladies from CJDL that yes, Jelly Fish and CJDL are STILL at number one for another week!". As the music played, they danced their original dance on the stage.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #85 on: 07. June 2023, 13:09:48 PM »
Chapter 55 - Croydon Radio

They had decided to have a take-away on the Tuesday evening, as Carol had arranged with Tom for them to do a live insert on Tom's show: evening in Korea, but early afternoon back in London. Brian and Lisa was with them all this evening, so dinner had quite a family feel to it.

"I DO like your food here in Korea!" said Carol. "I get the feeling that it's closer to your 'normal' food that the takeways we get in England."

"Apart from fish and chips!" said Dianne, "you can't really beat fish and chips from a decent chippie!"

"Ok, yeah, I'll give you that!". Whilst Yun Hee and Jenny would both be getting food stuck in their braces while they ate, Carol was able, of course, to remove her retainers to eat: they were currently sat on the table, next to her. There were two sets of eyes occasionally looking at them.... or was it three sets?

As they ate and chatted, Carol had been quickly messaging Tom, to confirm when they would be going online with him, on Croydon Radio.

Finally, with dinner finished, Callum and Paige set up the microphones and small mixer they had borrowed, to be able to connect up with Croydon Radio. One of the mics was a radio mic, which they would be able to pass around, the other three  were on stands, and would be used to pick up the guitars and the singing. They also had a small speaker connected up, so they could hear what Tom said.

"Good afternoon, Croydon Radio..."

"Hi, I'm guessing that's Ravi, it's Carol here!"

"Oh hi Carol, Tom said to expect you to connect up." I should explain that they were NOT making a phone call, they had used some special 'online software' that let them do a high-quality link over the internet. "We just need to check the link... hopefully you are hearing me ok?" Callum, who was looking after the kit, gave a thumbs up.

"I'm told your levels are good here, you happy with me? If so, then we can quickly check out the other mics we have here...". Callum had told Carol what she needed to do.

"Your levels are really good, so go ahead."

"Ok, so this is our radio mic.... we'll be using this to talk, plus some vocals." She moved to the other mics, and checked them out, then grabbed one of the guitars, and played it briefly.

"Thanks Carol, that's all sounding really good. Who's looking after the sound at your end then?"

"That's Jenny's brother, Callum. Say hello to Ravi, Callum...."

"Hi Ravi, nice to chat, and the audio is sounding really great here, we just have a bit of a delay...." said Callum.

"Hi Callum. Yeah, nothing we can do about the delay, and by the sound of things, you know what you're doing there, so I'll leave things alone here, and leave you to keep the levels right."

"No problems with that!"

"Ok, Let me tell Tom that you're ready..."

There were a few clicks, then Tom's voice came on: "Hi Carol, how are you today?"

"Hi Tom. We're actually having some good fun here.... I'm sure you'll want us to tell you about it later?"

"Absolutely. So, I'm ok with that list you sent over earlier, we can work out the details as we go along. Umm, it's twenty past here, how about we start just after the traffic and travel news, so just after half-past?"

"That's ok with us..."

"Ok, so who's there with you today?

"Same as last time I think, so four Jelly Fish, four CJDL's, two boyfriends, two parents, and two others!" Tom laughed.

"Hello everyone over in Seoul!" called out Tom.

"Hi Tom!" they all replied.

"Ok, talk to you again soon...."

In the following 30 minutes, they chatted, and they played three songs, starting with an acoustic version of 'Sexy Yellow Roller Skates'.

One thing that was NOT mentioned at all were the texts that Carol had sent the previous evening...


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #86 on: 08. June 2023, 19:55:15 PM »
Chapter 56 - A new dance

Today there all 14 of them went to the KX Academy: eight of them would be dancing and at least 2 of them would be filming. Brian and Lisa watched for a while, but then went and had a social meeting with the academy's 'headmaster'.

The other students had come up with some excellent ideas, and they decided to, at least in principle, try them all out. Some of the ideas seemed nice as ideas, but when they tried to actually DANCE them, it wasn't so good: of course, that made the whole thing a great learning exercise for everyone involved. But many of the ideas were really good, and most of them got included. One thing that our four girls appreciated was that the suggestions weren't over-simple, and whilst they were not over-complex either, they were certainly challenging.

A bit over an hour into the session they had pretty much worked out what they wanted to do, so took a break, then spent the next 2 hours practising it. And it wasn't just the 8 girls who were trying out the new dance moves, all the students joined in, making it a great dance lesson for everyone.

"Hey, guys, we were thinking of doing this dance at lunchtime, on the stage" said Carol. "I'm thinking we can do the first verse and chorus by ourselves, but why don't you then join in with us?" As expected, the students were very much up for it.

"Hey, Sun Hee, why don't you join us too?" suggested Linda.

They had one last run through the routine, with Jelly Fish and CJDL dancing alone to start with, then the others, Sun Hee included, joined in too.

"Hey, guys, before you go, we'd like to invite you along to a 'day out' we're arranging on Saturday. Numbers are limited, so it's just you. It's a sort-of thank you for looking after these guys!" said Taeyang. She passed out some bits of paper with the details on. "Can you let us know if you can make it please?"

"What's this about then?" asked Carol.

"Oh, we're all having a day out, a bit of a trip away from Seoul. The bad news for you guys, and us too, is that we will need to 'sing for our dinner'".

"'Sing for our supper' you mean? What do we have to do?"

"No big deal, there's a shopping centre that's got a special event on, we need to sing and spend maybe 30 minutes there. But there's plenty of time left to do LOADS of other stuff we're planning. Also, a couple of the groups that have apartments upstairs from us are coming along too... should be a fun day out for everyone..."


"Hey guys!" said Carol over the hall's PA. "We're going on TV tonight, and will be performing a new version of our dance for 'Sexy Yellow Roller Skates'. And by 'we', I don't just mean the four of us from CJDL, I mean the girls from Jelly Fish too.... let's welcome them onto the stage!". Whilst the dance students, plus a few others who had spotted them in the restaurant, knew that Jelly Fish were there, many of the students didn't, and they received a load of applause as the came onto the stage.

"And whilst they aren't performing with us tonight, our classmates are doing to dance with us now... and that includes our teacher, Park Sun Hee!". As the many students in the hall applauded, the eight of them took up their positions, with invisible 'pretend microphones' in their hands. The other students were at the side, waiting. "When you're ready on the PA..."

With Paige and Callum using the 'big' cameras, plus Ben and Mike using the GoPro's, and all filming from different places, the song started: the eight girls mimed and danced the first verse alone, then the others joined them, and they managed to get it 100% right!

Sun Hee went over to the microphone. "Well, I expected Jelly Fish to do that just fine, but you four..." - she pointed at Jenny, Carol, Linda and Dianne - "if you had said to me, when you stared here last week, that you would be able to do that, I really wouldn't have believed you... VERY well done all of you, you've been great students!"

"Thank you so much!" said Carol. "Hey everyone, don't forget to watch us on TV tonight - I just hope we dance it as well as we did this lunchtime!


They left the afternoon classes a bit early, so they could go off to the TV studios, where they would need to do a rehearsal. They had brought their clothes for the show with them: Carol had a bit of a surprise for everyone - she had decided to wear the 'Wednesday' costume that she had brought, and made a bit of fun of it in the show:

"So, Carol, I'm intrigued..." asked the interviewer, "is there any specific reason that you are dressed like this today?"

"Well, yesterday was Tuesday, tomorrow is Thursday, so that makes today Wednesday - so it seemed quite reasonble to me to dress as Wednesday!" The presenter, and the audience laughed. "But no, I just wanted to wear something a bit different for a change...."

"You have to admit, she does look good in it, doesn't she?" said Linda, which got some applause. Carol stood up, and did a quick spin around.

The interview went well, asking about what they were doing in Korea, but also asked them about their music, and how they had been inspired by their visit. Other guests joined the show too, and they all chatted for a while.

"So, Jelly Fish and CJDL, you have a joint number one right now..."

"Yes," replied Yun Hee, smiling, and once more showing off her silver smile. "CJDL originally wrote it, then we recorded it, then when they came here, they added their voices too. Our original version dropped out of the charts, and our joint version replaced it...."

"So, ladies, please go and take your places over on the stage....". The eight girls stood up and walked over to the stage area, collecting microphones on the way. "So, with their current number one hit, 'Sexy Yellow RollerSkates', it's Jelly Fish vs CJDL!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #87 on: 19. June 2023, 17:42:28 PM »
Chapter 57 - Braces Buddies have a street meal

The good news from the girl's perspective was that they were NOT needed for the chart show on the Thursday evening, so after a really nice day at 'school' (ah, yes, they got a load of high-fives when they got there in the morning, clearly a load of the students saw them on TV last night!), they had a 'free' evening.

"Hey, Carol, want to go and find a Pojangmacha?" asked Taeyang.

"A WHAT?" replied Carol.

"That's what they call the tent placess that do street food, that you keep saying you want to go to..."

"Oh, yes, definitely!"

"Ok, well unless we can find a large one that's empty, we'll need to split up..."

"Fine by me! When we going?"

"Ah, not for a while yet."

"In that case, I reckon we should have some fun, and work on some of our new songs. Hey, Linda, you got the words you did the other night?"

"What, for 'Braces Buddies' do you mean?"

"Yeah, I think we should make a proper song out of it..." suggested Carol.

"Probably silly enough to get to number one!" said Paige.

"She speaks much sense!" said Linda. "Come on then, guys, let's have a look at it... Where's Jenny hiding?"

"Oh, probably snogging with Ben," said Paige, "He DOES have a thing for Jenny's braces..."

"Pardon?" said Linda, a bit surprised.

"Umm, maybe I shouldn't have said that..."

"But you did... so OUT with it! What makes you say that?"

"Well, I had a strange dream the other night, and.... "

"And? Come on, out with it, girl!" said Dianne with a big smile: this conversation was just starting to get interesting.

"Well, you see, Bruce is the story-wanderer, and he said that.."

"Story-wanderer? What ARE you on about?"

"Half a second..." Paige went off, and returned with her tablet. "So, I had a dream... in fact a dream within the dream too, and I met Bruce, who is in this story on this website...." Paige realised that she was either digging a big hole for herself, or was opening a big can of worms, she wasn't sure which. She decided to keep it short. "Ok, in my dream, Bruce asked the question about who out of us lot liked braces, and Ben was one of the four who raised their hands."

"So, because you dreamed it, it must be true?"

"Well, I already confirmed another one of the four...". She made sure she wasn't looking at Carol when she said that.

"And that was....?" asked Dianne.

"Sorry, my lips are sealed.....". Dianne picked up a cushion and threw it at Paige. Just then, the front door opened, and Ben and Jenny walked in.

"So, Ben, Paige had a dream, and as a result reckons that you have a bit of a 'thing' going for Jenny's braces." said Dianne. Ben stood there silently, and his face turned a bright red colour.


"So, you guys still wanting to work on 'Braces Buddies'? asked Linda.

"Yeah, of course we do... hey, Jenny, Paige thinks we should release it as our next single, what do you reckon?"

Jenny smiled. "Well, sometimes novelty records do well, so I guess we could. If nothing else, it would be a fun song to play live." Jenny went over and grabbed one of the acoustic guitars, then passed it to Linda. "Want one, Carol? Or do you want me to do it?"

Paige quickly grabbed the camera, and as she didn't have time to set it up on a tripod, had to hand-hold it. Callum grabbed one of the Go Pros, and also started filming.

"Nah, I'll do it....". Carol went and sat next to Linda. "Ok, what we got so far?".

Linda propped up her tablet in front of them, and started to play and sing: "Braces Buddies, they are braces buddies... Yun Hee and Jenny are braces buddies..."

"Ok, hang on... are we ok using your names? Yun Hee I mean? I know Jenny won't mind!" asked Carol.

"Yeah, that fine with me." replied Yun Hee

Second time around, Carol started to play along with Linda: Jenny and Dianne stood behind the settee, so behind Linda and Carol, so they too could see the words, and also sang along.

"'Braces Buddies, they are braces buddies... Yun Hee and Jenny are braces buddies... with matching metal braces.... and matching neon colours... they are a pair of braces buddies'... we happy with that bit?"

"Yeah, I can't think of anything better. I'm thinking we maybe want a bit more of an intro. And do we want to make it a bit 'rockier?" asked Carol.

"Give me a guitar!" said Jenny...

The four girls spent the next hour or so working on the song. Whilst it wasn't THEIR song, the four 'Jelly Fishes' came up with a few ideas for it too. By the end, they had the basis of a new song. Yes, it still needed a load of work on it, but they could do that on another occasion.


"We all ready? The bus is ready for us if we are...."

All 16 of them (tonight, Park Hon Su and his wife had joined them!) went down to the bus, which took them into a part of Seoul where the Pojangmacha were popular. They had decided to split up into two groups of about 8, to keep the size of the group down a bit. Carol teamed up with Paige, Yun Hee, Min Jee, Jenny, Ben, Dianne and Mike, and found themselves a suitable Pojangmacha... it was a mess-tent sort of thing, the size of a maybe 2 or 3 gazebos. The side that was pushed up against the building had no tent walls, the other walls were simple canvas, although one of the walls did have a plastic window in it. Inside at one end there were six small tables, with plastic stools, at the other end was the food, and the cooking area. Paige started recording outside, taking video of the general area, then homing in on the tent, then going inside.

Yun Hee and Min Jee had a word with the guy running the place, and then they got three tables together, and all sat down around them. "We told him to start with beers for us all, and to bring over a range of foods for us to eat... so expect a load of food over the next hour, as he cooks it. It's going to be similar to what you've already seen in the markets. If there's something you specifically like, we can always ask for more. But first of all, anyone want to start with a soup?"

Almost instantly, 8 bottles of beer arrived, and Yun Hee ordered the 4 soups, which came just minutes later. Soon after, other foods arrived: things like gimbap, tteokbokki, sausages and so on, a mix of meat, fish egg and vegetable foods.

"What's this one?" asked Carol, referring to what looked like several slices of dark sausage on a skewer. "It looks a bit like 'black pudding' to me"

"It's called 'sundae', it's a blood sausage... try it, it's actually nice!" replied Yun Hee.

"Yup, black pudding! Yummy!" commented Ben, taking a couple of bits and dropping them into his dish. "Go on, try a piece...."

"And that looks like it's dakkoci, so chicken on a skewer....".

Carol took a piece of the 'sundae'... she wasn't quite sure what to expect. Had she been in England, and had been offered some black pudding, she would probably have refused, but she had learned that some strange foods they had tried in Korea were surprisingly nice. Over the next hour or so, a whole variety of foods were brought over.

The empty bottles of beer got replaced, then they started to drink some soju, in the small glasses. Unsurprisingly, Carol seemed to enjoy the Soju again, and was again getting a bit tipsy.

"Ok, Carol, hand over the phone...."


"We all know what happened the other night after you had a few too many drinks....". Dianne grabbed Carol's phone: Carol did try and fight her off, but Dianne won. "Oh, dear, too late..."

"Oh, what's she texted?"

"I couldn't tell you THAT! Confidentiality clauses and all that...." replied Dianne, giggling. Yes, the booze was starting to affect them! 

As they continued to drink, the pojangmacha owner came and spoke with Yun Hee. "I just told him that we're happy to have some deserts now..."

"OMG, this is lovely, what did I just eat?" asked Jenny.

"Probably Ho-tteok... it's a sort of pancake...". She took a piece and ate it. "I think you call it cinnamon?"

"Ah, yes, so it is!!"

Paige was also enjoying the food: she'd put the camera on a tripod, pointed it at their table (which conveniently meant it didn't see any of the other tables) and just left it recording, occasionally using a GoPro to do closeups of their food. "I now understand why so many Korean programs include food! I'm sure it's probably not the healthiest foods, I mean a lot of it is deep fried, but it tastes good....".

Jenny smiled. "Hey, have I got much food stuck in my braces?" she asked, "You have, Yun Hee!". Ben was, of course, enjoying the sight of two good looking girls with braces, and seeing them both with their colourful ligatures, and with food stuck in them, well that was a bonus!

A while later, they spoke to the other group, and met up at their pojangmacha, and had another drink... or maybe it was two, there. Finally, their bus came and collected them. Carol, Linda and Taeyang had all probably drunk a bit more than maybe they should: it wasn't too much of an issue for Taeyang, she could just sleep in, but both Carol and Linda needed an extra-strong coffee in the morning to wake them up, ready for their final day of dancing classes.


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #88 on: 21. June 2023, 14:30:32 PM »
Chapter 58 - Last day at school

Today was their last day at 'school', so our 'team of four' asked for a special favour in their morning class: the class, including Sun Hee, their teacher, learned a brand new dance for one of CJDL's songs. Sun Hee had no problems with doing that, as it was very good practice for everyone to help work on a new dance, as well as dance it.

After having a light lunch, the four girls went onto the stage in the hall: the small PA team were ready for them.

"Hi everyone!" said Carol, "Well, today is our last day here: we've all had a GREAT time, it's only been two weeks, but we've picked up so much stuff, and I think we're all feeling a lot more confident in our dancing. So today, we thought we'd treat you with a few of our more recent songs, and for the first song I'd like to welcome our class up onto the stage, along with our teacher, Sun Hee: they are all going to dance along to a song we wrote last year, 'Autumn Love'."

While Carol was talking, the others were checking their instruments. Carol picked up the guitar, and quickly strummed it. "One... two... three..." said Carol quietly as they all started to play. Moments later the dancers started to dance, putting on a very acceptable performance. At the end, they all received applause from the other students.

Sun Hee went over to the microphone. "So, about three weeks ago, when we were told that four singers from England wanted to come and learn some dancing, we were very apprehensive. We knew nothing about them, and assumed that they probably wouldn't take things very seriously, maybe even cause disruption to the classes." She turned to the four members of the band. "Ladies, we need to apologise to you: from the first lesson you have all worked VERY hard, in fact putting some of the other students to shame... your actions in class have encouraged those students to 'up their game'. And then there's been the masterclasses you have given, and these lunchtime session, which our students have both very much enjoyed, and learned from. If ever you'd like to visit us again, you will be made VERY welcome! Thank you!". Then she briefly bowed, and the students applauded.

"Well, thanks everyone!" said Jenny. "It was Carol's idea to do this: it's been hard work for us all - especially for Carol this morning, after last night!". The students laughed, guessing what had happened. "But we have all learned so much! As for these lunchtime sessions, I think we have all enjoyed sharing our experiences with you all. Anyway, we said we would play some of our songs for you, so let's do that!". Jenny nodded twice, and hit the keyboard, the others joined in a bar later.


"Ok, for our last song, we're going to play you something new, that we were working on again last night." said Jenny. As she spoke, Carol and Linda put down the electric guitars, and picked up the two acoustic guitars that had brought with them. "It's nowhere near being ready to be recorded or released yet, but we thought you'd like to hear it. It was inspired by the fact that Yun Hee recently got braces, then I had to go and get my braces fixed: you may have spotted that we both have the same crazy colours on our braces. The song's called 'Braces Buddies'!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #89 on: 24. June 2023, 14:10:07 PM »
(No chapter # for this one...)

So, back at the apartment, Carol got her laptop out, and checked the news.'. nothing that interesting, apart from an article about 'Chat GPT'

"Do you reckon an AI could write better words for a song than we could?" asked Carol.

"Could probably do better than ME," admitted Jenny, "but not better than you guys!"

"See what it does with 'Braces Buddies'" suggested Linda. "I'd like to know my competition!"

"Ok, let me give it a try...". Carol created an account and logged in. "Write me a new song about Braces Buddies" typed Carol. "Ok, that was scarily quick....." she commented as the words for the song came up in under 5 seconds:

(Verse 1)
In a world of metal and wires, we came together with smiles,
Four hearts intertwined, walking the extra miles,
Braces buddies, side by side, facing our fears,
Through the highs and lows, we wipe away the tears.

Orthodontic woes, we've shared the pain,
But our friendship grew stronger, a lasting gain,
From the first adjustment to the final day,
We'll celebrate together in our own special way.

We're the Braces Buddies, shining through,
Stronger together, me and you,
Through the awkward stages, we find grace,
Embracing the journey, with a smile on our face.

(Verse 2)
We've rocked the headgear and the colorful bands,
Laughing at ourselves, holding each other's hands,
In the orthodontist's chair, we found solace and support,
Braces buddies, we're unstoppable, our bond can't be thwarted.

As we face the world with a metallic grin,
We know our beauty lies deep within,
Braces may be temporary, but our friendship is for life,
We'll cherish these memories, forever in our hearts, rife.

We're the Braces Buddies, shining through,
Stronger together, me and you,
Through the awkward stages, we find grace,
Embracing the journey, with a smile on our face.

(Verse 3)
To all the braces buddies out there, don't be shy,
Rock your braces proudly, reach for the sky,
We're a sisterhood, a brotherhood, united and strong,
Together we'll conquer, singing this braces song.

Braces buddies, forever we'll be,
Bound by our journey, eternally free,
Through the laughter and the trials we face,
Braces buddies, our smiles will always embrace.

"Ok, that's worryingly good, but I don't think I need to give up song-writing just yet...." said Linda.

"Yeah, but keep the words, I'd like to try and write some music for it, could be something to include when we play live...." said Jenny.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #90 on: 27. June 2023, 21:17:43 PM »
Chapter 59 - Everland

"So, how long is it going to take for us to get there?" asked Carol.

"Oh, about 40 minutes, I guess. It's about 30km away..."

It is Saturday morning, and several of the JY bands, some that had already debuted, and a couple of others making their debut today, were going to the Everland Resort in Yongin, to perform to the visitors. CJDL were invited to go along and perform too (both alone and with Jelly Fish) and given where it was, they were quick to accept!

Everland is a 'theme park' with 5 roller coasters - the most well known one being 'T Express', a wooden roller coaster - as well as many other rides. Of course, once they had performed, they would be able to visit the park.

The bus that usually took them around had plenty of spare seats, so two other bands joined them for the ride, along with their managers, and the security team. In total, seven bands were going to Everland to perform. Knowing what it's like to open a show, the four CJDL girls offered to do it: of them all, they were probably the most experienced at performing, and it didn't REALLY matter how bad their performance was today! They would sing 3 of their songs, all to backing tracks, dancing to two of them, and improvising for the third, then Jelly Fish would join them for 'Roller Skates'. After Jelly Fish finished their own set, they would all get changed (to be much less recognisable!) and would be able go on the rides... and they wouldn't need to queue either, as they had VIP passes.

Of course, Paige would be filming them throughout the day. Yes, filming the performance would be pretty boring, but she was looking forward to using their 4 GoPro's on the T Express ride, to film the girls reactions: she had no doubt there would be plenty of screaming!. During the week, Callum had managed to speak to someone at Everland, and discovered that they were ok about them taking video, but suggested using their Phones and GoPro's on the 'more vigorous' rides.

While Jelly Fish were performing, Callum and Paige met up with the park's team that dealt with the media.

"We have no problems with cameras on the rides, although we won't be able to retrieve any cameras or phones if they get dropped." explained the guy would would be with them as they went around the park.

"Is there anywhere on the rides we can clip these?" asked Callum, showing them some good quality 'clip-on mounts'.

"Yes, many of the rides have bars at the front, you'll be able to use those no problems! When the rides come in, we can only pause them for a couple of minutes, so you'll need to fit and remove the cameras pretty quickly."

"Will they be able to ride a second time, if we need them to?" asked Paige.

"I don't see any problem with doing it twice, if it helps with your filming. Also, you might want to go on the rides first yourself, so you can understand what it's like....". It seemed that the park team were willing to be quite helpful. Of course, had this been a large filming operation, then they would have needed to do the filming out-of-hours, but they didn't have that luxury, so were doing it all in a 'light-weight' fashion.

They decided to start off on a very simple ride, the Dragon Coaster. This was really a young kid's ride, a gentle roller coaster, but it allowed them to check out the kit. With their two 'good' cameras on tripods, they fitted the two Go-Pros to the ride, and gave the girls the other two to just hold.

"Well, that was a bit tame" commented Carol to camera after the ride. "I think we need to try a PROPER ride now..."

Over the next couple of hours, they rode on the Amazon Express... a ride down the 'river'. It had 10 people in a circle, so all 8 girls were on the ride, with Paige and Callum filming them. It was fun watching the girls tring to avaoiud the splashing water. Next was Double Rock Spin, a spinning ride. The ride was sufficiently rough, and there was a lack of places to mount cameras, so they just filmed that from the ground. Then it was onto the Thunder Falls: a water flume ride. They mounted the cameras, and the four girls, along with Ben and Mike, went on it - it goes without saying that they got slightly wet.

Finally they got to 'the big one', T Express, the large wooden roller coaster. With Ben and Mike manning the big cameras, Paige and Callum quickly clipped the Go Pros on, and jumped in to take a test ride - with other paying customers at the back. Paige really enjoyed the ride, but Callum felt a bit 'green' when he got off at the end of the ride. As they checked the video, and decided it was fine, all 8 girls got in. The 4 CJDL girls were at the front, Jelly Fish at the back.

"Yeah" shouted Carol as they got back. "We HAVE to do it again!".

"Ok, well how about Jenny with Ben, and Dianne with Mike at the front?" suggested Paige. Jelly Fish gave up after 2 rides, Dianne and Linda after 3, but Jenny and Carol decided to do a fourth one. "No hands this time!" said Carol. WHen they reviewed the footage later on, it was clear the girls had thoroughly enjoyed the ride, screaming and shouting most of the way.

The girls felt a bit guilty, partly because they had been 'jumping the queues', but also because they went on the ride so many times, so decided to go and chat with a few of the people waiting in the queue, and even did a rendition of 'Roller Skates' with Jelly Fish, much to the pleasure of the crowd.

They still had some time left, so decided to try out the bumper cars, then went for a gentle ride on the Big Wheel, which gave Paige the chance to film some great views of the park.

"Ok, last thing" said Ben.

"Oh, what's that then?" asked Jenny.

"We need to go visit the pandas!"

"Pandas? As in big cuddly bears?"

"Big bears, yes... not sure I'd want to try cuddling one though!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #91 on: 28. June 2023, 18:42:28 PM »
Chapter 60 - Time to party! And go home....

FY Entertainment put on a party in the evening: part of the reason was to simply thank everyone who had performed at Everland, part was to celebrate the two bands who had debuted today, and part was to say 'farewell' to the girls from CJDL. Several members of other FY's bands also came along to join in the fun of the evening.

The evening was fun, there was lots of talking and telling stories. Lots of drinking. And a whole load of impromptu singing by pretty much everyone.

Everyone woke up late on the Sunday: it had been decided that nothing would be arranged for the day, allowing everyone to relax, pack up ready for their flight the following morning, and do whatever they fancied doing. In the end, they decided to go as a group for lunch, then they split up and did various things: Jenny, Ben, Dianne, Mike and Jenny's parents went off for a walk (and sit down!) in one of the parks. Linda, Carol, Taeyang and Yun Hee all went off to another of the local markets: Linda and Carol wanted to buy a few 'silly bits' to take back home. Callum, Paige, Ahnjong and Min Jee went off to have a proper look at one of the many palaces. Callum and Paige were having a 'day off' from their filming duties: instead, everyone was encouraged to do a bit of filming on their phones.

The evening was a strangely quiet one: both the CJDL girls and the Jelly Fish girls were a bit sad that they would be leaving. Over the last three weeks, the eight girls, along with the rest of 'the team', had built some close friendships. Yes, they would be able to keep in touch online, but things would probably never be the same for any of them.

With their flight due to leave minutes before 11am on the following morning, they needed to be at the airport well before 8am, as they needed to get their guitars and so on 'booked in' for the flight home... all of which meant they would need to be up stupidly early. And that meant that noone really wanted to be up too late.

Carol took a selfie with everyone in it. 'Our last evening here in Korea... lots of sad faces :-)' she added as she posted it online. 'On a brighter note, we WILL be back home tomorrow!' she added in a second post.


With their final packing done, and everyone checking BOTH apartments to make sure they hadn't left something behind, they finally got onto the bus to go to the airport. Brian and Lisa had arrived over half an hour before, as they wanted to be sure the girls (and guys) were all ready to go.

Ahnjong, Min Jee, Taeyang and Yun Hee came along with them all, along with Hon Su. At the airport, Taeyang had messaged online, telling any fans that, if they were already at the airport and they wanted to meet them, then come to the meeting point between check-ins A and B at Terminal 2... but don't bother coming if they weren't nearby, as they wouldn't be staying all that long. By the time they got there, there were already 4 people waiting, and another 6 came along within a few minutes. While the others went and organised checking all their suitcases and guitars in, Paige and Callum stayed with the eight pop-stars, to film them with the fans. With such a small number of fans, they all felt very relaxed.

"Hey, why don't we all just go and sit and have a tea or coffee?" suggested Carol. "Our treat, of course!". Callum let Brian and Lisa know what they were doing, and they all went to one of the several cafe's on the 'land side' of the terminal: as they still had over 3 hours until their flight, they didn't need to rush. Having got themselves drinks, they sat together and chatted, answering questions, and posing for selfies.

Hon Su, Brian, Lisa and Ben joined them about 15 minutes later.

"Everything checked in ok, dad?" asked Callum.

"Yup, no problems at all, just had to take the guitars to the 'oversize' drop-off point."

Having spent about 30 minutes with their fans, Hon Su came over to them. "I'm afraid we need to leave you now, our bus needs to take us back, as he needs to do something else." There were many tearful hugs as the 10 visitors went through to security, and the four members of Jelly Fish departed to catch their bus.

"Thank you ALL for coming to see us off!" said Carol.


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #92 on: 29. June 2023, 15:55:17 PM »
Chapter 61 - At the airport

The 'team of ten' went through security and went and found the lounge. Whilst there were some queues in security, being in Prestige class let them use the 'fast lane', so it wasn't long before they got to their lounge. Jenny looked at her watch.

"We've still got over two and a half hours before the flight..." she complained. "And this place isn't anywhere near as nice a place to chill out as the lounge in London." She was right, the place was both busy and full, and there was quite a lot of noise around the place. Jenny went over to one of the lounge 'hosts'. "Excuse me.." she asked, "I know that a lot of  airports have pianos, is there one here?"

It turned out that there was, so leaving Brian and Lisa in the lounge, Jenny led the others to find the piano. It wasn't that far away, and unlike many of the 'cheaper' pianos that just sit in the middle of the passenger areas, almost 'asking' to be played, this one was in a small area off to the side, and on a small stage. Most normal people would have said to themselves 'this isn't a piano for us normal people to play, is it?'.

However, Jenny was 'no normal person', so walked onto the stage, and sat down at the piano. Paige hadn't brought the cameras with her - they were with Brian and Lisa in the lounge - so she quickly got her phone out, and started filming - she knew something was about to happen.

"Jennifer, you sure you should really be doing that?" asked Ben.

"Why not? It's a piano. And I'm a professional piano player!". Well, there was no way anyone could actually argue with that. Jenny lifted the keyboard lid, and started to play a few notes, then ran her fingers along the keys. "Mmmm, nice sound..." she said. Jenny started to play something. It was gentle and rather nice, and Linda quickly recognised it as being 'Fur Elise', a piano piece by Beethoven.

"One of the first pieces I learnt when I learnt piano..." she commented as she played. Her playing was good, and had been heard by several passing passengers, who had stopped to listen: like the CJDL group, they too probably needed to 'waste some time'.

Carol noticed that a member of airport staff was also there, standing to the side. She went over to him. "Is there a problem?" she asked pleasantly.

"No, no problem. Just want to be sure nothing bad happens. She plays nicely."

"Yes, it is nice, isn't it... although I have a feeling that the niceness might change in a moment!" Carol went back to the others, and listened as Jenny finished playing the piece. The crowd around all clapped.

"Thank you. I must say, I've never played such a nice piano before, it does sound rather nice. I wonder what it sounds like if I play something a bit different?".

'Daa Daa, Dum Dum.....' she played. Then 'Daa Daa, Dum Dum.....' once more. Her fingers danced over the notes, pressing down hard, aggressively: the music was completly the opposite of the previous song.

Linda quickly realised what she was playing. "Yay, love it," she said, "Nut Rocker!!!". As the song continued, Jenny's left hand played a strong bass-line, while her right hand played the even stronger melody. Suddenly Jenny started to sing some words: "My name is Jenny, and I'm going home......... My name is Jenny, and I'm going home.....". While she continued playing, Linda jumped up on the stage, and looked at Jenny. "Ready?" asked Jenny?

As she repeated the 'chorus', Linda sang: "My name is Linda, and I'm going home......... My name is Linda, and I'm going home.....". Linda had recognised what was happening: Scott Mills had used this a few years ago for his Friday afternoon radio show, where he got listener's bosses to let them go home a bit early. "Come on Carol, your turn!" called out Jenny. As Carol walked to the stage, she sang her version.... "My name is Carol.....". Dianne was by now also on the stage, and sang her "My name is Dianne...." bit.

As Jenny ended the song, she could see even more people had been attracted by the playing, and they all started clapping.

"You know, Jenny, we ought to learn that and play it together on stage sometime." suggested Linda.

Jenny smiled. "So, you all liked that... hmm, here's a song that my dad has in his collection... anyone remember a guy called Jerry Lee Lewis?". Jenny hit the keyboard, and soon after started to sing: "You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain..... Too much love drives a man insane..... You broke my will, but what a thrill..... Goodness gracious, great balls of fire!!!". A few of the onlookers knew the song, and sang along too.

By this time, even more passengers had come along to watch, as well as a couple more staff... none of whome seemed to be worried about what was happening (the reality was that Callum had spoken to one of them, and had explained who the girls were - and because of all the publicity over the last 3 weeks, she recognised the name). And while this was all happening, Paige, Callum, Ben and Mike all had their phones out (so did a lot of the other passengers too) and were filming what was happening.

Carol, Dianne and Linda were still all on the stage, and were VERY impressed at what Jenny was playing. "Now you know what I do when I get bored at home!" said Jenny when she finished the song. "Hey, why don't we sing all these lovely people a few of OUR songs?" she suggested. The other three thought that was actually a good idea, and spent the next 15 to 20 minutes entertaining the many onlookers.

Jenny finally got up from the piano, and joined the other 3 girls, and had a quick word with them, then turned to the crowd.

"Hi everyone, if you haven't worked out who we actually are, then maybe we should introduce ourselves..."

"I'm Carol...." started Carol (and you know how this bit goes!)

"So, you probably heard that we're been here in Seoul for a few weeks, and we're had a really great time: all you local people have been so kind to us. We love performing our music, and we'd like to sing you one last song. This is a song given to me by my God - actually on the plane on the way here, three weeks ago - so I apologise if our religion is a problem for you... but it IS a rather nice song. There's only one problem though: we can't actually sing it! Well, not without asking for a bit of help, so come on ladies, hold hands..."

"Shall I?" suggested Dianne.

"Why not...."

"Dear God, thank you for bringing us to a great place for the last 3 weeks, it's been such fun, so we'd like to thank you by singing this amazing song you've given us. But we need your help, so please be with us as we try to relieve everyone's boredom here at the airport!"

"Amen to that!" said Jenny. They stood in a line, holding hands, and Jenny started to sing. Their earlier singing had nicely warmed up their voices, and they sang a lovely rendition, resulting in a lot of applause.

"I hope we've helped pass the time a bit for you all, it's certainly done so for us!" said Carol.


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #93 on: 29. June 2023, 15:55:51 PM »
Chapter 62 - Finally back in England!

They still had a LOT of time before their flight, so sat and talked with several of the other passengers: they were mainly very normal people, and it was nice for the girls to have a bit of that 'normality' again.

So, their flight was at just before 11am, and they would arrive back in London at about 5:30 pm. Unlike their last flight, they would be experiencing a VERY long day. Jenny had spoken with Sarah, their friendly photographer, before they had left the apartment, to confirm their flight, and Sarah had told her to expect a LOT of people to be waiting for them at Heathrow. Jenny had explained that their record company had been in touch with the airport, and 'suitable arrangements' were being made.

The end result of this was that today would be a rather long and tiring day for them, so sleeping on the plane would be essential. Jenny had already said a simple prayer: "Please let me sleep on the flight, I can't pull another all-nighter like I did on the way out!"

Finally, after several cups of tea or coffee, and a lot of window-shopping in the duty-free shops, their flight was called. They all went onto the plane, where, once again, they had very nice seats... and even nicer food. The flight itself was fairly uneventful, and they all DID manage to get some sleep. They arrived in London almost 30 minutes early, at about 5pm. Being in Prestige Class meant that they were first off the plane, along with the First Class Passengers.

"Are you the CJDL party" asked a gentleman dressed in the airline uniform.

"Yes, we are" replied Brian.

"In that case, please follow me: I'm Samuel, and I'm here to make your journey through passport control, baggage collection and customs as easy as possible..."

"Oh, that will be helpful!" said Brian. "Hopefully you'll be able to organise us a large trolley, not only do we have a load of suitcases, there's also some guitars..."

Mike and Ben carried Paige's shoulder bag, leaving her to be able to film the girls on their way through arrivals. Yes, she appreciated that there would be a few places where she wouldn't be able to film, but the rest might be interesting.

For passport control rather than having to join the very long queues that we 'normal' people would have to use, they were taken to the side, where they were seen within minutes. It didn't take long for the staff to confirm who they all were, and they were then lead to collect their bags: once again, being in Prestige class meant that their bags came to a more private area, and were actually waiting for them when they got there: the guitars arrived a few minutes later. After a walk through the 'green channel', they were almost about to go out to the public area.

"Ok," said Brian. "Just had a call from one of the guys that the record company has sent along: you have three main TV crews out there, a load of photographers, and a whole shed-load of fans! Our bus is nearby, it can be with us in five to ten minutes, but I'm guessing you will need to spend time with the TV and with your fans....."

"Hey, thanks for organising everything, dad!" said Jenny.

"Oh, that's why you pay me so much, to be your manager!" he replied with a lovely smile.

Jenny called Sarah, to tell here that they were on the way out, and she confirmed everything that Brian had just said.


After several interviews, lots of posing for pictures and a pleasant time chatting with their fans, they were finally on the bus, going back to 'the house'. From there, they would all be having dinner together, but then going back to their own homes.


"So, when you get back to your places, you should find everything nice and tidy, and your fridges stocked with essentials.." said Lisa over dinner.

"Don't tell me, all part of the service you provide as our manager" said Jenny smiling, remembering her dad's earlier comment.

"Look, whilst you girls have had a fun three weeks, I know that you've all been working VERY hard. FY have been VERY complimentary about how things went while you were there, which means they made more than enough out of the visit. And we haven't done too badly either! So sorting out someone to go and get your flats ready for you is the least I can do..."


Finally, Carol walked through the door of her flat. It was pleasantly tidy, especially the kitchen. And yes, the fridge was full of supplies, including a couple of packs of her favourite beer! She took one, and sat down. The place was quiet: in one way, that was nice, but in another... well, she had enjoyed spending so much time with her band mates.

Tomorrow, she would sleep late, then there was one person that she needed to go and see: she had an important question to ask him.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #94 on: 29. June 2023, 15:59:55 PM »
I will admit, I *WAS* getting a bit bored of the girls being in Korea, which is why the last three chapters have been quite short, and why I just posted 2 chapters... for example, I could have done a load about their arrival back at Heathrow airport, but much of that would have duplicated their arrival in Korea, so why bother.

So, they are back in England, and we can, once again, start to concentrate more on Carol. I get the feeling that she needs to sort out her love life, what do you guys think?

Offline xxxforce

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #95 on: 29. June 2023, 17:13:08 PM »
Ben is waiting for her I'd say ;-) why not him surprising her when she comes home? Maybe one of the other girls had her fingers in a bit ;)

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #96 on: 29. June 2023, 21:02:17 PM »
I really hope that BEN is not waiting for her... he's going out with Jennifer!!! :-) I suspect you mean Tom...

I can say that we will be straight into the Carol /  Tom saga in the next chapter...

Offline xxxforce

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #97 on: 30. June 2023, 01:05:32 AM »
Whoops no I meant Tom :D

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #98 on: 30. June 2023, 15:15:03 PM »
Chapter 63 - Carol goes back to the CJDL house

"Hi Lisa..." said Carol. (Lisa is, of course, Jenny's mum, and co-manager of the band). Carol wasn't her normal positive self.

"Oh, hi there, Carol, wasn't expecting to hear from you again quite so soon....

"Hey, I know it's a bit cheeky, but could I come over and stay a couple of days?"

"Of course you can, you know you're welcome here any time, it's almost as much your house as it is ours!" replied Lisa, jokingly. "When you thinking of coming over?"

"Well, I was thinking of just packing a few bits and coming straight over, if that's ok?"

"Sure, that's fine!"

It was about 6:30pm on the Tuesday evening, the day after they arrived back in England. "Hey, is Callum there?"

"No, he's gone out to meet a friend, but he said he wasn't planning on being out for long."

"Ah, ok. Well, I guess I'll see you soon...". They said their goodbye's, and Carol went to pack a few clothes, enough for maybe 3 or even 4 days... just in case. Then she made sure she had her guitars, along with the folder of notes she had made over the last few weeks, and her laptop, her tablet, her recorder, and all those other important bits.


Carol made good time to Jenny's parent's house, and after saying hello to both Brian and Lisa (Callum was still out), she headed straight to the music room: this was actually one of the main reasons she'd come here. There were two drum kits in the music room: an acoustic kit and an electronic one. Carol sat at the acoustic drum kit: the electronic one would not be loud enough for what she needed to do. She started by angrily kicking the bass drum (using the pedal: yes, she was in a bit of a mood, but not THAT bad a mood!!). Next, she grabbed the pair of drumsticks that Dianne must have left wedged in the side of the bass drum, and started to beat a rhythm on the snare drum. It had been a while since Carol had actually played the drums: early on in her music career, like Jenny and Dianne, she tried to play a variety of instruments, but in the last year or so, they had settled more on playing 'their own' instruments. For Carol that was mainly guitar, typically a mix of rhythm and lead, depending on the song, although sometimes she'd swap with Linda, and play the bass. Dianne was the one that played the drums for about 95% of their songs. (And while Carol could play the keyboard, that was usually just when writing a song, she didn't often play it now on stage.)

Having got a bit of a beat going on the snare drum, she started to use the tom-toms, along with the high-hat cymbal, and finally the other two cymbals. Her muscle reflex was slowly starting to return, as she remembered the many hours - several years ago now - she had spent learning to play the drums.

Carol was feeling angry, and she was letting the drums take her anger. The drumming became 'harsher' and more 'metal'... the sort of stuff that they had played on many occasions with 'Three Play' for a bit of fun. Yes, it had been a while since she had played with them, although she knew that Dianne (who was, of course, dating Three Play's drummer, Mike) sometimes still went and rehearsed with them.

She closed her eyes as she continued to play: yes, this was JUST what she needed right now. She had thought about just playing her guitar really loud, but no, this was much, MUCH better. It was physical, it took much more effort than playing the guitar. In fact, at times like this, she had a great respect for Dianne, who would typically play the drums for their whole set, and come off covered in sweat... and all without complaining... well, yes, occasionally she did, but you know what I mean.

She had been playing for maybe ten, fifteen minutes - certainly enough to start perspiring a bit - when she stopped to take a break. She looked up to see Callum standing by the door.

"Someone sounds a bit angry! You been watching 'Aggretsuko' or something?" asked Callum.

"Aggretsuko? What's that?"

"An anime about a girl who works in accounts, and gets rid of all of her anger by singing 'death metal' at a karaoke bar! That wasn't far off the sort of stuff they play in the anime!"

"Death metal at a karaoke bar? Yeah, that would probably work for me too!"

Callum walked over to Carol, and sat down. "That was some pretty good drumming: not heard you on the drums for a while. So what's wrong, sis?". Whilst not his actual sister, Callum often considered all four of the girls in CJDL to be his sisters, they had got to know each other so well.

Carol did a bit of a 'hmmmph'!

"Tom problems? Come on, what's eating you?" he asked gently. Callum went over to the guitar amp, switched it on, and picked up the guitar. Whilst Callum was nowhere near as good a guitar player as any of the four girls, he sometimes played along with them when they were messing around. He started to play the melody of one of the CJDL songs, and Carol joined in on the drums, plus sang the vocals.

"Tell you what," said Callum, "it's always fun playing along with you guys... Want to do another?". Carol suggested a song, and the two of them played it.

Carol was feeling a lot less angry now: the physical work of drumming had helped a lot, then playing with Callum, well, that had been something pleasantly different.

"Yes, Tom problems.... I went to see him after his show earlier on, and we went for a coffee. I told him how I feel about him...". Callum nodded. It had become very clear while they had been out in Korea that Carol had feelings for Tom, and he had guessed that Tom also had feelings for Carol. Callum said nothing: Carol would share her anger when she was ready.

"I told him that I wanted to get to know him more, and would he.....". She took a breath, clearly trying to not cry. "... and would he like to be my boyfriend.". There was a pause.

"Go on..." prompted Callum, taking her hand to comfort her.

"Yes, he likes me, he even enjoys being with me, but.....". Another pause, this time a tear or two came out of Carol's eyes. "... but he feels he wouldn't be able to 'manage the life of going out with a pop star'. Same f***ing problem as I had with John!" said Carol, sounding very dejected, as well as very annoyed. John was her ex-boyfriend, who split up with Carol when they started to make it big... 'couldn't cope with the lifestyle'. "F***! F***! and triple F***!" screamed Carol, hitting the drums hard with the drumsticks, and then starting to cry.

Callum moved closer to Carol, and put his arms around her, trying to comfort her. They sat quietly like that for a few minutes. "Hey, fancy a coffee? Or tea? Or maybe a beer?" offered Callum.

"Yeah, a tea would be nice... thanks...." replied a sad Carol.

"Ok, I'll go make us both one. In the meantime, I'll leave you here to bash the sh*t out of that poor innocent drum kit!". Carol smiled a small smile at that last comment. Carol had a lot of time for Callum: he was dependable - always there with them when they performed - and somehow, to the best of her memory, he had never taken out his anger on any of the four of them. Carol played the drums a bit more, each hit taking away a bit more of her anger.

With a lot of her anger finally having been dissipated by the drumkit, Carol went over and switched the keyboard on: this was an old keyboard that Jenny used to use, before she got her new one, a bit under 2 years ago. She started to play random chords on it, just letting the discordant sounds fill her ears. She didn't care that the piano sound was currently set to be more like a honkey-tonk piano, her brain just enjoyed the noise. It stopped her thinking about other things.

Slowly, the sound mellowed, and Carol was playing a rather more pleasant set of chords. Still pretty random, but slightly more pleasant. Sometimes you just needed to do something different to stimulate the creative parts of your brain.

By the time Callum came back, her hands were playing chords that made some sort of a tune. She knew that she should get out her recorder, 'just in case', but for the moment it didn't REALLY matter.

"Sounds like you're slowly getting over your anger..." he said, putting the tray - with 2 mugs of tea and the biscuit tin on it - down on the desk.

"Yeah. To be honest, I'm not sure if I'm more angry with Tom, myself, or the rest of the world! I guess I just can't have everything I want in life: I've been given the ability to do great music, so maybe I just have to accept that love is going to be a lot more difficult for me."

"What about Jenny? She's got her music AND she has love..." said Callum, sipping his tea.

"Yeah, but she's Jenny!" replied Carol, also taking a sip of the hot, wet tea.

"And? So what? You're Carol!"

"Yeah, but.....". Carol put her cup down and turned back to the keyboard, and started playing something, something soft and sad... Callum said nothing, and let Carol play.


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #99 on: 01. July 2023, 14:51:08 PM »
Chapter 64 - Dianne comes over

"Good morning" said Dianne, cheerily. "How you feeling this morning?" she added, giving Carol a big hug.

Carol had called Dianne late the previous evening, they had a quite long chat, and Carol had asked her to come over this morning. The truth was that Carol had quite enjoyed playing the drums yesterday: in their earlier days, they all tried to play all of the instruments, and Carol and Jenny often jumped onto the drums for a song or two. But more recently, really since their music style had changed, and Linda had joined them (albeit initially as a session musician), they tended to stick with their own instruments, and that meant that Dianne now played the drums almost exclusively. So Carol had asked if she fancied coming over today, and give her some drumming tuition.

Dianne had arrived a few minutes ago, and had joined Carol, who was in the kitchen having some breakfast.

"A night's sleep has helped a lot. That plus a nice chat with Callum, and another nice chat with you last night." Dianne went over and made herself a coffee, then joined Carol at the breakfast bar: she had stayed over at the house enough time to know what to do! "By the way, thanks for coming over today. Hey, is your brain back on UK time yet?"

"Getting there. Having a VERY lazy day yesterday helped! So, what do you fancy doing this morning - you said you wanted a refresher on the drums?"

"Yeah, it's been a while since I really played them. Yesterday it was mainly 'anger playing' - Callum reckoned it was close to death metal!"

"Ah, yes, I've played the drums like that too - and I bet you felt better afterwards, didn't you? But yeah, no problems. In return, maybe you can give me a few pointers on the guitar - yeah, I play acoustic a fair bit, but it's been a while since I did anything serious on an electric. Hey, don't suppose you brought your pedals with you, did you, I could do with some tips in using those."

For the next couple of hours, Carol played the acoustic drum kit, with Dianne giving her a few tips, and Dianne played on Carol's guitar. Mid morning, they stopped for a break, and went and sat with Callum.

"You two sounded to be playing well together!" commented Callum.

"Yeah, it's actually nice to be playing the guitar again. I mean, don't get me wrong, I really like playing drums, but.. well you know what I mean. I'm kinda hoping after we finished this cuppa that Carol can walk me though her pedals, I never really used pedals..."

"I just think of the pedals of being some sort of fancy 'tone controls', but controls that *I* can play with, and not the guy running the desk!" said Carol.

"You know, I think that's the reason I prefer my electronic drum kit, I have so much more control of what I sound like."

"And whilst we sound-techs love e-drums coz we don't have to struggle with lots of mics, we just HATE the fact that we can no longer control the relative levels of each of your drums! Although, Dianne, you're pretty good, you don't mess with the levels once we've 'tuned it up'."

"Oh, c'mon Callum, that's no worse than those guitarists who insist on adjusting their volume, so they can be loudest!". All of this was being said in jest... All the girls appreciated that, on stage, they had no REAL idea what the 'front-of-house' sound was like, that's why they placed so much trust in the guy doing the mixing. In their earlier days, Callum had run the desk on many occasions, and he had a very good idea of how the band needed to sound, and he had explained why they shouldn't mess around with their kit if they wanted their sound to continue to sound good.

As they sat there, Carol took a sly look at Dianne's teeth.... specifically her lower ones. She was remembering back to when they all got their teeth checked out in Seoul, about a week or two ago. Yes, her lower front teeth were a little out of alignment, which was a bit of a shame, because not only did her actual teeth look nice, her upper teeth were almost perfect. She spent a moment deciding whether to say anything about it, but decided that maybe now wasn't the time.

"Tell you what, it's been good to see Linda start to write some stuff, hasn't it?" commented Dianne. "You know, she fits in really well with us, has done since the first day she joined us. She seems to be on our wavelength. I know you've been encouraging her, haven't you?"

"Yeah, I have. And I think our trip to Korea has done her the world of good too, she seems to be getting a lot more confident in writing stuff."

"I loved the way she quickly picked up on, and developed, 'Braces Buddies', it's a good silly song!"

They chatted a bit more. "Hey, Dianne, would I be out of line if I called a band meeting this afternoon?" asked Carol.

"Well, it HAS been a while since we had one, and now is probably a good time. I guess it depends what Linda and Jenny are up to. I'm not doing anything this afternoon. Callum, what about you?"

"No, I'm kinda 'chilling out', getting my brain back to UK time... so I'm available."

Carol had a word with Brian and Lisa: Lisa suggested everyone just come over for lunch, and have the meeting afterwards... so she then called both Jenny and Linda, and they were both ok with coming over too.

"Right, lets talk guitar pedals then" suggested Carol.


Offline Bracetee11

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #100 on: 02. July 2023, 19:29:27 PM »
Great story!

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #101 on: 02. July 2023, 22:19:44 PM »
Chapter 65 - band meeting

They had decided to sit around the table in the dining room for the 'meeting': Dianne was already there of course, and Carol had called both Linda and Jenny, pretty much demanding they also needed to be there after lunch. Also at the meeting were Brian and Lisa - the band's managers, also Callum and Paige... so the complete 'CJDL working team'.

"Hi guys, thanks for coming along... it's just that... well, we've not really had a sort of 'review meeting' for ages, and, for a heap of reasons, I thought it was time we sat down and chatted about a few things." In front of Carol was a piece of paper with a list of things she wanted to talk about.

"No problems here..." said Jenny, "it's actually been a while, hasn't it? In fact, Linda, you've never officially joined us at one of our meetings, have you?"

"No, I wasn't actually a band member back then..."

"So, Brian, you want to lead the meeting?" suggested Carol.

"I was thinking that, as you seem to be the most prepared, maybe you could lead things. I'll definitely be taking notes though!"

"Ok, that's fine by me. So, yes, I have a bit of a list, most of them it doesn't matter what order we do them in, except for the first one."

"What's that one then?" asked Callum.

"Linda!" replied Carol.

"Linda? What about Linda?" asked Lisa, worried that Carol had some pent-up issues with Linda.

"So yeah, maybe not put the best way, was it? Linda's contract."

"Linda's contract? You have a problem with it? It's the same one as the rest of you have...." said Brian.

"Ah, no, not her current contract. The previous one. The one that she never actually had...". There were several very confused looking faces around the table. "Look, when we set things up, several years ago, apart from you guys and Callum, who get a percentage off the 'top line', we agreed that we should split the 'bottom line' evenly between the three of us. We all felt that, whilst one person may have come up with the original music or the original words, the final result, the final performance, was actually because we'd ALL worked on things at some point, so a three-way split only seemed fair."

"Ok, so what's the problem? When Linda joined us, we made it into a four-way split, for the same reason." commented Dianne.

"Yeah, except that's NOT what happened..."

"I'm confused!" said Linda, "I'm definitely getting 25%!"

"You are NOW, but not when you joined us. When you joined us, about a year ago now, we paid you a flat salary."

"Yeah, that's right, you paid me what I asked you for."

"It may well have been what you asked us for, but it's NOT what you deserved. Pretty much from the first day you joined us, you were working with us, helping us to develop our new songs, getting them into shape, making them sound a lot better. That's a lot more than a session musician would normally be doing. It's what band members do."

"So, what are you suggesting then?" asked Linda.

"I'd like to cut you in for 25%, backdated to the day you actually joined us. Think of the salary we paid you as an advance on that. But there's no question in my mind that, without all of your input, we wouldn't be where we are today. Ok, so it's gonna cost me 8% for the last year, but I think you deserve it! Every penny of it!"

Linda sat there silently: to be honest, she was a bit stunned. She had never thought her inputs to the band had been THAT important, but clearly Carol thought they were.

"You know, I'd never thought about things like that," said Dianne after a bit of a pause, "but you're absolutely spot on! Very happy to give Linda my 8% too, she's more than earned it! Jenny?"

Jenny was gently nodding her head: like Dianne, it was something she'd never really considered, but Carol was quite right: ever since that first day, Linda had been acting like a proper band member, and not just a session musician. And, to be honest, Linda could probably use that extra money... "Absolutely fine with me!" she said, "although, thank goodness, it's not actually going to cost us 8%, we already paid her some of that... But still worth every penny!"

"I'm not really sure what to say. Thank you! Thank you all very much!" said a very happy Linda. A Linda who suddenly felt so much more an integral part of CJDL.

"Dad, you going to be able to get that sorted out?" asked Jenny.

"I'm sure I can. Legally, we probably can't restropectively rewrite Linda's contract, but we can work out something that gives Linda the same amount. You all gonna be ok with that?"

"Sure. Linda: don't worry, you've earned every penny that you're going to get, and probably a bit more, but 25% is enough!" said Carol with a big smile.

Carol felt really glad that everyone felt the same as her about Linda, it just felt it was the 'right' thing to do.

"So, next on your list?" asked Brian.

"Ok... number 2 on the list is 'fans'. Look, we're all very aware how important our fans are, and we really do try and make an effort to meet them. I mean, over in Korea, we showed Jelly Fish how important they are. But I just think our fans deserve more..."

"What do you mean?" asked Jenny.

"Well, I feel like we just pay them 'lip service', but not a lot more. Especially the fans who've been with us since the start. I mean, do any of us actually KNOW how many fans are signed up to our fan club, and how many of them are active?"

The was a silence.

"Yes, I thought as much. We should KNOW that sort of stuff! I'd love to find out how many long-term fans we have. And then DO something for them."

"Do what, specifically?" asked Linda. As Linda spoke, Callum slipped off quietly.

"I have no idea. Maybe something like when you're a VIP member at a hotel, and you get special 'perks'? Personally signed birthday cards maybe? I bet they'd LOVE that!"

"Like it!!" said Dianne. "I see where you're going with this now....". The girls bounced a few ideas around, until Callum returned a couple of minutes later, holding an old shoe box.

"Oh, wow, I never realised we still actually HAD that!" said Jenny.

"Yeah, I hid it away a bit ago, came across it by chance earlier in the week..." replied Callum.

"Erm, what *IS* it?" asked Linda.

Callum passed the box over to her. "Go on, take a look!". Linda carefully removed the lid: the box contained a load of old papers and stuff in envelopes. Linda took the top one, opened it, and read it. Then looked more carefully at the date.

"This is what, 4 years old?". She passed it over to Jenny, who looked at it, then smiled.

"OMG! It's from Vivian, remember her? I wonder what happened to her?" asked Jenny. Linda took another couple of letters and looked at them, one of them was even older. "You still have your old fan letters?".

"So it seems.... I thought these got lost when we moved here," said Jenny: she was referring to the fact that her mum and dad used to live in a much smaller house, and a couple of years ago, they had decided to use some of the band's money to buy a bigger house, where they could all stay, and work together when needed. The house where they were now. Brian and Lisa owned 40% of the house, each of the three girls owned 20%. And Jenny had thought their fan letters had been lost when they moved.

"I found them just before we went to Korea, I was going through some of the boxes that we put up in the loft, and it was in it...." explained Callum

"These are exactly the people I mean. I'm sure a load of these guys are still our fans, and still supporting us, we should be doing something special for these guys!"

"I have a suggestion," said Paige, "would you like me to speak to Eleanor, our fan club secretary, and get an up to date copy of the database, then I could go through and see if any of these guys are still active. And if not, maybe still get in contact with them, and if they are interested, give them a 'VIP Membership'?"

"Yes, Paige, like your thinking!" said Carol, "I say go for it! Tell you what, it would be interested to work out some simple demographics, like how old they are, and where in the country they live."

"Hey, I have an idea..." said Dianne, "How about we put on some sort of 'VIP, invitation-only' event for a room-full of our longest-serving fans? Spend a load of money of them, treating them. Spend an afternoon or evening with them. And I have no doubt that Jenny could come up with some crazy ideas to make it as much fun for us as it would be for them?"

"It would probably take some time to organise it all - a lot depends on what you'd want to do - but I guess there's no real rush, is there?" asked Callum. They all chatted and brainstormed about what they could do, and Brian took a load of notes.

"Ok," said Brian, "I have a shed load of notes here, and I'm loving your ideas! And I would certainly have no problems with you guy spending some money on it - these sort of crazy things tend to pay us back handsomely. I think there's loads we can talk about offline, can I suggest you park it for now, and move on...."

"Ok by me!" said Linda. "So, what's next on your list, Carol?"

"Spending more money....." replied Carol, with a smile. "Charity.... yes, I know that some of us are involved with some charities - Jenny, you still an ambassador for that wigs charity?"

"Yes, I am, I really ought to offer to do some more for them... what you thinking of specifically?"

"Not sure, I'm just wondering if we, as a group, should put our names to a good charity. It would do THEM a load of good, and I'm sure it wouldn't hurt us in any way."

"Who you thinking of?" asked Lisa.

"No idea, not really had time to think about it." replied Carol, "Probably a charity that works with younger people. Maybe related to music or the arts... A charity that we can make a real difference to. I'm not thinking about us simply giving them money, I'm thinking there must be LOADS of things we could do to help hem raise money.... or awareness... To be honest, I don't think it's something we can do much about today, I think we all need to go away, think about it, come up with ideas. I guess my big question for everyone is: is this something we should be doing?"

"Yes, but we'll need to be VERY careful who we get involved with, don't want to be involved with some dodgy charity!" said Dianne.

"Maybe we can combine this with what we were just talking about, our fan-base?" suggested Linda.

They talked for a bit, but all agreed that it was something they should seriously look at.

"Ok, Carol, I'm actually liking your list," said Jenny. "What's next?"

"Well, there's three things, more related to us, but they all interact.... I've written down: 'us time', 'house time', and 'playing each others instruments'. Let me try and explain... first of all, over the last weeks we've spent a lot of time together, relaxing, not at all stressed, playing and singing, coming up with some basic ideas... it's what we used to do a couple of years ago: just chilling out, throwing ideas around. We wrote some good stuff back then. I'm not saying our current stuff is bad in any way, it's just that we've been writing it in a different way, and I'm just thinking that we four need some 'us time' together. Then the 'house time': we bought this place to spend more time together, but we're not really using it. This morning I spent some time with Dianne, kinda messing around, no real agenda, and that nicely brings in the last thing too: before we 'changed our music' we used to be proud of the fact that we would regularly move around playing different instruments, but we just don't really do that now. For example, Dianne is almost always playing the drums...."

"I'm sure Dianne is happy playing the drums" said Jenny.

"I'd say it's actually a bit more than that!" said Linda.

"What do you mean? I thought she did it... well, because of the four of us, she was best..." replied Carol.

"I think at the beginning of the last tour you would have been right, but I noticed a change in her as the tour progressed. And didn't you see her playing at the Park concert the other week?" asked Linda. She turned to Dianne. "Come on, Dianne, we're talking about you!"

"Well, yes, Linda's actually right." replied Dianne. "Something sort-of clicked on our tour, I think partly its because of our change in music style, and I'm really enjoying playing drums now, so much so that I've been looking at maybe getting a better kit. But if Carol, or anyone else, wants to play them for a song or two, I'm ok with that!"

"Ok, fair enough, but my point is that we seem to be getting a bit 'stuck in our ways'. Look, yesterday, I had good reason to bash the sh*t out of the drumkit - it made me feel a lot better, but it also brought back memories, and I realised that I actually quite enjoyed sometimes playing the drums... in fact, that's why I asked Dianne to come over this morning. Parly to help me, partly to play with me... she was on the guitar, I was on the drums..."

"I will admit that it WAS good this morning." said Dianne. "But is change really that big a thing? Yes, after a big set, I'm usually quite drained... but I don't REALLY mind, and as Carol has discovered, it does relieve any stress you might have had! Ok, let me turn it around: Jenny, you play keyboards and guitar, do you feel 'settled' about that, or do you want to play bass or drums occasionally?"

"It's a difficult question... yes, I do feel settled, but at the same time I can understand where Carol is coming from."

"Look," continued Carol, "we just spent 2 weeks doing some basic dance stuff, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Well, OK, maybe not EVERY minute, but you get my gist. Jenny, what about your Sax, you should do some more with that, have some more lessons! We need to spend more time on US! Not Ben, or Mike, or any other guys. US! The four of us!"

Jenny smiled: a bit over a year ago, Jenny had started to learn to play Sax, an instrument she'd always wanted to be able to play. She'd played a simple Sax piece as a challenge at the College Concert, where they had helped loads of the students. And she had completly enjoyed learning to play it. "Carol, you're right. This last year we've almost become a 'music machine'... turn the handle, out comes music. But yeah, it's not the same, is it? Linda, I know we took you on mainly to play bass and guitar, but I know you can play keyboard: fancy doing that a bit more? Maybe have some lessons?"

"I actually really enjoyed the last few weeks, we were so relaxed, and I felt I could say pretty much anything to you guys. And yeah, I WOULD like to learn to play keyboards a bit better. And Dianne, I think it could do me a lot of good, in so many ways, to learn a bit more about the drums: fancy teaching me?"

"Sounds to me like you girls all need a 'bit more free space' around you, so you can reinvigorate your creativity. Want me to buy you some time from the record company?" suggested Brian.

"Sounds like it could be useful, dad, although I can think of at least one song that we could knock off quickly..."

"You thinking about 'Braces Buddies'?" asked Paige.

Jenny smiled. "No. But yeah, I think we need to see what that sounds like with the full band, but I wonder what the label would think about that? Also, I've been thinking about Nut Rocker: I have a fun idea, which I now suspect Carol might like! Although I'm thinking it would work better on-stage, rather than as a recording. And we shouldn't forget that the record company pretty much got 'Roller Skates' as a freebie bonus. But yeah, if you can get them to back of a bit, I think it would help."

"What's our actual contract?" asked Linda.

"If I remember right, we have one single and one album left, both needed by Christmas, and I don't think that's going be a problem for you. But if you guys feel you need a bit more 'you time' right now, then I can work with them on that."

"Yeah, I think you're right Carol, we've been pushing fairly hard recently, we really do need to have some quality time together, and yeah, without the guys!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #102 on: 03. July 2023, 13:42:28 PM »
Chapter 66 - Ding dong?

Thursday: Carol was feeling a lot better this morning. playing with Dianne yesterday before lunch had been good fun, and whilst Carol had felt a bit guilty about calling the band meeting in the afternoon, everyone had agreed that they should have sat down like that several weeks ago, and it was definitely time well spent. Even better was the session the four of them had after the meeting, doing nothing more than 'playing around', and allowing ideas to start coming to them.

Carol had breakfast with Callum, and was now dressed, and in the music room. Yes, she could work on 'making music' back at her own place, but sometimes it did get a bit lonely there: especially after 3 weeks of being with the others in Korea, it felt very quiet: in a way, she rather hoped that one - or more - of the other three might come back over and join her. But being there, knowing that Brian, Lisa and Callum were around if she wanted a chat was nice. In fact, Paige was probably also there, doing something or other. And anyway, a change of surroundings were always good. She knew that Jenny was working on several ideas that had been inspired by their Korean trip, and Linda also had been suitably inspired.

So, she was in the music room, switching between playing her guitar and the piano, working on some words for something Jenny had come up with.


Elsewhere in the house, the doorbell went, and Callum answered the door.

"Hi, I'm guessing you're Tom... I'm Callum! Come on in!"

"Hello Callum, nice to put a face to the voice, although I think I probably saw you in the background of one of the videos..."

"So, how was last night? I hope I didn't do something I shouldn't have?"

"No, last night was actually a very pleasant evening, helped me understand a lot about the four girls, and about Carol too."

"Well, Carol is out in the music room, working on some new stuff, why don't I take you there..."

"Thanks!". Tom had called up Callum earlier on, to check that Carol was still there, and to get the address, so Callum was expecting him. "So, how's she feeling this morning? I hope she's not going to bite my head off?"

"No, she's pretty chilled today. I hope things go ok for you...."

As they got closer, they could hear Carol playing the piano through the slightly open door. "You might want to just wait here, and have a listen for a moment, see what she's doing, before you go in..." said Callum quietly, before walking off, leaving Tom alone, listening. Even for a 'work in progress', it sounded good. Finally the music and singing stopped, so Tom opened the door a bit more.

"Knock, knock... anyone home?" he asked as he went in.

"Tom? What you doing here? I guess you'd better come in...". A whole load of different thoughts and emotions hit Carol as he walked into the room. Some good. Some bad. Some rather undecided.

"After what I said the other day... well, a lot has happened, and I think we need to talk... Well, I don't know about you, but I certainly need to..." He took a look around the room as he walked in. "I guess this is where you all rehearse then?"

"Yes, we do. That's why I came here actually, I wanted to 'use' some of the kit here. Come on, sit down....".

"Carol, you are an amazing lady, you're surrounded by some very good, caring and loyal friends... Actually, no, they are far more than just friends!". Carol looked at Tom, blissfully unaware of what he was talking about.

"Yes, I guess I am...." replied Carol

"And I have a feeling you have no idea what happened last night, do you?"

"No... what DID happen?".

"Well, I had just got home, thinking about dinner, when one of your loyal friends called me, suggesting - actually, no, it was a bit more than a simple suggestion - that I should meet up with him for dinner."

"Oh, who was that then? Can't have been Callum, he was here all evening."

"It was Ben, actually. Callum had called him, and asked him to talk with me...."


"So, I met up with him, Mike was there too. And we all had a really nice evening together, eating, drinking and talking. They are both really nice guys, you know."

"Yes, they are. So, talking... what about?"

"Well, you, of course. And the band. And him and Jenny. And Mike and Dianne. And how you guys seem to have worked out a sort of unspoken agreement with the paparazzi that they will leave them guys alone a bit, and in return, you give them suitable 'opportunities'."

"Oh, ok...."

"Ben not only explained how the press had been told, in no uncertain terms on one occasion, that he, and Mike, were off-limits if they weren't with Jenny or Dianne. In fact, later on, we saw a photographer, who was about to take a picture, then realised it was Ben, so didn't: Ben recognised him, and even said hello to him!"

Carol started to get a feeling where this might be going. It was a good feeling. Actually, a VERY good feeling.

"So the other day, when you asked me.... if I'd go out with you... well, I had a feeling something like that might happen sometime, especially after some of those messages you sent when you were in Korea. But I was scared. Look, I'm a presenter at a small radio station: if anything happens in my life that generates any negative publicity, then I could be out of a job in an instant. I didn't for a moment think that you might actually be able to 'protect' me...".

Tom smiled, allowing Carol to see the metal brackets on his teeth, which sent a strange yet nice chill down her spine.

"Look, can I change my answer to the question you asked me?" Tom asked Carol. By now, Carol fully understood what this was about.

"Let me ask you the question again then," said Carol, "but I'll ask it in a better way. Tom: would you be my boyfriend? I know it will be hard for you, but I promise to do my best to protect you from the press interest that I KNOW will happen, but you'll need to trust me, and others, on that. So what do you think?"

"If you're willing to help protect me, then yes!". He leaned over, and gave Carol a gentle kiss on her lips: their first kiss.

"Don't worry, you'll be ok." She paused, leaning over to kiss Tom back. As she kissed him, her brain was working overtime. "So, I hope you're not doing anything tonight?"

"No, I'm not. What are you planning for me?" Another kiss.

"I was thinking of taking you out for dinner... and then introducing you to the press!" And another...

"You kidding me? So soon?"

"Nope. The more proactive we are, the better it is, that way we're not open to nasty rumours."

"So, how do you get the press there?"

"Oh, that's the easy bit! I just need to call Sarah!"


"Yes, a very friendly photographer who we've given several exclusives to. In return she does us favours. For example, last year, when Jenny got her hair cut, she filmed the whole thing. Got exclusive pictures, and let the wig charity have a load of the footage and pics for free. Plus she was there to meet us yesterday at the airport. I'm thinking that we let her get some early pictures, before we have dinner, then let the masses catch us as we leave the restaurant!"

"God, Ben was so right, you're so calculating, you guys know exactly what to do, don't you?" commented Tom with a big smile, giving Carol another chance to admire the silver shiny braces on his teeth. Ok, so there was nothing special about the braces, they were medium-sized brackets, with fairly mute dark blue ligatures on them, but they gave Tom a certain 'look'. And gave Carol the tingles.

"I promised I'd protect you, and that's what I'm doing! Come here...".

Carol leaned over to Tom once more, gently putting her lips to his, giving him a simple kiss on his lips. She did it a second time, then a third. The next time she didn't pull away, leaving her lips softly on his. She opened her lips a little, pushing her tongue between them, running it along Tom's lips, and gently pushing between his lips. Tom realised what she was doing, and relaxed his lips, allowing her tongue to go between his lips. Her tongue pushed in a little more until it found Tom's teeth. Well, not actually his teeth but his braces, and his archwire. The braces on his top front teeth. What felt like a bolt of electricity shot through Carol as she realised what her tongue was touching. She slowly moved her tongue to the left, and then to the right, along the archwire of Tom's braces, feeling both the hard metal brackets, as well as the tiny ligatures that held the wire into the slot of the brackets.

Carol had seen braces reasonably close up on many occasions, most recently when Yun Hee got her braces, then again when Jenny had her broken bracket replaced. And yes, several years ago she had her own braces, and had looked at them hundreds of times in the mirror, and run her tongue over them just as many times. But this was different: she was being intimate with someone ELSE's braces.

And it felt good!

Before ending the kiss, she let her tongue explore a little lower, touching his lower braces: they felt just as exciting as Tom's upper ones. Carol decided that, perhaps, that was enough for a first proper kiss... any more, and Tom might starts asking questions. Besides, if, as it seemed, they were now in some form of relationship, she would have plenty of chances to expore his braces further.

Carol pulled her tongue back into her mouth, letting her lips linger a second or two more, then finally ended the kiss.

"Tom, I love you! Mind you, I didn't feel that way a couple of days ago, just ask that drum kit over there!"

"I'm sorry. That bad was it?"

"Yes, it was. Come on, let's go get a coffee. Besides, I need to thank Callum. And maybe you should meet Brian and Lisa too."


"Hello Sarah!"

"Oh, hi Carol, not spoken to you for at least a couple of days! I'm guessing you need a favour - that seems to be the only time you guys call me!"

"Depends if you'd like the chance of an exclusive?"

"Ah, someone who's speaking my language. I'm definitely listening!"

"You free this evening?". There was a pause of a couple of seconds.

"I probably will be, after a phone call, why?"

Carol took a big breath: she was about to tell the first person, outside of her immediate circle of friends, about Tom. "I have a new boyfriend! And we need to go public about it before we're found out."

"In that case, I'm DEFINITELY free tonight! Who is it? And what's your plan?"

"His name is Tom, Tom Sharpe. He's a presenter at Croydon Radio.."

"Ah, ok...."

"So I was thinking about taking him somewhere suitably nice for dinner. You can meet us beforehand and get some pics, then maybe get some sly shots through the restaurant window. After you send off your exclusive pics, call your friends, and meet us outside the restaurant afterwards."

Carol heard a giggle on the phone. "You've got this off to a tee, haven't you! Jenny been giving you lessons? So what you gonna tell me about this guy then?"

"The funny thing is that I don't know a huge amount about him, but he knows a huge amount about me." She went on to explain about the 3-hour 'interview' on his show. And the several cups of coffee since...


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #103 on: 04. July 2023, 14:25:16 PM »
Chapter 67 - Dinner

Carol got into the taxi, explaining to the Uber driver where they would be going, but that they needed to collect someone else first, but it was on the way.

To most, going out on an 'official first date" would be 100% pleasure, but for Carol tonight it would be a mix of business and pleasure. Carol sent Sarah a text: "on the way to collect Tom...". Tom was waiting exactly where he said he would be: the taxi stopped, and he got in, giving Carol a kiss. Given that not only was this a first date, but an important 'photo opportunity' too, they were both dressed up quite smartly. Carol had managed to get a table at a very acceptable restaurant, very suitable for a lady like Carol to take her new boyfriend to.

The plan was to let the taxi drop them off a couple of minutes walk from where they needed to be, and that Sarah would be nearby, waiting to take some pictures.

The taxi arrived, and Carol paid the driver, but didn't get out immediately. She looked around, and quickly spotted Sarah. Good, she was alone. "Ok, this is it. Don't worry about Sarah, she's going to get some good pictures, but won't get in our way. Just try and be normal...."

"That's easy for you to say, I'm as nervous as...". Carol leaned over and kissed Tom.

Tom opened the door, and got out: he heard a very quiet 'click'. Then Carol got out, walking around to Tom: several more 'clicks'. They started walking, straight towards Sarah, who managed to get some great pictures. "Give her a nice smile" whispered Carol. Tom smiled, revealing the metal on his teeth. 'click' 'click'.

"Hi Sarah! Get what you need so far? This is Tom, by the way."

"I guessed that bit. Hi Tom, nice to meet you! I'm Sarah." 'click', 'click. "Now, you two go have a great evening together! I'll see you both afterwards!"

Carol and Tom walked the short distance to the restaurant, with Sarah grabbing a couple more pics as they went inside, and a couple more through the window. While Tom and Sarah had their dinner, Sarah went into a cafe not too far away, and sent off some of the pictures and associated copy to several agencies and newspapers: with luck, one or two of them would use her pictures in the morning, and Sarah would be able to pay a few more of the bills. After that, she made a couple of phone calls, to 'tip off' a couple of other photographers she knew.

Carol and Tom had a very pleasant, and undisturbed, dinner together. "Hey, just turn around slowly, and look at the front window...." said Carol to Tom. She had just discretely texted Sarah to let her know they'd be leaving soon, and had spotted a couple of faces, no doubt with cameras, at the window. Earlier on, she'd had a discrete word with the maitre d' of the restaurant, so he wouldn't panic when he saw them.

Tom, like many guys, was used to looking after himself, as well as being protective of any lady he might be with. Tonight, the tables were turned, and he needed to let someone else protect him, and guide him. It felt strange, but he was starting to know Carol enough to realise that she could help protect him, at least from the press.

"Thank you for a lovely evening," said Tom with a smile, "The food was lovely, the company even better!". As Carol saw that lovely smile, which by now had a bit of food stuck in it, she felt very happy. The last couple of days had been very BAD days. Today was a very GOOD day! "I need to go to the gents, sort out my smile...." said Tom.

"Yes, you wouldn't want food in your braces when you see yourself on the front page of the 'Mail', now would you?" joked Carol. "I guess I need to rinse my mouth out too, and put my retainer back in too."

"Most people wouldn't bother..." commented Tom.

"Well, you should know by now I'm not 'most people'. Besides, if both you and Jenny can flaunt your metal smiles in public, why can't I?". While Tom went to the gents to brush his teeth, Carol went to the ladies. She remembered back to her teens, when she had metal brackets like Tom had now: any time she ate something, she needed to at least rinse her mouth, to get rid of anything stuck in her braces. And after every meal, she needed to properly brush and floss her teeth to get rid of all the bits. She also remembered the day she got her braces off: it was SOOO easy to brush her teeth!

Carol looked in the mirror at her teeth, running her tongue over the naughty canine that had slightly moved: it felt like it was back where it should be, meaning the retainer had done its job nicely, but she knew that, if she didn't keep wearing it, the tooth could easily move back again. But she didn't mind: it no longer affected her speech, and she had proven the other week that she could actually sing ok with it in too. Besides, there was still a slight excitement knowing that others would see that she 'had to wear braces'. Then she thought back to Tom's braces, which also gave her a bit of a thrill, especially when she ran her tongue over those lovely metal brackets of his.

Having rinsed her mouth out, she got the retainer box out of her small bag, took her retainers out, and looked at them: made of clear pink plastic, the plastic on the top one stopped a bit before her teeth, and there was a plastic covered spring, pressing on the back of her teeth, matched by the spring at the front. It had more clasps than normal retainers, to make sure it stayed in place whilst slightly moving her wayward canine back into its proper place. She put her top plate into her mouth, and pushed it into place with a quiet 'click', then did the same with the lower one. It still amazed her how quickly she had got used to wearing retainers again.

Several minutes later, Carol took Tom's hand. "You ready? Don't worry, I'll do most of the talking!". They went to the door, which one of the staff opened for them, to be greeted by four photographers, one of them Sarah of course. Carol took Tom out from the restaurant, and to the left, where they stopped.

"Hello everyone! I'm guessing you know who I am, but let me introduce you to my new boyfriend. This is Tom, Tom Sharpe, he's a presenter at Croydon Radio." Carol quickly looked around. "Why don't we go over there, and you can take some proper pictures of us...". They were in a pedestrian area, and went over to where there was a tree and a few bushes, and the two of them stood together in front, giving a nice background. "Hey, is that Chris behind the camera there? Hi Chris!"

"Hello Carol. And Tom, you said?"

"That's right. Go on, Tom, say hello.."

"Hi everyone!" said Tom, a little nervously.

"Ok, cameras ready?" asked Carol, as she leaned over and gave Tom a gentle kiss on his lips, and held the pose for a couple of seconds. "So, if you need any more details, have a word with Sarah. We're going to go get a taxi, but do feel free to follow us at a suitable distance, I'm sure you'd like some pics of us getting onto the taxi! By the way, same rules apply for Tom as for Ben and Mike: he has a private life, and he doesn't want to be disturbed if I'm not with him. Understood?".

Carol also knew that Sarah would have had a discrete word with them too, so hopefully word would quickly get around.


"I really don't know how you did that," said Tom as they were being driven home. "You had them eating out of the palms of your hands!"

"Yeah, we have a pretty good symbiosis with them. We always try to take a few extra moments to be nice to them and give them what they need, and they respect us in return. They know that Sarah will have got some pictures earlier on, but they understand that without her, they wouldn't have even been there tonight. So, we all win." Carol paused for a moment. "Were you ok with all that?"

"Yes, it was surprisingly pleasant. Thank you, I now understand what you said earlier about 'protecting' me."

"Ok, so that was part one...."

"Part one?"

"Yeah, the press. Part two is next: I need to do some social media now. Need to melt the internet. It's usually Jenny that does that!" Carol took her phone in her hand. "Now, give me a nice sexy smile....". <click>.

"I have a new boyfriend, his name is Tom, he's a presenter on Croydon Radio. Please be nice to him!" said her first post.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #104 on: 05. July 2023, 16:07:05 PM »
Chapter 68 - Carol needs to be somewhere else!

"Half a moment," said Carol, "it's Thursday today, isn't it?"

"Yeah, that's right!" replied Tom.

Carol turned to the taxi driver. "Sorry to be a pain, but we need to go somewhere else, it's about another 10 to 15 minutes, you going to be ok with that?"

"Sure, no problem, where do you want to go?" asked the driver. To be honest, a fare is a fare to a taxi, and a longer drive equals more money!

"The Crown pub....". Carol described where it was.

"Yeah, that's fine...."

"The Crown?" asked Tom.

"Yeah, it's Open Mic night! I can't miss it!"

"What, dressed up like THIS?"

"Why not?". She put her arm around Tom and pulled him towards her, giving him a quick kiss on his lips. Just under 15 minutes later they arrived at the Crown. Carol gave the driver a nice tip.

Tom opened the front door of the pub, and Carol went in, then straight through to the door to where the Open Mic was going on. A couple of people sat near the door turned, and saw her, then cheered and started clapping. The rest of the audience were watching Kevin, who was on stage in the middle of a song, but they turned and saw who it was, and also started cheering and clapping.

Kevin stopped playing. "Well, I clearly can't compete with THAT, can I?" and he too clapped, welcoming Carol. "Hey, welcome home!" he commented. Then, in a highly sarcastic voice added "But what sort of time do you call this? You're a bit late....", and he smiled.

Carol took Tom's hand and pretty much dragged him to the front, then up on to the stage, and stood behind the second (currently spare) microphone. "Umm, sorry I'm a bit late, I had a rather important personal issue I needed to take care of!" she said, both pointing to and looking straight at Tom. "This is Tom, he's my new boyfriend!". Of course, everyone there knew who Carol was, and understood that a new boyfriend for a pop star was a pretty big thing. Besides, Carol was their 'friend', and they felt good for her... so everyone clapped, and cheered.

"Hi Tom!" said Kevin when the noise died down. "Hey, do you play or sing?"

"I'm afraid not, but I CAN play the CD player!"

"He works ar Croydon Radio" explained Carol.

"Oh, right, THAT Tom!! Well, Tom, welcome to our little gathering. Is your... errr... girlfriend planning on playing for us tonight? I mean, she's not dressed like I'd expect her to be..."

"I'm kinda assuming that's why we diverted into here..." replied Tom.

"I took Tom out for dinner this evening - I'm sure you'll see the pictures in the paper tomorrow morning - and on the way back I suddenly realised what day it was. And there's no WAY I was going to miss out!". There were more cheers from the crowd.

"Look, you two go and get a drink and sort yourselves out, I'm sure Simon will squeeze you in the program somewhere!" said Kevin, who then continued his song.


"Hey, Kevin, mind if I borrow your guitar? I didn't remember to pack mine, I was rather distracted!"

"Sure.." he said, passing it to her. Carol then went up onto the stage, and sat on the stool, strumming the guitar so Simon could set the levels.

"Well, life has been so busy the last few weeks. Hey, I hope you enjoyed the video from Korea I sent you?". The crowd cheered. "That was such fun to do... getting everyone involved." Carol started to strum the guitar... "Baby shark, doo de doo doo...." she sang briefly. "Hmm, maybe not!". The audience appreciated Carols humour, with many of them laughing.

"So, about 4 weeks ago, we were asked at short notice to go over to Seoul, to perform one of our old songs on TV with a Korean K-pop girl band. Which we did, but we also stayed a couple of extra weeks to do some dance training. And quite a bit of eating and drinking... and visiting amazing places too. The girl-band is called 'Jelly Fish' and they were lovely girls, we spent a lot of time with them. And yes, we were all inspired by being over in Korea, and I'm sure we're going to have a few new songs come out of it, but here's a silly one that ... well, I'm not quite sure who came up with the idea originally, but Linda took it and ran with it. You see, one of the 'Jelly Fish' girls got braces while we were there, and we persuaded her to get multi-coloured ligs - ah, yeah, they're the tiny coloured rubber band things that go onto braces," explained Carol, pointing at her own mouth. "The next day, one of Jenny's brackets broke off, so we all went to the same ortho to get it fixed, and we made HER get the same multi-coloured ligs as Yun Hee... So they became braces buddies. Paige reckons we should release it as our next single! It's called... 'Braces Buddies'!"

Carol started to strum Kevin's guitar. "Braces Buddies, they are braces buddies... Yun Hee and Jenny are braces buddies... with matching metal braces.... and matching neon colours... they are a pair of braces buddies". Luckily they had all been playing it yesterday, so the words were fresh in her mind.

As everyone clapped at the end of the song, Carol looked out at the audience, and at Tom, who was smiling. "I get a feeling that some of you understand that song better than others!" commented Carol, laughing. "So, as I suspect you've realised by now, I'm completely unprepared for tonight. Anyone got a favourite they'd like me to play? Hey, Kevin, come and join me!".

"I would, but someone stole my guitar."

"Oh, you can have it back and play it, I'll just sing along with you..."


Carol came back and sat with Tom, who put his hand gently on hers. "Your music is really important to you, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is." she replied, looking at him. In her mind she was trying to work out which was MORE important: her music or a relationship with Tom. Somehow she would have to fit them both into her life. Tom was having similar thoughts: for many reasons, he knew that going out with Carol would be unlike any other relationship he had ever had before.


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #105 on: 06. July 2023, 13:22:56 PM »
Chapter 69 - Jenny's Super Fans?

Carol, Dianne and Linda were staying at the house for a couple of days, working on on some music, while Jenny was staying at her own place (but had spent the last 2 days with them). They were sitting together, Linda on the PC, updating one of their new songs, when Paige walked in, with a tray of coffees for them, and some nice cakes.

"Coffee time!" said Paige, putting the tray down. "I brought mine along too, hope you don't mind if I join you?"

"Of course not!" replied Carol. "So, what you been up to?"

"Oh, I was talking to one of the A&R guys at Big Dog, I'd sent him a few of your 'demos' to see what he though, and in terms of a new single, he says you should concentrate on two specific songs: 'High Flyer', and 'Braces Buddies'.

"He liked 'Braces Buddies'?

"In principle, yes: he felt the topic was a 'bit different', which could help it do well, although he did suggest trying to make it a bit less 'sweet', and a bit more like your other stuff!"

Carol smiled. "Hmm, sounds like we have been given a challenge, doesn't it! Which reminds me, we need to decide who we're going to get to produce all this new stuff."

"Well, I know who I'd like to do it, but she's in Korea!" said Linda. "I think working with Yu-Eye would be good for us."

"Want me to contact her? At least ask if she's interested and available?" suggested Paige.

"Maybe not yet, I think we all need to sit down and talk more about who we want. Mind you, Linda, maybe you want to see if she's heard anything about that possible animé stuff she mentioned..." commented Carol. They all sat chatting for a bit. "Hey, Paige, what happened to the others in your group, you know, Jenny's Super Fans? Not heard much about them recently."

In one of the earlier stories, we discovered that 'Jenny's Super Fans' were all last year students at South London College (so aged 17 to 18), and at the penultimate concert at Wembley, they had worked with the band, streaming the concert, while several others from the college had danced, played and in one case, sung, with the band. Of course, they had all now left college, which is why Paige had ended up working with the band. But Carol had a very good point: what WERE they all up to now?

"Well, Kali was approached by a couple of people after she sang with you at Wembley, but she's decided to go to university as planned, and work a bit more on her music in her spare time before deciding what to do. Ravi is doing computing at uni. I think Suzi has a job somewhere nearby, I'm sure Jenny mentioned she'd seen her recently at church. Not 100% sure about Luke and Amber though, I'm pretty sure they went off to uni too."

"Didn't you fancy going to uni?" asked Linda.

"I did, but changed my mind. I'm learning far more working with you guys, plus I've been talking with Brian, and he's been suggesting I should do some relevant 'business' courses."

"You know, I reckon you need to get in touch with them all, I kinda miss everything you all used to do for us. Try and get a date into everyone's diary, and we can do something together..."

"Ok, I can do that - I ought to be keeping in touch with them more myself. What you thinking we can all do?"

"No idea. Ask THEM what THEY want to do? And if it's as lame as 'let's go out for dinner', then we'll want to do something AFTER dinner too!"


"So, a 'rockier', 'more upbeat' version of 'Braces Buddies', eh? Something tells me we just found something to do for the rest of the afternoon!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #106 on: 08. July 2023, 19:38:10 PM »
And yes, there IS braces in this chapter, just the once!


Chapter 70 - An interesting call from Canada

Six of them were sat around the table having dinner: Paige had gone home for the day, leaving Carol, Linda and Dianne, plus Callum, Brian and Lisa.

"I had a very interesting call just now," said Brian as he joined them. "Manager of a Canadian band called 'Northern Girls' - ever heard of them?".

"Nope..." replied Dianne.

"Four girl rock band?" said Linda after a moment's thought.

"Yes, that's the one."

"So what did he want then?" asked Carol

"Well, they've done a few tours of Canada, and the US. They just came back from a few dates in South America and Australia, and were looking to come to Europe next year."

"And he called you because?"

"They were wondering if we'd like to do some sort of joint tour with them. They had heard we've already done a tour in Europe, so we would 'know the ropes', so to speak. I was starting to put feelers out for a tour for you guys anyway, so it's come at a good time."

"So, what? We're their support band? Or are they OUR support band?"

"No idea, not got that far yet, it was more asking if we have any sort of interest. I said I'd speak to you all. Look, he gave me the number for their lead singer, Taylor I think she's called... anyway, he suggested maybe you should WhatsApp her, just have a chat, see what you all think. You guys seem work well with other bands - I'm thinking of Jenny with Darkest Knights, then of course all of you with Jelly Fish. Yes, I know that was different, but you turned something that could have been quite 'normal' into something a lot bigger, did us all a lot of good."

"Canada... any idea which side? Just thinking about what time it is there."

"No, but I would think it would be ok if you called after dinner."


After dinner, the three girls went and looked up Northern Girls online. A four-piece girl rock band, based somewhere near Toronto. Very popular in Canada and the US, but for whatever reason, they weren't especially well known in the UK - most likely because they had never toured the UK! They listened to a bit of their music: it had certain similarities to their's, but was definitely much 'rockier'.

"I do like their music!" said Linda. It's starting to become clear that Linda's music tastes are rather 'rockier', and rather more 'metal' than the other girls.

"Yeah, I can see why they got in touch. Shame Jenny's not available tonight..."


"Hi, this is Carol from CJDL, in England. Is it ok to do a video call?" typed Carol into WhatsApp a little later. Less than a minute later, she received a video call request, which she answered.

"Hey, is that Carol? I'm Taylor...". As you would expect for the 'front lady' of a girl band, Taylor was reasonably attractive. Long dark hair, pleasant makeup. A gold ring through the side of her nose. And a very nice smile on her face. She had a very soft accent, which many would have wrongly described as 'American', but was, of course, Canadian!

"Hi there, Taylor, nice to meet you, and thanks for calling. Give me a moment, I'm going to go and squeeze onto the settee with Linda and Dianne."

"Hi Taylor, I'm Dianne..." she said, waving.

"Hi there, I'm Linda..."

"Our fourth member, Jenny, isn't here right now.... so your manager called our manager....."

"Yeah, that's right. We finished a tour of South America and Australia a couple of weeks ago, and we decided maybe we were ready to come over and 'do Europe' next year... but that's not so easy for a Canadian band. We realised that maybe we needed to team up with a more 'local band', so we started looking for British bands that were anything at all like us. And we found you guys, and we all liked what we saw. I'm assuming you looked us up online too?"

"Of course, first thing we did!" said Carol.

"And? What do you think? First thoughts I mean..."

"Yeah, I think we all liked your style. It's a bit different from us, but I could feel a certain... hmm... what's the word? Ummm... Synergy?"

"Synergy? SYNERGY? Carol, where DO you get these words from?" said Linda, jokingly. "Sounds like an advert for car oil or something!!"

"Well, YOU come up with a better word then!" said Carol.

"Ok, go with 'synergy' for the moment then....".

At the other end of the link, Taylor had a huge smile on her face. "You guys are as bad as us!" she said. As Taylor had smiled, Carol couldn't help but notice the braces on her teeth, although she decided that no was NOT the time or place to say anything about them. "So, you're not rejecting the idea of us touring together out of hand then?"

Carol liked the words Taylor had just used: she might have said 'touring with us', but she actually said 'touring together'.

"No, not at all, although we've not had a chance to speak with Jenny yet."

"Ok, well please do talk to her. In any case, we all decided that if you showed ANY sort of interest in doing something, then we needed to come over and meet you all, face-to-face, spend time with you, and see if we can make something work. Look, on the South American - Australian tour, we realised both how much out of our depth we felt, and how 'isolated' we were, and it showed in our performances. You guys LIVE in Europe, you've toured Europe, so touring with someone like you guys should make thigs a lot better for us."

"Taylor... I like the way you are phrasing things... 'touring with' and so on, but how do you see it working in practice?"

"No idea. Maybe we swap being support and main act each day? Maybe we do several smaller sets? Maybe we even get to play together? I guess that's part the reason we'd like to come and meet you guys, and bounce some ideas around..."

They chatted for another 10 to 15 minutes, just generally talking about touring stuff: they all seemed to get on pretty well.

"Look," said Taylor, "go and chat with Jenny. In the meantime, I'll try and get all of us together this sort of time tomorrow, and we can have another WhatsApp. I'll also get our manager to organise somewhere for us to stay in London: if you have any suggestions, that would be great. And any chance you could sort out a rehearsal room, so we could all have a play together?"

"Oh, the rehearsal room is easy, we have one here." said Carol. "So, Taylor, look forward to meeting the rest of the girls tomorrow!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #107 on: 10. July 2023, 16:55:32 PM »
Chapter 71 - Northern girls

Whilst our girls had thought about going to meet the Northern Girls at Heathrow airport, their arrival time of 6:35am wasn't really that appealing. Ok, yeah, add an hour or so to get through immigration and customs, but it's still quite early, especially given the time they would need to leave to get there in time! Instead, a suitable mini-coach had been organised for them, bringing them all to the CJDL house. They would be staying in an Airbnb about 15 minutes away, but of course, that wouldn't be available till later in the day.

They had 'travelled light' for this relatively short trip, by which I mean one mega-sized suitcase each! But no instruments - they would use the (many) spare instruments already in the music room, including the old acoustic drum kit.

A couple of The Northern Girls took up the offer of being able to have a shower, after which they all sat in the lounge, getting to know each other. I guess I should introduce the 4 visitors: Taylor Martin (lead guitar, vocals, frontman), Kate Enders (bass, vocals), Meg Griffin (rhythm guitar) and Erin Brock (drums). Erin and Meg clearly 'had something going', from the way they behaved towards each other, and how closely they sat together.

Of the four, Taylor was the 'prettiest': she was quite slim, had long, slightly wavy, almost black hair down to her chest. A small ring through the side of her nose, and 2 studs in each ear. Kate was noticeably 'larger' by around 40 or 50 pounds, and wore glasses, and also had the statutory 'rock musician long hair', although it was a dark brown. Meg and Erin both looked quite 'plain' by comparison to Taylor. Erin's hair was naturally dark, (you could see her roots) but had been coloured to a 'dirty blonde, whilst Meg's hair was a light-to-mid-brown. Not that looks really mattered that much, they were a ROCK band! All were dressed in what you might call 'normal rock-band attire': jeans and t-shirts.

"Ok," said Carol. "I can't let it go any longer! There's a big elephant in the room we need to get rid of! You ALL have braces! Come on, spit it out! There's clearly SOMETHING going on here!"

Taylor smiled, showing off her lovely metalwork. "I must admit, I WAS wondering how long before someone mentioned it. And I don't mean that in a nasty way, Carol, I see you have braces yourself..."

"And so does Jenny of course! So, I'm getting the feeling there's a story here...." replied Carol.

"Oh, most definitely! So, about... hmmm... maybe 4 or 5 months ago, Meg was looking at getting braces, but was feeling a bit apprehensive about the whole thing. It took us about three weeks to find out what was going on with her, she'd been acting up all that time, and Erin wasn't saying anything either. I mean, I had braces when I was younger, and it hadn't been a big deal for me" explained Taylor.

"Yeah, it's a lot easier as a kid to have braces, but not only am I an adult, I'm a bit more 'visible' than most adults are..." said Meg.

"Yeah, the same old arguments. At some point, she made a comment like 'well, if it's so easy, why don't YOU get braces then?'. I think we dismissed it initially, but I was chatting with Kate, and she suggested we could ALL get braces, to support Meg. And that's what we all did!"

Carol laughed. "So you three guys just have fake braces then?"

"Well, they're real braces, given to us by Meg's ortho. And whilst Kate and I don't really need them, it turned out that Erin actually DID need a bit of treatment."

"Yeah, whilst Taylor got her teeth fixed as a teen," explained Erin, "I never had them before. I mean, my teeth weren't THAT bad..."

"What about you then, Kate?" asked Jenny. "You ever have braces before?"

"Oh, yes, very much so! When I was younger and my adult teeth started to come through, they were pointing everywhere except where they should have been. I went through about 3 years of 'torture'... removable braces, the dreaded headgear, elastics, all sorts of bit of plastic and metal got put into my mouth. By comparison, these things are a walk in the park!".

"I see you all decided to go for the metal look, rather than ceramic..." said Jenny, "any particular reason why?"

"Probably the same sort of reasons as you: there was no way I was ever going to be able to hide them, so why not flaunt them?" replied Meg. Jenny's ears were telling her that Meg had a bit more than just simple metal braces in her mouth.

"Something tells me that you have something extra in your mouth... so I'm going to guess at an expander? I used to have one of those, headgear too for a while."

Meg smiled. "You know your braces, don't you! Yeah, it's an expander, gave me a terrible lisp to start with! But no headgear, thank goodness!". Most people probably wouldn't notice Meg's speech and the very slight lisp that she now had, assuming that was just the way she spoke, but as a result of Ben's influence, Jenny was much more aware of lisps than most.

As Jenny continued to listen to Meg, and looked at the four girls, she realised that Ben was going to have a field day: a braces lover confronted by a total of SIX girls in braces...

"So, what about you then, Carol, I'm assuming you must have had braces recently?" asked Erin.

"Actually no: I had braces as a teen, then retainers. But a couple of months ago I spotted that one of my teeth had moved a tiny bit... so I went off to see Jenny's ortho, and he did me these retainers: the top one has an extra spring which has brought that tooth back to where it should be."

"Well, if I couldn't actually see them, I'd not realise you were wearing them, you don't have a lisp."

"I did when I first got them, but I guess all the talking and singing made me get used to them quite quickly."

"What about you, Jenny, bet you had a lisp when you had your expander?" asked Taylor.

"Yeah, I did when I spoke, but strangely not when I sang!"

"Strange... but I bet you didn't complain! And you said you had headgear, I bet you hid THAT away from the public!" suggested Meg.

"You kidding?" said Dianne. "This *IS* Jenny you're talking about here. What was it, second day you had it, and you were posting pics of it online? And she's performed with it live..."

"No way! You MUST have some pics worth seeing...."

"Hang on a minute..." said Callum, going off, and returning with his laptop a couple of minutes later. He turned on the TV, and connected to it over the Wi-Fi. "So, this was Jenny's FIRST public appearance...." and he played the video of her with Three Play. "And then, a bit later, she did pretty much the same thing with Darkest Knights...". The four visitors watch, amazed.

"No way!!" said Meg, rather astounded. "You've played with Darkest Knights? And wearing HEADGEAR???". Meg's respect for Jenny had just massively shot up, more for playing with Darkest Knights, than for the headgear wearing!

"Yeah, it was Ben's birthday present, he's a big fan."


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #108 on: 11. July 2023, 15:11:18 PM »
Chapter 72 - Let's make music together

The 4 Canadian girls had managed some sleep on the flight (THAT is why you fly business class!), so whilst they were all still a little tired, they were up for having a music session together. Both bands had learned and rehearsed a few of the other band's songs, and the end result was quite acceptable, especially when you consider that the eight of them had never actually played before.

"Well!" said Carol, "Sounds to me that we have one option for the tour: we can play each other's music, either individually, or all of us together".

"Hey, Paige, how did it sound to you, all eight of us playing together?" asked Linda.

"Surprisingly good actually. Quite a 'wall of sound'!"

Jenny was standing at her piano, eyes closed. "You ok there, Jenny?" asked Carol.

"Yeah, my mind has got a lot of music in it, swirling around.... let's take a break, it might sort itself out!"

"She ok?" Taylor asked Carol.

"Oh, yeah, that's typical of when Jenny gets inspiration. I don't know about you, but my mind thinks in words, so when I'm writing, I get words, and word-sounds in my head. For Jenny, it's music and chords and stuff: she writes most of our music, Dianne and me, we do the lyrics. Although, having said that, Linda is starting to come up with some interesting music and lyrical ideas."

"So, what you guys working on at the moment?" asked Meg.

"So, Paige let the record company have some demos we did, and they want us to work on two tracks, 'High Flyer', and 'Braces Buddies'".

"'Braces Buddies'? I'm intrigued."

"You remember we were talking about our Korean trip? One of the girls in the group, Yun Hee, got braces while we were there, then Jenny lost a bracket... and we persuaded them both to have multi-coloured ligs... and it came out of that. It's one of the songs that Linda's been driving." She turned to the others: "Hey guys, Meg's interested in hearing Braces Buddies..."

"Which version?" asked Linda.

"I guess we could play both.."

Carol and Linda picked up acoustic guitars, and started to play the original acoustic version, with all four girls singing along. "So, the record company likes it, if only because of it's novelty, but suggested we needed to go a bit rockier... so we're thinking a bit like this....". Dianne went to the drums, Linda and Carol picked up their guitars, and Jenny went to the Keyboard. As with many of their songs, one of the instruments plays an introductory bar to start the song: in this case it was Linda, on the bass.

"Mind if I make a couple of comments?" asked Taylor, when they had finished

"Sure, go on." said Jenny. "But it is very much a 'work in progress'..."

Taylor took Carol's guitar, and used it to help make a two or three very constructive comments: the girls adjusted the song accordingly, making the song work a lot better.


The 'Northern Girls' stayed in London for most of a week, although several days were spent being tourists. "Seems silly to come all this way, and not take advantage of it!" Taylor had explained. But they had managed to have two more rehearsal sessions together, plus have dinner together on several evenings.

It was their last evening in London, their flight back home was noon the following day, so Lisa had organised an external caterer to come in and give them dinner at 'home', but more importantly, it gave them all a chance to talk confidentially.

"Ok, I'm going to ask each of you eight girls a simple question: do you want to do a European tour together?". Brian got eight 'yes' replies. "Sounds like Andre and I have some work to do then! Anyone have any preferences where they want to play? Or anywhere to avoid? and where do we start? And end?"

"We've never played the O2, so I'd like to start with a couple of nights there. Then how about we end the tour back in London, but up at Wembley Arena?" suggested Jenny.

"Maybe we should do Croydon while we're at it?" said Carol, half-joking. "But yeah, the O2 would be good!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #109 on: 12. July 2023, 22:08:33 PM »
Chapter 73 - wanna play a gig tonight?

It's about a month later, on a Friday morning. Carol's phone rang, waking her up: it was Jenny.

"Hey, Jenny, it's far too early!" said Carol, yawning.

"Come on, it's not far off 11 o'clock! And it's a lovely day. So, I have a VERY serious question for you: how you fancy playing a gig tonight?"

"A gig? Tonight? Where? And why?"

"The where is the NEC up in Birmingham. And the why is that Darkest Night's support band have 2 members who seem to be ill, possibly covid, and  they were wondering if we'd like to step in and be their support band: initially tonight, and maybe for another couple of nights? I think it would be really good, give us a chance to try out some of the new stuff we've been rehearsing."

"The idea DOES appeal in a perverse way: it's been a long time since we were a support band! But for Darkest Knights, that would be pretty awesome! You know the guys quite well, don't you?"

"Yeah, I played a couple of songs with them for Ben's birthday, they are a great bunch of guys!"

"What do Dianne and Linda think?"

"Don't know yet, dad is calling them. So what do you think? We just need to get there with our instruments, we can use the support band's kit, Dad and Callum can organise everything..."

Carol smiled to herself. On the negative side, whilst they had been practising a load of new stuff that was quite 'rocky', they hadn't worked out any sort of stage set yet, and there would be no proper visuals. But on the positive side, simply playing live at the NEC again would be great, and playing alongside Darkest Knights, that would be such fun!

"You said the NEC? You not going to have another meltdown, are you?" Carol asked Jenny jokingly: the last time they had been there was the time Jenny was struggling with their tour, and Ben had come up from London early to be with her. "But yeah, I'm up for it, if everyone else is!"

"I think I'll cope for a couple of evenings! What about you though, you gonna be ok without Tom? Hang on, what's that, dad?". Jenny was clearly talking to her dad in the background. "Ok, dad says Dianne is up for it, he's about to call Linda. Looks like we're going to be playing the NEC tonight... so go get yourself ready, grab your guitars, and get over here!"

'Here', of course, was Jenny's parent's place. Apart from the one-off short gig in Seoul, they'd not played live for several months, and they had a load of new stuff they could try out. Yes, Carol really liked the idea. And yes, it was very short notice, but what the heck, it was exciting!

Before she even had a coffee, Carol got into the shower, washed, then removed her clear plastic retainers, putting them onto the small shelf in the shower: her mouth tasted pretty disgusting from wearing her retainers overnight. She took a mouthful of water from the shower, swished it around, then spat it out: yes, that was a bit better. She grabbed her electric toothbrush, added toothpaste, and brushed her teeth. Then she picked up her retainers, and gave them a quick clean with the toothbrush too.

After finally rinsing her mouth and the retainers with water from the shower, she put her retainers back in, running her tongue over the clean smooth plastic. She was just thinking how her mouth now accepted the retainers as 'normal'. They no longer gave her a lisp, and so many times she had started to eat, before remembering to take them out.

Carol turned the water off, opened the shower cubicle door, and grabbed her large fluffy towel. Yes, that was one of life's essentials, a large and fluffy towel: she really hated it when they were at a nice hotel, but the towels were either rather thin, or not very big. I mean why?

Whilst still with the towel wrapped around her, she removed her shower cap, then went in to her kitchen, put a cup under the spout of her coffee machine, put in a pod, and pressed the 'go' button. Next she grabbed a dish, put some 'Honey Nut Cornflakes' in it, added some milk, and found a spoon. By the time she had eaten the cereals, her coffee was ready!

Next it was into her bedroom, where she finished drying herself, then dressed: today it was simply jeans and a t-shirt. Then she very quickly put on minimal make-up: she could put a bit more on once they were in the coach.

She had a couple of suitcases, one huge one, which she had used when they went to Korea, and a smaller one, more suitable for a shorter trip, which is the one she used today. She packed up a few days of clothes, which of course meant both day-time clothes, and something more suitable for going on stage (although, for THIS gig, they were not wearing dresses on stage, just jeans and t-shirts).

She closed the suitcase, finished her coffee, then put her case, along with her guitars and handbag, into her car. After checking the flat was secure, she double-locked the front door, and started driving. She assumed that Brian and Callum would have organised a coach to take them all, along with their kit, up to Birmingham. On the way to Jenny's parent's place, she called Tom.

"Hi Tom!" said Carol imagining his sexy face.. with his sexy smile... yeah, ok, with his sexy braces!

"Oh, hi Carol...."

"Umm, looks like I'm gonna be away for a couple of days."

"Oh, what's happening?"

"We've been asked to play tonight..."

"'We' as in CJDL?"

"Yeah, we're playing support to Darkest Knights, up at the NEC"

"You're kidding me? Support for Darkest Knights... that's sounds pretty cool!"

"Nope, not kidding, and yes, it is! I'm on my way to Brian and Lisa's right now! But look, Tom, don't say anything on the radio, we're thinking of doing the gig semi-incognito, not letting on who we are till maybe halfway through our set."

"Something tells me you're pretty excited about this!"

"Yes, I am, actually. It's been a long time since we played support. I've never actually met the Darkest Knights guys, but Jenny says they're really nice!"


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #110 on: 13. July 2023, 17:30:05 PM »
Chapter 74 - 2-4-6-8 Motorway

"So, any suggestions on what we're playing tonight?" asked Jenny.

Carol had got herself to the group's shared house, and not long after, a small coach had arrived to collect them: luckily there was a coach company not that far away, that they had used a few times before, and they were able to get one of their stand-by drivers to work for the day. So, they were currently on the M25, heading towards the M40, and then up to Birmingham.

"Well, you mentioned earlier about 'starting incognito': I really like that idea, as long as we're all happy with playing some of our new stuff. Then move on to our current stuff once we've revealed who we are." replied Carol.

"I'm ok with that" said Linda, "Dianne?"

"Yeah, I'm actually looking forward to tonight. I mean, I'm nervous, but hell, it's been AGES since we've done somerthing as mad as this!". Diane was smiling, letting the others see her lower teeth, which were, as we all know, a bit crooked.

They continued chatting, working on a set list for the evening.

"Ok..." said Callum, "I've been chatting with one of the tech team: Darkest Knights are going in to do their sound check early, so by the time we get there, they will be done. They want you guys to do a sound check, which I'm sure won't be a big deal, and then they are 100% happy for you to use as much time as you need to rehearse your set: as long as you are done by 7pm they will be happy - show starts at 8pm. They don't have any headsets mics and in-ears just yet, but they should be there soon after we get there, but there is a possibility you may need to play tonight with normal mics and foldback wedges."

"Did they manage to get someone to help with our makeup?" asked Jenny. Whilst they were not going to be dressed up, and made up, like they might have done on of their normal shows, it was still helpful to have someone else there to do their makeup: if nothing else, it gave them a short 'chill-out' period before they played.

"Yes, I think they have, and someone to do your hair too."

Jenny's phone rang: it was Ginger, from Darkest Knights. "Hey, Jenny, finally got a moment to call you...."

"Hey, Ginger, let me put you on speaker, so everyone can hear.... go on..."

"Well, first of all, thank you all SO much for joining us tonight, I was worried we'd end up with some small and unsuitable local band..."

"As opposed to a well-known and completely unsuitable band?" replied Carol, laughing.

"So, you getting yourselves sorted out for tonioght? Is there anything we can do to help?"

"No, I don't think so, as long as there's plenty of coffee and beer there! We're almost on the M40 now, so that's what, a couple of hours away?"

"Oh, good. So, we're actually on site now: the crew have built the stage, and are currently testing out the PA, which means we'll be doing our sound check soon."

"Great. Callum is already talking with your stage team, so they know what we'll need."

"Ok, Jenny, a question for you, and feel free to say no: you wanting to play those couple of songs with us again?". A big smile came onto Jenny's, letting her show off her lovely metal braces.

"Hell, yeah, try and stop me!"

"In that case, I'll let everyone know, and we can do a quick run-through at some point. So, what you guys planning on playing?"

"Well, we've been working on some new stuff, so we're going to start with that." explained Carol. "Then we're going to break with tradition, and play someone else's music..."

"Oh, ok, anyone I would know?" asked Ginger.

"Maybe. Do you know the Northern Girls, Canadian girl rock band?"

"Yeah, they do some good stuff..."

"Well, for reasons we can't really talk about yet, we got together and rehearsed with them recently, and we're going to try one of their songs. And then there's something else, but you can hear that in our rehearsal!"

"Sounds like it's not going to be one of your 'normal' gigs then?"

"No, we thought that this would give use an interesting opportunity to try something very different."

"Ok, well look, we'll be around when you get here, see you all then!"


While Callum and the stage crew unloaded the small amount of the girl's kit from the coach, the rest of them had a meeting. So the tour managers, band managers, band members and so on.

"Guys, thanks for stepping in for us tonight" said Warren, who was the lead singer with 'Useful Tooth'. "I spoke with the guys earlier, they sounded pretty rough!"

"Any idea how long you're going to need us for?" asked Dianne

Robert, one of the 'tour managers' replied: "Well, we're in Birmingham tonight and tomorrow, then over to Leicester on Sunday. After that there's a 2 day break before we do Leeds. So we're thinking that, initially, if you can cover Birmingham and Leicester, we can see how well Warren's guys are doing. I'm assuming you're going to be ok for the next few days?"

"I don't think that's a problem" replied Brian, the CJDL manager. "I'll check out the diary for next week too, but again, I don't think there's any issues."

"Hey, did you just say 'Leicester'?" asked Carol, starting to smile, letting everyone see the silver wire of her retainer across the front of her teeth.

"Yeah, why?"

"I'm gonna need a couple of tickets for the Leicester gig. My sister lives there, and it's been absolutely AGES since she seen us play! We've never actually played Leicester before."

"That's not a problem, I'll get them to you!"

"Ok, so how do you guys want to be introduced?" asked Robert. "I was thinking maybe Warren could go and give the crowd the bad news, then introduce you guys..."

"Actually..." said Jenny, "We'd like to start playing without any introductions. Maybe if they have time, they can start flashing up words on the back screen like 'who?' and 'unknown' and 'incognito' and that sort of thing. We're gonna be playing some new stuff, so it's gonna be hard for the audience to easily work out who we are, which we thought could be fun. Warren, you could come on after maybe the third song, apologise to the crowd, make some sort of silly comment about 'getting some girls in, to stand-in for you', then we can introduce ourselves."

Warren smiled. "Ginger said you liked having some fun! I'm ok with that, we can try it out later on."

"Talking about 'having fun', you planning on doing anything 'silly' when you come play with us. Jenny?" Ginger asked.

"Damn, I forgot to bring the pink fluffy dress with me today!" replied Jenny, laughing. "No, just what I'll already be wearing. We decided that it would be interesting, and different, to kinda 'dress down' for a change, so just jeans and t-shirts."

"Hey, about t-shirts... why don't we go on wearing some 'Darkest Knights' t-shirts?" suggested Linda.

"I'm sure we can arrange that for you, no problems!".

They all chatted about various things for a while, making sure they were all happy about what would happen tonight.

Callum came in. "Ok, good news, the headset mics and in-ears just arrived, so give them 10 minutes to set them up, then you can come and do your soundcheck...."

Brian looked at his watch: it was just before 4 pm. "Looks like time is actually on our side today, you should have plenty of time to rehearse. So, no need to rush, take it gently, so you're all in a fit state to play tonight."

The girls went up on stage: the tech team were ready for them, and the sound-check only took about 15 minutes. Dianne did a short drum solo. "Is that sounding reasonably balanced? I kinda set it up by ear through headphones ages ago".

"Are you able to take the kick drum level up a touch?" asked the guy on the desk through Dianne's IEM's.

"Hang on..." she went into the menu of her drum controller, and made a quick adjustment, then played a bit. "Any better?"

"Yes, but maybe a tiny bit more...". She made another adjustment. "Yes, that's sounding much better. While you're at it, want to take the high-hat up a notch too?". Dianne made another adjustment, and played around the kit again.

"Ok, guys, I'm pretty happy with your sound, it's all your's now."

"Thanks" said Jenny. "How about we just take it from the top, and go through our set. And by that, I'm meaning a dark stage, when we walk in. Did your guys manage to do the words for on the back screen yet?". There was a bit of a pause, and people spoke to other people.

"They have something, but they were going to do a bit more for you..."

"Ok, so you have our set list... we'll come on, you guys do what you think will work behind us, we're completely in your hands on that. Then after our first three tracks, Warren comes on, speaks to the audience, then over to us. As we introduce ourselves - and NOT before - put the CJDL up... Any issues, talk to Callum, he knows us better than anyone."

"Mind if I do some filming while you run through things?" asked Paige.

Jenny looked around at the others. "No, fine with us... and guys," she added, addressing the stage crew, "during our set tonight, just let Paige go where she needs to on the stage, we're used to her, she's used to us! And who's on your roving camera?" Seeing as how the camera team had not worked with CJDL on the is tour, they were there too, to do a run though.

"That would be Tim..."

"Tim? Didn't you do some stuff for us on our last tour?"

Tim dropped the camera down, so they could see him. "Yup, that was me!" he shouted over.

"Nice to see you again, Tim! Look, you know we don't mind what you want to do, just try not to knock Paige over, will you? Ok, let's do this...."


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #111 on: 14. July 2023, 15:14:01 PM »
Chapter 75 - On Stage

So, they were playing the NEC in Birmingham tonight, Friday, and tomorrow, Saturday. They would go across to Leicester after their set late on the Saturday, and would play Leicester on the Sunday night, giving them the whole of the Sunday in Leicester.

The girls have done their sound-check, and had a good rehearsal of their set for this evening. Shortly, they would be having their dinner, but they were currently in their dressing room.

"Hey guys," said Carol, "If we're spending the day in Leicester on Sunday, how about we have a picnic and invite some fans. I'm sure we can find a park, and how many fans can there be in Leicester who would want to come and meet us?"

"How big's the venue in Leicester?" asked Jenny.

"Yeah, but THEY will all be Darkest Knights fans!"

"Fair comment. Yeah, a picnic could be fun. I'm guessing you're gonna invite your sister and her family along?"

"Of course...."

Carol made two phone calls, the first was to Tom...

"Hey, Carol, I'm guessing you're all up in Birmingham by now?"

"Yeah, just finished the sound-check and a run-through of our set, we're off to have some food in a moment. Look, would you like to come and join us up here?". Tom only had shows Monday to Friday, so he was now finished until Monday.

"Yes, that would be nice. I'll need to tell James I can't meet him tomorrow, but that's no biggie. Where and when?"

"Well, you have a choice: join me in Birmingham tomorrow: after the show tomorrow evening we'll be going over to Leicester to stay, ready to play Leicester on Sunday. Or you can come to straight to Leicester on Sunday."

"How does tomorrow sound, that way I get to spend a couple of days with you?"

"Ok.... Umm, be warned, you will, most likely, be meeting my sister and her family on Sunday."

"Oh yeah, she lives up in Leicester, doesn't she! So, where you staying in Birmingham then?"

"No idea, I guess I'll find out later tonight! Hey, bring your recorder with you, might be able to organise some interviews for you!" Carol chatted with Tom for a bit longer, arranging to speak on Saturday morning, to arrange things.

Carol's second call was to her sister, Rosie.

"Carol! Always nice to hear from you! What you up to?"

"Hey there, Rosie. Life suddenly became hectic..." and she explained about going to Birmingham to play support to Darkest Knights. "So, a question for you: what you guys doing on Sunday?"

"When on Sunday?"

"Let's start with Sunday evening..."

"Well, I guess we'll be at home, looking after the kids. Why?"

"Any chance you can get a baby-sitter? My treat."

"Possibly. Why?"

"How would you like to see CJDL play? We're at De Montford Hall Sunday evening."

There was a short pause. "Um, yeah, that would be nice, I've not seen you guys play in ages!"

"Ok, I'll get some more details to you later on. And what you doing Sunday lunchtime and afternoon?"

"Nothing yet, I don't think."

"Ok, how would all of you like to join us, and a few fans, for a picnic in a park somewhere? Then maybe bring the kids to the venue and let them see us do our sound-check?"

"Yeah, I think they'd love both of those."

"Look, you know Leicester better than me, got any suggestions about a park?"

"Well, De Montford is actually on our side of town. I don't suppose you know where you're staying yet, do you?"

"No, don't even know where we're staying tonight!"

"Well, Victoria Park is a matter of minutes from where you're playing, there's a kids play area, which the kids would like, and plenty of space. They sometimes do open-air concerts there. Popular place for picnics too..."

They continued chatting. "Look, we'll be finished our set by mid-evening - it's gonna be strange finishing so early - so have a word with Jim, and I'll call you later, should have some more details by then. Oh, by the way, Tom is coming up, so you can meet him, too."


Wearing Darkest Knights t-shirts, they were all waiting side stage: they had heard the crowd, but as the main lights went off, the crowd quietened down a bit. There hadn't been time to tell anyone about the change in the support act, so everyone was expecting 'Useful Tooth' to come on and play.

"Sh*t, I actually feel nervous!" said Carol. "It's been a while since we've been support!"

"Ok, ladies, ready when you are!" said a voice in their ears. Paige went out onto the stage with her camera, to be able to video them as they came on. To almost silence the girls went onto the stage, the lights came on dimly, and they started to play. Towards the end of the first song, words like 'imposters' and 'fake' came up on the screen at the back. Carol watched and then smiled as she played: the tech guys had managed to do some simple animations too, it looked quite good.

The first song ended, the crowd clapped unenthusiastically, and they went straight into their second song. The back screen got better... things like 'who IS this?' with an arrow pointing at Dianne on the drums. Then 'this isn't Jake!' with an arrow pointing at Linda. So far, Paige was being fairly conservative in her filming, and similarly Tim hadn't been doing any close-ups of the band... all trying to keep the intrigue going.

By the end of the second song, it was clear that the crowd now realised that they were NOT 'Useful Tooth'. They also clapped a bit more after their second song. They continued with their third song: the crowd was finally warming up, plus it was very clear that they were very intrigued by the words and images that were being displayed behind them. As the crowd applauded to their third song, Warren came onto the stage.

"Hello Birmingham!" he said: the crowd cheered. "I'm Warren, from 'Useful Tooth'...." another cheer. "You've probably realised by now that these guys are NOT us! Unfortunately Phil and Andy have gone down with something, so we're not able to play for you tonight. But, they did manage to find some *girls* to come and play for you instead!!". Warren put quite an emphasis on the word 'girls', as Jenny had suggested. He paused a moment to let the crowd shout out a few silly comments, and a cheer. "So I guess you all want to know who these girls are?" Another cheer. "I think we need to get them to come up front and introduce themselves!"

Carol was the first to walk to the front of the stage: as she got there, Tim (the cameraman) came closer to her, and her face appeared on the back screen.

"Hi, I'm Carol!" she said, and a large letter 'C' appeared on the big screen. Tim moved across to Jenny.

"And I'm Jenny!" said Jenny, as the 'J' came up.

"I'm Dianne..": the 'D' appeared.

"Hello there, Birmingham! I'm Linda..." and the L came up.

"... and we're all CJDL!"

Now, we have to remember that the crowd were actually there to see Darkest Knights, so many of the crowd would not have a lot of interest in CJDL, after all, their music was rather different. Except... the three songs they had just played were quite rocky....

"Warren, send our love to Phil and Andy, will you?" said Carol, as the audience applauded and cheered.

"I will, thanks! So, these girls were still at home, in London, when we called them late this morning to ask if they could stand in for us tonight... They, and their team have worked miracles, to get themselves here to perform for you tonight... but Carol, what you just played, it's not something I've heard you guys play before."

"No, we decided to try out some new stuff we've been working on: those three tracks didn't exist three weeks ago, and we wanted to see how people reacted. Plus it let us start off without these guys..." she motioned to the large crowd "... knowing who we were. Warren, thanks for introducing us... Warren, from Useful Tooth everybody!!!". The crowd cheered as Warren walked off the stage.

"I think we pretty much succeeded being incognito!" said Jenny, giggling. "So, we have another new one we'd like to play you....." and they went straight into their next song: now that the crowd knew who they were, and were starting to warm up, they responded more positively.

"Ok," said Linda, "we're going to do something a bit different now. We normally play our own music, but this is by someone else. Anyone ever heard of 'Northern Girls'?" A small cheer went up. "Well, this is one of theirs, 'Rocky Mountains". That song was quite a rocky song, and the crowd appreciated it.

"Thank you!! said Dianne, as the crowd reacted quite positively. "Ok, so now we're going to play you a few CJDL tracks that I think you'll know, let's start with a recent number one of ours...". The next few songs were very much 'mainstream CJDL'.

"Last two songs from us. So we're about to go into the recording studios to record this next song - it's going to be our next single - and it's called 'Braces Buddies'!". After several weeks of work, the song had changed from being a sweet and gentle acoustic song, to a much more upbeat and 'rockier' song, but still a song they enjoyed playing and singing! Also, it seems that the guys in charge of the back screen had gone overboard for this song: they had all sorts of braces images, including images of Jenny and Yun Hee in their matching braces! 

The applause died down. "I think we need to say a big thank you to the stage and tech team, they are doing a great job here..." Applause. "... and as for the guys doing those visuals at the back: when we got here mid-afternoon, that screen was 100% blank! Great job, guys!!" said Linda.

"Right!" said Jenny moving quickly on, and trying to keep things 'tight'. "Let's change the style a bit for our last song....", and she started to play the beginning of 'the dance of the sugar plum fairy' (go listen online!), a classical piece. The crowd remained quiet as she continued playing it. "Any of you ever heard of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky?" There were a few cheers. "He was a classical composer back in the 1800's, wrote loads of amazing stuff! I guess he was a rock musician of his day! That's from his 'Nut Cracker Suite'. And so is this next one, our last song... but rearranged by a 1960's band, Bee Bumble and the Stingers... and this is OUR version! ....Let's hit it girls!".

Jenny thumped out the introductory 'Daa Daa... Dum Dum...' on the piano, then went into the song. Over the next few minutes, the four girls played an amazingly up-beat rock version of 'Nut Rocker', with each of the girls contributing substantial solos. While they played, Tim pointed his camera close at the girls, with Jenny giving a large smile, letting the crowd see her mouthful of metal. The crowd also got a good view of Carol's retainers soon afterwards. All four girls had big smiles on their faces: they had been rehearsing this recently, and all loved the song. They had started working on another idea they had, which would make the song even more fun to perform in the future, but they weren't yet quite ready with it to perform it live.

As the applause died down, Ginger, the lead singer with Darkest Knights, walked onto the stage.

"CJDL everyone...." he said, encouraging the crowd to applaud even more. Finally the crowd quietened down. "Hey, everyone, I need to add my thanks to Warren's..." he turned to the four girls. "Thank you all very much for stepping in at the last moment! So, we're going to have a short break now, while the stage crew get everything ready for us, but in the meantimel, give these guys another big cheer!".


Back in their dressing room. Jenny posted a few messages: "Wow, we just played support for Darkest Knights, here in Birmingham!" and "Tried out some brand new songs today!"

"Hey, let's go live!" suggested Linda, getting her phone ready. She started just looking at her phone, waiting for a few people to arrive: Jenny had just posted a Thread and a Tweet telling everyone.

"So, we're in our dressing room at the NEC in Birmingham" explained Linda. "We got a call late this morning, asking if we could stand in for Useful Tooth, who are playing support for Darkest Knights. So we just played support for Darkest Knights instead of them!" she moved the phone around, letting their fans see the other girls. They chatted to their fans.

"Hey, I have an idea" said Jenny, a few minutes later. "Come with me!". What she was about to do was a bit 'naughty', and she led Linda to the Darkest Knights dressing room, knocked on the door, and walked straight in.

"Hi guys, we're streaming to our fans, say hello!". Luckily the guys were fully dressed, and feeling fairly relaxed.

"Hi everyone!" said Ginger looking at the phone. "Look, you should all be proud of CJDL, they just did an amazing set with a load of their new stuff in.... and all at very short notice!"

"So, you guys look pretty relaxed, considering you're just about to go on stage..."

"Well, you warmed the crowd up nicely for us, didn't you, so what's there to worry about?".

Someone else came into the room. "Ready to go?" she asked.

"Come on, follow us on stage.... in fact, why don't you introduce us, Jenny?". They went with the band to the side of the stage.

"Go on..." said Ginger, "Do it ANY way you like...".

Jenny walked boldly on to the stage, with Linda following with her phone. "Hello again, Birmingham! I'm Jenny!". The crowd cheered.  "Hey, say hello to some of our CJDL fans, we're live-streaming to them!" said Jenny, as Linda panned the phone to show the crowd. "So, we just burst in to the Darkest Knights dressing room to say hello to them, and Ginger told me to come up here on stage to introduce them. I mean, how on EARTH do I introduce a band as big as Darkest Knights?" The crowd cheered as she said 'Darkest Knights'.

"How about... 'give a huge cheer for Darkest Knights'?" suggested Linda. Again, the crowd cheered.

"Yeah, that might work... are you all ready?" The crowd cheered again. "I can't hear you, are you all ready?" Another big cheer. "So give an even bigger cheer for Darkest Knights!!!!" screamed Jenny! As the crowd went wild, Jenny and Linda walked off, and the guys from Darkest Knights came on.


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #112 on: 15. July 2023, 16:53:07 PM »
Chapter 76 - The new producer

Carol was last onto the small bus that had been arranged to take them to their hotel. They had all watched Darkest Knights from the side of the stage, including the two songs that Jenny played with them (and which she had quickly rehearsed with them after their own rehearsal). So whilst Darkest Knights were winding down backstage, the girls had decided they were ready to go back to the hotel. Their instruments remained at the venue, and their suitcases had been loaded onto the bus.

Carol went over and sat next to Linda, who had a smile on her face.

"Someone looks very happy with themselves, kinda like a cat that just finished a bowl of cream...."

"I AM happy, that's why! I just realised that tonight was the first time I've played a full live set with you guys - as a full band member!" explained Linda.

"Yeah, I guess so... does it REALLY feel that different?"

"It does. On the tour, I tended to keep to the back, letting you guys be out front, but now I'm out there with you, and it feels good..."

"But you did that at the Park Festival..."

"Hmm, that was a weird day, wasn't it? And definitely NOT a proper set. But, you know, I'm so glad we went to Korea, I got to know you guys so much better... as a band member. But it was really after what you did at the band meeting, a few weeks ago, that I REALLY felt I was a legit member of the band. So, thank you, Carol!"

"So, what was it like when you toured as a session musician? In terms of interacting with the main act?"

"We guys tended to keep ourselves to ourselves, the main acts don't usually deem us to be important enough to socialise with. Although you guys were rather different. I guess, as you said at our meeting, I was doing a lot more than just being a session musician for you."

"You were almost being our producer....". Suddenly a light came on in Carol's brain.

"A penny for them?" asked Linda.

"Oh, right, yeah... I had a sudden thought: why are we wasting our time trying to find a producer for recording Braces Buddies? Why don't YOU just do it?"

"You really think I can do it?"

"Asks the band member who, for the last few weeks, has been leading us and nudging us as we work on our new stuff?" Carol stood up, and looked down the bus to see where Jenny and Dianne were. "Hey, Jenny, Dianne, you guys got a moment?" called out Carol. The two of them came over to Carol and Linda.

"You called?" said Jenny.

"Yeah. About a producer for Braces Buddies, when we go into the studios.."

"Yeah, what about it? Thought of someone?"

"Yeah! Her name is Linda Jacobson! Look, think about what she did with us when we were working on our last album. And then what's she's been doing with us the last few weeks."

Whilst Jenny had acted as producer for a small band that she'd written a song with, some time ago, she'd never felt she was the right person to produce CJDL. But as she thought about it, she realised that Carol had a point about Linda. Whether she was the right person for their next full album, she wasn't sure, but just doing Braces Buddies... "yeah, why not."

"Do you feel up to it?" Jenny asked Linda.

"umm, well... it's not something I've ever thought about specifically doing..."

"Dianne, you're being typically quiet about this... any thoughts?" asked Carol.

"I say we give her a chance if she feels up to it. Jenny, you produced that song for that small band, didn't you? I'm sure you could give Linda a few pointers."

"Look," said Carol, "have a think about it.... I'm serious, I think you're up to the job."


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #113 on: 18. July 2023, 22:54:46 PM »
Chapter 77 - Breakfast

"Anyone going for breakfast yet?" asked Carol on their WhatsApp group. Yesterday evening they all went and had a single drink in the bar before going to bed: the day had been a busy one, and they were all pretty tired. Carol had called Tom again before falling asleep, and had then slept very well, waking up pleasantly refreshed.

"Just about to shower" replied Paige.

"Give me 5" replied Callum. Everyone else remained silent.

Carol checked the time: yeah, it was just after 10am, and luckily it was a Saturday, and breakfast was on till 11am. The hotel they had ended up in was actually quite nice: a quite old hotel that had been recently refurbished throughout. Because they had been booked in at the last moment, their rooms were spread out around the hotel, and purely by chance, Carol had been given a room called 'The Grand Penthouse': being a 'penthouse' meant it was in the roof of the old building, but it was also quite large. It was a shame they were only staying the one night, as she wouldn't really be able to appreciate it!

"Meet you all down there then..." WhatsApp'd Carol. Down in the restaurant, the mix of old and recently refurbished continued. The walls were tiled in cream and dark green. The built-in seats were plush, and covered in a lighter green 'leather', and the standalone chairs were simple and classy: this was NOT a cheap hotel. Carol felt a bit guilty, being in a place like this, but.... well, they had earned it. When you're touring, you need some place that's relaxing, and at least as good as at home, so that ruled out the Travelodges, Holiday Inn Expresses, Ibis's etc. Plus, they didn't really want to get mobbed by people, they needed a bit of 'peace and quiet'.

Carol sat at one of the large tables, knowing that everyone else would be joining her soon, and looked at the breakfast menu: cereals, Full English, fruit, yoghurt and so on, all the things you'd expect. Whilst Carol WANTED to have the Full English, followed by toast with jam on it, she decided that maybe she should be nicer to her body for a change, and went for the fruit.

"Is madam ready to order?" asked the waitress who had just walked over.

"Yes, a large black coffee, and the fruit with yogurt please. No rush on the latter, I'm waiting for a few others to join me." The waitress brought the coffee over almost immediately, allowing Carol to take a look around. Being a weekend, there were many others also having a late breakfast: several couples, a few singles, and a couple of family groups. One of the family groups wasn't that far away: mum, dad and two young-ish teen girls. She noticed that one of the girls was looking over towards Carol, and was saying something to her sister.

"Good morning!" said Paige, who had just arrived, and sat down next to Carol. "Got the essentials already, I see!" she said, meaning the coffee. Paige had hardly picked up the menu when Callum arrived, along with Brian. The other 3 girls arrived a few minutes later.

"This place is a bit better than many we've stayed at," said Dianne.

"Yeah, that's probably because dad didn't book it!" joked Jenny. Carol looked back at the family, and noticed that the two girls were most definitely looking at, and talking about, them. Carol was feeling in a good mood this morning, nicely chilled and relaxed. She stood up, and walked over to them.

"Hi guys... I'm Carol Danvers, and...." said Carol, starting to introduce herself.

"See! I said it was her!" said one of the girls.

"... and I think your girls have worked out who I am...." Carol looked at the parents, then said to the girls "But I have a feeling your mum and dad have no idea who I am, do they?" The girls nodded. She turned to the parents. "I'm sorry for interrupting your breakfast. As I said, I'm Carol Danvers, I'm one of the members of the girl band, CJDL..." At that point, the parents understood. "Something tells me that your girls are fans?"

"Yes, I think you could say that!" replied the mum. "So what brings you to Birmingham then?"

Carol quickly explained about coming up to play support for Darkest Knights. "Look, if you're ok with it, would your girls like to come and meet the 'team'??"

"Please mum! It's only over there..." said the elder of the two girls, probably about 14 or 15. Carol couldn't help but notice her cute metal smile.

"Please dad!" asked the other. Mum looked at dad, then said "Ok then, but don't annoy them!"

"So, what's your names then?" asked Carol.

"I'm Lilly" said the elder girl with the braces. "My sister is Yasmin". Carol took them over to their table, inviting them to sit with them.

"So, this is Yasmin and Lilly... I'm sure you recognise Jenny, Dianne, and Linda." The girls were in awe: I mean how often do young kids get to meet their idols? "This is Paige, she does all sorts of things for us. That is Callum, Jenny's brother, and over there is Brian: not only is he our manager, he's also Jenny and Callum's dad."

"What, Jenny has a dad?" said Yasmin, the younger girl. The adults thought her comment was both funny and sweet.

"Or COURSE she does!" replied Lilly.

While our team had their breakfast, they chatted with Lilly and Yasmin: they had to be a bit careful what they said, partly making sure they didn't accidentally use any 'adult language', but also making sure they didn't say anything that could be wrongly reported. Or give away any secrets about what they were up to. But it was very clear that not only were the two girls completely in awe at the fact that they were with their idols, they were enjoying discovering that their idols were also very normal people too.

Eventually their parents came over. "I'm sorry girls, but we should be getting ready to go out..."

"Awww, mum!!!!" they said in unison.

"Hey, 'mum', you have a phone?" asked Carol. "... take a picture of them with us...". Not only did mum have a phone, but so did Lilly.

Later on, Carol noticed a picture posted online: 'You'll NEVER guess who I just had breakfast with today!'. Carol smiled, and showed the others: THAT was why they liked to meet their fans.


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #114 on: 19. July 2023, 19:02:12 PM »
Chapter 78 - So why DO you like me?

"Ok, can you all be at the venue for about 4pm for a quick sound check?" asked Callum. He had just been on the phone to the Darkest Knights manager.

"Sure thing, bro!" replied Jenny. "Any chance we could have maybe half an hour to an hour for practice, like we did yesterday?"

"I'll have a word, but I'm sure it will be ok. What you wanting to practice?"

"I'd like us to work on Nut Rocker, specifically on what we've been doing recently."

Callum smiled. "Yes, I'm looking forward to seeing you guys do that on stage, it would make a great finale!"

"Exactly my thinking. Not sure if we'd be ready for it tonight, but maybe tomorrow? Hey, anyone got a whistle? No? In that case, better get one..." Jenny's phone pinged. "Looks like Ben and Mike are here!". Ben and Mike had driven up together, Tom was making his own way there.

"And how is my favourite band?" asked Ben as he walked in to the hotel reception, to be met by everyone.

"We are fine!" said Carol.

"And is my OTHER 'favourite band' around?" asked Ben.

"No, they are at another hotel: there wasn't enough rooms for us there, so we stayed here: not that I'm complaining, this place is actually rather nice. But we'll all be in the same place tonight, over in Leicester."

"So, is Tom joining us?" asked Mike, who had walked in behind Ben.

"Yes, but he's about an hour behind you, he just messaged me from near Oxford..."

"Ok, so what we doing then? And when do guys need to be 'back in class'?" asked Ben.

"Sound check and a rehearsal over at the NEC at about 4 o'clock, then on-stage at 7:30... We need to pack and check out, which shouldn't take too long... come on, you can help me pack!" said Jenny.

"Ah, right, THAT sort of 'packing'..." said Carol, having a joke at Jenny and Ben's expense.


"Hello there, beautiful!" said Tom as he saw Carol waiting in reception. Carol smiled.

"Hiya...". she replied, going over to him, and giving him a 'public hug and kiss'. "My case is still upstairs, and I need to check out." Whilst a small coach had brought them to the hotel last night, with Ben and Tom having their cars there, the others could just use taxis as needed. Paige had already gone off with Linda into Birmingham, as had Jenny, Ben, Dianne and Mike. Brian and Callum were still in the hotel, planning to go straight to the venue a bit later, taking Paige and Linda's suitcases with them.

So Carol took Tom up to her room. With the door closed, Carol put her arms around Tom, and put her lips to his. Once more, her tongue slipped between Tom's lips, to run over his metal brackets. After playing like that a bit, she pulled her tongue back, inviting Tom to explore her orthodontia. Tom's tongue ran over the wires of Carol's retainers, and when Carol opened her mouth a little, he slipped his tongue inside, feeling the smooth plastic of her retainers. He quickly pulled his tongue back, and gently broke off the kiss.

"Look, I know you like my braces, but I still find yours a bit odd..." he explained. Carol put her hand up to her mouth, and pulled down on the clasps of her upper retainer: it had more clasps than the lower one, to hold it firmly in place while the spring moved her wayward canine, so it was hard to remove. With the top one out, and still in her hand, she took out the bottom one, then put both of her retainers on the desk, next to her bag and room keys.

"Let's see if this is better for you then...." she said, as they started to kiss again.


After putting Carol's bag into his car, Tom drove them into the centre of Birmingham. After a bit of a wander around the Jewellery Quarter, they met up with Linda and Paige for lunch, then they went for a short walk along the canal.

"So, what IS it about my braces that you like then?" asked Tom as they sat alone by the canal, having just had another quick kiss.

"To be honest, I don't really know. I mean, the basis of many 'fetishes' is that it's something you can't have... like glasses, or leg braces, or being in a wheelchair. But I've HAD braces when I was a teen, and they did absolutely nothing for me back then. And I HAVE my retainers, and THEY have no effect on me either. But YOUR braces, on YOUR teeth... for some reason I just find them attractive. It's all part of your rather sexy smile, makes your smile so much nicer..." Tom smiled, letting Carol have another close look. She put her hand up to his face, and ran her finger over his braces, feeling the rough texture.

"So, what *I* want to know is what is it about ME that you like?"

"Well, you have a cute face and nice smile too, although your retainers don't do anything for me. But I think the thing I REALLY like about you is your voice."

"My voice? My talking voice, or do you mean my singing voice?"

"Both. I love the way that it can be both soft and gentle when you talk, but also quite powerful when you sing. And also very gentle when you sing. You know how to control it, and use it."

"And how about when I whisper sweet nothings in your ear?" she asked, whispering into his ear in a soft and sexy voice.

"Definitely nice...." said Tom. "That day you came in and did that show-long interview: many people would have been struggling to talk that long, but you managed just fine, and your voice was so relaxed for the whole thing..."

"I guess I have all my singing training to thank for that." suggested Carol.

"I'm sure it helped. You know, if you did audio sex recordings, you'd make a bomb...."

"Don't go there!" said Carol very quickly, and laughing. "So, did you remember to bring your recorder with you?"

"Of course. Did you manage to have a word with Darkest Knights?"

"Oh, yeah, no problems, they sounded pretty chilled about it, so pretty much any time you like. If you're not too fussed about seeing us rehearse, you could do it then."

(In the end, Tom watched the first bit of their rehearsal, then went and chatted to Darkest Knights.)


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #115 on: 24. July 2023, 00:46:04 AM »
Chapter 79 - The Review

"Guys, before you do your sound check and rehearsal, there's something I need to read you" said Paige.

"What is it?" asked Jenny.

"An online review from a local Birmingham daily paper."

"I hope it's good..." commented Linda, "not too interested if they don't like us!": she was wanting to get on with the sound check.

"I think you might like this....." said Paige, as she read from her phone:


'As the house lights dimmed, the stage lights did not get any brighter: on a dark stage, 4 unknown band members came out, and with no introduction they started to play: the music was good, different, and like the players, completely unknown. The band knew how to play: forget about them apparently being 'just a support band', I would gladly pay to listen to them.

No, this was NOT 'Useful Tooth', who were supposed to be the support band last night: that was confirmed after three songs, when their lead singer came onstage to explain that, due to ill-heath, his band was unable to play. So who WAS this band? He asked the band to introduce themselves. To say I was shocked and surprised when I discovered who they were is a massive understatement: the support band was none other than the 'girl band' known as CJDL. They explained that the 3 songs they had just played, and the one they went on to play, had only been written in the last month, and were all still a 'work in progress'! Nice one, ladies!

Next up, they played 'Rocky Mountains', an excellent song by Northern Girls: with my eyes closed, I would almost have had believed that Northern Girls were on the stage playing it.

However, for me, a lover of rock, their next section ruined the mood a bit: a short collection of their mainstream hits. However, I didn't remain disappointed for long: their penultimate song was strange, quirky, but good and rocky: a song entitled 'Braces Buddies'. Go figure!

However, their finale perfectly nailed the mood so far: an upbeat rocky version of Nut Rocker, a 1960s song brought right up to date, and enjoyed by all present.

But that was not the last we saw of the CJDL girls: after a short break, two of then came on-stage whilst streaming to their own fans. Their mission was simple: to introduce the stars of the evening, Darkest Knights of course!

<review of Darkest Knights>

But still Jenny from CJDL wasn't finished: she joined the 'Knights' on stage for two of their songs, playing her 'girlie-pink' guitar like a rock legend! These girls have talent!

<more Darkest Knights review>

So, if you have tickets to tonight's Darkest Knights concert at the NEC, make sure you get there by 7:30 so you don't miss the support band, otherwise you will kick yourselves! Although, let's be clear: CJDL are no support band!'


The band said nothing as the words of the review sunk in. Carol was the first to speak. "Let's get this sound check done, then I think we need to tweak our set a bit...". She turned to the guy currently behind the desk: "I think we're gonna need an hour or so of rehearsal time today, if you're ok with that?" she called over.

"I'm sure the guys can work around you....."

With their headset mics and in-ear-monitors fitted, the actual sound check took only 5 minutes: the sound crew really loved that Dianne used an e-drumkit, it was so easy to set up and check out!

Then the girls sat down in the middle of the stage. They asked the rest of their team to join them.

"How about we rehearse those two other songs we started working on: I don't care how bad they go, I think they'll go down much better tonight than our other songs." said Carol.

"Yes... And we could also play Northern Girls' 'High Destruction' to go with 'Rocky Mountains'" suggested Linda.

"You two are on the ball today!" said Jenny. "And I'm 100% with you so far. So I'm reckoning we need another three of our own songs on top of that lot, any suggestions?"

"How about we do 'Dark Coffee', 'Unexpected Yesterday' and 'Crazy for Change'" suggested Dianne. "Oh, and with you on the rest."

Jenny looked at Ben, Mike, Tom, Callum and Paige. "Guys, give us a sanity check on this: are we thinking straight?" asked Jenny, "or do you have any better ideas?"

Callum was most familiar with the songs they had just mentioned. "I can see exactly where you're going with this, and why not? You took a bit of a gamble yesterday, and it seems to have paid off, so yes, go the whole way. It's not often you get the chance to try out different stuff on a live audience: you have absolutely nothing to lose, and everything to gain!"

Over the next hour, they rehearsed their extra two new songs, and 'High Destruction', all several times. The new songs were probably no better than 'adequate', but they would probably go down a lot better than the alternatives.


It's several hours later, and whilst the girls were all feeling a little nervous before they went on stage, when they came off stage at the end of their set, the crowd kept chanting for more.

Ginger, who had just 'outro'd' their set came over to them at the side of the stage. "Feel free to do another one, if you want to...."

"But what on earth do we sing? We can't just sing one of our 'normal' songs." said Dianne, as she continued to wipe herself down with a towel.

Jenny closed her eyes a moment. "Come on everyone, back on stage!" she demanded. Jenny led the four of them to the front of the stage, while the crowd cheered loudly.

"What you needing?" asked a voice in their ears.

"Just the four of us, acapella..." replied Jenny. "Hold my hands" she said, waiting for the noise to die down. With the girls just standing there, doing nothing but holding hands, the crowd finally became silent.

"Dear God, I can think of only one song that we should sing right now, and we're going to need your help to sing it....".


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #116 on: 24. July 2023, 19:06:25 PM »
When I started to write this story, I thought "yeah, maybe 30 chapters".... WHAT HAPPENED??? We're at chapter 80, and STILL the story goes on. I'll try and stop it before chapter 200, I promise!!



Chapter 80 - winding down in the bar

"Good evening, we're part of the Darkest Knights party..." said Carol to the receptionist.

"And your name?"

"Danvers and Sharpe... there should be two rooms".

"Just give me a moment... ah yes, here we go..."

"Two rooms?" asked Jenny, who had walked into reception with Ben, just moments after Tom and Carol.

"You have a problem with that?" asked Carol.

"No, not in the least. Just surprised, that's all, I guess I assumed that you two were... hmm, maybe I'd better just shut up!"

"It's ok, we just decided to take things really slow..."

"And good on you, Carol!" said Dianne, who had walked in with Mike right behind Jenny and Ben.


So, after finishing their own set, they had watched Darkest Knights (and of course, Jenny played with them again), then decided to get on their way to Leicester: Jenny, Ben, Dianne and Mike were in Ben's car, Carol went with Tom. It wasn't that long a journey, they arrived less than an hour later. The others had organised a taxi, and would join them soon after.


"And what time is the bar open 'til?" asked Jenny, as she and Ben were checked in by a second member of staff.

"Pretty much as long as you'd like it to be..." was the reply.

"Come on, let's all chill together with a pint or two..." suggested Jenny.

Tonight they were booked into the same hotel as the Darkest Knights and their entourage: the members of 'Useful Tooth' were going home for a couple of days, to allow their two ill members to recover, so their rooms became available for CJDL. After going to their rooms - which were all conveniently together - and quickly unpacking, the six of them went back down to the bar, and grabbed some beers. It wasn't long before Callum, Paige, Linda and Brian arrived at the hotel, joining them in the bar soon after.

"Well, ladies, I think you should be very proud of what you've done the last couple of nights: with close to zero time to do it, you managed to put together a very well received set which was VERY different to anything you've done before. And Jenny, I liked your quick-thinking in adding that last song in: it was quite amazing!" said Jenny's dad.

Carol was smiling widely: yes, things had gone really well tonight, and Jenny had been spot-on - as ever - in what she did. "Yeah, and the audience seemed to appreciate it too. So, are we still up for having a picnic in the park with our fans tomorrow lunchtime?" asked Carol.

"Well, the weather's looking ok, so yes..." said Jenny.

"I'm still getting used to how you guys are so willing to meet up with your fans. And I must admit, it IS fun. Carol, you said your sister and her family are hoping to join us too?"

"Yup, just need to give her the details. She suggested Victoria Park, which is right next to where we're playing, no more than a 5 minute walk. Callum, any idea what time they need us for the sound check tomorrow?"

"Probably 3 or 4 o'clock: I guess it depends if they have any problems with the rigging. To be honest, if you're only 5 minutes away, I can just call you."

"Oh, I assumed you would come with us.."

"Oh, I'll come for lunch, but I ought to get back early, help check out your kit."

"Ah, yeah, right. So, what sort of time do we think we should meet up with everyone?"

"Well, if we're doing a lunchtime picnic, then I guess lunchtime. 12:30?"

"Everyone ok with that? We gonna be able to get up in time? Ok, let me tell Rosie. And our fans... and I'm assuming the hotel can do us some lunches..." Carol got up, and went and had a word with the lady behind the bar, then returned. "She says we just need to ask at breakfast, it's something they often do!"

Carol WhatsApp'ed her sister with the details, suggesting she would re-confirm the details closer to lunchtime. Then it was the fans: "Hey, everyone! Some of you may have heard that we're playing support for Darkest Knights, which means that we're currently up in Leicester! Would anyone like to meet up for a picnic tomorrow, Sunday, 12:30-ish at lunchtime? Victoria Park, Leicester. We'll give you the details closer to the time..."

Despite the late hour, and the fact that it was a Saturday, they got a few responses very quickly. One bemoaned the fact that it was in Leicester rather than Manchester.


Soon after, the Darkest Knights and their entourage arrived at the hotel, with a group of them, including Ginger, Tony, Fingers, and George (the four band members), joining the much smaller CJDL team in the bar. They talked about each other's performances, and loads of other stuff.

"Hey, Ginger, want to join us in the park tomorrow, we're going to have a picnic?" asked Carol, smiling widely because she knew that he wouldn't want to.

"What, with a load of screaming CJDL fans. Thank you very much for the invite, but maybe not!". Ginger was also smiling when he replied.

It wasn't particularly late when they all finally went to bed.


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #117 on: 26. July 2023, 01:35:33 AM »
Chapter 81 - Rosie and James

Breakfast for the bands and hangers-on was in a side-room from the main restaurant, which not only gave them a bit of privacy, but meant the hotel could run the breakfast a bit later for them, if needed. Carol and Tom got there just after 10:30, and whilst they weren't the first there, they were far from being the last! Carol went and had a word with the staff about a picnic lunch.

"Ok, so we have our lunch sorted out, I'd better confirm everything with Rosie and our fans..."


With the park being next to the venue, they were all able to park their cars in the venue, where they went in to check how things were going: the crew had been working hard, with the actual stage and lighting rig in place. They were currently rigging the linear speaker arrays.

Jenny went into the middle of the stage, in a safe area, took out the whistle she still had in her pocket, and blew it loudly a couple of times. Moments later there was silence.

"Hey guys, I just wanted to say you guys are doing a really great job!" said Jenny. "Don't underestimate how important what you are doing is... without all this, and what the PA, lighting team, front-of house team and so on also do later on, we'd not be able to perform, you're all 'part of the team'! So THANK YOU!". Many of the crew briefly clapped: it made a change for them that someone bothered to show their appreciation.

Carol's phone pinged: it was her sister, saying that they were at the playground in the park, and that there was already a group of people gathering nearby.

"Hey, Paige, wanna be a super-fan again? Go have a word with the fans that have already arrived? Callum, why don't you go too?"

"Jennifer, why don't I go with them as well?" suggested Ben. Whilst everyone else called her Jenny, Ben still called her Jennifer, and Jenny wasn't going to try and dissuade him!

"Yeah, ok. We'll be along in a few minutes."

"You're too good to your fans," said Brian, "but I understand why you do it!"


Carol held Tom's hand as they walked to the park to meet their fans. What had effectively started as a bit of an infatuation - caused by Tom's braces, of course -  from Carol's perspective, had become quite a nice relationship of the past few weeks, as she had slowly discovered more about Tom.

"You ok with us?" asked Carol.

"What do you mean? You worried about something?"

"No, it's just that when we got together, you were a bit worried about the press, and all that..."

"Ah, right. No, things have been fine, not had any problems!". He put his arm around Carol. Yes, at first, he had indeed been worried about the effects of going out with someone so well known, but apart from a few very minor things (including a bit of leg-pulling at the radio station) things had been ok. Carol too was feeling much more comfortable with being in a relationship, and they had both agreed that they wouldn't rush things.

By now, they had walked across the park, to be near to the kiddies playground. There was a nice area of grass, against a row of trees, that would give them some shade. And sat or stood there were several people, chatting with Paige, Callum and Ben. And there was someone with a camera... we're talking a professional camera.

"Rosie should be in the playground - I'll be back in a moment!". Ignoring everyone, Carol walked over to, and into, the playground.

"Rosie! It is SO good to see you!" said Carol, giving her sister a big hug. "I'm sorry, it's been far too long, hasn't it?" Whilst they had messaged and spoken many times, they hadn't actually seen each other for over a year.

"Carol! Yes, it's been a while. But you are looking good!".

"And hello, James!" said Carol. James was Rosie's husband: the relationship between him and Carol was a little tense at times - he made no secret of the fact that he thought that a pop-star's life was pretty easy, unlike most people's. That was part the reason for inviting them to see their afternoon rehearsal.

"So, you're finally playing in Leicester... about time!!" said Rosie.

"Yeah. When they said we were coming to Leicester, the first thing I thought about was you guys! Hey, let me give you your tickets for tonight. There's also back-stage passes, so you'll be able to come and meet everyone without any problems. And I've organised a car to collect you, so you won't need to worry about getting in or parking. I'm assuming you managed to get a babysitter ok?"

"Yes, that wasn't a problem. And thank you, I'm looking forward to seeing you perform..."

"I need to warn you that our performance tonight will not be a normal CJDL one... "

"What do you mean?"

"Well, we're playing support for a major rock band, so we're not playing any of our 'normal' stuff, mainly some new stuff that's more suitable, and some stuff by another band too. But I think you'll like it..."

"James is quite looking forward to seeing Darkest Knights: it's actually been a while since we went out to a concert.". Just then two young children came over to Rosie.

"Hey, Sam, Emma!" said Carol, smiling and kneeling down to be their height. Sam was 7, emma 5.

"You remember your auntie Carol, don't you?" said their mum. Sam looked at auntie Carol.

"What's that on your teeth?" asked Sam.

"That is called a retainer...." said Carol.

"What's a retainer?"

"Well, a little while ago, my teeth were a little bit crooked, and not quite in line, so see that extra bit of wire on this tooth?..." said Carol, pointing to the incisor that had the extra wire that had pulled it back into place, "it helped to pull my tooth back into the right place, and hold it there!"

"Are you going to have to have that for ever and ever?"

"No. I can actually take it out, but I have to wear it for a few months, until it's firmly in the right place. Want to see what it looks like?". Sam's eyes lit up and he nodded. Carol put her fingers into her mouth and pulled down on her upper retainer, removing it, and she held it in her hand for Sam to look at. After rotating it around so Sam could see it properly, she put it back into her mouth again.

"I need to go and join my friends, so we can have our picnic... are you going to join me?" asked Carol.

"Our picnic stuff is over there: why don't you take them, we'll get our stuff and follow."

With Sam holding her left hand, and Emma holding her right, Carol walked over to where everyone else was waiting. There were several confused fans looking at her as she arrived with two young kids. "I didn't think you had kids?" said one of them.

Carol smiled. "This is my nephew Sam, and my niece Emma, they are going to join us for our picnic..."

"Hi there Sam... and Emma!" sid Tom, shaking their hands. "I'm Tom, I'm your auntie Carol's boyfriend! And I'm guessing this is your mum... nice to meet you, Rosie!"


"So who's the pap?" asked Carol, pointing at the guy with the camera.

"Reporter / photographer with the local paper" replied Paige. "Seems he picked up about this online: I told him that if he hung around, we'd do something for him. He seemed quite relaxed about it."

"Ah, ok... I guess as this is *my* gig, I'd better say 'hello' to everyone?"

"Fine by me!" said Jenny. The band seemed to have developed a bit of a pecking order: Jenny was number 1, closely followed by Carol. Linda, had become the number 3, and Dianne was 'the quiet one'.

The fans had been quite excited when the girls first got there, but were calming down now.

"Hi everyone! I'm Carol, but I'm sure you all know that!" She introduced the other three girls, then the rest of their party. "So, we're not in a rush, we've probably got a couple of hours before we need to go anywhere, so plenty of time to have lunch, chat, play some songs, take photos. We'll try and move around, so you get a chance to talk with us all, and there's nothing to stop you guys moving around too: just no stalking!!" said Carol, grinning. Knowing that their heroes would be hanging around for quite a while seemed to calm them right down.

Tom sat with Carol's family, and a small group of the fans. "I'll be back shortly" said Carol after quickly popping over to them, "need to do a bit of 'work'". She collected the other three, and they went and spoke with the reporter, then let him take a few pictures of them.

"Mind if I take some more general pictures?"

"You might want to ask anyone you take a picture of, and I'd rather you left *them* alone" said Carol, pointing at her sister and her family. "They're family, not fans." she explained.

Finally, Carol got to sit down with Tom and her sister and family, to eat their picnic lunch. There were a few fans nearby, and Carol introduced her family to them. So, with several sets of eyes watching her she took her blue plastic retainer case out of her bag, then put her fingers into her mouth, pulling down on her upper retainer: of course, she was quite used to doing this, so it came out easily. She put it onto the retainer case, then removed her lower retainer, adding it into the retainer case, which she closed, and put back into her bag.

One of the girls smiled: she had braces too. "I didn't realise you'd had braces again..." she said.

"I didn't have ACTUAL braces..." said Carol, and she explained about her wayward tooth, and how she was wearing her slightly modified Hawley retainer to tame the tooth.

"You don't seem to have a lisp... did you have one when you first got it?" aske the same girl. As Carol started to eat her sandwich, she explained that she did indeed have a lisp, but only for a week or two. "It feels quite normal now when I wear it - in fact, it feels a bit odd when I remove it, kinda like actual braces I guess. And to answer your next question, I had those a few years ago, as a teen. And yes, I wore my retainer for about 5 years at night, and everything was stable... until recently!"

As they continued to eat, they chatted. Of course, Carol had to be carful about some of the things she said, or more specifically how she answered any questions.

Before leaving the venue, they had had a short meeting, to agree on what they would, and wouldn't, say. So, no mention of Northern Girls. As far as a tour, it was 'something being actively thought about', for sometime next year. Don't be too specific about plans for the new album, that was still very much a 'work in progress'. But OK to talk about their next single, 'Braces Buddies', that they would be recording next week. And ok to talk about some of the new stuff they were working on - although it may never make the album.

The group Carol was talking with were interested in what sort of stuff they were working on, and was it different from their last album and tour. An idea came into Carol's head, then she got up and went and had a quick word with Brian, returning moments later. About five minutes later, Brian came over to her, saying quietly: "I've had a word, and there should be no problems with your idea!"

"Excuse me, everyone, just need to do some more 'work', although I think you guys might like the idea..." said Carol. Carol went and had a short word with each of Jenny, Dianne and Linda, then borrowed Jenny's whistle, blowing it to get everyone's attention.

"Hey, everyone, just thought I'd update you on the afternoon plans. We're still in no rush, so keep on eating and chatting. Then after that, we thought we might get our guitars out, and have a bit of a sing-song with you all. But after THAT, I've just arranged something that I suspect you will all want to do: would you like to come over to the venue, and watch us do our soundcheck, followed by us rehearsing? And maybe we can do a couple of extra fun things too?" Unsurprisingly, there was a massive cheer.

"Ok, as I said, plenty of time, we're not going to be sound checking for at least an hour or two..."


Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Carol
« Reply #118 on: 27. July 2023, 04:00:52 AM »
Chapter 82 - One, two... one, two...

Carol took Emma with her, and joined Linda, who was with another group of fans. "So, everyone, this is my niece, Emma. She's only five, so please watch what you say! Emma, this is Linda, we work together, and these are a few more of my 'friends'...". Keeping a 5 year old occupied can be difficult, but she seemed happy to sit with Carol, as she chatted with Linda and the others. After chatting for a while, Emma started to get a bit restless.

"Can I go back to mummy?" she asked

"Of course you can! Hey, Linda, come over and say hi to Rosie and Jim... And Emma, thank you for sitting quietly with me!"

Over the next 90 minutes or so, they chatted, then they played their acoustic guitars. "So, this is the basis of our next single" explained Jenny, and she told them the specific lead up to how the song was written while they were in Korea. "And as Linda pretty much wrote it, I think she should be playing it....".

"But before you do that" said Carol, "I have someone on my phone that this song is about! Everyone, say 'hello' to Yun Hee over in Korea!" Carol pointed the phone at their group of fans, who were waving, then at Linda.

"Hi there, Yun Hee, as you can see, we're out with some fans, and I'm just about to play yours and Jenny's song!"

"Yes, Braces Buddies!!!" said Yun Hee.


Carol checked the time. "Ok, everyone, how about you all start packing up. I spotted some rubbish bins on the way here, so dump your junk in them as you pass. We'll go back to the venue in say... 5 minutes?"

Callum and Brian had already gone back to the venue. 'Come in the front door, someone will be there waiting for you all' said the message that Callum had sent Carol.

"Ok, before we go to the venue: sit anywhere you like in the stalls, there's plenty of space. Feel free to use the toilets if you need to, but no trying to hide so you can sneak in to this evening's performance!!! I suspect that Darkest Knights will be rehearsing when we get there, so please be patient. When we get onto the stage, remember we are NOT doing a performance for you, we will be starting with a sound-check and then rehearsing for tonight's set.... anything else will  be a bonus for you! Ok, let's go!"

Carol talked with Rosie on the way back, explaining that they could leave early, and even come back again if they wanted: their back-stage passes would make sure of that. "So, we're onstage at 8:00 tonight, and I've organised your taxi for about 6:45, that all ok for you?"

"Yeah, babysitter is coming at 6:30."

"Excellent. Find out if she's a fan of ours or 'the Knights' will you?".

When they got to the hall, Darkest Knights were on stage having a quick rehearsal. Dianne had a quick word with her boyfriend, Mike, then went up on the side of the stage. As the guys finished their song, Dianne went onstage. "Hey, any chance I could play with you?"

"Yeah sure... I'm sure the guys on the desk can mix in your drums..."

"Actually, I was hoping that George might let me try out HIS drums..."

"Fine with me" replied George. "I was actually going to ask you if I could see what a set of modern e-drums were like to play, I only every tried out some of the really early ones."

"Yeah, those early ones were a bit crappy, weren't they? We had some at school. I just tried out some of the latest ones, and they really ARE good, but these aren't all that bad. Let me check it out for you....". Dianne sat at her drums, turned them on, then checked it all out. "Sounds good to me!". She walked over to George's rather larger set of acoustic drums. "Ah, you have a double bass pedals, MUST try that out!" Dianne sat down, and using her own sticks that she had picked up a moment ago, spent a minute trying out the drums, including the double bass drum pedals. "Nice!!!" she said with a big smile.

Then George tried out Dianne's drums. "Hmm, not as bad as I thought.."

"So, what do you fancy playing then?" asked Ginger.

"What's that song third into your set?"

"Oh, you mean 'Dark Danger'? Fine by me!"

Whilst the drumming was a bit 'rough' to start with (not surprising when both drummers were on unfamiliar drums!), it soon settled down. Dianne was struggling, getting her head around the two bass pedals, so ended up just using the one, but apart from that, she enjoyed the experience.

"Thanks guys, that was fun!" she said when they finished. Of course, the 'fans' applauded.

"Why don't you join us tonight? What do we think guys?". Dianne smiled: she was going to be playing with Darkest Knights tonight!

"Ok, I think we've done enough, I see you have some friends with you?"

"Yeah. As they aren't going to be able to see us tonight, Carol thought they might enjoy watching our soundcheck and rehearsal."

As the 'Knights' left the stage, Callum and another guy came out, with the headset mics and in-ear monitors for the four girls.

"I don't suppose my mic is working yet is it?"

"Half a second!" shouted the guy at the mixer. "Ok, try that..."

"Hi everyone, can you all hear me ok?" There were a few 'yes' responses. "Good, that's the first bit of the soundcheck done.. So, a soundcheck has 2 purposes, the first bit, the simple bit, it to check everything is plugged in an turned on, which doesn't usually take too long. The next bit is about balancing the volumes of the various instruments and vocals, so it sounds good. So, I'm assuming that's Terry on the desk again?"

"Yes, it is!" said a voice in her ears.

"Yes, that's another thing: Terry can talk to us into our ears, without you guys hearing, so don't be too surprised if you see and hear strange things." A moment later all four of the girls raised their hands in the air, and clapped. "Yeah, things like that... seems Terry is in a happy mood today: he just spoke to us all in our ears, that's why we all clapped! Ok, Terry, tell us what you need."

After checking the 4 headset mics were working, he also checked the two handheld mics, currently one each side of the stage: they would need them this evening when someone introduced the band. Next Terry asked Dianne to check her drums (which had worked just a few minutes ago, but no harm in checking again!). Then the piano, followed by the various guitars (which included Jenny's bright pink one!).

Next he got the girls to play in specific combinations, so he could balance things up. Next he got them to sing as they played.

"Ok," said Terry over the PA so everyone could hear, "things sound pretty good to me, so I'll let the girls rehearse or play for you, whatever, I can adjust things as they play..."

The girls started by playing their first song, one of the new ones. Terry kept the PA a lot quieter than it would normally be, mainly because he realised that the younger kids there might not like it being too loud.

"Hey, who's going to introduce us tonight?" asked Carol.

"I think Ginger said he would..." said a voice for the side of the stage.

"In that case, can someone ask him to join us for a few minutes? We need to work out what he's going to say. In the meantime, let's play 'High Destruction'" suggested Carol.

"That's one by 'Northern Girls' isn't it?" said Ginger when they finished.

"Yup, that's right. So, any thoughts how you're going to introduce us?"

"Pretty much the same as last night, after your third song. I'll probably explain how we contacted you, and thank you for doing it all, then ask you to introduce yourselves, that ok?"

Ginger sat side stage as the girls continued to rehearse and entertain their fans. "Okay," said Carol. "I reckon we could have a bit of fun. We're not planning on playing it tonight, but I'm thinking we could play you 'Sexy Yellow Roller Skates'... or rather sing it. Terry, can you line it up for playout in a moment, please? In the meantime, I'm thinking that some of you - and I'm definitely thinking about my lovely nephew and niece - might like to come up onto the stage and join us dancing to it? And I'm thinking we need to get Tom, Ben and Mike onstage to join in too. Oh, yeah, Paige and Callum too! I'll give Brian, our manager, an 'older person's exemption' for this one!"

Several of the fans came onto the stage, including Rosie with her two.

"Ok, Terry, would you like to play just the first verse, so we can show everyone what the dance moves are supposed to be?" Over the next 5 to 10 minutes, they got everyone on stage to practise the moves, then they sang the song through with everyone dancing - or at least trying to! "Well done everyone!" She turned to little Emma, and dropped to her knees. "And did YOU enjoy dancing, Emma?" she asked. "Yes" said Emma quietly.


"So, earlier on in the park, we played the original acoustic version of 'Braces Buddies' for you," said Linda, "so we 'tweaked' it a bit, made it a bit rockier, so this is what our next single is going to sound like - we'll be recoding it next week, so I'm sure it will be released soon!"


"Ladies..." said Carol, "How about we move on to our finale? We could play it straight, but then I'm thinking we could practice the new 'version' once or twice?" Everyone liked the idea.

Jenny started to play 'the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, as she started to talk. "So," explained Jenny, "this is a piece of music from 'The Nutcracker Suite', by a man called Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky. He was a classical musician from the 1980's, but in a way......". Jenny stopped, as she noticed some giggling from the fans, and when she turned, she saw that Linda had taken off her guitar, and was at the front of the stage, doing 'ballet twirls', hands above her head.

"Don't stop!" said Linda. Jenny laughed, then continued playing, as Linda continued her twirls. "Come on Dianne, Carol, join me!"

With the three other girls pretending to ballerinas, Jenny continued. "Now, where was I?" She paused again, letting the girls twirl some more: it actually looked quite good, something they should include in their show. "Ah, yes, Tchaikovsky... in his day he was a bit like a modern pop artist. There's another song in The Nutcracker... and I think it's time you guys got back to your instruments!... There's another song that a 1960's band took, and made it a bit more up to date... and we've taken their song, and brought it up to the '20s, it's called Nut Rocker....". Once again, they played a good version of the song.

"You know," said Carol, once they finished, "I reckon we should keep the silly dance in for tonight, what do we think?....". after a very quick discussion, they agreed to try it out. "So, when CJD first started out, we often swapped around what instruments we played. But recently I bemoaned the fact that we didn't seem to do that any more, so we thought it might be fun to try something with Nut Rocker. This is still VERY much a 'work in progress', and this is going to be the first time anyone outside of us will have seen this... and I have no doubt it will go completely wrong. Let's take our places...."

Carol went over to the drums, Jenny was on the piano, Dianne was on the Bass, and Linda on the guitar. Jenny started the song, and after everyone had played a