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Gonna B - chap 4

by Skippoo 

Posted: 16 January 2010
Word Count: 2477
Summary: More from my satirical teen novel about some girls stalking a boy band. I'd particularly like feedback on the section near the end, where I try to explain the PC/gimmick controversy. Does it work? Cheers.
Related Works: Gonna B - chap 1 (newer version) • Gonna B - chap 2 • Gonna B - chap 3 • Gonna B - prologue (sort of) • 

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I open my front door to the sound of Nathan’s crappy hip-hop blaring at full-blast. Nathan thinks he’s a gangster, but he’s a skinny geek. He studies Physics, Maths and Further Maths at college. Further Maths – yuk. You can’t get any geekier than that.
These snitches are after my riches and yes, I smell blood and murder, booms the music.
As if that’s not enough, the Hoover starts up as well.
‘Shut up!’ I shout.
No seems to hear a thing.
I hang my jacket and slouch up to my room, sighing several times on the way.
I do my usual routine: I switch on my computer first, then take my shoes off and empty my school bag. This is because my computer is old and crap and takes about a year to start up. It also makes sounds like a tractor. By the time I’ve sorted out my school stuff, the computer’s normally on, so I click to open Internet Explorer. However, that also takes about a year to start up, so I go downstairs and get a hot chocolate and a packet of crisps. By the time I’m back, usually it’s ready to use. B Unofficial is set as my home page.
Just before I sit down, I notice that the corner of my biggest Gonna B poster – the one right above my bed – is hanging down away from the wall. It’s the bit where Owen’s face should be. Whatever, I think. Owen’s face can stay there for a bit.
The thread with the picture of Owen and Mystery Woman is now ten pages long. People are speculating about who she is and how he met her. A few people say she’s a model. Someone else says she’s an old school friend of Owen’s. Lots of people are slating her. She’s a slag, a troll, a sket, a minger, a skank, a hanger-on, a gold-digger and a wannabe. Then one forum member called Babygurl puts this:
U lot are being real bitchy and giving gonna b fans a bad name. U don’t know this girl and if owen likes her she’s proberly really nice. Yeah we might all love owen to bits but he is entitled to a life and a girlfriend like any other guy. give them a break. jeeeezus!
The slating stops and it just goes back to speculation – but only for about ten posts. Then someone called Lisa95 says:
if I ever saw her in the street i wud spit in her nasty butters face
I click on the photo again, so it’s full size on the computer screen. Then I go over to my mirror. It has coloured star stickers round the outside and a crack at the bottom, where I threw my hairbrush after a row with Nathan. I look at my baggy school shirt, half hanging out over faded trousers that are too tight round the waist. I pull up my shirt and see a bit of squashy white belly. I look at my chewed fingernails, then upwards at the spot on my chin and upwards again at my mud-coloured hair with funny kinks in it. I can only ever get rid of the kinks if I use Sinead’s straighteners. Hers are the best ones you can buy and cost about £90. Mine were in the sale at Superdrug.
I’m tired of feeling like a minger and of being the quiet one. Sometimes people say hi to Sinead and ignore me. That’s it. No more of this. I pick up a writing pad and make a list:

* Go on a diet (look at Mum’s GI Diet book for help)
* Do Mum’s Geri Yoga video regularly
* Jog round the park regularly
* Save my dinner money (easy if I’m on a diet) to get that hair conditioner that Dwayne recommends
* Be more outgoing at school and at the Gonna B house

I need to turn the list into SMART action points for it to really work, but I’ll do that later. I need to finish my homework before dinner and the Gonna B TV show.

Mum is sitting on her armchair – the one nearest the coffee table, so she can reach her millionth cup of the tea of the day. She’s still got her pink and green Jobcentre Plus badge on. She helps unemployed people find work, which should be really rewarding, but I think it’s also quite stressful. When Mum has had a bad day, she says her customers are all ‘lying tossbags who smell of wee,’ and things like that. She’s pulled her dyed dark red hair into a ponytail with my hairband. I can’t be bothered to say anything as she’ll just say I shouldn’t have left my hairband on the coffee table. Nan is rustling and cluttering around in the kitchen. She’s cooking spaghetti bolognese, but personally, I’m more looking forward to dessert – the big box of cream cakes she bought home from work. She works part-time in Edward’s Bakery down the road, so she brings home food for us quite a bit when it’s about to go out of date: sausage rolls, pasties, bread and cookies. She used to bring big boxes of cream cakes home all the time, but then Mum told her that it was too much and bad for our cholesterol levels. Now we normally just have cream cakes on a Monday (to help us with our back-to-work/school/college depression) and a Friday (to celebrate the weekend). Sometimes, though, Nan sneaks me a fresh cream slice on other days because they’re my favourite.
I’m on the floor, right in front of the telly. The remote control and my mobile are on the carpet beside me. I have to lie on my front and not swing my legs up behind me or else my mum will say, ‘Get out the bloody way!’ It’s the same at Sinead’s, except her mum would say, ‘You make a better door than a window’. Sinead’s mum has lots of funny sayings like that.
The Gonna B show starts. The ‘Last week … ’ bit comes on first. We see flashes of Owen going to his cousin’s wedding, looking super-fit in a suit (drool!) and saying how it was ‘a beautiful wedding’ and makes him feel all romantic. We see Paul being driven through South London on his way to a gig in Brighton and ducking down in the car, saying, ‘I’m forever in fear for my life, bruv. Once a gangster, always a gangster.’ We see Daniel meeting a fan in a wheelchair who cries and says she never thought she would amount to anything until she saw Daniel on TV. Daniel’s girlfriend, Keeley, is crying in the background. (Sinead was at my house for last week’s episode and she bawled her eyes out at that bit too – she cries loads more easily than me.) Next up is Rob starting a water fight with the Gonna B stylists and make up artists, squealing when he gets soaked. There are also lots of shots of Rob’s nipples showing through his wet top and Nan says they are doing that on purpose for the gay audience. Finally, we see Lawrence throwing his guitar on the floor because he can’t play a hard bit properly. Simon Sleaze has a right go at him, saying he’s acting like a spoilt brat and that Lawrence’s counsellor, Sarah, is already costing them enough without him trashing good quality equipment too. Then there is a separate bit with Sleaze talking to the camera. He says, ‘Lawrence is probably the most talented member of Gonna B, but also the one who needs to grow up the most. It was a hard choice putting him in this band because they are heading for superstardom and I sometimes worry whether Lawrence will be able to handle the pressure.’
Then the theme tune starts, which is Gonna B’s first hit single, ‘Sweet Little Mystery’. It’s a cover of an ‘80s song by a band called Wet Wet Wet. My mum says the original was better and that their singer Marti Pellow was fitter than Owen. She’s just saying that to wind me up, though, because she didn’t really care that much about Wet Wet Wet. She loved the bands Wham and A-ha in the ‘80s. Mum always watches old people’s music channels, like VH1 Classic, so I’ve heard quite a lot of Wham and A-ha stuff. I think Wet Wet Wet is probably the most stupid band name I’ve ever heard. Sweet Little Mystery is good, though – it cheers me up. David says it’s crap because it keeps repeating the same lyrics, especially the word ‘try’, which is in the song about two-hundred times. He also says that Gonna B have released too many cover versions (three, all in all, out of five singles), which is because they can’t write songs and their manager wants to make a quick buck.
My phone beeps and the little envelope is showing on the screen. It’s a text from Sinead:
Its startin!
Duh! I know! I text back.

The band are preparing for doing their first concerts outside Europe and all talking about how nervous and excited they are. Paul says he had never been outside South London until he joined Gonna B. Owen says he wants to play a country that no Western band have played before – a bit like Wham when they played communist China in 1985.
Mum beams at the mention of Wham. ‘There you go,’ she says. ‘The best boy band ever.’
I click my tongue. ‘It takes more than playing China to make you the best boy band ever, you know,’ I say. ‘You’ve got to have talent too.’
‘The Beatles helped destroy communism in The Soviet Union,’ says Nan. ‘Beat that, Gonna B and Wham.’ She points at the screen to Owen. ‘He doesn’t know what communism is, I bet. He’s just trying to sound clever.’
I don’t know what communism is either, so I keep quiet and make a mental note to look it up on Wikipedia later.
Sometimes Nan sounds really brainy – much more than Mum, even though Mum has done some NVQ qualifications at work. I don’t know where she gets it from – she left school when she was fifteen and has always worked in shops. She does read a lot of books, though, and she likes watching documentaries too.
The rest of the programme is OK. Laurence apologies to Sleaze for chucking guitars around and they hug. Then Laurence does a speech to the camera about how he just wants to be the best and doesn’t want to let the band down. Keeley tries on loads of wedding dresses, but they don’t show which one she picks so that Daniel won’t find out until their big day next summer. Rob does a yoga class. Rob is the band fitness freak, anyway, but he has just started yoga and says it helps him with his dancing and is good for chilling out when Gonna B life gets crazy. Paul meets his cousin from South London, who he hasn’t seen since joining Gonna B. The cousin lifts up his top and shows off a scar on his chest from being stabbed.
pauls cousin has got a fit body!!! texts Sinead.
its ok. I text back.
The best bit is where Owen goes to visit his mum and she gets out loads of photos of him when he was little. He was so cute.
Bless!!!!! I text to Sinead.
The programme finishes. I had hoped they might show Mystery Woman and explain who she is, but they didn’t.
‘Of course they bloody didn’t,’ says Nan. ‘The management want to make it look like Gonna B don’t have girfriends, so the fans think they have a chance.’
‘But Daniel’s engaged,’ I point out.
‘That’s different.’
‘How’s it different?’
‘Well …’ Nan motions to her legs. ‘He’s in a wheelchair.’
‘It makes people feel better.’
‘I don’t get it,’ I frown.
‘One day you will.’
‘But anyway,’ I add. ‘Gonna B all say the management don’t control what they do and that they’re not manufactured.’
Loads of people had said Gonna B were manufactured at first. Some of the posh newspapers said the bandmembers had been chosen to appeal to as many different types of people as possible – a bit like The Spice Girls (a girl band who were around when I was little), but that Gonna B had the added gimmick of ticking as many PC boxes as possible. PC is short for ‘political correctness’ –I know what it means because I looked it up on Wikipedia. It’s to do with the band having members who are gay, disabled and Asian (well, half-Asian) and stuff. I also looked up ‘gimmick’, which means adding a feature to something just so it gets more attention. It would be sort of sad if Daniel had only been put into the band because his wheelchair was a gimmick. My friend David agrees with what the posh newspapers say. Me and Sinead argued with him and said that Gonna B were 'breaking down boundaries' (that was what Owen said in an interview once). In the third episode of the Gonna B series, there had been an interview with Sleaze where he talked about it:
‘There are no gimmicks and no manufacturing,’ Sleaze had said, staring hard into the camera. ‘I picked every single one of those boys simply because they were the best.’
‘My arse!’ shouts Mum from the kitchen, where she’s setting out plates.
Nan gets up from the sofa, with the ‘oof’ sounds she always makes when sitting down or standing up. ‘Do you have to bring your arse into it, Justine? Me and Luc have got to eat.’
‘I’ve got to eat too,’ says Nathan, sauntering into the room, all gangly, in a hooded top that nearly drowns him. He’s got lines shaved into his eyebrows – they weren’t there yesterday.
‘Nice eyebrows,’ I snort.
‘Nice face,’ he replies and carries on through to the kitchen.
‘Nath,’ sighs Nan. ‘As if it isn’t enough your mother talking about her arse at dinner time, we have to look at yours too. Can’t you pull your trousers up for once?’
Nathan clicks his tongue (well, I think he’s trying to kiss his teeth, but he can’t do it properly). ‘I ain’t wearing no Simon Cowell jack-ups,’ he says, pulling up a chair.
We all sit round the kitchen table and tuck into Nan’s spag bol. Afterwards, I eat my cream cake more quickly than everyone else and then have another. It’s OK, though, because my diet hasn’t started yet – I have to make my list into SMART action points first.

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Comments by other Members

funnyvalentine at 10:33 on 18 January 2010  Report this post
Hi Skipoo

I think this is all fine and the bit at the end is clear. It's really good and I enjoyed reading it - I feel very old now...

Looking forward to more - she's really funny!

Freebird at 10:52 on 18 January 2010  Report this post
I love this! I think you've captured this character really well, and of course I like the references to 80s bands (having just bought A-ha's new album myself ; )

It's very amusing and topical, using the internet stuff and all the things that Mums and friends' Mums say. I'd buy this to read myself and then pass it onto my daughter!

My only question is this : coming in at chapter 4, I'm wondering what has happened in the first three chapters? This one is great for character development, but what is happening in the plot? It doesn't seem to move the action forward.

delightful though


NMott at 11:14 on 18 January 2010  Report this post
I'd glad you're carrying on with this. It's very good.

Just a few nit-picks...

No seems to hear a thing.

typo No one.., although 'seems' is a bit weak so maybe replace it with something like there's 'no sign' anyone's heard her; the music's just as loud.

takes about a year to start up

You've got 2 of these, and they are an exaggeration so you don't need the 'about', and for the second one you could go further and say 'takes a decade to start up'.

is hanging down away from the wall. It’s the bit where Owen’s face should be.

Could be a little clearer. Do you mean the corner is curled up, hiding his face?

That’s it. No more of this.

It's 1st person pov, so it doesn't need to be in italics. If she's saying it out loud to herself, then put it in speach quotes.

I need to turn the list into SMART action points for it to really work

Is that the same as PowerPoint? I only mention it because the kids round here all talk about PowerPoint.

Very good. Especially liked the texting - wondering if you could add a bit more of it.

- NaomiM

Skippoo at 11:36 on 18 January 2010  Report this post
Thanks for your comments, funnyvalentine and Freebird.

OK, Freebird, I'm going to do a quick summary of the first three chapters to see if you think enough is happening in the plot. Plots have always been my weakness as I get so stuck into the details of the characters and I'm really trying to be aware of this with Gonna B.

*There is a sort-of prologue at the beginning, which is an extract from the Gonna B website and introduces us to the bandmembers.
*Chapter 1 introduces us to Lucy and her obsession with Gonna B. It also gives a bit more background info on the band, e.g. that they have a reality TV show where viewers can vote on what the band does next, etc. We learn than Lucy's ambition is to have a conversation with Owen - just him and her (this is supposed to be a key part of the plot). It ends with Lucy saying she's met Gonna B loads of times.
*Chap 2 explains the end of chapter 1 by showing Lucy and Sinead going to sit outside the Gonna B house with loads of other (stalking!) fans. This is how they spend their free time and there is actually a whole community/hierarchy of Gonna B fans. At the end, Lucy is a bit pissed off because the band come out and Paul speaks to Sinead (Sinead's favourite bandmember), but they don't even see Lucy's favourite bandmember, Owen.
*Chap 3 shows Lucy and Sinead at school. We meet another key character, David (a possible love interest of Lucy's, although this is only hinted at). David is into more 'serious' music (and plays guitar) and so had Lucy been previously until she got into the whole Gonna B stalking thing. Lucy and Sinead go on the Gonna B forum at lunchtime and discover photos of Owen with a mystery woman. Lucy is upset about this.

Basically, the novel is meant to be based around Lucy's ambition to have a private conversation with Owen, but how lots of obstacles get in her way. She begins to lose touch with reality and what her true priorities should be. Eventually, things happen which force her to make a choice between real life and her Gonna B fantasy life. Then she sees that she's been chasing an empty lie, that the whole fame/fan thing is really a load of rubbish and then she doesn't need to be personally acquainted with Gonna B to be a good enough person. Or something like that!

Therefore the point of chapter 4 (as well as giving us more detail about her home life and the band) is to show her starting to get a bit unhealthy about the whole thing, i.e. she is starting to criticise herself and her looks because Owen has got an attractive mystery woman.


Skippoo at 11:40 on 18 January 2010  Report this post
Thanks for your feedback, Naomi.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. It's business-speak - you're supposed to make all objectives/goals SMART. Lucy has learnt about SMART at school - there is a bit in chapter 1 about it.


Freebird at 17:18 on 18 January 2010  Report this post
sounds great! Will have to go back and read the rest now. What an engaging character you've created - very Louise Rennison!


Issy at 18:28 on 18 January 2010  Report this post
Hi Skippoo,

Lovely to read some of your work again - it's been a long time. What happened to your book?

This writing is pretty sophisticated. It picks up the language, and simmering teen years of now, and the readers will know exactly what the mc is saying, thinking and it is highly topical - yet still a theme that will be OK in a couple of years time when it gets to publication - as it will. We skulked around pop stars way back in my day of Beatle mania. The three generations show this brilliantly!

I read the summary of the previous chapters. To answer the question, I think there is probably enough action etc because it is so deeply connected to today type events - the pop scene, skulking etc. And the hint of the real world with the mcs own talents and interests which are being ignored in her fantasy world and the possible love interest in the back ground.

(I am a bit behind with commenting on current work on this group but I hope to catch up with the earlier chapters later on)

One minor point:

Sometimes Nan sounds really brainy – much more than Mum, even though Mum has done some NVQ qualifications at work. I don’t know where she gets it from – she left school when she was fifteen...

To begin with I read that this was about the mum leaving school at 15 etc, which didn't quite make sense, until I realised it was the Nan, maybe needs to be clarified.

It's excellent, really.


PS I meant Tash and Kev which I loved.

Skippoo at 20:11 on 18 January 2010  Report this post
Hi, Issy. Thanks for this. Yes, I did wonder about that about the Mum/Nan brainy sentence too, so I will change it.

Yes, it's been a long time - I'm not the most prolific of writers! I revised T&K a lot after discussions with my agent as publishers were giving similar feedback about it not having a big enough plot, but after that still no luck with publication (the rejections the second time round all said more random things like, 'we've already got something similar on our list'. I remember your feedback was really helpful when I was working on that, though!


Issy at 20:21 on 18 January 2010  Report this post
I am sure Tash and Kev will resurrect at some time. I expect your subconscious is working on the storyline and something will pop up later on.Had the same very contemporary feel to it as Gonna B.

LizM at 08:51 on 23 January 2010  Report this post
Hi Skippoo

Coming in a bit late on this but as a 40something (once infatuated with Donny Osmond-there I've admitted it!) mother of a boy band obsessed teenage daughter, your story has many resonances for me!

I agree with Issy about the three generations and you show well how Mum and Nan can both identify with her obsession and engage in gentle teasing about their own boybands being better.

You've really captured today's teenage girl here (or mine at least); the language, the fascination with every detail of the band members' lives, the making of lists and the whole diet versus cream cake dilemma - brilliant ending to the chapter! Even the proximity of the remote and the mobile and the texting while watching the show - those kind of details are so acutely observed. Her relationship with her brother is also spot on in my opinion - the jibes and the tension over differing musical tastes, all very familiar stuff! The only thing unfamiliar to me is that homework never gets done before anything else!

Just a couple of minor points: Lawrence becomes Laurence a couple of times in the last section. And I wondered if you needed to describe David as 'my friend' when he'd just been 'David' a few sentences previously or whether 'my friend' should have gone with the earlier reference to him? I didn't know who he was at first that's all.

With reference to the end I think it does work but I did get confused as to Mum's 'my arse' comment. Is that about a previous episode because it also sounds like it's in the present moment?

But tiny points, I think it's delightful and I'm going to catch up on what's gone before.

Skippoo at 14:23 on 23 January 2010  Report this post
Some really useful points there. Thanks, LizM. I wasn't sure about the 'my arse' bit either so I'm glad you highlighted it! Basically, Mum is replying to the last thing Lucy says before she does the bit of narrating about people thinking Gonna B are manufactured, but coincidentally, Mum's response also fits with what Sleaze said in the interview Lucy tells us about. I wasn't sure it worked, though. I'll play around with it. If anyone else has any opinions on that bit, it'd be really useful to hear them!


LizM at 23:27 on 23 January 2010  Report this post

Yes I can see that now. Tricky because it is needed for what follows but does fit with both pieces of dialogue and as Sleaze's is the last that's where the potential confusion is for me. One thought as you play around with it - would it work if you moved

[quote]In the third episode of the Gonna B series, there had been an interview with Sleaze where he talked about it:
‘There are no gimmicks and no manufacturing,’ Sleaze had said, staring hard into the camera. ‘I picked every single one of those boys simply because they were the best.’[quote]

to just after [quote]Loads of people had said Gonna B were manufactured at first. [quote]

I'm not convinced about that either though! Hopefully you'll get some more feedback on this


Sorry my boxed quotes still not working, back to the drawing board!

ShellyH at 10:19 on 25 January 2010  Report this post
Hi Skippoo, thought this was really good. You've got the voice of the character spot on. Great idea for a book, striving for the one to one conversation.
Loved all the back references and the banter between the three.
Re the end and the 'my arse,' part, I thought it worked really well, very funny.
Look forward to more.


Account Closed at 10:39 on 25 January 2010  Report this post
I haven't read the earlier extract I'm afraid so apols if the following isn't as helpful as it could be, but I really enjoyed this and I felt like I got to know the characters even in such a short extract - they all have great characters and are really convincing and 3d.

I thought the dialogue was great, it felt just like real family to-and-froing, it had a kind of Royle Family ring of authenticity to it! And I was convinced by the teenagers' stuff too. What is a "nasty butters face"? I don't know - but it sounded like plausible street-slang to me! I have toddler so am not au fait with yoof talk except what I hear on the bus.

One tiny point - I am presuming that the "Geri" in the yoga video is Geri spice - is that right? If so, would she feel the need to explain who the Spice Girls were? I kind of assumed most kids would know who they were as the band are still fairly current and you often hear their stuff played on the radio.

Will try to catch up with the earlier chapters when I get a sec.

Skippoo at 11:08 on 15 February 2010  Report this post
Hi FloraPost,

I thought I had thanked you for your comments already, but maybe my internet had gone funny or something! Yes, Geri is Spice Geri. I'll look at that.



BobCurby at 22:14 on 22 February 2010  Report this post
Well Cath - what can I say - you have really captured the mood and feelings of the teens - that isn't easy. Well done on making it a scatter-brained and mood-changing as they are, yet keeping to the general thread. I think I can see some cameos developing as each of them begins to show their own individuality.
Congrats on developing it so well thus far.


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