Chapter Thirty One: All The Things She Said

“Never mind the Russians, last weeks tabloids may have got themselves all steamed up with their mass publication of the above picture of pouting pop totty, Adrienne Du Shanne, but pop pundits are already much more interested in the identity of her young ‘friend’… at Kings Reach Towers, the smart money is on femme rock band, Titanium Rose, and their ever lovely singer/guitarist, Fliss Keale (pictured below).  Not only does Fliss fit the physical profile, but she is also known to kick with the other foot, having already notched up a fling with Girls From Mars guitarist, Violet Powys.  It’s also been reported that Fliss was spotted out shopping in Manchester city centre with the Burnley born Adrienne on a number of occasions last year…” (New Musical Express, 5th February 2003) 

Jenny warned us about the ‘NME’ story, but she was powerless to stop it.  “This won’t be the end of it.”  She warned Fliss severely at our house the morning after the paper hit the shops.

  Fliss hung her head, and I could tell that she was upset; there were tears in her eyes as Jenny turned her attention to her shrilly ringing mobile. She wasn’t crying about Adrienne, but because she’d been shouted at by Jenny.

  “Don’t deny or confirm any rumours,” Jenny said, more kindly, when she had got rid of the caller.  She sat down opposite Fliss, and gazed at her soulfully, “It’ll be hard, I won’t pretend otherwise, but you have no choice. You can’t deny what’s in front of everyone’s nose, especially after today, and you shouldn’t do, but…” Her expression became grim “I’m asking you not to discuss Adrienne with anyone, especially journalists.”

  Fliss twitched a smile “You’re a journalist.”

  Jenny sighed “I envisioned a day when my management of you might clash with my day job, but I never envisioned it happening so soon, or under such circumstances…” Her tone was businesslike as she said “We may be able to fashion some kind of positive mileage out of it if we’re creative about it, but you need to be careful.”  She locked eyes with Fliss once more as she said, sternly, “No contacting her, no meeting up, no talking about her.”  Fliss nodded subdued agreement as Jenny continued “She has some very powerful industry personalities behind her and her group, none of whom are going to want to encourage her to come out.”

  “What about what she wants?” asked Fliss, softly, but neither of us had an answer for her.

  Perhaps the sorriest aspect of the ‘NME’ coverage was the knowledge that certain people, who we had considered to be friends, were all too eager to cast assumptions to anyone willing to listen.  “Fliss has always had a weakness for unattainable straight girls” Violet had been quoted as saying “She’s very inexperienced and feels safer loving women who won’t love her back.”

  She phoned me on the Wednesday night, and asked to speak to Fliss.  When I icily informed her that Fliss didn’t want to speak to her, her voice took on an increasingly urgent tone as she pleaded “Will you give her a message then?”

  I thought about it as I twisted the phone cord around my finger “I might” I said diffidently.

  “Please Maggie, it’s important, she has to know that I never, I swear…I never said those things they printed in ‘NME’.  Someone phoned me from one of the tabloids, I wouldn’t speak to them, they made something up, and it’s been re-produced, I’m so sorry.”

  Another silence came and went before I said; guardedly “You understand why it’s hard for me to believe you…”

  “Yes, I understand” she sighed, wearily “Fliss is your friend; you want to protect her, I understand that, but… I never said a word, I swear… I never even knew about Adrienne until I saw the papers last week, why would I judge her? Why would I judge either of them? I don’t want to hurt Fliss; I never wanted to do that, she needs wrapping up and taking away from all this, not people making things worse by talking to the press.”

  I relayed her sentiments to Fliss: She believed her.

  On the Friday, we watched ‘Top Of The Pops’ and watched the much-discussed Russian duo, Tatu, perform their number one single, ‘All The Things She Said’.  Much had been made in the tabloids of the girl’s purportedly faux lesbianism, of their relative youth, and of the schoolgirl outfits worn in the video to promote the single, leading such pillars of the establishment as Richard and Judy to call for a public boycott of the single.  The public, naturally, had opted to do otherwise.  Many of the tabloid stories at the weekend had referred to Adrienne as “doing a Tatu”, and the general mood seemed to suggest that lesbianism was about to become the new press merry go round; “Last week vampires, this week lesbianism, next week necrophilia.” Katy had quipped at rehearsal, only half joking.

  Fliss wasn’t amused, but she was eager to see and hear Tatu all the same.  She watched in rapt attention as the two teenage girls exchanged many an intimate glance, sang to each other, and…

  “Damn!” cursed Fliss as the screen cut to a boy and girl in the audience with their tongues rammed down each others throats, for the duration of the guitar solo.  By the time the camera returned to the Tatu girls, they were just emerging from a similarly passionate and prolonged bout of tonsil hockey.

  We had sat through the flawlessly presented Avril Lavigne, singing about ‘Sk8er bois’, Girls Aloud’s equally unfeasible claims to be singing about ‘The Sound Of The Underground’ and, most unbelievable of all, a preview of the new Girl Trouble single.  Not only had the Tatu edit thrown Fliss back into depression, but such depression had been confounded earlier by a glossy, pouting Adrienne claiming to ‘Love Nobody But You.’  Never mind boycotting Tatu; I was seriously considering boycotting the BBC.

  On the Saturday, Titanium Rose were interviewed for ‘Diva’.  It was a friendly interview, easy and enjoyable; the only tense moment came when Fliss was asked to comment upon her relationship with Adrienne.  The temperature in the room dropped into an icy permafrost, and Fliss’ previously happy expression vanished like the sun under clouds of sorrow.  “I can’t talk about the rumours.” She said carefully, as Jenny had instructed her.  “It’s not going to happen.”  The journalist in question didn’t press the point, but I imagine that she knew as well as we did that it was killing Fliss to say it.

 Fliss stayed in London after we had gone home in order to be interviewed and photographed on the Monday for ‘I.D’ magazine.  She is next month’s cover girl, and is extremely excited about it.  Jenny was pleased too, although not as pleased as Fliss, as she’d been unable to take the time off work to babysit her through it, also “I’d rather it had been a music magazine” she confessed as she dropped in at rehearsal that Monday “But I’m trusting that they won’t turn her into a barely dressed Lolita, or I wouldn’t have agreed to it.” 

  Katy shrugged “It’s good press for the band, why so wary Jenny? You weren’t half as worried when we did ‘Diva’ last month.”

  Jenny reached into her bag, and withdrew a copy of ‘The Mirror’.  “My other half reads it” she said, a little defensively “I just hope that Fliss doesn’t… it’s on page seven.” She added, for the benefit of Katy who had taken possession of the paper and was leafing through it.

  I watched as she scanned the page with increasing impatience.  At last, she pulled back, a low whistle escaping her throat as she murmured “The little bitch…”

  Adrienne was posing in a flared white mini skirt, whilst a black sports jacket made a poor job of concealing her wonderbra; her hair hung across her face, and she was peering up at the camera through long, dark lashes.  The piece itself was short, and concerned a statement that Adrienne had issued.  In it, she denied her relationship with Fliss but confirmed that she and Fliss had had “a brief liaison.”  She regretted the incident; nothing more.

  None of us wanted to show the report to Fliss when she arrived home from London, but it soon transpired that she already knew.  I could tell that she was upset and, as such, I chose not to pursue the matter.  When she ran to her bedroom, I didn’t follow, not even when I heard her crying.

  On the Tuesday, she arrived home from work at ten a.m with the bleak news that she had been sacked.

  “Why?” I asked in surprise.

  “Well, they said it was because I was making mistakes too often, but I think it might have more to do with being plastered all over the newspapers… it took a while for the penny to drop, that’s all.”  Her smile was brittle as she said “Nobody wants to be splashed across the papers in an ‘Adrienne’s Till Girl Girlfriend’ story.”  Despite her uncharacteristic bitterness, her fragility shone through.

  I hugged her, and as she rested her head against my shoulder, I said, in what I hoped was a comforting tone of voice, “Well, at least they haven’t discovered your fondness for skipping yet.”


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Monex
    Feb 16, 2011 @ 21:13:02

    ….March the nineteenth was a cold day and when Fergus picked me up for work it was so chilly that there was almost a frost and I could see my breath in front of my face. You wouldn t have known it by ….


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