Ian's Story

factor X contestant and boy band member


7. The judge’s house’s stage

Chapter 7 The judge’s house’s stage

   The band might have got through to the next stage of the ‘Factor X’ auditions. But I was only just sixteen and in year eleven getting ready to take my GCSEs. My dad was expecting me to do well. Being a member of the band was a side issue he tolerated. Even going to the ‘Factor X’ auditions on the weekends was okay but me missing a whole week of revision to fly off to one of the judge’s houses was definitely not on. He had pointed out that my education was more important especially as there was no guaranteeing the outcome of the competition.

   I had a plan of how to get over this problem of the ‘Factor X’ week away but was unsure how to approach my parents. I had to play it just right and get my mum to come up with the idea herself. Trying to be as subtle as I could. The next time my mum was talking to her sister in Australia, I asked to talk to my cousin and started a two-way discussion about some maths problem I had. Even though he answered it correctly, I pretended not to understand. He told me he had a friend who could explain it better and immediately contacted him somewhere in another part of Australia. The screen split up into conference mode and we carried on a three-way discussion. I in turn as planned with Josh extended the call to include him. This time the screen split again into four-way discussion. All the time my mum was watching and listening. When we finished, my mom remarked how nice it would have been if skype had been invented when she was young. Her only contact with her friends had been the two-way radio. My reply, which was really a lie, that sometimes when its bad weather instead getting wet and meeting in the local library my friends and I in the study group would conference call from home.

   A few days later, I was in my room playing a video game with Josh when my dad knocked on my door and just walked in. He stood there for a moment watching us playing. And then said, “Hi Josh can you go downstairs and fetch a couple of cokes for yourself and Ian, so I can have a quick word with Ian alone?” After Josh left, dad closed the door and just smile then said, “Your mother has been at me about you using skype and letting you attend the ‘Factor X’ week. I know you lied to her about you and your study group making conference call.”

   Fuck I thought, that’s blown it. And answered, “Sorry, dad, it was only a white lie. I was really thinking of Terry’s parents and how disappointed they would feel if his band didn’t take the opportunity to honour his name.” Dad just looked at me and said. “That’s a load of bullshit and you know it. Still using skype is a good idea. So don’t let me down.” Just then there was a knock on the door, Josh had returned. After dad had left I told Josh the good news and we high fived.

   Our bands destination was Ibiza an island off the coast of Spain. Everyone in the band was uptight. We had been forewarned that cameras would be recording everything we did once we arrived at the house. It was because this was where the final selection of the group contestants would be made. Excerpts of which would be shown on TV prior to the live 'Factor X' show.

   On arrival, before we were allocated our rooms, there was a meeting, where Larry Conway renowned for having discovered the last four Factor X winners, introduced himself together with the guest, Judges Alice Turner and Flow Watts who were there both to help him mentor us and generally give him their support. He alone would make the final choice as to whom he would take through to the live TV show. Looking around while I listened to Larry, I was surprised to see only three other boy bands amongst the group, one of which to my astonishment was ‘Power House’. Naturally the other judge’s choice band ‘Hot Stuff’ had to be there. Then lastly there was ‘Pit Stop’. Afterwards it was just my luck when it came to the room allocations that I ended up sharing with Josh’s new gay best friend Mike.

   Later after supper, alone in the room I shared with Mike who was out socialising with the other contestants. I skyped Josh, who was hosting the study group conference call. Billy, John and Susan were already there. After a brief chat we started revising. It must have been a couple of hours later; we were having a good four-way discussion when Mike returned. “Hi Josh,” he shouted, interrupting us. “Good lord is that time?” Susan remarked and said, “Bye all, see you tomorrow same time” and clicked off. She was soon followed by Billy and John, leaving just Josh, me and Mike who, apologised for the interruption. Before I knew it Mike was telling Josh all about this cute boy he’d met, apparently they’d hit it off straight away. It was only when he mentioned that the boy was a member of ‘Pit Stop’ that I started to listen. It seems the boy had inadvertently disclosed that they also were made up of solo singers from the previous years’ 'Factor X's contestants.

   “Oh, hell,” I thought after hearing this. Did we really have a chance or was it all smoke and mirrors? Had the choosing of the contestants for the live show already been made? Worrying about this kept me awake most of the night. Eventually I had a plan.

    At breakfast the following morning I explained my plan to the rest of the band. After some discussion, it was agreed to put the plan into action as it might be the only way of us getting through to the first live show and then it would be up to the public to choose us as winners.

   I had remembered my mum complaining about the cleaner always moving things around and my dad saying that was considered high profile working. Explained that, if everything was left in its exact place, my mum would complain that the cleaner had not cleaned. It was just like when I tidied my room if I hadn’t left the door open no one would have known.

   So that afternoon instead of hiding away in my room I took my bag of books and pad, found myself a shady table and chair on the veranda then skyped Josh and started revising with my friends in the study group. I had to smile when I caught the reflection of a camera in the screen of my pad.

   While I was on the veranda a couple of our band, Paul and James walked into town. They had found an open air bar where there was a band playing. During a short break in the playing they’d had a friendly chat with the band members, and as often happens when musician talks to musician, they were invited to show what they could do. Paul, on the electric keyboard, with James, using a spare electric guitar, started playing. Within minutes they were joined by the other musician and a great session followed. Afterwards they were given an open invitation to come back anytime. This led to a discussion with both the bar owner and the leader of the band about us using the band’s musical instruments and taking their place playing in the evening for a couple of nights. Naturally, money was suggested and after some haggling a sum was agreed. That evening our band both sung and played until closing time. By the second night word had got out and the place was so crowded there wasn’t a seat to be had. Also that night was when the ‘Factor X’s’ cameras found us. A boy band that could not only sing and dance but could actually play as a real band was unusual, and the TV producers of the show loved us. It didn’t matter what the judges thought we were something new and hot and they wanted us.    



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