Poppy Munday was going to be new in town.
Sunday morning in South Shields, her parents waved her off at daybreak and now it was Monday afternoon. Getting to London took as long as it took to fly to Australia, probably. All the way down she looked with interest out of the window and saw cars, cars, cars and motorways and cars and cars and the occasional transport services café.
She threw up just once, very discreetly, into a Woolworths plastic bag. Her mam worked in Woollies and had popped a quarter pound of pic-n-mix in Poppy’s packed lunch, and that had been her undoing. She threw up on her copy of Jackie, her much-loved paperback of Valley of the Dolls, and her partially-knitted flame red scarf, which would wash, she hoped.
That’s if the new flat even had a washing machine. She hadn’t asked her cousin Trish about that. In fact, she’d asked Trish very little about this flat-share business. She was just glad there was room for her and she was sure that, when she arrived down South and in The Smoke, her whole life would begin. Things would be easy after that.
Her parents were very fretful about the whole thing. Two girls barely out of their teens, living in a flat in the filthy city. Poppy imagined she could hear them fretting at her back, several hundred miles up the motorway.
In the transport services toilets she sat with her bag of vomity belongings and sobbed. Then she looked at her watch. Oh hell. She’d be late getting back on the coach. The driver had said he wouldn’t hang about for stragglers.
She dove into the shop on her way back outside. A big bag of Opal Fruits seemed like a good idea, as did a fresh magazine and – she stopped in her tracks at the magazine rack – a copy of The Vincent Cosmos Holiday Special. It was a poster magazine she hadn’t even seen before. Must be brand new out. Ridiculous, she knew, but Poppy felt herself swaying on the spot at the face looking out from the glossy cover.
That pale, thoughtful face. Those dreamy eyes looking out of the mag and somehow straight through her, into vistas that were breath-taking and most likely intergalactic. Without even thinking, Poppy yanked up the mag and emptied onto the counter the rest of her spending money for the journey. She had to have it, just like she had to have everything with Vince Cosmos’s face on it, or his name, or the sound of his voice. She had even bought the special Vince Cosmos toothpaste that was guaranteed to give you a smile as bright as Venus, which was the planet the rock star sang about hailing from.
Back on the coach, Poppy hardly noticed the funny looks from fellow travellers, objecting to the sickly smell of her hand luggage. She barely registered the fact that there were other passengers at all. Or that they were trundling on the motorway once more, on the last fifty miles to her destination. Around her the grimy city was making itself evident, as the buildings reared up ever higher and the roads became more congested, tangling and looping around each other.
Poppy was lost in dreams of Vince Cosmos as she flipped through her new mag. Brand new photos of the alien superstar. From a photo shoot in a lime green catsuit. In a futuristic tie and tails in some sheeny silver material. Then more candid shots before and after his recent, legendary performance at the Astoria.
She could play his wonderful music to herself inside her head. It was something she frequently did, to drown out the world around her when it seemed too pressing. It was as if she carried all of those recordings with her, pressed and stacked inside her mind, like she was a living juke box, devoted solely to Vince Cosmos. The greatest rocker on planet Earth. The greatest Glam Rocker the world would ever know.
She blocked out the world right now. Just when she should be paying attention to the landmarks and all the famous bits of the capital city as her coach lurched and shunted into the traffic. Instead she was closing her eyes and imagining herself brave enough to wear make-up like Vince’s. The purple eye shadow and black lipstick. The silver moons and golden stars. The fuschia slash of cheekbones.
Perhaps now in London she could branch out and make herself up like that. Get herself a Vince-styled haircut in some fabulous salon. Spend her first wages on some amazing clothes. She could make herself over into someone new and groovier. And when she went home again, on a visit, they’d all gasp and be amazed at the change in her. She’d have become so metropolitan, so cosmopolitan.
No, more than cosmopolitan. Cosmic.
Poppy Munday would become cosmic.
(PIC: Lauren Kellegher, who plays Poppy Munday in VINCE COSMOS: GLAM ROCK DETECTIVE from www.bafflegab.co.uk)