Return to Part 5(1)
I felt a lump in my throat. Thinking about the madcap things that John had done during the early days, all those infuriatin’ things he’d do later on, had been easy because there were always a wee bit of happiness around the corner. “We were at Friar Park. We’d just returned for a short holiday when we got the call.”
“Who called you?”
“Yoko.” I still remembered answering the phone and hearing her calm voice on the line. ‘Elizabeth, I know it is late, but I wanted you know that John was killed tonight.’ I’m sure you’ve had a moment in your own life where it’s like life is passin’ you by in slow motion, where you’re somehow both in and out of your body at the same time. George had found me sittin’ on the the floor next to our bed when he’d come of the toilet, knees tight against my chest, and the phone probably laying face up beside me.
“He’s dead, George. John’s dead.” Was all I was able to say to him, over and over, unable to see clearly for the tears that wouldn’t stop. We’d sat there together for a while, cryin’ together over the death of our beautiful, beautiful friend. I’d rung Ringo before ringin’ Paul, and let him know we’d be flying out to New York the next day. Ringo’d let me know that he’d rung Mo’s and had been able to let Cyn know what had happened so she’d be the one to one to tell Julian.
Talkin’ to Paulie had been hard. “I’m such a bastard, Liz. I should have seen him more, put up with his bullshit and just spent more time with him. I’m such a bastard.” Sittin’ on the other end of the line while my brother cried his heart out, just like he’d done years before when our Dad had passed, had been physically painful. I’d known this was going to be bloody hard on all of us, but I knew that Paul was hurting worse that I could imagine.
“It was terrible. We were all shattered, but we had to keep it together, if not for ourselves, then for Julian. He had to come to New York all on his own.” I heard the bitterness in my voice, and I wouldn’t apologise for it. “His father was murdered outside of his bloody home, and he’s made to come without his mum. He was seventeen years old and had just lost his dad, it was fuckin’ wrong to make him deal with that alone.”
Julian had shown up at our suite within hours of his arrival, and seein’ as I’d known him since he was a baby, I’d made him a cup of tea and a fried egg sarnie and told him to finish it. Before havin’ to go back to the flat at the Dakota, he’d given me a tight hug and I’d returned it, holdin’ him like he was me own. For those few minutes, he had been.
“Did you ever ask Yoko why she refused to have Cynthia accompany Julian?”
“She had her reasons. She knew how most of us felt about it, but she was the widow. What can you do about it, eh? Nothin’. But we were all there for Julian, and for little Sean too, and that’s what mattered.” I neglected to mention that I’d been in constant communication with John’s Aunt Mimi who hadn’t been able to come to pay he respects. She’d taken it pretty hard, but bein’ the resilient lady she was, she hadn’t let on too much. I’d made a point of stopping by her house for a visit with a few of John’s belongings when George and I returned to England, our kids having stayed behind with their nanny.
“John’s death was quite a blow –“
“Yes, definitely. Losin’ a member of your family will always be a blow to you. You may lose touch, but it doesn’t change you bein’ family, you know?”
“Life goes on.”
“Yeah, and John wouldn’t have wanted for us to stop livin’ because of what happened to ‘im. John had a lot of faults, lots and lots of ‘em, and there are times that I wanted to throttle him with a phone cord or clobber him over the head. He liked to rile people up, to make ‘em uncomfortable. But he was always straight up and wouldn’t have wanted for anyone to stop livin’, to stop movin’ on because he wasn’t ‘round to take the mickey. He’s as dear to me as Paulie and Mike, and always will be.”
“In the years that followed, your former bandmates continued to make albums, and George even went on to take part in the Travelling Wilburys along with the likes of Tom Petty and Roy Orbison, two other great musicians. Did you never stop and think to yourself that you wanted to make your own solo album?”
I considered this for a minute before answering. “No, not really. As I got older, it got to be less and less about making LPs and more about just making the music I liked, which may not have been liked by everyone. I’ve been able to make a lot of great music, and that’s more than enough for me.”
“What was it like being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in ’88?”
“It was nice, though it would have been better if Paul had come but I understood why he didn’t. It was nice to be recognised, but of course, it didn’t feel complete with either John or Paul there.” The lawsuit to split the band up which finally came to a head in ’75 being a primary reason for Paul’s no-show at the event. Standin’ up on that stage with George and Ringo, the entire room roarin’ with applause as we stood up there, had been very surreal.
“Did you ever think that the time would come that The Beatles would get together to record another Beatles song together?” She asked, referring to the three Anthologies we’d released in ’95.
“I thought there was a possibility, but I thought it was a small one.”
“What caused the four of you to do it?”
“In a nutshell, the way I remember it, a lot of stuff had been recorded and written about us over the years, and not all of it was right, ya know? I guess there was the need to set the record straight ‘bout a few things. Sides we knew recordin’ was goin’ to be a bit of a one-off, and to enjoy it while we could.” I remembered watching the video we’d made for John’s song Real Love, and bein’ so fully aware by how old we were: Ringo with his slightly balding head, Paulie with his greyin’ head of hair, me and George greyin’ as well.
The wrinkled fogies in the video were worlds apart from the laughin’ round faced young kids who flew to New York from London so long ago. We’d gone to hell and back together, and managed to make it out alright for the most part.
“Did you enjoy it, Liz?”
“Oh yeah, I did. It was great to get the four – five of us if you counted John’s voice from the tapes – together performin’ on a track again. Twenty-five years before that, when the band had split, there was no tellin’ if that’d happen again. So doin’ it was quite nice.”
“I hope I am not treading into something that’s too painful for you, Liz. You can say ‘Off the record’ at any time.” She looked at me steadily, and I knew what was comin’, what all of this yabberin’ on by yours truly had been buildin’ up to. I nodded.
“S’alright. Please go on.” When I’d agreed to do this interview, I’d done it knowin’ that I would be honest, or at least be as honest as I could be ‘bout stuff that didn’t concern me directly.
“In 1994, Ringo’s first wife Maureen died, and then in 1995, Paul’s wife Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer – the same thing that your Mother died of –“
“Mo’s death was a very sad time for all of us, but especially for her kids. She and Ringo had been split up for almost twenty years when she passed away, but he’d never stopped carin’ for her.” In the few times he and I’d talked about it after the fact, I knew that it’d meant a lot to him to be one of the ones with her when she died. He’d come to Friar Park for a few days after he’d flown out of Seattle before headin’ home. He had spent the majority of the time outdoors with George in the garden or sittin’ having cups of tea or goin’ out for walks with me.
“Were you in Arizona when Linda died, Liz?” She asked me, and I could see the gentle look in her eyes.
I shook my head. “I’d gone out a few weeks before she died and spent a little time with her, rode horses a bit since she loved it so. But no, I was in England when I got word.”
“Mary rang. Mary was the one to ring.” I answered quickly, having anticipated her question.
It’d been evening in England and I’d been in my office when the phone on my desk had rung.
“Liz...Auntie Liz is that you?” I’d heard the muffled voice on the other end say as soon as I brought the phone to me ear.
“Mary, Mary is that you, luv? What’s wrong, lovie?” I’d asked, immediately leanin’ forward in my chair, in the back of my head knowin’ what was comin’ but hating to think it could be true.
My niece had started crying into the phone, and I kept askin’ her over and over, “What’s wrong, Mary? Is it your Mum, your Dad?”
“Mum. Mum’s gone, Auntie Liz. She’s gone.” She’d started sobbing into the phone and it’d hurt to hear it.
I had been glad I’d been sitting down when she said it, when she put it out there. “Tell your Dad I’ll be there as soon as I can, okay luv? Promise me you’ll tell him, luv.” My hand had been shakin’ as I said it, and a minute later after tellin’ her to make sure to have somethin’ to drink, I’d set the phone down – nearly thrown it down more like. I’d gone downstairs to the lounge where I knew George would be, I taken on look at him, lookin’ so beautiful, and curled up against him on the sofa.
While he’d held me tightly, I’d told him. If it was possible for him to hold me tighter, he did. He knew how difficult this was goin’ to be for Paul, and how though I didn’t come out and say it, it’d hit home a bit bein’ what she’d died of.
“Join me in a few days?” I’d asked quietly, my head under his chin.
George had known better than anyone how things would be and that I needed to go alone, at least for a few days. I’d felt his neck move as he’d nodded. “He’s me mate too, Liz. I’ll follow you down in a few days.” I’d sat like that with him for a while longer, holdin’ him so tightly as the pink elephant in the room, his own diagnosis ran through me head. I couldn’t talk ‘bout it then, I’d surely break if I did.
When I’d arrived at the ranch in Tucson, Mary had opened the door in a pose similar to her mum when I’d shown up at their farm in Scotland the day after Paulie’d made the announcement heard ‘round the world. “Auntie Liz.” She’d said as soon as she’d seen me and a second later, I had my arms tight ‘round her just like Linda’d done for me that morning.
Mary had taken me to the living room where my two other nieces, plus James, and Paulie were gathered. I’d given both Heather and Stella the same tight hugs as they’d asked me about my flight. I’d told them it was fine. Knowin’ that James was very much like his dad, I’d hugged him briefly and touched his cheek. And then there was Paulie. Me older brother.
“Hullo, Liz.” He’d looked tired and numb. His little smile was tight.
“Come on Paulie. Let’s go make you a cuppa, ‘ok.” And not waiting for him to answer, I’d wrapped an arm ‘round his shoulders and we’d gone to the kitchen where I’d set ‘bout takin’ care of him the best way I knew how. The kids had followed, and soon enough, they were all sittin’ round the table while I fussed over the tea and then set Mary to fryin’ some eggs and Stella to gettin’ the toast and pot of butter.
Paul didn’t say much, not that I expected him to. He fussed over his children, tellin’ them to get some rest if they could, that their mum wouldn’t have wanted them to sit around mopin’ all day. He’d smiled a bit, and generally played it stoic. I’d known it’d be that way so I kept out of it, stickin’ around because I he was me brother and I knew he needed me there.
Later that night, after havin’ spent most of the evenin’ in the lounge with Mary, Stella, and Heather, they’d called it a night. Paulie’d headed off to rest hours before.
“Thanks for coming, Auntie Liz.” Stella had said to me before headin’ off herself. I’d looked at my niece who looked more like Paulie than any of the others and had replied, “Where else would I be, luv? I’ll see you in the mornin’. Try and get some shut eye, ok?” She’d nodded and hugged me before leavin’ the room.
I had set about the next hour or so tidying up a bit, though it wasn’t a favourite pastime of mine. I’d rung each of my kids to tell them that I was ok and to keep an eye on their dad. I’d also rung George to let him know that I was well and that I missed him. Speakin’ to him helped in calmin’ down and I brewed a new pot of tea while we spoke. “Tell Paul I’ll ring him tomorrow,” he’d said as he’d rung off and I’d said I would.
Cup in hand, I’d made my way upstairs in that dark house. I’d knocked on Paul’s bedroom door before headin’ inside. The lights were switched off, and he’d been lying on the floor next to their bed, arms behind his head as he stared up at the ceiling.
“Fancy a cuppa, Paulie?” I’d asked as I quietly shut the door behind me. He didn’t look at me as he said, “I’m fine, thanks Liz.”
I’d set the cup on a table and not caring how silly I’d look doin’ this at my age, I’d puttered over, and laid down on the floor next to Paul, shoulder to shoulder. Paul didn’t turn to look at me, he just kept lookin’ straight ahead. “I rang off with George a few minutes ago. He said to tell you he’d ring you tomorrow. He wanted to give you a little time before...”
“Have you spoken to anyone yet?”
He nodded, “A few. It’s like a thousand people have rung to pay their respects.”
“I’m sure Linda would’ve loved that – thousands of people tyin’ up her phone line.” I’d chuckled, and strangely enough he did too for a split second as we remembered the way Mary and Heather would tie up the line for hours and hours on end when they were younger and how it’d annoyed Linda to no end.
That’s when we’d gotten to talkin’. Not ‘bout anything serious mind, but I knew it helped to distract Paulie if I just waffled on, though I wasn’t the usual type to do so. I talked to him about Dhani bein’ in the states for school and how George and I missed our youngest, and how Sam had started seein’ a girl from Germany, and how Louise was apprenticing with set designers at the Royal Theatre. I told him about Meg’s holiday in India with our old friend Ravi and his wife, and how much she loved it out there. I’d told him ‘bout all the small little things goin’ on in my life because I knew it helped.
He’d talked a little about Mary’s photographs, Stella at Chloé...the usual. I’d known it would comfort him to talk about his children, and when he got quiet again, I said, “You both did a wonderful job with ‘em, Paulie, you and Linda. Then again Lin knew that, quite the preening peahen ‘bout her babies, you know. Couldn’t find a prouder mum if you tried.” Pieces and pieces of paper with mad squiggles stuck on the icebox, kids’ name and date the masterpiece was created written on the corner, gave evidence to that.
It was a bit startling when I saw the first teardrop come down the side of his face, and then the next one came, and then the next. Cryin’ didn’t come easily to either of us. “Oh Paulie.” I’d whispered before pulling him against me, tucking his head underneath me chin. “S’alright Paulie, I know Paul. I know, luv.” I’d whispered against his temple, rubbin’ his back in the comfortin’ way that our mum used to over forty years before. Just he’d done for me, I didn’t make him say anythin’, I just kept on doin’ what I was doin’.
“I’m glad you came, Lizzy.” He’d said finally.
“Where else would I be, Paulie? At my advanced age, there’s little else I can do to fill my time than to become a meddlin’ old lady. ‘Cor if only our dad could see us now – tellin’ me that all my talk from my younger days was comin’ back to bite me in my arse!”
“True colours shinin’ at last.”
I dropped a kiss on the top of head and wrapped my fingers around his. Just a way that I was gettin’ a little softer in my old age. I pulled back to lie next to him on the floor, shoulder to shoulder like before. We were quiet, but it was a nice kind of quiet. He continued to hold my hand tightly.
“Y’know I gave it up years ago but we can share a ciggie of you know what.” I’d eventually said into the dark with a devious smile. Paul had laughed and the sound had been good.
“Isn’t it against your Hare Krishna ways to smoke dope?”
“I won’t tell if you don’t.” I’d replied with a conspirin’ sort of smile and within minutes, Paul and I were passin’ a rather impressive lookin’ joint between us. A bit later, once the joint was down to a small nub, Paul turned to me and asked me somethin’ that had been goin’ through my head a bit since I’d gotten word from day before, “Do you get yourself checked out regularly?”
I nodded against his shoulder. “I had the all clear when I saw my G.P. last month.” When I’d tilted my chin up to be able to look at him properly, I’d seen the fresh trickle of tears.
“If it happened to you too Liz, or my girls, or yours...” He didn’t finish. I nodded because that had always been a nigglin’ fear in the back of me head.
Eventually I spoke again, sayin’ something that I probably should’ve said to him years before. “Paul, do you remember that day, years and years ago...when you came to see me after...I didn’t come to the studio for a few days?” I didn’t have to elaborate, he’d known what I was sayin’.
“Thanks. I never told you that. Thanks.” I saw him nod. We’d held hands through the night, though our palms got sweaty. Months later, after Mary had given birth to her first son Arthur and I’d gone to see her, she’d told me that she’d stopped by her dad’s room to check in on him early in the mornin’ and had found us on curled up together asleep on the floor, hands still held tightly together. It was a favour that Paul would return in fewer years than expected.
“It was a rough time for the entire family, because we all loved Linda, but we knew that she wouldn’t want us to sit ‘round sad for days and days on end. She’d want us to live life, to savour it. Knowin’ that helped all of us in the end, I think.” I told the reporter after bringin’ meself back to the present, and she nodded in what I assumed to be understandin’.
“Did you spend a lot of time with Paul in those days?”
“As much as I could, yeah.”
“What were your thoughts on Heather Mills when –“
I interrupted her. “I’ve got to stop you there. I will not discuss what happened with you, sorry. Don’t ask because you’re not gettin’ an answer about that. All I’ll say is that I have a wonderful little niece, but that’s it.” The last thing Paul would want me to do is talk about his second marriage and then all the shit that had gone down durin’ his divorce. I’d been glad I was a recluse of sorts and not mad about the press, or else I’d have embarrassed meself my callin’ that bint a lyin’ tart for the horrible things she said about Paul. I’d kept me tongue ‘cos of my niece, and the last thing I wanted to do was hurt Bea. I hadn’t been quite so keen to keep it quiet ‘round Mary or Stella, but ‘round Paulie and Bea, I did.
The reporter began drumming her fingers on the table, but didn’t press it. Even if she’d tried to, it would’ve remained a stern ‘No’. The last thing I needed was draggin’ all that mudslingin’ out in the open; it’d caused me family enough grief as it was.
“When Linda had died, George had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, right?” She said the words carefully, and I had to appreciate the effort it was takin’ the girl to come out with it. I’d been expectin’ we’d get here all along. I’d known what I was agreein’ to months ago.
“It was throat cancer first and after speadin’ became lung cancer. A lump was found in his neck and after it was analysed, we were told what it was.” I stopped speakin’ for a minute, rememberin’ the day we’d received the results, and the instant rush of fear I’d had when it was out in the open.
“Look, I know what you want to know about all of this, so let me just tell you ‘right.” I interrupted, and I knew that I was bein’ rude, but if I didn’t get it out now, I wouldn’t. I knew meself too well to think otherwise. “We did everything we could – for God’s sake – we were fortunate ‘cos money wasn’t a problem and we could pay and did pay for the best doctors...the best treatments, but they didn’t work.”
He’d been so ill. The lad with the madcap hair and tight drainpipe jeans who’d gone ‘round doin’ touristy stuff with me in Hamburg durin’ their first visit over...the beautiful dark-haired boy I’d married with his gorgeous toothy grin had become so very ill. Seein’ it, bein’ there with him every day, goin’ with him to every appointment, and knowin’ that there was nothin’ I could do ‘bout it had been the worst feelin’ the world.
“I don’t know what to do.” I’d said to Cyn one day, confessin’ it to her like it was some dirty sin. She’d rung to check in on me. “Being there in the good times and the bad is all you can do, Lizzy. You’re doing everything you can and that’s more than enough, luv. You need to believe that.”
“He died in the early afternoon on 29th November, 2001, and it was so peaceful. There were pictures of Krishna and Rama by his side and it was a great comfort to him.” I felt a terrible lump in me throat, but I knew that I needed to keep goin’ on with what I was tellin’ her. “So many of his mates, of the people whose lives he’d touched, came to see him in the weeks leadin’ up to his death. He meant so much to many people. He was so loved.”
“By you especially?” The reporter asked and I shrugged before givin’ a shake of my head and laughin’ a bit, despite meself.
“You know, even at his sickest, he’d never been too ill to share a joke, or give someone a smile. He’d never been too sick to play the ukulele or to give me the occasional naughty look and say things that would have made girls half my age blush.” I smiled a bit, unable not to. “Yes, I loved him, and bless him, he loved me as well. He was such a good man, a lovely, lovely man.”
“He wanted you to be happy.”
“He wanted everyone to be happy. He didn’t want me to live my life hatin’ the bastard who’d broken into our house and tried to stab ‘im, he didn’t want us to be angry at God for what was happenin’ to him, and when all that shit happened with the fuckin’ doctor who made him sign that fuckin’ guitar for his kid, he didn’t want me to be angry at him either. ‘You’ll be ok, Liz. You’ll be ok’ was somethin’ he’d tell me over and over whenever I’d get down ‘bout what was goin’ on.” I responded.
“Listen here Mrs. Harrison, you’re not allowed to go ‘round wearin’ black, ok? It makes yer arse look massive, reason why you were banished to the back with Ringo in the early days ‘cos John and Paul didn’t want you obstructin’ the view up front.” George had said to me in our garden a few months before he’d died.
“Ya daft bastard. My arse doesn’t look massive in black!”
“Yeah it does,” he’d answered before going back to trimmin’ the rose bush. “They didn’t want to hurt your feelin’s so they kept it from ya, but it’d always come up when you weren’t around – ‘George, did you see the stern on Liz today – I think her bottom is quickly takin’ over the rest of her body mate!’ So you mustn’t wear black, ok?” He’d looked at me from under his thick brows, “Ya know I love you dearly girl, fat bottom or not.”
“Why did you decide to have him cremated?”
“It’s what he wanted. He wanted to have his ashes spread over the Ganges, and that’s what we did. The entire ‘ashes to ashes, and dust to dust’ thing.” The day we’d done it had been especially bright and sunny – it’d felt very fittin’ on a day like that.
“Do you ever feel George. Does anything ever happen that makes you go ‘He’s here’?”
“I haven’t seen his ghost or anythin’ if that’s what yer askin’!” I chuckled. “It’s more like a sense of peace. If somethin’ trying is goin’ on in me life, I’ll feel a sense of calm and I’ll know it’s him tellin’ me to calm the fuck down!”
“Your youngest son Dhani organised the Concert for George a year after his death. What did you think of it?”
“It was beautiful, absolutely. Seein’ with me own eyes that George was so loved...’cor, there’s no way to describe it. Everyone that was important in his life was there; it was great.” Seein’ our four kids up there with all of George’s mates had been wonderful. It’d been a night of celebratin’ his work, his incredible talent as a musician, and the beauty of his person.
“Why did you decide to not perform?”
“The last thing I would’ve wanted was to start snivellin’ up there and makin’ it all ‘bout me. ‘Sides, that night wasn’t for me, it was for our kids, for the millions of fans who loved George. They loved it, and that’s the important thing, not the wife.”
“That probably would’ve made them love it even more!”
“It’s been established that George was the one who became interested with joining together the music of the Beatles with the acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil. How did that entire process come about really?” The reporter asked, like she’d been doing throughout this interview, jumpin’ from topic to topic, but I’d quickly learned that topics were fair game and could and would come back.
I drank a long drink of tea, and knew I’d earned it. “George had become great friends with one of the founders of Cirque and was the one who brought the topic up with Paul, Ringo, and Yoko. He really wanted to see it come to fruition, so after his death, I continued to push for it as well.”
“The premise of LOVE, which so many fans have loved, is that it wasn’t about remixing The Beatles with other artists, The Beatles’ songs were being mixed with other songs, except for While My Guitar Gently Weeps. George Martin, your long-time producer asked you to assist him in arranging a string section for that song didn’t he?” I nodded.
“Dominic Champagne really wanted to use a demo version that George had made of the song, but both George Martin and myself thought it was too quiet for what the production needed so we set about arrangin’ a string section—“
“You played the cello.”
I chuckled, “That I did. I think George would’ve liked it – even if me and George Martin did take the rock out of it!”
The reporter laughed. “Were you able to see a rehearsal of the show?”
“No, I wanted to be surprised. Paul was very involved though – all of us were when it came to the mixin’ of songs, we gave poor George Martin and his son Giles no respite! I decided to wait until I was able to see it openin’ night with the rest of ‘em.”
“And what did you think of it?”
“It was magical, so beautiful. I couldn’t have imagined anything like it. I just remember sittin’ next to Paulie and Sam and havin’ the most naff smile on me face. It’s such a beautiful show. For all the shit that took place towards the end of The Beatles, seein’ a physical manifestation of some of our songs and it bein’ so bloody gorgeous is overwhelmin’. George would have loved it, and I know John would’ve too.”
I had a smile on my face, after what seemed like ages of talkin’ with her, I had a smile on my face.
“I hate to sound corny, but you’ve lived a very full life, Liz.”
I chuckled, because it was true. “I was lucky to do a lot, that’s true.”
“You went from being a young girl who dreamed of playing the cello, to being a guitarist...a multi-instrumentalist really in one of the biggest rock groups that ever existed. You fell in love with one of those mop-topped lads and married him, and had a family together. Even though you never released a solo album, you’re featured on those of your former band mates and extended groups of friends. You kept close and don’t seem to have lost who you are. Would you say that’s true, Liz?”
It was like bein’ asked to weigh the outcome of your life. “I told you before, I was just very lucky. I don’t feel that I’m any better or worth anymore than anyone else out there livin’ their life. Fortunately for me, I’ve always had people ‘round me who’ve kept me feet on the ground, who wouldn’t have put up with any funny business. That’s how it was when I was in The Beatles – I had four blokes to keep me in me place. They could be right bastards at times, that’s true, but I never deny that I am fortunate to ‘ave known and loved all of ‘em.
I know I’m pretty fuckin’ lucky, even nowadays when the things that make me the happiest are bein’ able to spend time with my grandkids, gossipin’ on the phone with me brothers and playin’ music. I can’t bitch too much ‘bout me life because it would be unfair. If you’re askin’ for is for me to give you the ‘moral of the story’ it’s this: Your life is what you make of it, and despite the sad times, the good times in my life far outweigh ‘em. As long as yer able to have that, then yer good.”
Nancy-the-reporter finished her cup of coffee, and laughed when I apologised for forcin’ her to drink gallons of it. She packed up her things, and we took a walk through George’s gardens. I told her about the rose bushes he’d planted and kept for me, and how they seemed to always be the nicest come Spring. Before makin’ her way back to her car down the way, she gave us a hug and thanked me.
“It was so lovely to meet you, Liz.”
“You too. You made this experience a lot easier than I’d imagined it would be!” And she’d laughed. “Give my regards to your son, let me know how his playin’ goes.” I meant it, too.
I stood on the driveway until she made it through the gates. I waved ‘Hullo’ at the guards who kept watch by it and turned to go back inside. I felt naked, like me insides were hangin’ out for all to see. It felt strange to have spoken to someone about the course of my life, or most of it anyhow. There were big chunks I’d kept to meself, but I’d opened up about stuff I’d never discussed publically before and that was both frightenin’ and liberatin’ at the same time. Come what might from it, I’d done it, and I had to be proud of meself for that.
I returned to the kitchen and began tidyin’ up a bit. Somethin’ told me that I’d be receiving a ring in ‘bout – I looked down at my watch – fifteen to twenty minutes to have me tell him word for word what I’d told the reporter. Nosey git.
My rarely used mobile rang in my pocket and I didn’t have to be genius to know who it was.
“Yes, hullo?” I said into the phone, makin’ a point of draggin’ it out and soundin’ properly miserable and the like.
“Top of the evenin’ to you, Lizzy!”
“Paulie, Paulie, Paulie, how did I know it was goin’ to be you mate? Nosey git, you must’ve known that I just finished me interview! Do you have people spyin’ on me, lovie? Followin’ me whereabouts?” I asked.
“You have very dependable staff.”
“I really didn’t want to sack anyone today, you know!”
He laughed. “You’re a vindictive old hen, what can I say? So tell me, Lizzy me dear, how did your interview go?” And settling down into my chair overlookin’ the back garden with George’s roses, I proceeded to tell him. And it was grand. Most of it anyway.