I promise that I won't dedicate myself solely to posting non-cutesy/amusing fillers, but as with the previous one, it seemed like this was also something that should be written about. Hopefully you'll agree.
Paulie’d asked me stop by his house in St. John’s Wood. “There’s somethin’ I want you to hear, Lizzy. I want to hear what you think of it.”
“Can’t you just play me a bit over the telephone, Paulie? It’s past eleven, mate,” I’d sighed into the telephone clutched loosely in my hands, rubbing my eyes tiredly.
“It’s important, Liz.” His voice had been both soft but determined.
“Isn’t John the one you usually ring when you have these fits of inspiration?” I’d asked a bit testily, knowin’ that John’d become unavailable, and what he wasn’t unavailable he had a short black-haired shadow at his side that I knew Paulie hadn’t been too fond of.
“Stop bein’ a drag,” Paul had answered with a bit of a laugh, and I’d sighed once again. I’d known that if I didn’t go down as asked, I’d have nothin’ more to look forward to than intermittent telephone calls for the remainder of the night until George picked up to mumble “Fuck off, Paul”, unless I’d decided to leave a head piece off its hook. But much as the idea held vast amounts of appeal, I didn’t want to aggravate the already heavy situation between me brother and husband, so I sighed...again.
“Fine, but there’d better a pot of tea and a plate of sarnies waitin’ for me, you wanker.”
And so fifteen minutes after havin’ pulled on my boots and heavy wool coat – it’d been bloody December for fuck’s sake -- as well as havin’ dropped a kiss on George’s head, swiftly movin’ out of the way before he could wrap an around ‘round me waist to convince me to not go out on a cold winter’s night like that one, I’d slid behind the wheel of my Jaguar, and drove the short distance from Esher to north London.
The tension that’d existed in the band during late ’68 has been well documented by what seems like one n’ all, so it’d hardly be worth mentionin’ my overwhelmin’ sense of both frustration and curiosity at bein’ asked by Paulie...literally summoned was more like it, to drop by his house to hear a song he’d written. That enough had been a bit of curious business; I wasn’t and had never been the one that Paul’d written his songs with, that’d been John. Sure, by that time, I’d been arrangin’ orchestral bits with George Martin; I’d figured that’d had be it – me and my cello or violin would be makin’ an appearance of sorts on whatever song Paul had come up with.
In that moment as I’d manoeuvred my car through the dark city streets, I could see what all of John and George’s mumblin’s ‘bout being nothing better than glorified session musicians was all ‘bout.
When I’d turned the car onto Cavendish Avenue, I’d done my best to suppress the heavy groan that near jumped out of my gob when I’d caught sight of the dozen or so girls wrapped up in coats who’d been huddled ‘round the wood gate. “For fuck’s sake, it’s bloody freezin’ out there. Don’t they ever go home? Mad dollies.” Just another blessin’ for livin’ out in the country – not havin’ fans camped outside your home at that hour of the night – you didn’t know whether to call the bobbies on ‘em or send down cups of tea and hot chocolate.
“Hullo girls, mind lettin’ me through please?” I’d asked politely after pullin’ my head out the window, wind bittin’ my cheeks. There’d been a loud bit of chatter as I’d done me best to manoeuvre the car forward once they’d cleared the way.
“Liz! Liz! When’s that Yank bitch goin’ back home?! Why’s she still here?!” I’d heard one of the huddled fans yell in my direction, only to be joined with another three or four, “Yeah, when’s that tart goin’ home eh?!”
I’d given the lot a thoroughly exasperated look as I’d leaned over to the small intercom and had pushed the button. Soon as I’d heard the small click on other end, I’d said, “It’s Liz, open the gate will ya?” I hadn’t bothered sayin’ anythin’ like, “Night girls” or “Isn’t it too late for dollies like you to be out?” or even “Don’t youse have nothin’ better to do than camp outside a fella’s house whom you’ve never met?”, instead I’d pulled the window up and gunned it up the drive soon as I could, probably leavin’ bits of flyin’ pebbles in my wake.
When I’d turned the key in the ignition, I’d seen that the front windows were all brightly lit, but I hadn’t thought much of it. I’d slid out of the car, and tuckin’ my hands into me pockets, I’d walked up the drive and up the front steps in the cold black-as-pitch night. I’d caught the soft chant of “Go home, Yank! Go home!” from the other side of the gate which’d shut quickly behind me as soon as the boot of me car’d made it through.
“Shit,” the voice in my head had whispered, “is this what Linda has to deal with day in n’ out? Those bloody cows.” I’d felt an onslaught of sympathy for the American bird who’d come to stay with Paul a few months before – I hadn’t known her very well, but I’d felt a bit of pity for the hell those bints were givin’ her for not bein’ a certain ginger haired actress.
I hadn’t even had to raise my hand to knock on the door, it’d been opened in a flash and I’d almost been knocked to the ground by an overly enthusiastic Martha who’d gone for me knees like the cheeky minx she was.
“Evenin’ Liz,” Paul had said to me, eyes bright with laughter as he saw my attempts to not be knocked to the ground and covered in doggy saliva as Martha washed me face in doggy kisses.
“Martha what terrible manners ya have, no better than yer git of an owner” I’d said while leanin’ forward to give her a bit of a scratch behind her ears and was answered with a resoundin’ woof. I’d laughed despite meself, but whatever humour I’d had about bein’ attacked by me brother’s horridly mannered dog was cut short when I’d caught another round of “Go home, Yank! Go home!” from the other side of the gate.
“What happened to all the nice little girls who wanted nothin’ more than to see what kinda milk the milkman brought you? Who replaced ‘em with that lot out there?”
Paul had shrugged, and rolled his eyes when he heard the noise they were makin’ outside. “It’s been like that for a while now. You get used to it.” Callin’ Martha to come inside, he’d moved to let me pass and had shut the door behind me and had hung my coat in a cupboard by the entryway.
He’d led me to the kitchen, where as I’d warned him, he had a fresh pot of tea and plate filled with sarnies waitin’ for me. He’d told me that both Linda and her daughter Heather were sleepin’ upstairs and filled me in on what he’d gotten up to during the day after askin’ after George and whatnot. When we’d turned to head to his studio upstairs, I’d seen that the house was decorated for Christmas – not the right posh arrangements that Jane’d set ‘bout for Crimbo the two years past, but a much...homier sort of thing. Paul hadn’t said anythin’ about it as we’d made our way up the stairs, pot of tea and plate of sarnies held in each, tellin’ Martha to be quiet, as I hadn’t asked.
Paulie’s studio/music room had all sorts fancy gadgets and machines, and was where he housed all his guitars, piano flush against the wall. It’d been a comfortable sort of place, littered with cushions and stacks upon stacks of records which only Paul’d seemed he could keep track of. Cup in hand, I’d sat meself in the small sofa he kept, crossin’ one leg over the other and looked up at him with what I’d assumed to be a bit of an expectin’ sort of look. It was late, it was colder than a witch’s tit outside, and I’d have much rather been curled up on the sofa with Georgie while we ate beans on toast.
He’d scratched his full beard a bit before he’d headed over to the piano, takin’ a drink of tea before settin’ it to the side. His side had been facin’ me as he’d turned to tell me, “I want you to hear somethin’ I’ve been workin’ on for a few days – I haven’t played it for anyone yet mind. I’m thinkin’ off addin’ it for consideration for the next LP.”
Paul had scratched the back of his head and had rubbed his nose a bit before he’d taken a seat on the piano bench, bare toes settin’ on the pedals. “Tell us what you think, ok?” He’d said as he’d looked at me out of the corner of his eye, and I’d nodded, quickly drinkin' down my tea and settin' the cup on the floor by my ankle.
“I ain’t afraid to tell you when your songs are shite, Brother Paul,” I’d replied cheekily and he’d given a bit of a shrug before curlin’ his fingers in that way we’d been taught be our Dad and started playin’. The notes had been sombre and quiet, and then he’d started singin’.
‘When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, “Let it Be”/ And in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me/ Speaking words of wisdom, “Let it Be, Let it Be, Let it Be, Let it Be”. Whisper words of wisdom, “Let it Be”...’
I haven’t done anythin’ to them, Mummy. Why are those girls in my form bein’ so mean? Let it be, Lizzy. Let it be, luv. It’ll get better, just you mind your temper. Mummy, my skin’s itchy! I need to scratch, please! Just a little one, I promise! Let it be, Lizzy – don’t you know if you scratch those bumps you’ll have scars? Do you fancy looking poxy, luv? When are you comin’ home from the hospital, Mummy? You’ve been here for days and days – are they holdin’ you prisoner?! Do me, Paulie, and Mike need to break you out like in the American pictures? Let it be, Liz, don’t be silly, you mad girl. No one’s holdin’ me prisoner here – you and your imagination!
With each proclamation of those three simple little words, I’d felt roll after renewed roll of grief. It’d started in the pit of me stomach, travelled up my intestines, past my ribcage and then settled heavily in my heart, twistin’ and turnin’ it so. Twelve years – fuck, she’d been dead for twelve fuckin’ years and it’d hurt just like it had in the beginnin’ before I’d learned to suck it up, keep it in, and get on with it. I hadn’t known I was cryin’ until I’d felt the splash of hot tears on the back of my hands, and then I’d quickly started blinkin’ them away.
And Paul had kept goin’ on and on and I’d wanted to open up me mouth to tell him to stop, to ask him what the fuck he was playin’ at. I hadn’t been able to. When I’d tried to open me gob to speak, I hadn’t been able to speak a word, only sit there staring at him dumbly with what felt like a neverendin’ stream of hot tears coursin’ down me face. Fuck, fuck, fuck!
He’d stopped suddenly, and when he’d turned to look at me, I knew I must’ve looked quite a fright, but I’d overcome my embarrassment at breakin’ down so, and glared at him angrily, wipin’ the end of my leaky nose with the back of my jumper. How the fuck dare he? Makin’ me come all the way here to here all that?! I’d been about to let him have it, call him every foul name I’d ever learned, when he caught my eye, and fuck, I’d seen the exact same grief in his eyes that I’d imagined were mirrored in mine.
“I dreamt about her, Lizzy,” he’d said to me quietly, and after rubbin’ me eyes forcefully, I’d seen the glassiness in his. “She was wearin’ her little nurse’s cap, you remember the one don’t you?” And I’d nodded, clutchin’ the sodden bit of my jumper to me nose, eyes quickly fillin’ again as I’d remembered the ugly nurse’s cap she’d had to wear. “It was great to be ‘round her again, Liz. I didn’t know if I’d ever see her again.” And his voice had broken in a way that’d made my heart ache all the more because I’d known what he’d meant.
Paul and I’d sat facin’ each other, a few feet separating our bent knees, for a few minutes as each of us felt what I can now only call long-suppressed grief. His shoulders shook as he’d bent his head down, hands clutched tightly in front of him, and it was a while yet before the storm settled for both of us. When he’d looked up at me again, black hair fallin’ over his forehead, I’d seen the red flush over the bridge of his nose that I imagined was on mine.
We looked at each other for a long time, our breath was the only sound between us as I looked over the eye brows that were so like mine and the dark hair that I shared too, that the both of us...had shared with her. “Did she say anything, Paulie?” I’d asked at last, unable to help myself or the little quiver in my voice as the words’d come out.
Paul had nodded at me, “She told me 'It’s going to be alright, son. All of it will be alright, just let it be'. I’d know what he meant; the tension, the occasional coldness, the subdued nature of it all – and the end of it, it would all be alright.
I’d nodded at him, lettin’ him know that I understood completely, because I had. And in the quiet stillness of that room, I’d reached a hand over towards him, palm up, and lookin’ back, he’d wrapped his fingers through mine, and squeezed.