The good news is that this one isn't not-so-happy like the past two Gap Fillers. So no tissue will be needed! At least, I hope not! :-)
“I don’t think this is a good idea,” I’d said to the woman who’d been hoverin’ over me, applyin’ what seemed like the twentieth coat of eyespackle to my eyes. My eyelids had fluttered in pain as she’d proceeded rubbin’ the eye shadow, ignorin’ my words. “Err…excuse me, did you –“
“Mr. Epstein said that it was my duty to prepare you this evening,” she’d answered shortly, makin’ me sound as if I was some sort of sacrificial lamb goin’ to be eaten by a throng of hungry wolves. I couldn’t help glarin’ at her in the mirror, and had mentally told meself that I’d be givin’ Brian a piece of my mind for hoistin’ her off on me. I hadn’t recognised the person starin’ back at me from the mirror. The bird had too pale a face, stick straight hair, a massive fake eyelash the size of a tarantula hangin’ off one eye while that dratted woman worked on the other, eyes rimmed in what looked like the bits and pieces of charcoal artists sketched with, and almost white mouth. The girl in the mirror didn’t look nothin’ like me at all, and I hadn’t fancied havin’ so much green eye colour goop on me lids.
Gone was the guitarist with the fitted Saville Row suits who’d usually only ever pushed her hair to the side with a few pins and went ‘round in black Ray Bans wayfarers. When I’d been young, my Dad, much freedom as he’d given me growin’ up, had drawn the line at lettin’ us slather on makeup – “I won’t have ya lookin’ like a tart, Lizzy,” he’d said sternly to me when I’d asked ‘bout it once, and I’d agreed. Though makeup favoured some people, I hadn’t really considered meself one of ‘em, and now that I’d been forced to sit in that bloody chair while this mad-eyed bint poked and prodded at me face as if I was some overgrown dolly, I’d been even more sure of it.
I’d only been able to imagine the comments I’d get tossed me way when I headed downstairs to meet my other band mates – “Fuckin’ hell, will you stop pokin’ me eye?! I need it ya know!” I’d exclaimed not-too-politely (me Auntie Gin wouldn’t have hesistated to rap the back of my knuckles with a tea doilley for speakin’ so to an old broad) to the woman who stopped to look at me none too happily.
“If you stopped moving, miss, I wouldn’t keep pokin’ yer eye as you put it,” she’d said cooly, and I’d stiffened at her takin’ the mickey out of my northern accent.
“Well if you stopped rubbin’ me eye so I wouldn’t have to move ‘round so much, now would I?” I’d answered with a quirk of my eye brow – which she’s filled in with some brown powdery thing, and which made them even more obvious than they usually were. She hadn’t answered, instead pressin’ down the last bit of eyelash which made my lids feel heavy and wonder how the bleedin’ hell I’d manage to keep ‘em open during the entirety of this dratted premiere.
Maybe I’d manage to take a wee kip in the theatre? I’d mentally reminded meself to sit on the other side of Richie that evenin’ since I knew from personal experience that he had a damned comfortable shoulder, bein’ the same height and all. ‘Sides, I’d known that Mo wouldn’t mind if I used her fella’s shoulder as a cushion.
When the horrid woman had finally finished inflictin’ her damage on my face – and seriously questionin’ the sanity of those birds who had the patience to sit in front of a mirror for what’d felt like hours and hours pokin’ and proddin’ at their faces to catch some fella’s eye – she’d told me in her clipped voice, “I’ll be helping you get dressed now –“
“It’s really not necessary—“
“I wasn’t asking you, miss. Mr. Epstein said that I’d be helping you get dressed for tonight’s premiere, so if you please.” She’d looked at me all superior-like and I’d done me best to watch me gob and not start mouthin’ off on her. Brian would have kittens if Beatle Liz Vents Wrath on Poor Dresser, so I bit me tongue, not ‘cos I was scared of Brian, but ‘cos I’d undoubtedly receive a ring from my Auntie Dill, Dad’s other sister, about lettin’ fame go to me head and goin’ about bein’ rude to people. The last thing I needed was a well-meanin’ ring from either or me Aunties.
I’d pulled off my robe until I stood in nothin’ more than a slip. The woman came behind me and pulled a light green mini dress over me, takin’ a care to not let it get caught in the hair she’d watched a hairdresser spend what’d felt like hours makin’ straight as a board. “Wouldn’t you say that you look quite nice?” She’d asked me while she’d buttoned the back of it and I’d shrugged a bit, feelin’ like nothin’ more than a bloody fashion doll.
“Can I at least put me shoes on by meself or do I have to sit down to let ya? Even we Northerners know how to put our shoes on,” I’d said tersely, and not waitin’ for her to answer, I’d sat meself down and went ‘bout me business. When the bloody hell will Neil come up to collect me?! For fuck’s sake if he’s not here in five minutes I’ll take meself downstairs, fans foamin’ at the mouth or not!
Someone upstairs must’ve heard the thoughts goin’ through me head ‘cos in less time than I’d known, I’d heard Neil makin’ his way into my suite. Figurin’ that good manners never hurt no one, I’d thanked the woman for her help and left. “Are you comin’ Liz? We have to be at Piccadilly Circus in less than an hour,” Neil had called over his shoulder, havin’ been flickin’ through a fashion mag that’d been layin’ around.
“Yeah. Is everyone waitin’ for me downstairs for a change?” I’d asked, momentarily catchin’ sight of meself in a full length mirror along the wall, and felt an inklin of discomfort as I’d been confronted, fully confronted, with the fact that I looked nothin’ like meself. For one, I don’t think I’d ever shown so much fuckin’ leg in me life – I should’ve known better than to have let Cyn and Mo arrange for something’ for me. And the makeup, damn it, the makeup. I’d never had so much of that shit on me face before…I couldn’t wait to have the chance to wipe some of it off.
Neil had turned to look at me and for a minute his eyes had gone all round and googly-eyed. “Hey, what the fuck is you lookin’ at?” I’d glared at him when I caught him starin’ at me naked legs, havin’ decided to not wear stockings on a summer’s night like that one.
When Neil’s eyes had met mine he’d started gigglin’ and it was all I could do to not pummel him with one of the over-stuffed cushions which’d laid all over that swank hotel suite. “Just wait until they get a look at you!” Neil had exclaimed with a huge smile on his face.
“Don’t fuckin’ rub it in, mate.”
“You do look very nice, Liz. Nothin’ like that guitar totin’ bird we all know and love!”
“You make it sound as if I don’t know how to dress meself. I can’t help but wonder what I ever did to Cyn, Mo, and Brian to conspire to make me look like a tart.”
Neil had shaken his head in my direction, tuckin’ his hand into the pocket of his trousers. “You don’t look like a tart, Lizzy. You look nice…different, but very fashionable. Come on, they’re all waitin’ for you downstairs. Shouldn’t keep the fans waitin’, luv.”
Givin’ him a bit of a disbelievin’ look, I’d followed him out of the suite and to the lobby.
“Look at what we have here!” John had yelled halfway across the room as soon as he’d caught sight of me. That daft git had known a chance to take the mickey when he saw it! One by one, the other members of our group had turned to look at me and decidin’ then and there that I could either go with it or spend the entire evenin’ glaring at the lot of ‘em, I’d decided to enjoy meself, and get sloshed as soon as we were rushed to the Orchid Room at the Dorchester swiftly after the film premiere.
“Will you look at the dollypegs on young Liz here? You’ve been holdin’ out on us, luv.” John had said all sendin’ an exaggerated lecherous look me way. The four of ‘em had been kitted out in tuxedos as was proper since we’d been due to meet Princess Maggie and her husband.
“I’ve got nothin’ on you, Johnny boy. Meself and the city of Hamburg have all borne witness to you in nothin’ but y-fronts!”
“Yeah, she does pale in comparison to ya, mate.” Richie had interrupted, sendin’ a cheeky smile me way.
“You do have a point there. Macca Jr must’ve gotten tired of bein’ known as ‘that guitar-playin’ bird whose sister to the Cute One’ – she’s aimin’ to make off with your name, Paulie!” John had laughed in Paul’s direction who’d turned to look at me with a hurt expression.
“How could you, Lizzy?! Me own flesh and blood wantin’ to take my only bit of happiness away. Paul, the Cute One…stripped of his title!” The smile on his face had made me want to cripple the bastard, not literally mind – Auntie Gin and Dill, remember?! – but knowin’ full well that Jane wasn’t prepared for the sight of a battered and snivellin’ Paulie, I’d given a wee sigh and laughed along.
“You look very nice, Lizzy!” Jane had smiled at me, lookin’ so put together in her white dress, and Cyn and Mo, who’d both looked quite nice in their get ups, had been overly enthusiastic about my appearance that evening. I’d called them both a pair of cows for conspirin’ with Brian in tartin’ me up, but they’d only laughed at me, provin’ once and for all just what terrible friends they were.
“You’re lucky I’m so fond of Jules, Cyn, or else I’d be done with you!” Cynthia had reached over and given my arm a squeeze before headin’ back over to John. Mo’d given me a wink before tellin’ me that if she saw me headin’ out with some fanciful that she’d keep her mouth shut so I could at least get a proper snog before one of our minders swooped in.
Brian had come over, and ignorin’ the look on me face, had assured me that I looked very smart. I decided to leave the tongue lashin’ ‘bout the bint he’d had assist me in gettin’ read for later.
Finally havin’ been escorted to the waitin’ black Rolls Royce that’d be takin’ the five of us to the Pavilion in Piccadilly, John had swooped in, and had then gone ‘bout callin’ out like the dirty old man he was at heart, “Come inside, little girl.” He’d patted the seat next to him invitingly and made a goonish face when I’d given him a right proper two finger salute, and he’d returned the favour.
“Mind your step, Lizzy,” Ringo’d said to me when I’d been in the process of gettin’ into the car, makin’ a point of keepin’ me knees locked as I’d slid across the seat. I’d given John a triumphant smile when he’d played at tryin’ to look up me skirt.
“Just you try it, John Lennon.” He’d given me a very disappointed look, but it’d been completely foiled by the same playful look in his eyes that I’d imagined had been in mine. True, John could and did play the randy bastard ‘round me, but it was all in good fun, and I’d known that he didn’t mean half the shit comin’ out of his mouth. When George had slid next to me so that I’d been sandwiched between he and Richie, Paul and John across from us, he’d given me a bit of a sweet smile. It’d been nice to be on the receivin’ end of one, ‘specially considerin’ what’d happened with him havin’ me started at me during a snoggin’ session I’d had with a bloke a few weeks before. For a while, those smiles had been few and far between for me.
The London Premiere of Help had been…completely bonkers! The road had been blocked off and what’d seemed like a million kids were all over the place, and as soon as we’d exited the Rolls Royce – I’d somehow managed to exit the car without givin’ any of the photographers a view that wouldn’t make a ring from either of me Aunties a guarantee; a visit would’ve been the order of the day!! – the screams had been deafening! The flash of a hundred cameras had been goin’ off every second and when’d finally been able to get inside, I’d let out a sigh of relief.
The film had been mad, as expected, but the audience had loved it, also as we’d expected, and despite havin’ decided earlier to take a bit of a nap, seein’ as I’d been seated between George and Cyn, it hadn’t been much of an option. So I’d suffered along with the rest of us, seein’ ourselves on the big screen actin’ like a group of goons in a film with shite for a plot. The highlight of the ordeal had been the various sidelong looks we’d been sendin’ each other as we recalled just how royally high we’d been durin’ the makin’ of the film, so at least it’d been fun!
When it’d come time to meet Princess Maggie, I’d made a point of not droppin’ me ‘g’s at the end of words and thanked her politely when she complimented my attire. The Aunties would’ve been terribly proud, I’m sure.
From there we’d been rushed from Piccadilly Circle to the party at the Dorchester Hotel, leavin’ a massive crowd of screamin’ fans in our wake. As expected, the party had been brimmin’ with people, quite posh, but knowin’ our tastes, the music had been great and the food and drinks had been flowin’ freely! After three glasses of champagne and a dozen fast-paced dances in an adjoinin’ room with nameless blokes who’d looked at me appreciatively, I’d decided to move past Brian’s hand in gettin’ me the dresser from hell, and to instead enjoy meself thoroughly. And like so often, each of my band mates had been forced to be my dance partner as we moved to the fast dance beat, and I’d known they were all havin’ a grand time.
“Look at you, Lizzy!” Richie had laughed after our third dance, and I’d laughed back in response. “You really do clean up quite nice!” He’d said with a loyal smile, and though I’d given a shake of me head, I’d patted his cheek affectionately. “Mo’ll get ideas ‘bout us if you keep that up!” He’d grinned.
“She knows how I feel ‘bout big neds like yours, Richie!” I’d said with a wink and then feelin’ a combination of good spirits and the effect of the seven…or eight glasses of champagne I’d had by then, I’d giggled and he had too.
As the evenin’ had gone on though, my spirits had dampened somewhat, and that’d been brought ‘bout when I’d caught a look of meself on the clear glass door that led onto a balcony. The bird in the green dress with all that spackle over her face, it hadn’t been me. She looked a hell of a lot like me, but ‘cor, that wasn’t me. I’d slid open the glass partition that led onto the balcony and closed it quickly, wantin’ to keep out of sight as much as possible.
It’d been summer in England, and you could feel it. The heat had clung to my skin as I’d walked the length of the balcony until I stopped in front of the railing. I’d been able to see what felt like the entire city from up there, and I’d taken a moment to catch me breath, clear me head a bit. After hours of talkin’ and noise, the quiet of sittin’ with nothin’ but the nighttime sky for company had been quite nice. Unlike most nights in London, it’d been a rather clear night, and a few stars had managed to peek through.
“What’re you doin’ out here?” George’s voice had asked, and I’d seen that he was makin’ his way towards me. He’d been missin’ his tuxedo jacket.
“Nothin’, just thinkin’ I guess. What ‘bout you? What are you doin’ out there when there are so many girls in there wantin’ to make the company of Beatle George?” I’d asked givin’ him a small smile.
“They’ll be there when I get back. I could ask the same of you, Liz. Regular Miss Popularity you are tonight!” His smile had been wide as he’d stood a few feet away from me, and like me, he’d stared out onto the London skyline.
“Well, you know. It’s me winnin’ personality you see.” I’d answered with a grin. He’d looked at me quietly for less than a second before he’d nodded.
“That’s it then.”
We’d stood for a while together in comfortable silence, neither feelin’ the need to say much of anythin’. In our appreciation for the quiet George and I had been very much alike. While John and Paul couldn’t spend more than five minutes sittin’ still, George and I could spend hours. That’d been very nice.
“Brian couldn’t make it?” He’d asked quickly, and I’d seen him watchin’ me out of the corner of his eye.
“Brian’s inside –“
“Not that Brian, Liz, Brian from the Stones.” I’d looked at him in understandin’.
“No reason for me to invite him. I doubt he’d be into something like this though, too tame for his taste,” I’d answered, givin’ him a bit of an ironic smile.
“Off again?” He’d asked, turnin’ to look at me with his finger wrapped securely ‘round the top of the railing. He’d cocked his head to the side while he’d continued to look at me steadily, waitin’ for me to continue.
“Yeah, for good I think. He’s a nice fella, but you know…”
George had nodded and had then looked away quickly. “Yeah, Brian’s a cool guy. That’s how it goes sometimes, I s’ppose.”
I’d shrugged a bit and returned to lookin’ onto the skyline once again, thinkin’ if I tried hard enough I might be able to see clear to the countryside. I’d stopped and looked up at George suddenly, able to see the outline of his profile in the semi-darkness. “So what ‘bout you? Why didn’t you invite one of your three hundred girlfriends to come – still seein’ the pretty blonde bird you met on set last year…what’s her name, Peggy…Patsy…Patti or sommat?” She’d been a model for a brand of crisps or somethin’ like that.
George had shrugged. “No, not for a while. Didn’t think to ask anyone really – who’d want to go out with a berk like me, eh? What with the Cute Beatle an’ all?” He’d laughed mischievously, and I had too, knowin’ the thought was fuckin’ ridiculous. George was a Beatle, so by nature of that, he could’ve been Quasimodo and would’ve still managed to pull a bird for tonight if he’d really wanted to.
“You’re not a berk, George.” He’d looked at me a bit, the moonlight settlin’ over the angles of his face. His eyes had seemed to be impossibly dark. He’d given me a small smile.
It’d grown quiet again, and instead of enjoyin’ it like before, I’d grown incredibly aware of what’d made me come out here in the first place. Bein’ unable to recognise the girl I’d seen this evenin’, knowin’ it was meself, but not feelin’ it. “I can’t wait to get back to the suite I’m stayin’ in. What I wouldn’t give to wipe all this shit off me face,” I’d said finally, runnin’ a hand through my unusually stick straight hair.
George had looked at me consideringly and I’d felt his dark eyes move over me face; it’d probably been the champagne. I’d had quite a lot. “It’s a bit much…I mean, it’s more than you’ve worn before I guess. But I guess you wanted to make an impression tonight –“
“It wasn’t me, it was bloody Brian. He had a dresser, a right bitch I tell you, come to prepare me for tonight. I can’t blame her for the dress though, that was all Cyn and Mo.” I’d sighed. “I know Brian meant well, and I know that I look better tonight than I’ve ever looked – everyone’s been tellin’ me so! – but have you ever looked at yourself wearin’ some of our fancy suits, and thought to yourself, ‘This isn’t me’. That’s how I feel right now I guess, like it’s not me. And much as I’d like to leg it out of here, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.” I’d stopped and looked at him evenly. “You think I’m off me rocker, don’t you?”
Seconds passed, ones that’d felt a little unnerving truthfully, before he spoke. The look on his face had been a bit pensive, but I hadn’t been too sure. He’d tucked his hand into his pocket and withdrew a handkerchief that Brian always insisted that they carry ‘round on their person. Lookin’ steadily at me, he’d spoken finally.
“I don’t think you’re off your rocker, but yer wrong, Liz. I know how Brian, Cyn, and Mo are, and I agree with ya, they mean well, but look,” he’d cocked his head to the side, lookin’ at me intently, “you’re wrong if you think you need all this stuff on yer face to…if you think tonight’s the best you’ve –“ He’d stopped quickly and I’d heard him clear his throat, his eyebrows had come together a bit. “Here,” he’d said as he’d handed me the carefully folded square. His fingers had brushed mine for a split second as I’d taken the handkerchief, but they’d been gone before I’d known it.
Without lookin’ at him, I’d raised it to me face, and had wiped off a bit of the heavy powder that’d remained there. Once I’d removed enough to feel my skin breathe a bit, I’d looked at him out of the corner of me eye and had seen that he’d been starin’ straight ahead. “Ta very much, George. You’re a great mate, y’know.”
It was seconds before he’d turned to look at me again, but before he did, I could’ve sworn I’d heard the softest mutter of “Mates…right,” under his breath. I’d drunk quite a lot that night though, so I’d put it down to just hearin’ things. “I’m goin’ back inside, I think,” and he’d looked at me expectantly maybe, or maybe just politely? I’d shrugged.
“I’ll be here a while yet.” He’d nodded and then turnin’ on his heel, he’d gone back inside. It hadn’t been until he’d left that I’d noticed the chill in the air and wondered to meself why I hadn’t brought a coat.