I wouldn't get my hopes up about this one, lol. It'll undoubtedly be quite short, but seeing as it's Paul's birthday today, and you all know that Liz would never forget her old woman (her words, not mine) of a "brother"'s birthday, something needed to be written for the occassion.
A proper Gap Filler shall be posted in the next few days, but in the meantime, here's one to mark Paul's 67th birthday!
"Muuuummmmyyyyyyy, Liz ate what was left of my birthday cake! You said I could have it after dinner," Paul had run wailin' into the back garden where our Mum had been busy weedin' one of the flower beds. At the sight of my older brother who'd come barrelin' outside, face red with anger, and tears runnin' freely down his face, she'd sat back on her heels.
Doin' me best to be as inconspicious as it was possible to be at the grand age of five, I'd hovered close to the door, but not comin' out. I'd made a business of lickin' the last bit of chocolate icing that'd currently been coverin' me fingers, tryin' to get rid of the evidence.
I'd watched our Mum push herself to her feet, brown hair glistenin' just so in the warm sunshine, as she'd laid a hand on my brother's shoulder. The snitch.
"What's this?" I'd heard her ask him, usin' the back of her old nurse's apron to wipe his shirt. I'd crinkled me nose at big as I'd seen the stream of snot which'd connected the end of Paul's nose and her apron.
"Liz ate my cake!" He'd wailed angrily, and at the sound of my name, I'd ducked out of sight.
I could only think that my Mum really did have eyes in the back of her head -- well as the top and side of it, to have called out, "Liz stop hiding by the door and come outside so I can look at you," and from where I'd been peekin' through the door, I'd seen her starin' pointedly at the door. Maybe if I was really quiet and managed to tiptoe to -- "Right now, Liz!" she'd called it and less than three seconds later I'd wrapped my wee hand 'round the door knob and headed outside.
I'd done me best to look angelic as could be in my flower-print dress with a wide collar as I'd approached my Mummy and red-faced brother. He'd wiped the back of his nose with the new button up Mummy'd bought for his birthday.
"Mary Elizabeth," she'd started, callin' me both of my names, which even at five years old, I'd known was bad news, "did you eat the last piece of your brother's birthday cake?"
I'd shaken my head quickly, hidin' me grubby mit behind me. "No, mummy."
She'd taken one look at me before askin', "Are you sure?"
I'd nodded emphatically, my short brown hair movin' up and down with each movement of me head.
"Go back inside, Liz, and wash your face. You've icin' all over it. There'll be no dinner for you tonight!"
I'd been to stricken to say anything, so I'd turned and was about to go back inside when I'd heard Paul's runnin' footsteps comin' up behind me. When he'd reached me, movin' past me to go inside, I'd wiped a bit of the icin' I hadn't known was on my cheek and had offered the finger to him, thinkin' he'd been raisin' all that fuss over the icin'.
"You want some icin', Paulie?" I'd asked as I'd made me peace offerin'. He'd taken one look at me, nose red and angry and 'fore I'd known it, he'd kicked me in the leg. "Oww!!!!!!!!!!!" I'd cried, eyes immediately wellin' with tears as I'd heard him yell, "No, I don't want any icing!"
Next thing I'd known, our Mummy had come runnin' up the stairs, grabbed us both by the ears and pulled us inside, both wailin' and caterwaulin' at the firm grasp. "Both of you upstairs! There'll be no dinner for either of you! Upstairs now!"
Me brother had pushed past me angrily as he'd run upstairs and I'd followed suit when she'd given me one of those "Mummy looks" that were enough to put the fear of God in yas and I'd headed upstairs. Just as she'd said, there'd been no dinner for either of us, even after Mike had run upstairs, complain' of his stomach hurtin' from the extra servin' of stew he'd eaten.
When it'd come times to put us to bed, I'd waited until Mummy and Dad had stopped by my wee little room to tuck me in. "Good night, Lizzy," Mummy had called over her shoulder as she'd closed the door behind her, and a minute later, I'd reached into the little box I'd hid under me bed where I'd hid what I'd considered to be my little pieces of treasure. In the darkness, I'd wrapped me fingers 'round the candy bar I'd bought with the shiny coin my Dad had given me for helpin' him tidy up the parlor earlier in the week, and tryin' to be as quiet as possible, I'd left me room as quickly as my little legs could handle.
I'd pushed the door to Paulie and Mike's room in, and had entered it quietly. "Liz, what are you doin' here?!" I'd heard Paul whisper loudly at me, his little face pale in the moonlight comin' through.
I'd rushed towards him and had then bounced on his bed with a giggle, "I brough ye a present, Paulie," I'd said leanin' towards him with a conspirin' smile.
His eyebrows had perked up with interest, and he'd sat up on his bed. "What'd you bring me?"
"A chocolate bar!" I'd giggled and tossed it to him. His eyes had gone wide as could be.
"Oh goody! My tummy was grumblin' so!" He'd taken it and tore it open before he'd bitten into it greedily.
"I'm sorry 'bout your cake, Paulie," I'd said while I'd watched him devour the delicious piece of chocolate, almost tastin' it meself, and my tum had growled as I'd remembered that I'd been sent off with no dinner either.
Paul had looked at me seriously, or as seriously as it was possible with your mouth covered entirely in chocolate, and without thought, had broken a big piece and handed it in my direction. "Sorry I kicked you, Lizzy."
I'd shrugged and devoured the piece of chocolate greedily, a happy smile on my face.
"What's this then?" I'd called out as soon as I'd entered the front parlor of our house on Forthlin Road and had seen the birthday decorations hangin' droopin' just so. I'd sat my book bag by the front door.
As I'd unbuttoned by school blazer, I'd heard me Dad call out, "In the kitchen!" I'd hung my blazer on a hook by the door and I'd gone off in the direction of the kitchen. I'd been greeted with the sound of me Dad and brothers singin' "Happy Birthday" soon as I'd crossed the door. They'd all looked like quite the odd trio with my dad in his knitted vest, Paulie with slicked back hair in that formidable DA, and Mike in his school uniform very much like mine.
An round birthday cake had sat proudly displayed on our kitchen table, covered in light pink icin' that was thick in some areas and rather sparse in others -- not smooth and done just so like in previous years before... I'd gulped. Fourteen little candles had burned brightly atop it, flickerin' in the daylight.
"Well don't just stare at it all day!" Mike had exclaimed, lookin' at me exasperatedly. "Hurry up and make a wish!" I'd played at makin' a grand birthday wish, turnin' my head this way and that, when all I'd wanted to do was go to my room and not think that this was the first birthday I'd ever have without...
I'd shut my eyes tightly and after makin' a wish, had blown out the candles loudly.
When I'd opened my eyes, I'd seen our Dad cuttin' into the cake with a cackle and as was custom, handed me the first piece. "Happy birthday, Liz girl," he'd said with a smile before he'd bent to drop a kiss on the top of my head.
"Ta, Dad," I'd answered softly and gave him what I hoped was a happy smile.
"Dig in, Lizzy, I didn't spend all bloody afternoon bakin' the thing for you to just stare at it, though you can thank our Mike for the crap job with the icin'!" Paul had muttered, as he'd been handed a slice of the absurd pink cake and stabbed it with a fork before he'd taken a big bite.
"What the fuck was that bastard playin' at, eh? Layin' one on that DJ, and at Auntie Gin's no less," I'd sighed as I'd wearily raised what I'd decided to be the most delicious rum and coke in existence and drank half of it down in one go.
"Auntie Gin did look a fright, didn't she?" Paul had laughed, the alcohol in his system makin' him giggle and lean onto Jane's shoulder so.
"Jane luv, talk some sense to him will ya?" I'd said with a look at the redhead. "You don't understand, Janey, it's our Auntie Gin. John's lucky she didn't dance one of those Spanish flamencos on him when he laid one on Bob Wooler!"
Though I'd been bloody serious about it, the effect had been interrupted by a terribly unladylike belch that came from me person and resulted in both Jane and Paul breaking into a terrible fit of giggles. Seein' as his head had been turned somewhat, I'd been able to rather stealthily make my way over and pour the remainder of my drink, ice and all, into his lap.
"Happy birthday, Paulie!!" I'd called over my shoulder with a laugh as I'd he'd jumped 'round, moppin' at the front of his trousers with his suit jacket. However, I'd caught the evil look in his eye and broke into a sprint into the night, makin' a point of leggin' it out of there before he could catch up with me.
Eventually he'd caught me, knocked me to the ground, but by then we'd been too bloody tired to do anythin' but lie in the grass, chests risin' as we'd tried to catch our breaths, our laughter burstin' forth uncontrollably into that dark star-spinkled night.
"Happy birdday to you, happy birdday to you, happy birrrrddayyyyy Mike and Lizzy, happy birdddaaayyy to you!!" The others had finished singin' to both me and Mike Love who'd joined us on our trip to Rishikesh.
Cyn had laid a cake shaped and decorated like a sunflower in front of both me and the Beach Boy that I shared a birthday with. Her smile had been wide, but there'd been a hint of sadness to it that I hadn't asked her 'bout, too bloody focused on the fact that it was my bleeding twenty-fifth birthday!
"You ready to cut the thing?" Mike Love had asked me from where he'd been sittin' next to me under that marquee, heavy beard coverin' the bottom of his face.
"Yeah!" I'd grinned. "I love birthday cake, which this lot will gladly attest to!" I'd looked from Paulie to John to George to Jane who'd all nodded in agreement, each havin' taken the mickey of me for it at some point.
"Mind that she doesn't make off with your half, mate," John had added, "young Liz is rather infamous for it. Don't let the way she looks fool you, she can put it away!"
I'd taken the slice of cake one of the serving girls at the ashram had passed in my direction with a grateful smile and I'd bitten into it eagerly. The flavour of it had been quite off -- what I wouldn't have given for proper flour and white sugar. Later on that afternoon, I'd followed a white punjabi clad George back to our little hut, both of us weighed down with my birthday packages.
As soon as we'd set my packages on our bed, he'd given me a devious smile and reachin' into the wardrobe, had removed a small white box tied with a bright blue bow. Toothy smile coverin' his face, he'd handed it to me, "Happy birthday, luv."
"How nice of you to mark my birthday, Mr. Harrison. It's good to know that we old married couples still celebrate such silliness," I'd answered givin' him a playful smile and had then gone 'bout openin' the blasted thing. What'd been inside had been quite wonderful. "You bastard, no wonder you waited to give this to me!" The sight of the chocolate tart nestled in the white box with a delicate little arrangement of fruit atop it had almost made me cry. A woman could only live off of yoghurt and curry for so long without goin' weak at the knees at the sight of somethin' so glorious.
"Who'd you let feel you up to sneak this in?" I'd whispered theatrically towards him, eye wide. Raisin' a finger to his lips he'd shushed me loudly.
"How could ya say such a thing about me and Neil. It's true love I tell ye!"
George had laughed at me when I'd started eatin' the tart with me fingers, not waitin' for a minute to get me hands on a proper fork. He'd come over and kissed me mid-bite, and as he'd pulled away, he'd been wipin' a bit of chocolate from the side of his mouth. "Happy birthday, luvie luv luv," he'd whispered into my ear in such a way that I'd felt tingles movin' up my spine.
I'd watched Linda balance the birthday cake as she'd made her way over to the table, her blonde hair bright in the candlelight. As we'd done every year, we'd broken into song, and Paulie, just as impatient as I'd always been, had cut into the cake as quickly as humanly possible, even when my niece Mary had taken it on herself to cover his face with icing. She'd giggled up at him as he'd wiped it off, but unable to keep the laughter from his face.
"You're gettin' on in years," I'd called to Paul as I'd given Linda a grateful smile for bein' an angel and cuttin' me a slice large enough to feed the population of Sussex -- just as I'd liked it.
"You're less than a year younger than me!" He'd retorted with a quirk of that famous eyebrow of his.
"Mere technicality, really. Doesn't change the fact that you're gettin' on and will soon enough have to start usin' hair plugs, mate."
Paul had made a face. "Be sure to ask George where he gets his, will you?"
"I'll do better than that, Paulie, I'll have him donate hair to you. Isn't that nice?" I'd replied with a smile as I'd taken a bite of Paulie's birthday cake. I'd looked onto his garden where my kids were runnin' around with his and settled back into my chair to make meself comfortable, pattin' my heavily pregnant belly all the while.
"I'm not old," he'd muttered and I'd seen Linda come over to pat his shoulder soothingly before tellin' him to deal with bein' four years closer to forty by havin' another slice of cake. He'd shrugged as she'd settled another slice next to his half-eaten one, glarin' at me as I'd leaned forward to pat the back of his hand.
"There, there, Paulie. There there." As I'd moved to steal a bit of cake off his plate, he'd brought the edge of the spoon against my knuckles.
"Keep your mitts to yourself!"
My birthday had been the first time that Paul and George had seen each other since Paul had decided against attendin' The Beatles' induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January. They'd been friendly enough, but there'd been a bit of an underlyin' tension there as well. It hadn't been to the degree of the very early 70's by any means, but it'd been obvious that there hadn't been lookin' at each other much.
They'd gotten over it mind, even if it had taken childishly slatherin' good cake all over 'em. They'd both started laughin' and called me daft. I'd merely told 'em to let me enjoy the last few years I had before turnin' fifty, when me life would really be over I'd assured 'em.
Never above makin' a jab at Paulie who'd reach the momentous occassion before I ever did.
I'd sat the slice of the birthday cake I'd ordered in front of him. It'd been hours since the kids had taken off for the evenin' after I'd assured 'em, especially Mary, that I'd keep an eye on him. "Fancy a cuppa while you eat, Paulie?" I'd asked, starin' at him across the counter of the kitchen at Peasmarsh. He'd shrugged a bit but hadn't answered, only lookin' onto the plate I'd set before him.
He'd been like that for weeks, not that I'd have expected anythin' less. He'd poked and prodded at the birthday cake for a while, only takin' a bite or two when I'd prompted him to. When I'd set a cup of tea before him, he'd barely touched it, instead reachin' for the bottle of wine to my right and had helped himself to a full glass of it.
I hadn't said a word, knowin' that it wouldn't have helped him any. All I could do was sit there, stay with him, even if all he'd be able to do was get himself sloshed right and proper. At least he'd have someone there with 'em, and bloody hell, I hadn't wanted it to be one of the kids. The last they needed, he needed really, was to see their dad gettin' drunk off his arse.
Two hours later the cake had laid half-eaten on the plate, but that'd been the last thought goin' through my head as I'd wrapped an arm 'round his waist, puttin' his arm around my shoulder, and helped him up the stairs. He hadn't made it all the way though, before he'd tripped over his feet landed arse down on one of stairs, swayin' unsteadily.
His eyes had been bloodshot as I'd taken a seat next to him on the stairs, takin' his hand with uncharacteristic gentleness in my hands and felt him turn into me, and he'd lowered his forehead to my shoulder against which he'd started sobbin' gutteral wrenchin' sobs. I'd held his hand the entire time. It hadn't been a birthday I'd wanted remindin' of.
He'd arrived at Friar Park before I'd even woken up, bloody tired from a night of little sleep. It'd been bloody hard to learn how to sleep alone again, but then again, Paul had had to learn that very lesson years before. I'd gone downstairs when the smell of breakfast had started fillin' the house, and it'd been with little surprise that I'd found him fryin' tofu sausage and eggs when I'd come downstairs.
He'd smiled cheerfully at me, lookin' every bit the Cute One from days of yore, and before I could've raised a fuss, he'd continued makin' breakfast and bringin' the kettle to a boil.
Eventually he'd settled a great steamin' plate of brekkie before me and told me to dig in. I'd remembered another birthday from years and years before when birthday cake had been the order of the day and not breakfast. I'd eaten because I'd known that it was necessary to do so, but I hadn't tasted it, and stopped after a while.
I'd watched Paul remove a box from the icebox and had watched him come toward with me, a hint of a smile 'bout his mouth. It'd been a simple little white box, and oddly that had triggered a memory of sorts, but I hadn't quite placed it. He'd motioned for me to open it with that very famous left hand of his, and when I had, I'd felt a catch in my throat: chocolate tart with a delicate arrangement of fruit on top of it, same as...all those years before.
I'd looked up at him questioningly, and he'd answered without me havin' to voice it, "He asked me before...you know." I'd nodded quickly, knowin' exactly what he meant. I'd lowered my head a bit, quickly blinkin' away what was surely comin', but I couldn't -- not that day, it was me birthday. It would've been the last thing he'd have wanted.
I'd cut off a piece with a fork and had taken a bite, the rich taste of chocolate bringin' back so many memories. I'd felt Paul come beside me and wrap an arm tightly 'round my shoulders.
"It gets easier, Lizzy. I won't lie and say that it goes away completely, 'cos it doesn't, but it gets easier. You'll see." And he'd kissed the top of my head, briefly mumblin' "Happy birthday," into my hair. I'd held his a hand for a long time that mornin'.
Prrr. Prrr. Prrr. Prrrrrrrrrrrr.
"Hello?" An exasperated voice had answered the line.
Instead of answerin', I'd set the telephone down to the side, and pressed the button for 'SPEAKERPHONE'. Fittin' me fingers into the frets along my guitar's neck, I'd started strummin', unusually wide smile on my face.
When I get older, losing my hair many years from now
"Oh bloody hell, Liz --"
Will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
"Yeah, I get it thank you very much!"
I'd taken an incredible amount of pleasure in playin' the song for him that he'd been such a shit about durin' the makin' of "Pepper". I'd chuckled perhaps a little too loudly whenever I'd come to Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four? since I'd known that it'd aggravated him so.
When I'd finished, I'd taken the setting off of 'SPEAKERPHONE' and brought the telephone close to my ear. "Happy birthday, Paulie!"
"Right nasty bitch, you are," had been his only answer.
"You're the one that wrote it, mate. Don't blame me for the seranadin' you'll be gettin' for the next three hundred and sixty-four days 'til your next one!"
I'd laughed when he'd told me that he was considerin' just holin' himself up at his house for the next year, not to be seen or heard of other than occassional "I'm still alive" press releases. He'd filled me in on his plans for the day with his children and I'd asked if he'd received my gift that morning.
As we'd been 'bout to ring off before he'd headed off to have lunch with his girls, I'd been unable to add, "You know Paulie, we all still need you, and we'll do best to feed you, even though you're sixty-four."
"Oh I'm not worried 'bout that, Lizzy. If you won't, you forget that I have an entire legion of fans at my beck and call!" His laughter had been genuine as he'd added, "Less than nine months to go, and then it's your turn!"
I'd eaten a slice of birthday cake in his honour that afternoon, and wasn't surprised when he'd arrived later that night to have cake and a cup of tea under the stars.