Another one of those Gap Fillers which I believed was necessary to write about. I did my best to not make it too dramatic (yes, it's one of those, but hopefully that won't keep you from reading!), but only you can be the judge of that. :-)
As always, comments are most appreciated!
7 OCTOBER 1966
McCARTNEY-HARRISION. Mr. James McCartney of Heswall, Cheshire, announces the marriage of his daughter, Mary Elizabeth, to Mr. George Harrison, son of Mr. Harold and Mrs. Louise Harrison of Liverpool on 5 October, 1966. The civil ceremony was held at Marylebone Registry Office in London. Mrs. Cynthia Lennon and the bride’s brother, Mr. James Paul McCartney, served as witnesses. Both bride and groom are musicians. Mr. and Mrs. Harrison will reside in Surrey following a brief holiday.
PRESS CONFERENCE. WEDNESDAY, 5 OCTOBER.
The Savoy Hotel, Lancaster Ballroom
[LIZ MCCARTNEY and GEORGE HARRISON enter room. MALCOLM EVANS and NEIL ASPINALL follow behind.]
BRIAN EPSTEIN: We ask that you please limit yourselves to two questions. Thank you.
REPORTER #1: George, Liz...Mr. and Mrs. Harrison, congratulations to the both of you!
GEORGE HARRISON: Thanks very much.
LIZ MCCARTNEY: Thank you.
REPORTER #1: Liz, are you planning on changing your professional name? [laughter from
reporters, GEORGE HARRISON, and LIZ MCCARTNEY]
LIZ MCCARTNEY: I haven’t decided yet, but you’ll be the first to know!
REPORTER #1: This has certainly been kept quiet! How long have the two of you been an item?
GEORGE HARRISON: Long enough. Next question?
REPORTER # 2: Liz, what is it like being married?
LIZ MCCARTNEY: [laughs] I’ve only been married three hours, I am not sure yet. It’s been ok
so far though, lovely really.
REPORTER # 2: Do you plan on taking any time out from The Beatles, Liz?
LIZ MCCARTNEY: Well, we’re all taking a break for a few months, aren’t we George?
GEORGE HARRISON: The group is taking some time off. We will be returning to the studio to start recording the next LP close to the New Year.
REPORTER #2: So you are not planning to leave The Beatles now that you’ve married, Liz?
BRIAN EPSTEIN: Just two questions per reporter if you please –
GEORGE HARRISON: No, it’s ok, Brian. No, Liz is not planning on leaving The Beatles anytime soon. Unless you haven’t told me something, dear? [reporters laugh]
LIZ MCCARTNEY: No, I am not planning on it.
BRIAN EPSTEIN: Both George and Liz are members of The Beatles and there has not been and will be no talk of either leaving. Their marriage and private life is separate from their working and obviously very close personal relationships with the other three. They are both very professional individuals.
REPORTER # 2: Thank you.
REPORTER # 3: George, is it true that the tour was ended prematurely so that you and Liz would be able to get married?
GEORGE HARRISON: The tour schedule was set before Liz and I got together, so the answer would be no.
REPORTER # 4: When did you decide to get married?
GEORGE HARRISON: A few days ago. [reporters laugh]
LIZ MCCARTNEY: It was very quick and spur-of-the-moment.
REPORTER # 5: Are you planning on taking a honeymoon?
GEORGE HARRISON: We may go on holiday for a few weeks. We haven’t decided yet.
REPORTER # 5: Was Paul the only other bandmate to attend?
GEORGE HARRISON: Other than us, you mean? [laughter from reporters] Ringo is currently only holiday with his family and John is busy filming in Spain, so Paul was the only one available to come.
REPORTER # 6: Liz, do you think the dynamic in the group will change much now that you and George are married?
LIZ MCCARTNEY: No, I don’t think so. He’s still George [points to GEORGE HARRISON] and I’m still Liz; he’s still the lead guitarist and I still play alternating lead and rhythm guitar. We’ve been band mates longer than we’ve been anything else, so I don’t think the working dynamic will change much in the band.
REPORTER # 6: Will you be starting a family soon?
GEORGE HARRISON: Bloody hell, we just got married! [laughter from reporters and LIZ MCCARTNEY] Give us a while to get used to that first!
REPORTER # 7: Was it love at first sight?
LIZ MCCARTNEY: God, no! [laughs]
GEORGE HARRISON: More like four or five thousandth sight! [laughs] Finally wore her down at the end. [laughter from reporters]
REPORTER #8: Liz, for those fans out there who are mourning your marriage to the last remaining bachelor Beatle – excluding your own brother, that is – do you have anything you’d like to tell them?
LIZ MCCARTNEY: There’s no reason to be sad. Our getting married has nothing to do with them. We got married because we wanted to and no other reason than that.
GEORGE HARRISON: If our fans are true fans they should want us to be happy, and I am...we are. [LIZ MCCARTNEY nods]. As she said, she’s still Liz, I’m still George. That won’t ever change. We’ll still be making music in the same band, we’re just married now is all.
BRIAN EPSTEIN: Unfortunately, we’re out of time. George and Liz are scheduled to travel to Liverpool this afternoon. Thank you for coming today, and please help yourself to refreshments before you leave.
REPORTER #1: Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Harrison! [loud murmuring of congratulations]
GEORGE HARRISON: Thanks very much. Thank you all.
LIZ MCCARTNEY: Thank you.
[GEORGE HARRISON and LIZ MCCARTNEY leave room.]
“Oh yeah, I remember how it was when you returned from the Bahamas,” Brian Jones had said to me teasingly with a cheeky smile from where he’d been sittin’ off to the side in studio, striped trouser leg crossed over the other. He and Mick had come to the studio to hear us lay down a few takes. At some point the three of us had started chattin’ ‘bout the filmin’ of Help and I’d mentioned how bleedin’ cold it’d been while we’d been there.
“Is that right?” I’d asked him with an amused look durin’ a break between take 11 or 15 of Lovely Rita.
“You were rather frisky, Miss Elizabeth,” Brian Jones had continued, leanin’ forward in his chair ‘til his blond hair hung ‘round his face. He’d had a wide smile on his face.
“I think the dope’s rattled yer brain, mate,” I’d answered with a chuckle, “I could’ve sworn it was the other way ‘round!” Brian Jones had burst into a fit of laughter that Mick had joined in on. I wouldn’t have called Brian Jones and I great mates by any means, but we’d gotten on fairly well – at least well enough to be able to take the mickey out of each other on occasion. Our on-off datin’ had come to a natural end after ‘bout a year in ’65 and it hadn’t been ugly or acrimonious, not that it would’ve been really, what with the unserious way we’d had with it.
As it’d been, I’d been glad that me bands mates had been occupied with their makeshift kazoos and hadn’t given the appearance of payin’ much attention to whatever I’d been chattin’ ‘bout with either of the two Stones. Soon enough thereafter, our break had ended and we’d returned to the task at hand. As the night had passed, both Mick and Brian Jones had exchanged good byes with all of us and had taken off for the evenin’; it’d been a good run-through I’d thought to meself as we’d later on collected our own gear and headed out of Studio 2.
Most nights George and I had driven into the city together, while others, we’d taken our own cars. That evenin’ we’d driven to Abbey Road in George’s Mini, and even though I’d known that we were both comfortable with the quiet of drivin’ through the dark London streets into the country, the quiet that’d settled inside the car hadn’t been the comfortable kind – it’d been a bit thick to be honest. I’d looked at him out of the corner of me eye, his long brown hair obscurrin’ most of his features; although I’d been a bit dim at times when it came to readin’ things, I’d realised one thing: he hadn’t looked at me since we’d left the studio.
“Alright, George?” I’d asked with a turn of my head.
“Yeah,” he’d answered without takin’ his eyes off the road ahead of us. I’d shrugged a bit, figurin’ that he’d probably been feelin’ rather tired and wanted nothin’ more than to have a kip.
When we’d arrived at Kinfauns, I’d gone ‘bout makin’ meself a cup of tea before headin’ off for a bath. I usually would’ve offered George one, but since I’d figured he was tired, I’d let it be. As I’d submerged meself in the bath tub, hot water comin’ up to my chin, I’d heard George movin’ ‘round in our bedroom, and I’d assumed he was gettin’ hisself ready for bed. I’d shut my eyes tightly as I’d submerged my head into the tub, and then came back up a second or so later.
I’d rested the back of my head ‘gainst the edge of the tub, and I’d heard the shuffle of George’s feet on the floor and shortly thereafter heard him settle hisself on the toilet. I’d cracked one eye open to look at him. He’d been sittin’ on the loo, bent forward with his elbows restin’ on his knees, hands laced together; he’d been lookin’ at me then with a blank expression on his face, his mouth had been a straight line under the moustache he and the others had grown.
He’d looked at me with that same oddly blank expression for a few seconds, eyes dark. I’d wrapped my quickly prunin’ fingers ‘round the curled rim of the tub as I’d looked back at him through half-lidded eyes.
“You’re me wife, Liz,” George had started, and I’d been a bit taken aback by the anger in his voice, “mine. I don’t want ye havin’ naught else to do with yer old mate Brian, ye hear?” His voice had held an edge he’d never used with me. Even in all the years that we’d been nothin’ but mates and group mates, he’d never used the cold-angry tone with me that he’d used then. Those dark brown eyes of his that’d seemed to hold nothin’ but a mixture of tenderness, amusement, and even sweetness for the past few months, were almost black with a look that’d made me uncomfortable.
“George, what’s goin’ on?” I’d asked.
If it would’ve been possible for his eyes to become colder or angrier, they’d done so. “Don’t act like yer stupid, ‘cos you’re bloody not!” His mouth had gone tight at the edges. I’d caught the whiteness of his knuckles; he must’ve been holdin’ his hands quite tightly together.
“Look mate, I’ve no idea what yer fuckin’ problem is, and I won’t know unless you tell me what the fuck’s goin’ on.” I’d returned his look with a glare of me own.
“I know that you was a bit of a slag before we got together. I know ‘bout all the blokes ye’d fuck while we was still tourin’, but when we got together, I figured it’d be best to leave all that shit in the past.” He’d stopped for a moment, his face takin’ on that blank expression from earlier. I’d felt my face lose its colour; I’d had the feelin’ as if I’d just been slapped. “But I’m not goin’ to sit ‘round with a smile on me face while yer flirtin’ with that fuckin’ bent bastard.”
I hadn’t been slapped. I’d been fuckin’ stabbed, knife twisted just so to lodge it that much deeper. “I wasn’t flirtin’ with Brian,” I’d started coolly before pushin’ meself up from the tub and got out, makin’ a point of movin’ past him. I’d wrapped a towel ‘round my body. “You know somethin’ George, ye have no bloody right to judge me for anythin’ I’ve done in me life before we got together; the bloody cheek of it – who the hell are ye to tell me anythin’ ‘bout what I got up to on tour? What with all the bints ye’ve gotten off with over the years, eh?!” I’d turned on my heel and walked to the bedroom. “You have no right, none.”
I’d pulled a nightgown out of the wardrobe, and after havin’ towelled off, I’d pulled it over me. I’d straight up ignored George when I’d seen him follow me into our bedroom, doin’ me best to keep my breathin’ even, and worse yet, not give into what the hot wetness behind me eyes was tellin’ me loud and clear.
“I heard the both of you laughin’ over how frisky you were when we came back to England after we finished filmin’ in the Bahamas,” he said accusingly in my direction, eyes still dark with anger.
“It was a joke, George. We was just havin’ a laugh,” I’d responded, each word drippin’ with coldness. “He didn’t mean nothin’ by it, and I didn’t take it as such.”
“You’re my bleedin’ wife, Liz!” He’d yelled angrily, movin’ forward ‘til he was standin’ close to me. “Why the fuck is you lettin’ another bloke, an old boyfriend at that, have a laugh with you ‘bout that?”
“It didn’t mean anythin’.”
“I don’t care,” he’d continued with a glower, “it’s over, Liz. I can’t help the wanker bein’ ‘round when one of the others invites him to come by, but you’re not to have anythin’ to do with him.” His words had been filled with warnin’ and gave the appearance of leavin’ no room for argument. I’d felt a rush of coldness travel up and down my spine, and felt my entire body grow tense.
“You’re not me Dad to tell me what to do, or to tell me who I can and cannot have anythin’ to do with –“
“I’m your husband!”
“My husband, yes, not my fuckin’ owner!” I’d glared at him angrily, feelin’ a sense of cold fury travellin’ through my veins. I hadn’t recalled ever feelin’ so bloody angry in all me life, feelin’ like I’d been betrayed. I’d taken a quick breath, welcomin’ the sensation of bein’ doused in ice water – it wouldn’t have done for me to have become a sobbin’ mess. “I’m goin’ to bed,” I’d said turnin’ away from him.
His hand had come up and wrapped itself ‘round my arm. It’d been hot. “I mean it, Liz. It’s done.”
“Get your hand off of me,” I’d said brushin’ him off and slid under the duvet. George had grabbed both of my shoulders roughly, pushin’ me back into the mattress. The look on his face had continued to be a dark one but I’d stared up at him coldly, darin’ to do what he would.
“It’s done, Liz, ye hear me?” He’d said quietly in a voice that would’ve made most other birds cry, or even flinch. I wouldn’t have given him the satisfaction.
“You’ve no right to dictate to me, George. None whatsoever.” His fingers had continued to dig into my shoulders and I’d bitten the inside of my bottom lip to not flinch at the discomfort of it. “If what you wanted in a wife was a cowerin’ little miss, content to stay at home warmin’ yer dinner, who’d do whatever the fuck ye tell her, then ye married the wrong bird. Or maybe I married the wrong bloke, I don’t know.” I’d surprised meself at the cold rancour in me voice. I’d hadn’t imagined I’d ever use such a thing with him of all people.
George’s eyes had gone wide before furrowin’ under his thick eyebrows. His face had gone pale and I’d felt a brief sense of pride in that. “What are ye sayin’ then?” His voice had grown angrily and he’d pushed himself away from me, lookin’ down at me with barely contained fury. “Ye want to go off with ‘im then? Is that it?”
“Look George, it’s almost five in the fuckin’ mornin’. I’m tired. I’m goin’ to sleep.” With that, I had turned on my side, pullin’ the duvet to my chin. I’d heard our bedroom door slam what’d felt like ages later, and had then heard the rev of a car engine. I hadn’t slept much that night, to be honest.
I’d found him asleep on the sofa downstairs that afternoon. Still smartin’ from what’d happened the night before, I hadn’t woken him. I’d dressed meself, pulled on my boots, and headed out to Sunny Heights for lunch with Mo. She hadn’t asked if anythin’ was botherin’ me and I hadn’t volunteered any information. I’d hung ‘round their house ‘til it was late evenin’ and I followed Richie’s car into town.
George had already been at the studio when I’d arrived, as had John and Paul. I’d briefly exchanged greetings with all of ‘em before I’d headed into the control room where I’d spent the next few hours workin’ with George Martin on one of the various orchestral arrangements that we’d be usin’ on the new LP. I’d made no move to approach George that evenin’ and he hadn’t either. Paul had meandered into the control room at some point, had briefly asked me if I’d known what was goin’ on with George, but I’d shrugged and told him no.
A few hours later, Ringo had come into the control room and had invited me to come along to the Bag O’ Nails ‘cos some really great band was supposed to be performin’. I hadn’t bothered to ask if George would be comin’ along, I’d given him a small smile and told him that I’d follow him, and as it had turned out, Paul and John, there. I’d eventually gone downstairs into the studio, gave John a brief run-down of what me and George Martin had come up with for one of his songs, and when I caught George lookin’ in my direction, I’d stared back blankly.
“You goin’ to this thing?” He’d asked me as he’d pulled a ciggie and lighter from the inside pocket of his coat, firin’ it up in one go. I’d nodded in reply.
I’d headed onto the roof, pullin’ out one of the thinly rolled joints from my trouser pocket that I’d tended to take ‘round with me in those days. I’d leaned against the brick wall until I was sittin’ against it, knees against my chest, starin’ up into the clear London night and tryin’ to make out the stars. I’d taken a drag of the joint, lettin’ the smoke tease my nostrils until I’d had to exhale. I’d figured that I had at least fifteen minutes before Mal came lookin’ for me so I could head off with ‘em.
After what’d happened last night, it would be good to go out for a night of fun with my mates. I’d deliberately avoided lettin’ meself think too much on what’d happened, ‘cos I’d known that it would lead to somewhere I wasn’t comfortable goin’ to – not then anyhow. So I’d taken another drag and focused on thinkin’ about the other arrangements I’d begin workin’ on with George Martin shortly.
When I’d heard the door leadin’ onto the roof open, I’d known who it was. At the time, he’d been the last person I’d wanted to see really, I’d have much rather not talked ‘bout anythin’ with him then, but obviously he hadn’t been of the same mind. Overcomin’ my urge to leave and get out of there, I’d taken another pull of the thinly rolled ciggie, and turned my head up to look at him. His face had been half-covered in moonlight and shadow, settlin’ over the sharp angles.
“Here,” I’d said with a blank look, passin’ him the joint, makin’ a point of not lettin’ our fingers touch.
George had taken it and had quickly sat himself a few feet away from me. I’d laid the back of my head against the brick wall, starin’ back up into the night time sky. I’d heard the soft sound of George takin’ a drag. I’d tucked my chin into my chest for a second and caught sight of him tappin’ his plimsolls against the ground. I’d waited for him to hand the ciggie back to me, but after a minute or so, I gave up.
“Liz,” he’d started, and I’d heard a quiet sort of timid way that I don’t remember ever havin’ heard him use before. I’d looked at him out of the corner of my eye. He’d been starin’ forward, knees bent and pulled before him so that he was able to rest the bottom of his wrists on ‘em. “What time did you head out today?”
“Dunno,” I’d answered finally, “early enough I guess.”
“Ringo said you spent the afternoon with ‘em,” George had said quietly.
“Liz, I don’t know what to –“
“I don’t want to talk ‘bout that right now, George. Just drop it will ya,” I’d interrupted him coldly, and had then looked back up at the sky.
Seconds later, he’d been crouched in front of me, his dark hair fallin’ over his face, lookin’ at me with what I’d taken to be a pained expression. “Liz, I’m sorry for last night. I wish I could take it back, but I can’t.”
“Yer right, mate, ye can’t.” I’d looked up at him blankly. “Look George, maybe it’s best that we know what we know ‘bout each other now instead of goin’ on not knowin’.”
George’s face had gone pale, losin’ every semblance of colour from his face. “What’re you sayin’ Liz?” He’d asked me quietly, eyes wide.
I’d taken a deep breath and let it out slowly. “George, I can’t spend me life worryin’ that yer goin’ to turn into a right bastard if I have a laugh with an old friend of mine, even if it’s someone I dated before. What happened before we got together shouldn’t matter anymore, but apparently you don’t think the same.”
“Liz, I was stupid – a fuckin’ idiot who should’ve just kept his gob shut – and I’m sorry for the things I said to ye...for what I did –“
“And ye should be ‘cos what I got up to before we got together ain’t any of your business, just like I can’t hold what you did for years and years against you. Ye have no bloody right to ‘ave said the things you said to me, or to call me a slag.” I’d glared up angrily at him, unable to keep the hurt from creepin’ into me voice.
“I know that Liz, I do. Ya know I don’t think yer a slag; I was just talkin’ out of me arse and I’m sorry for it.” George had gone quiet, lookin’ at uncomfortable as I’d imagined I did. “But ye can’t expect me to just sit there and not...fuckin’ want to rip that wanker’s head off for sayin’ those things to you, especially considerin’...well, what went on with you two.”
I’d turned to look at him, had seen the stillness that’d settled over his face, and I’d wanted nothin’ more than to get out of there. I’d felt a terrible feelin’ a restlessness ‘bout all if it. “George, I can’t do this right now. I need to get away from this for a little while,” I’d sighed, not even sure if he could understand.
“I said I was sorry, Liz,” he’d said, lookin’ at me with a feelin’ I’d once heard described as ‘beseechingly’ by one of my primary school teachers. I’d felt meself wantin’ to soften towards him, but I hadn’t been able to. He pushed himself up ‘til he was standin’ in front of me.
“Yeah, I know. But what ‘bout the next time, eh? What’re you goin’ to do, what’re you goin’ to say the next time I meet an old ex-boyfriend and he says mentions somethin’ ‘bout our time together?”
“Look Liz, I don’t know what you want me to tell ye –“
“I just want you to understand somethin’ George,” I’d started, consciously forcin’ meself to not close in within meself, “you’re not my owner, you can’t tell me what to do like I’m a fuckin’ kid and expect me to do it, ‘cos it doesn’t work that way. You’ve no right to tell me who I can and cannot have anythin’ to do like you’re me dad, ‘cos yer not, even if it’s someone I dated at one point. You either trust me or ye don’t, it’s as simple as that.” I stopped to take a deep breath, knowin’ I was layin’ it out there, straight up as I possibly could. “We’re fuckin’ Beatles, George. We’ve played in the same band for years now, so you know how it is, and ye know what’s out there. If we spend all our time worryin’ ‘bout what the other gets up to this won’t have a chance in hell of workin’ out. I’m not goin’ to live that way, mate, and if yer idea of keepin’ the peace is tellin’ me what I can do and who I can see, then ye married the wrong bird.”
I’d pushed meself up from the floor and dusted off the back pockets of my trousers. I hadn’t looked at him as I’d walked past him to go downstairs to the studio. I’d found Mal in the reception area and he’d told me that the others had already left for the club, but that they’d be expectin’ me. I’d shrugged when he’d asked ‘bout George.
The Bag O’ Nails had been bustlin’ with activity as it usually was, and though I’d had a drink and another drag off a joint in the loud venue, I hadn’t been particularly enjoyin’ meself. I’d done me best to not look ‘round too much to see if George had come along, confused and unsure ‘bout the outcome of all of it. I hadn’t stayed too long, especially when I’d caught sight of members from the Stones comin’ over to our table. I’d excused meself and headed out into the night, not knowin’ what to expect.
The drive back to Kinfauns had been an uneasy one, partly ‘cos of everythin’ that happened last night and what’d occurred earlier that very evenin’. I’d asked meself for the first time if maybe I should’ve been like any properly raised girl from Liverpool and just gone along with whatever George’d wanted. Howver, soon as the thought had crossed me head, I’d know that it would’ve been impossible for me to do so; I couldn’t sit passively by and let me life be decided for me, even if it was by me husband, who’d disappointed me terribly, if truth be told.
As I’d pulled my car into the drive, I’d made out a lone figure sittin’ on the front steps. He’d been smokin’ a cigarette, arms crossed on his splayed knees. He’d watched me silently as I’d turned the key in the ignition, and didn’t take his eyes off of me as I’d closed the door behind me and circled ‘round the boot and headed towards the steps. I’d sat meself next to him, and had reached for the pack of fags at his side. As I’d brought the ciggie to my lips, I’d heard him speak.
“It won’t happen again, Liz. Any of it, I won’t ever happen again.” He’d turned to look at me with such a look of naked pain on his face, sadness, and I’d squeezed my knee to not reach over to wrap my hand ‘round his.
“Let me finish,” he’d said sharply before lettin’ out a jagged breath. “I’m a fool, and you’ve no idea how bloody awful I feel for what I told ye last night, for handlin’ ye the way I did. Yer right, what happened before we got together shouldn’t matter, and it doesn’t...it won’t.” He’d looked at me intently. “I’m sorry, Lizzy. I don’t know what else to say.”
I’d done what had come natural then, and had shuffled over, and wrappin’ my arm through his, I’d laid my head against his shoulder. He’d done the same, movin’ his fingers through mine and until we were palm to palm and he was holdin’ it so tightly against his. “I love you,” he’d said quietly and I’d nodded, feelin’ the warmth of our hands against my trouser-covered thigh.
“I’m not goin’ to live that way,” I’d said before buryin’ my forehead against his collarbone, breathin’ him in through the material of his shirt. I’d instantly been reminded of how much I’d hated sleepin’ alone the night before.
“It won’t happen again, Liz.” The conviction in his voice had made my heart feel heavy.
“Ok,” I’d answered quietly and had felt him wrap and arm around my waist. His hold had been tender and made me feel as if I was as fragile as glass.
“I want ye to know somethin’, Lizzy.” He’d tilted my face up with his knuckle ‘til we were eyeball to eyeball almost. His eyes had been so dark. “I didn’t marry the wrong bird, don’t ye ever say that again. I’m a fuckin’ idiot who should watch what he says, but I’ve never for a moment thought I married the wrong bird. I love ye,” he’d wrapped a hand ‘round my cheek, lookin’ more ashamed than I’d ever seen him be. “I love you rather desperately actually, Lizzy. I can’t stand it y'know,” his voice had gone soft, “the thought of bein’ without ye. I can’t stand it. I’m sorry for the things I said to you, the way I treated you, it’ll never happen again.”
Pullin’ meself up, I’d stretched a hand down towards him, and together we’d headed indoors. Soon as the door had closed behind us, I’d buried my face in his neck, feelin’ his heart beat beat wildly against my mouth, as I’d reached for the top button of his shirt.
It’d been Marianne Faithfull who’d rung Apple to pass on a message to me: Brian Jones was dead. He’d been found floating in his pool at his home in East Sussex. I’d lost contact with Brian over the year, the last time I’d seen him had been towards the end of the previous year when they’d been filmin’ what would be The Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus, and to be honest, I’d been really put off by how much of a drug addict he’d become. Mind, I couldn’t claim come out smellin’ of roses when it came to the drug business, but after givin’ up LSD a year or so earlier, I’d stuck to smokin’ my ciggie, dope, and drink; Brian had been one of few strung out drug fiends I’d known of.
I’d wondered, after receivin’ word, if my complacence ‘bout the entire bloody thing – all those patronising/amused looks as he made a fool out of himself at some point of another – along with what appeared to be everyone else’s couldn’t be compared to...handin’ him a loaded gun with which to off hisself. Do whatever you want, Brian, just keep me out of it. It ain’t no skin off my back.
As it’d been, I’d been a bit bothered by it. He’d been just one of a few that I’d known of who’d died from their addictions, but it’d shaken me up. That evenin’ after headin’ back home, I’d filled George in on what’d happened, and unsurprisingly, had encouraged me to go to the funeral. He’d kept his word. Since what’d occurred years before, he hadn’t spoken or treated me that way again. I’d sighed, curlin’ up against him on our sofa, and had fallen asleep to the sensation of him pullin’ his fingers through my hair soothingly.
Days later, he’d seen me off to Cheltenham with a kiss before askin’ me to ring when I arrived at the hotel. And when I’d returned home after a day or so, he’d greeted me with his poor excuse for a pot of tea and a plate of veg curry. I’d been glad to be home.
“Come here,” he’d said tiredly.
“Give me a few minutes, I’m almost done packin’.” I’d said as I’d laid another shirt over the neat pile in the suitcase. We were set to depart for New York the followin’ day.
“Stop that for a minute, Liz. Come here,” he’d continued in that same tired voice. I’d looked over at him, bent as I’d been over the case. He’d been layin’ on our bed, his grey-haired head on a pillow as he’d watched with me those brown eyes of his that hadn’t aged a day.
“I’m almost done, can you –“
“Lizzy,” he’d said quietly, and I’d sighed, before doin’ as he’d asked. He’d looked so tired and gaunt, and I’d tried to not look at him too intently for fear that he’d be able to read me head – a skill he’d seemed to acquire over the thirty-five years of our marriage – and know the thoughts goin’ through it.
“D’you want somethin’ to eat, Georgie? Want me to fix you a cuppa? I’ve a nice Darjeeling I found in town a few days ago. Let me just –“
“I’m fine, come here, “he’d interrupted with an even look. He’d patted the side next to him on the bed. I’d given him what I’d hoped was a cheerful enough smile as I’d done as he’d asked – he was forever gettin’ on me to smile more often or else me frown would set and forever ruin me looks. The wanker. I’d sat meself on the edge of the bed.
“Happy, you randy bugger?” I’d asked with a laugh that had sounded hollow even to my ears. It’d been so bloody hard to laugh ‘bout this, to remind meself that I had to smile, when all I’d truly wanted was to go into the middle of a bloody field and scream my head off.
He’d cracked a bit of a smile before answerin’, “Give me a minute and I will be!” He’d given me a lecherous wink and I’d been unable to not smile. He’d raised a hand and laid it over mine, strokin’ my palm with his fingertips. I’d sat there for a few minutes, lettin’ him hold my hands, until I’d felt it was safe to make a move to stand.
“I need to finish,” I’d started but he hadn’t let go.
“No you don’t. Leave it for now.”
“George, our flight—“
“Leave it,” he’d continued quietly, and I’d done as he’d asked, ‘cos there was no way I couldn’t. I’d sat there, watchin’ him watch me and probably readin’ every though, knowin’ of every feelin’ goin’ through my brain. It’d hurt to sit there with that forced smile on me face, but I’d done it ‘cos I’d known that was what he’d wanted. I’d bit the inside of my bottom lip when I’d seen the warm tenderness cover his face, had seen the way his eyes had softened as he’d kept watchin’.
“Aren’t you tired of starin’ at me, mate?” I’d finally asked with a small laugh. He’d grinned that beautiful wide smile of his.
“No, not yet. Give me another fifty years or so and then maybe,” he’d chuckled.
“You’re naff, ye know that?”
He’d laid his head back on his pillow and shut his eyes for a moment before he’d reopened ‘em. “Ya know, I’m glad that Sam, Lou, and Meg all got yer looks – poor Dhani, looks just like his berk of a dad! Even if Sam looks too much like Paul for his own good.” George had laughed quietly and I’d joined in.
“Louise may take after my side, but she’s the most like you out of the four of ‘em!” I’d said with a sigh and a bit of a shake of my head as I’d recalled stubborn-as-a-goat daughter I’d gotten as a second child. After the easy-going nature which had characterised our eldest Sam, Louise had been quite a handful.
“I know it, poor girl,” he’d agreed tenderly, closin’ his eyes once more.
He’d grown quiet for a minute durin’ which I’d wondered if he’d fallen asleep, but based on the tight hold he’d still kept on my hands, I’d thought not. “They’re such beautiful babies, Lizzy. You gave me such beautiful babies.”
I’d felt a knot in my throat but I’d made myself chuckle light-heartedly. “Sam’s almost thirty, lovie, I’m not sure he’d be too keen on you callin’ him a baby.”
“That’s true. Doesn’t change the fact though.” He’d opened his eyes to stare up at me, a gentleness there that threatened to make me lose the last little bit of control I’d had remainin’. “Thank ye for carryin’ our babies, Lizzy. Thank you for wantin’ ‘em, for lovin’ the four of ‘em as much as ye do even if they’ve got too much of their grumpy old father in ‘em for their own good.”
The mistiness in my eyes had been hot and taken a deep breath to clear it a bit. I’d needed to hold on, I couldn’t do what I’d wanted nothin’ more than anythin’ else in the world to do. “George, I need to finish packin’...our flight...” I’d felt the quiver in my voice and I’d gulped, doin’ everythin’ I could to keep it in.
“I’m goin’ to be ok, Liz. And you’ll be ok, too.” He’d said, lookin’ at me quietly, so much fuckin’ love in his eyes then and that I’d almost not been able to stand it.
“George, I really need to finish packin’...”I’d trailed off, takin’ a deep breath as I’d moved to get up, but his hold had remained firm.
“You’ll be ok, Liz. You’ll be ok.” And he’d pulled me to him, tuckin’ my head under his chin in the way that he’d known I’d liked. ‘I like hearin’ your heartbeat’ I’d confessed to him once in the early days. “You’ll be ok, Lizzy. You’ll be ok,” he’d kept on sayin’, over and over in that soothin’ way of his.
Like it’d been on various other occasions other the years, I’d felt the wellin’ in the pit of my gut and then felt it travel up until it’d settled in my chest heavily. I tried to breathe, but all I could smell was the odour of his skin, and he’d kept strokin’ my hair from me face, whisperin’ those words over and over until they were a mantra runnin’ through my head. And then I couldn’t hold it anymore; I would’ve been an impossibility.
The sobs had wracked my body when they’d started, comin’ in spasms that made my chest ache with a pain so excrutiatin’ that I hadn’t ever known I could ever feel somethin’ like that. It’d hurt just to breathe, to know that there was nothin’ I could do to fuckin’ fix this, to make this go away. Still George had held me, still he’d continued to stroke my hair, still he’d continued to murmur those words into my hair as if they were a prayer. I’d wrapped my fingers around his shirt tightly as I’d felt roll after roll of the painful sobs go through my body, wantin’ nothin’ more than for it to go away, even while entertainin’ the thought that I’d gladly spend the rest of me life with that pain if only I could keep him instead.
“Georgie,” I’d whispered into his collarbone, feelin’ his arms come ‘round me even more tightly. “Georgie, what if it doesn’t work?” I asked him softly, not even believin’ I could voice my concern, my worry. I’d wanted to kick mesself for even thinkin’ such a thing. He was goin’ to be fine! Fine, ye stupid bint!
“What if it doesn’t, hmm?” He’d replied quietly, finger still movin’ through my hair.
“It has to work, George. It has to...” I’d gasped as I’d felt another spasm go through my body, further wetting the collar of his shirt.
“Lizzy, look at me,” he’d whispered, and I’d shaken my head, not wantin’ to look at him, not wantin’ him to see me this way. He’d cupped my face tenderly and tilted it up until he’d been lookin’ straight at me, into my insides. “I’m not afraid to die, Lizzy. I don’t want to, but I’m not afraid of it.” He’d stroked my cheek, and in that moment, he’d looked so much like the dark-haired with the bleedin’ gorgeous smile I’d finally kissed in that lounge in New York City all those years before, it’d made my heart ache even more.
“What’ll I do?”
“Be happy, continue to live yer life, drink your fifty pots of tea every day,” he’d said with a smile, “do everythin’ you’ve always done, Lizzy. I don’t want ye to stop doin’ any of the things that make ye happy, ok?”
“But how can you expect me to want to—“
“Because I’ve earned it after all these years of puttin’ up with you and yer overbearin’ ways, Mrs. Harrison, that’s why,” he’d said with that same soft smile on his face. “Not only do ye turn me down cold the first time I asked ye ‘bout givin’ us a go, but it took ye until near the bloody last tour to put me out of my misery!”
I’d laughed, unable not to, as I’d thought of George has anythin’ near as miserable as he’d claimed to be. “Oh yes, plenty miserable. I wonder what all those hundreds of groupies would say to that!”
“Nursin’ me broken heart I was!” He’d chuckled and I’d sighed before curlin’ into him. “So as I was sayin’, Mrs. Harrison, by virtue of puttin’ up with you and yer horrid moods since I was a wee boy, the least ye owe me is to not stop livin’ a moment of your life if for some reason I’m not here, ok?”
And so I’d sighed before noddin’, knowin’ that there was no use in tryin’ to argue with him. Not ‘bout this.
“I can’t stand it, Georgie,” I’d whispered finally, “the thought of bein’ without you.” I’d spent more than half of my life married to him, and didn’t know how I’d go back...to not if it came to pass.
“Then don’t think ‘bout it, luv.” He’d replied, as if it was the most logical answer. I hadn’t answered, instead I’d buried my head into the side of his neck. The feelin’ of his heart beatin’ against my lips was a precious one. “Ye never will be. The love I have for you has no beginnin’ and no end. It’s neverending.”
“It’s infinite,” I’d said. And I’d realised that no matter what happened, that ultimately, I’d be as he’d said: I’d be ok. There was no way I could not be. He’d have it no other way.
“Mum, it’s time,” Dhani had said had he’d wrapped an arm around my shoulders. I’d seen the two Hare Krishna devotees waitin’ for me. It was time to do what George had wanted.
Lookin’ at my youngest son, the one who looked the most like his father, I’d nodded before givin’ him a small smile. I’d looked at my three other children who were quietly waitin’ with those two men as I’d felt my son slide his fingers through mine. “Let’s go,” I’d answered, and givin’ his hand a squeeze, we’d walked out into the bright Indian sunshine towards the shore of the Ganges.