By Elizabeth Darcy
“Excuse me, but does the number seven go to—oy!”
My words were still in the air when the door slammed shut and a burst of bus exhaust met me in gruff reply. Either the bus driver had been deaf, or London transit operators were the rudest breed of creatures on earth. I stepped back onto the pavement and re-opened my Routemaster map with frustrated fingers, trying to make sense of the great maze of red solid and dotted lines.
It can’t be that hard -- how on earth to get to the Kennington Road from Russell Square… But the numbers were blurring together, thanks to the tears rimming my eyes.
They’d said I shouldn’t bother with
London; that I was a country girl and I didn’t belong. I’d left Bedford
confident I would prove them wrong, but now I wasn’t so sure.
Standing at a bus stop, lost and alone, prompted dreadful thoughts of
all of them --Mum, Dad and everyone else -- relishing the words ‘I told
Since first arriving at King’s Cross station earlier in the day, I’d busted the heel on my left shoe hurrying down a stairwell, taken the wrong line on the Underground which made me late for Orientation at the London University, and now I couldn’t even seem to manage getting on the right bus. The tears were no longer rimming my eyes, but falling steadily down my cheeks.
“First day in the city?”
I’d been standing very closely to another traveler and hadn’t realized it, as I was wholly consumed with my bus maps. His shaggy long hair that flipped in the back marked him as the archetypical London swinger that the blokes back home in the suburbs tried to emulate. And my tears had marked me as the naïve, misplaced country dweller that I, ultimately, was.
I cast my eyes to the ground, ashamed of crying in public, and answered him in quick monosyllables.
“Yes, it is.”
“Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one who gets lost in this city. I’ve lived here four years and I still get lost. Where are you trying to get to?”
“12 Kennington Road.”
He tapped his boot on the pavement. “Let’s see… Kennington… er… if I were you I’d make it easy on yourself. One block over is Southampton Row— there you can take the 91 bus to it’s last stop at the Strand, and then I’d go to Waterloo where you can catch the 59— it goes straight to the Kennington Road.”
My tears were still fresh on my cheeks, but I was soon smiling despite all that. He was being kind, and the shock of it left me momentarily unsure of how to reply. With shaking hands I reached into my handbag and pulled out a pen and paper.
“I’m going to write that down… thank you.”
“Not at all,” he said. “You moving here for school?”
“Yes,” I said. “London University. I’ve just come from orientation, actually, and I’ve been trying to get to my new flat.”
“Well, at least you’ve your flat all squared away.”
“The landlady is the auntie of a friend of mine back home, and she’s promised to hold it for me. Didn’t even want a deposit— which I’m beginning to understand is a considerable break because this town is terribly expensive!”
A screech of brakes interrupted me, and my friendly stranger pulled out his bus card.
“This bus is mine— best of luck to you. I might even see you around at the University: I’m an English major there.” He held out his hand. “Nathan Sloane.”
We shook hands and he hopped aboard the bus, which promptly shuddered and burped forward, sputtering away.
Twenty-five minutes later I was disembarking at Kennington Road and climbing the front steps of number twelve.
Ten minutes after that I was climbing back down the front steps of number twelve.
In a stroke of brilliant bad fortune, my friend’s auntie had forgotten her promise to hold the flat for me— a case of amnesia brought on by the payment of six full months rent in advance by someone else.
Which left me, and my suitcase, quite alone.
Normally, before one resorts to panic,
there is a wave of desperate ‘what-ifs’ that swamp the mind. What
if I rang up Mum and Dad and told them I’d be on the train back home
tonight… what if I shouldn’t have come to London at all… what if I
should have listened to my family and followed in the Gooding tradition of
girls marrying off after secondary school and dedicating their lives to
raising babies like my sister, whom everyone loved so much…what if my
dreams of being an artist were just as dead as the landlady’s promise…
It was getting cold on the decidedly dirty streets.
And I needed a drink.
Thankfully, in London one is never far away from a drink. The Lion’s Head pub, a building that had certainly once been red brick but was now blackened over with time, stood across from the roundabout, and I walked inside to the diffused lighting that made the browns of the walls and flooring glow a dingy, dusty orange.
It was a bit after five which meant the place was filled with corpulent laborers and other blue-collar workers who surely dropped in for a drink and a laugh before heading home. A squeaky-clean kid like me, who barely reached five-three with my heels on, was distinctly out of place. The bartender certainly noticed this and gave me a sideways smile as I stood on my tiptoes to place my order.
“One pint Guinness stout.”
I took my glass to the furthest, darkest corner, and resigned to mulling over just how bad my luck really was. And then, from those opaque smoky shadows that enveloped me, music crept in, filtering through. Someone had switched on a jukebox.
The opening harpsichord-like notes punched me in the stomach and my eyes began to water once more. And the voice singing the words was so divinely beautiful that it pushed my tears over the edge and I lowered my head to the table to shield my crying from public view.
I’m fixing a hole
where the rain gets in
And stops my mind
from wandering where it will go.
I’m filling the
cracks that ran through the door
And kept my mind
Where it will go…
on and call, Mum and Dad are just a shilling away…
But calling them meant to admit that I was wrong.
can’t call, not after that last row of ours.
They don’t want me here… but it’s my life.
I’m the one who studied my bum off for the A levels and worked to
get that scholarship, and this is my dream.
They’ll only force me into one of them if I go back home. As long
as I’m here I have a chance of being the person I want to be. And even if
I don’t become an artist…
It really doesn’t
matter if I’m wrong, I’m right where I belong
I’m right where I
See the people
standing there who disagree
And never win
And wonder why they
don’t get in my door…
I lifted my head from the table, the lyrics sobering me right up.
exactly… I’m where I belong. And
who cares about those other people who disagree with me…
for the help, lads.
And do you know, it wasn’t so cold outside after all.
I ran into Nathan Sloane my first day on campus, though it was hardly accidental.
London University was a sprawling world
of courtyards and crisp white neoclassical libraries and was just as
pleasing to the eye, and massive, as the city it resided in. Which meant
that conditions weren’t ideal for casually looking around for someone—
one had to know exactly where they were going to find anything.
I started the morning out at the registrar’s, sorting out some lingering paperwork, and it was there that I more than casually overheard two professor’s chatting behind me, both of them apparently English professors. So, in the least obtrusive manner possible, I kindly asked if they were acquainted with one Nathan Sloane, to which they informed me the person in question was one of the most promising writers on campus and was a student in both of their classes— on the north side of the library.
So I made sure to pass by the library in hopes of seeing a particular familiar face— which I did. He was hand in hand with a very attractive, leggy blonde. How fitting that his girlfriend would be the archetypical London glamour queen. They matched each other impeccably— one of those couples that look so very perfect together. This time I wasn’t bleary-eyed and emotionally frazzled, so I was therefore able to get a good, steady look at him: the man was just plain gorgeous. Even from my considerable distance of several yards, his blue eyes were bright and clear— perhaps amplified by his great head of black hair. And when he laughed, at whatever it was the blonde was saying, I forgot how to breathe entirely.
So imagine my delight when those eyes fell upon me and smiled.
“Oy! Charley! Over here!”
More than slightly disappointed at him calling someone else, I instinctively turned around to see who he was shouting to. But my heart beat near out of its cage when his bright eyes were directly over mine when I turned back.
“Charley Gooding! Remember me? The fella at the bus stop?
Did I remember? Was the Pope Catholic?
it cool, Charlotte.
“Oh yeah, of course! Nathan, right?”
“At your service, mum. Cindy, meet Charley. Charley, this is my girlfriend, Cindy.”
“It’s Charlotte, actually.”
“I know,” Nathan said breezily. “But Charley is much more hip. You don’t mind, do you?”
can I mind?
I shook Cindy’s slender hand, and was keenly aware that she did not share her boyfriend’s enthusiasm.
“So! How did it turn out with your new flat?”
“It didn’t. My flat is room two-fifteen at the Thistle Hotel— bankside.”
“Yeah, the landlady gave it away to a higher paying customer.”
“You must be joking!”
“No. But it’s all right: the Thistle is a big step up from 12 Kennington Road. I’m just going to have to add flat hunting to my to-do list, right below job hunting.”
Nathan bit the corner of his lip in a very brief, but very visibly intense bout of thought. “Oy, Cindy— what about Lulu?”
“What about her?”
Cindy’s first words were just as rigid as her posture.
“She’s moved out of the flat, hasn’t she? Don’t you need another roommate?”
Cindy shifted her weight and twisted her mouth, shadowing the beginnings of a frown. “Yes…”
Nathan beamed. “Well? I reckon this means you don’t have to place an advert in the Standard!”
Cindy opened her mouth, and chose her words very carefully. “Nate, it is in Marylebone.” She finally shifted her gaze to me, her eyes just as blue as Nathan’s, but markedly cooler. “It’s expensive.”
It was a blaring warning light to me and I was quick to do my best to ease her discomfort— after all, she’d known me all of forty-five seconds.
“I bet it is, being Marylebone. After all, I was only set for a flat in Kennington.”
“Nonsense,” said Nathan, obviously not catching his girlfriend’s drift— or at least purposefully choosing not to acknowledge it. “Lulu was paying all of sixty five quid a month.”
quid… I was going to pay fifty for Kennington Road…
Cindy’s expression went undecipherable, and I decided to break the silence by making an offer. “Well… if you are looking for a roommate, I could pay you three months in advance.”
That changed things.
She raised her brow as if to say ‘oh’?
“I understand if you pass on it because you don’t know me from Adam.”
“Well I know her,” said Nathan. “And you know how I am, Cindy. I’m good at gauging people. This kid is sweet as pie— direct from the suburbs.”
I tried desperately not to blush at him calling me sweet. “Please don’t pressure her,” I said gently. “Tell you what, if you decide for it, let me give you the number where you can reach me.”
Cindy’s threateningly ominous expression suddenly, and dramatically, softened. “No. That’s not necessary… I’d be stupid to pass up an offer like this.”
Nathan looked vindicated. “Gear. Tell you what, Charley. When’s your last class out?”
“Er…” I fumbled clumsily with my schedule, once again very aware of Cindy’s appraising stare. “I get out at 4:15.”
“Just around the corner in Russell Square is a pub called the Queen’s Head. Meet us there when you get out, won’t you?”
Cindy nodded. “Yeah, that’s a good idea. We can talk more there.”
I smiled and hoped to God that Cindy understood how very genuinely grateful I was about the entire situation… and hoping to God that Nathan had meant it when he’d called me sweet.
The Queen’s Head was one of those trendy, mod hangouts thick with cigarette smoke and existentialist talk— a lot of which was, surely, naught more than the hot air that made the café nearly uncomfortable.
Nathan’s beaming blue eyes cut through the haze with their burning intensity. He lifted his hand and waved me over, Cindy at his side, and a dark-haired girl with them. I took my seat, bidding all hello, and Nathan introduced me to the raven-haired girl as ‘Cindy’s mate Margo.’
“Nathan and I have been talking,” said Cindy. “And if you like, you can come to the flat after our drinks. Look it over, and if you want to, sign all the papers and that.”
It was useless to hide my extreme delight. “That would be lovely, Cindy, really. This takes such a load off my shoulders.”
“So your Mum and Dad didn’t find a flat for you?”
Cindy had every right to be nosy. We were, after all, going to be roommates.
“No. They’re against all of this: my coming to University here. They’re quite old fashioned and their argument is that there’s nothing in London that I can’t do at home in Bedford.”
“What are you studying?”
I laughed. “Art. I tried explaining that London is really the only place down here that I can get a decent education in it, and have a chance at making a successful career of it. But they think it’s rubbish.” The waiter set down a bottle of Coke and I took an eager drink from it. “You can’t make a career in art, my Dad says.”
“Ah,” said Nathan. “What did they want you to do? Law? Medicine?”
Cindy’s wall crumbled even more. “Oh. Those parents.”
“Yes. And the fact that my elder sister married the year after she left secondary school, and is the pride of the family with her two little boys, pretty much ruined my chances of Mum and Dad supporting me with my career.”
Margo lit up a cigarette and brought it to her lips. “Then what happened?”
“I had to make a decision. I want this, so I’m doing it, even if it’s all by myself, without any support except my own.”
Nathan raised his pint of beer and nodded his forehead. “And here’s to that, Charley.”
The others followed suit and said ‘cheers’, while I vied desperately not to go perfectly crimson from embarrassment.
“What made you decide to do this?” he asked.
I paused, remembering the other night at the pub, and couldn’t help the sheepish grin that surfaced.
“The night I lost my flat, I went to a pub and was seriously thinking about packing it in. And then, I swear to you, someone turned on the jukebox and the song that came on answered everything.”
“Fixing a Hole by the Beatles— you know the one on Sgt. Pepper? I listened to the lyrics, really for the first time, and I thought ‘yeah! I am where I belong’! So I fixed up my hole and decided to prove everyone at home bloody wrong—“
Nathan was still smiling, although its brilliance had dimmed… it was almost forced now. And I got the distinct feeling that I’d done something very wrong.
“What’s the matter?”
Cindy leaned forward and squeezed my hand. “Absolutely nothing. Do you know, I think that you and I are going to get along very well indeed!”
Cindy lived just off Baker Street in a 1930s period building that featured a jovial green-frocked porter and an old-fashioned lift with a metal gate. Having grown up in a cramped two up and two down that had a habit of smelling moldy every February, this was the poshest place I’d really ever been. I was going to live there?
“Evening, Miss Stanley!” The porter tipped his hat to us as we rushed through the foyer and into the elevator.
“Gosh, Cindy, it’s beautiful here…”
“Hmm? Oh, yeah, I suppose. The apartments near the University tend to be nicer, but I suppose it’s all right. Dad chose this place, not me.”
‘all right’? I felt underdressed…
Cindy opened a door at the end of the narrow, russet brown hallway, and flipped on the lights.
“My God! Cindy!”
Cindy was smiling, sorting through her day’s mail. “I’m glad you like it. But I didn’t design it, Lulu did.”
“Lulu— did she graduate or…”
“No. She just… wanted a change.”
“From this?” White rugs sprawled over wood floors and a red Japanese lantern hung from the ceilings, while framed Japanese characters adorned the walls.
“Let me show you around. The kitchen is here, obviously. Plates and bowls in the left cupboard, glassware in the right. Oh and the hot water in the kitchen sink only works at night. Here’s the bathroom, down this hallway right here— it’s every man for himself in the mornings— and here is your room.”
It was twice the size of my bedroom back home, and blank of all possessions. Not that I had many possessions anyway. The window looked out into the less than scenic alleyway between the neighboring housing block— quite different than the view of park greenery and trees I’d had back in Bedford.
I put my clothes away and placed my meager picture frames and few favorite books onto the empty shelves— which only made them look even more barren. What it needed was some definite attention, even if it was just simple things like table lamps and clocks and a good coat of paint on the walls.
The mod fashion queen that Cindy was, she surely knew where to go for trendy home furnishings and I walked to her door and tapped on it. “Cindy, you busy?”
“Come on in!”
I opened the door. “I just wanted to know what the nearest shops were for some really gear…”
Cindy sat cross legged on her bed, in the midst of what could only be described as a devotional shrine. In her lap was the unmistakable Technicolor album cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, which also happened to be playing from the turntable on her armoire. And on the walls above it… pictures… posters… framed photographs… of the Beatles. Or more specifically, Paul McCartney.
Now, understand that Paul McCartney shrines were a normal occurrence amongst adolescent girls. But there were two problems with the picture in front of me. Cindy was a grown college student. And this shrine of hers exceeded anything I’d every seen in my life. Paul McCartney’s soft, boyish features were staring at me from every inch of wall space. And adding to my alarm were two rather large photo albums alongside her turntable and I could only guess what sorts of pictures lay within them.
“Well?” She was smiling at me and raised her hands into the air. “What do you think?”
can I put this? Scary? Obsessive?
“Wow… Cindy… this is…”
Alfred Hitchock film?
Her smile was broadening. “It’s terrific, isn’t it?”
“You… sure have put a lot of effort into it.”
“I know, it’s taken years! When you said that about Paul’s song today, I knew you’d appreciate something like this! Nate calls it ‘disgusting.’ But he’s really just jealous.” She shook her head. “Sometimes I wonder why I put up with him.”
bet that Nathan is more than
jealous of it all.
Amongst the glossy menagerie of the aesthetic perfection of man she’d never met, I picked out precisely one photograph of her and Nathan. They were both smiling, embracing tightly, with not a care in the world, and my heart plummeted to the floor: the extraordinarily kind and gracious and beautiful Nathan Sloane was in love with a girl who questioned why she even put up with him.
She took me on the grand tour of her shrine, girlish enthusiasm pouring from her in a way I’d scarcely imagined possible from someone who’d struck me as so very poised and polished.
“These ones on this wall I collected from magazines— see this one here called The Mersey Beat? Cost me twenty-five quid. It’s from before they even signed with EMI, back in ’62— see how young they look? And then these pictures are ones from their concerts. The ones right here are one’s that I’ve taken— you know I’ve been to damn near all of ‘em, every time they played anywhere here in the south. I even with to France to see them before they first went to the states— that’s where this picture was taken, isn’t it good?”
I hadn’t even answered her and she was already onto another train of thought. “You’ll love these!” She went to those photo albums and pulled one particularly large one out. “This is the piece de resistance. I’ve taken all these pictures of Paul in person.”
“Oh, you’ve met him?”
She sighed. “No… not really, anyway. I’ve just taken these pictures when I’ve sat close to the stage at concerts or when he’s been at the BBC radio and these ones here? These are photos of his house here in London— it’s just a quick walk down the road, you know. But no, I’ve never been formally introduced…” she sighed. “But I know that’s going to change.”
“For starters, he and Jane Asher are really on the rocks right now.”
“Ah,” I said. “So it’s prime time to… swoop in?”
“Don’t exaggerate, I’m not expecting him to fall in love with me. Although… I wouldn’t mind that of course. But there’s one other thing that I’ve got in my favor.”
She was positively glowing with excitement. “John Lennon is in a new movie called How I Won the War, and it’s premiering at the Empire Theater on the 18th of October. And I will be at the after-party!”
She smiled. “I’ve got my ways: a bona-fide invitation!”
“How on earth did you manage that?”
“Margo has her ways. All that matters is: I am going to be at the same party as Paul McCartney…” she sighed and threw herself back on the bed. “Charley, you don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for this. I’ve got the strangest feeling that something wonderful, something delightful, is going to happen there.”
And I had the strangest feeling that I’d moved in with a lunatic.
People have said a lot of bad things about the weather in London… and, admittedly, they’ve had solid grounds for it. But even the most acidic of cynics would have to admit to the singular beauty of a crisp blue sky and the rustle of the leaves blowing along the gutters in the cold wind that marks the beginning of an English autumn.
I would have found it all remarkably romantic, had I not been struggling to keep my sanity. By the end of my first fortnight at the London University, I’d begun considering changing majors. I loved drawing and painting, but I was beginning to see spots from spending so much time focused on canvases and drawing pads. And if I had to draw one more crumpled paper bag, I was going to loose it. (‘Builds discipline,’ my art teacher said.)
The best part of the week was on Wednesdays: Cindy and I were in the same psychology class, which meant Nathan would wait for her outside the classroom. He’d greet her with a hug, and then give me a wink and say, ‘Hiya Charley. Behaving yourself?’
Nathan always smelled of aftershave and fresh peppermint. He kept the collars of his jackets flipped up, just like the back of his hair, and he seemed to wear the same pair of scruffy black boots. He always looked, in a word, groovy. And I was thrilled to just walk alongside him and chat, even though I wasn’t the one with my arm about him.
Cindy held that privilege. And once we settled into our usual spot at the Queen’s Head pub, Nathan’s cuddling always intensified — although Cindy didn’t really seem much interested with his kisses. She was much too busy chatting with Margo about… what else?
“I’m not wearing black, Margo. The last thing I want to do is blend in. I was in Chelsea last week and saw a pink dress in a window— I’m going to go back tomorrow and get it.”
“But black is so much more dramatic, isn’t that what you want?”
“Let’s ask Nate: would you be more apt to notice a bird in pink or a bird in black?”
He was nuzzling her ear. “You could show up with nothing on at all and everyone will notice…”
“I’m serious, Nate! This is important!”
Nathan pulled away from Cindy and leaned back in his seat, his face wiped clean of any amusement. “Don’t reckon I like this sort of chat— deciding what you’ll wear so another fella will notice!”
Cindy didn’t think so. “Oh honestly, Nate. Do you really think I’d leave you for someone I’ve never met?”
Nathan locked onto her gaze. “If he asked you out you’d say yes in a heartbeat.”
Cindy was getting heated. “And wouldn’t you? If Raquel Welch walked in the door and asked you to dinner, wouldn’t you say yes?”
“But Raquel Welch isn’t going to walk through the doors and you’re missing the point entirely. You’re planning all this because you are head over heels in love with this… celebrity and you’d love nothing more than to spend the rest of your life with this… this fantasy that you’ve created! Which pretty much leaves me out of the picture, doesn’t it; how can I compete with something that doesn’t exist?”
She snuggled up to him. “Oh Nate, how you do run on.”
Nathan opened his mouth to speak, but apparently decided against it. Instead he forfeited and brought her in close to him.
I nudged Margo. “Are they always like that?”
“Always.” She lowered her head and whispered, “Poor Nathan. He knows he can’t compete with the real love of her life… but he loves her so much that he’ll take whatever part of her heart he can get. Cindy is a damn lucky girl.” Margo, who owned an infectious smile, gave me one with a wink. “I’d kill for a bloke like that.”
After Nathan and Cindy made up and our drinks were finished, Margo walked with Cindy and me back home to Marylebone.
“He gets so touchy,” said Cindy.
“Can’t blame him,” said Margo. “Nathan is right. You—“
“I know!” Cindy grabbed my arm suddenly, shutting up Margo completely. “Margo, let’s show Cavendish to Charley!”
Margo shook her head, laughing quietly. “You are something else, Cindy. All right then, this way.”
“What’s a Cavendish?”
But I needn’t have asked, because soon we were turning onto a particularly pretty avenue with middling evening blues and purples poking through the canopy trees. A high black wrought iron fence marked number “7”, lit up by the foggy glow of a Victorian streetlamp, and Margo did the explaining.
“He lives here, Paul does. Normally there are about four or five of us girls lingering about, just in case he pops in or out.”
“You mean that you… you camp outside here? Outside his house?”
She laughed again. “Sure.”
God! They’re both mad!
“But… doesn’t he mind that at all?”
She shrugged. “Not so much, really. He’s got used to me in particular since I’ve been doing this the longest. He’s impressed, a lot of the time, since we seem to always know exactly where he is and what he’s up to.
“Then… where is he tonight?”
“At the Abbey Road studios, just like he has been every night this week— they’re recording a new album, you know.”
“No… I didn’t know.”
“So that’s why there hasn’t been much to see lately.” She smiled mischievously. “Except for at nights. Jane is back in Bristol, you see, so there’s been a lot of, er, female visitors.” Her laughing amplified itself. “I’ll never forget, about three months ago, there was some American bird that showed up— this is before I met Cindy so she wasn’t there to see it. Anyway, he and this bird are up to only God knows what and, who pulls up into the driveway but Jane!”
“We tried to warn him, but not more than ten minutes later, Jane came storming back out of the house and sped away—“ Margo paused and raised her brow. “You know, Charley, you rather look like her. Height, hair and everything. Sorry, anyway, so Jane leaves and as if that wasn’t enough, an hour later Jane’s mum comes driving up to pick up Jane’s clothes. Needless to say we never saw the American bird again.”
I must have said the words ‘I don’t believe this’ a million and one times before we reached Baker Street. Margo joined us at our flat before she had to head back home, and I put the kettle on for us since the September air had been exceptionally frigid. We were sprawled upon fluffy afghans in front of the television, which was airing an episode of the music show Ready, Steady, Go, but none of us were really paying it any attention. Least of all me. How could I when I just discovered that my new roommate was a Paul McCartney stalker!
Now I don’t wish to come off as though I disliked Cindy, because that’s not true. But unlike Cindy, I had an immediate liking towards the sweet and breezy Margo Stevens. Margo did have a day job aside from her hobby of hunting the most eligible bachelor in Britain— a very respectable job as a children’s nanny up in north London.
And somehow, to hear the way Margo spoke about her weekly vigils outside Cavendish Avenue, it didn’t sound like the whole thing was nutty. (When Cindy spoke about it, though, it was another story.)
“I’m sorry,” I was saying, “I still just can’t believe that you spend most of your nights waiting outside his house!”
“I told you, he’s used to it. ‘Gate Birds’, he calls us.”
My heart stopped. “He knows you?”
“Certainly,” said Margo. “Cindy is new at this, but I’ve been doing it quite a while, me and the other Gate Birds. He trusts us— once in a while he’ll pop outside to chat a bit, and we always have little presents for him. He even lets me walk his dog.”
“Sometimes,” she said, quickly, “only sometimes... Charley you have to understand, us Gate Birds aren’t out to get anything. We don’t want him to run off with us, we don’t want anything from him… we just love him and love being around him so much that it’s worth it to us to hang around his house. And after a while he’ll get to know Cindy too, I keep telling her it just takes time.”
“The 18th of October, to be exact,” said Cindy.
“Which reminds me! How on earth did you get invited to a premiere?”
Margo took a long sip of tea before answering. “Oh that. Well, I had this sort-of boyfriend a few weeks back and I hung around quite a bit with his lot of mates. And when I found out that his best mate worked for the PR company that would be handling the premiere party for John’s new flim… I got friendly with him too.”
She was grinning. “Oh, Charley dear, I’m afraid I’m corrupting your wide-eyed innocence! Don’t worry, it all worked out for the best. He knew that I was pretty much using him for the invitation and he was pretty much using me because he hadn’t had a good… er… a good time with a girl in quite some time. We’re still friends, actually. If I’d have known you back then, I’d have got an invite for you too!”
I shook my head. “Nah. I wouldn’t have gone anyway. A bit dodgy, if you ask me, showing up at a social thing like that when you weren’t invited.”
Cindy laughed. “Bedford parties are one thing, but down here it’s just a little bit different. There will be so many people there— half of which won’t know the other half anyway.”
“And then what happens when you finally meet Mr. McCartney? What do you do? Propose?”
Margo snickered, but Cindy looked shocked. “Of course not!” She paused, and then let a smile escape. “That’s his job.”
“But… but he’s already got Jane, technically anyway, and all those other birds, and, dammit, he’s the most eligible bachelor in the entire country, if not the western hemisphere!”
“Which is why I need the perfect dress to make him forget all that.”
“And let’s say by some miracle you do get a word in with Paul and he is captivated with you and you do get to see him again. I thought you told Nathan that you’d never dream of leaving him…”
“Oh honestly. Let’s not be soft. I’m quite all right with the thought of being with Nate forever… if nothing happens in the meantime.”
“Isn’t love supposed to be unconditional?”
The phone rang at that precise moment and she hopped to her feet, not bothering to grace me with a response. “Speak of the devil, that’s probably Nate.”
She hurried off to the kitchen and I turned to Margo, perfectly stunned.
“Margo… please tell me that I’m not the only one who thinks that she’s got her head screwed on backwards?”
Margo sighed. “I know… I’ve given up reasoning with her. People call me obsessed for what I do, but I think I’m a perfectly normal, logical, rational girl. And if you do mark me down as ‘obsessed,’ mark it down as a healthy one. Because when I hear obsessed, I think of someone who has lost control of all their logic… their common sense. Cindy is, deep down, a lovely girl. She’s just… well… she’s obsessed.”And for the first time in my life, I was wishing that I knew Paul McCartney… to warn him it would probably be best if he skipped his band-mate’s premiere altogether.
Darcy lives in southern California.
She absolutely loves to travel (an expensive but rewarding hobby) write
(mostly historical fiction) paint (portraits, mainly) and of course spend as
much time as humanly possible listening to/dreaming of/thinking about the
Beatles. And speaking of the
Beatles, she feels that they are the only subject she is going to expound on
in this ‘bio’ because it’s probably the only thing you’ll find
interesting. She has been a Beatles
fan since November 1995, with the release of the Beatles Anthology and hasn’t
been the same ever since. Their
influence is the biggest one in her life, hands down. She shudders to think
how cold and empty her life would be if it hadn’t been for those four lads
and their music—the music that in effect, saved her life.
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