In Spite of All the Danger
"So, what did you think?"
"It's nice to see you too, Paul."
"Oi; respect your elders, Georgie boy, or I'll cripple ya! What did you think of the band?"
"I liked John's sideboards."
Paul locked eyes with George. "I'll murder you, Harrison!" George felt Paul's arm around his neck; adrenaline filled his bloodstream; as quickly as he was wearing his friend's arm, it was gone.
"Careful, Macca, people will think you're from the Dingle" A hand appeared on Paul's shoulder
"And what's wrong with the fine people of the Dingle, Mr. Lennon?"
"They don't produce many rockers, Mr.McCartwheels. Who's this then? Taken up with primary kids, now have we, Paul?"
"Is that meant to be me you're talking about?" George took a step towards John.
"Easy soldier, it was just a joke." John winked.
Paul stuck his head in front of George's.
"This is my friend George that I was telling you about John, love" John sized George up and down like a tailor inspecting a nearly finished creation.
"When you said friend, I thought you meant a fully grown one, Paul; so what did you think of the show, young man."
"I think you need a lead guitarist,"
"He can talk then, Paul?"
"Of course, he can talk!"
Two familiar headlights appeared in a wall of black. Paul flagged the bus driver. The lights disappeared and then reappeared with a flash that brought all three boys' arms to their eyes.
The earth-shattering hiss of a piston squealed through the back of your teeth. The bus's livery green and cream panel door opened.
"Thanks for almost fucking blinding us, driver!"
"What's wrong, John?"
Paul put his hands into John's lower back and pushed him towards the spiral stairwell leading upstairs.
"Three, please" his smile spread across his face until it hurt at the corners of his mouth.
"Get on" The bus driver heaved forward with the bus as if took off; the whoosh of the nematic doors whisked past the seat of George's pants; it felt as his skin-tight drainpipe jeans were rustling like a sheet on a clothesline.
The sound of Chelsea boots clomping on steel stairs could be heard over the engine as the three young boys started to step in unison. They appeared at the top of the stairwell like a three-headed monster. John moved as if the balls in heels had springs that pushed him down the aisle. He turned and fell on the back seat. Paul sat to his right on the second last seat, George to John's left. They all faced each other, like knights at an invisible round table.
John undid his western tie, he imagined he looked like Carl Perkins as he fixed his duck's arse hair in the bus's window, which was moonlighting as a mirror this evening. Paul looked at George, and tilted his head towards John. George's stomach clenched and turned to iron. Paul raised his eyebrows so high they looked as if they were about to take off.
"George wants to play you a song, John."
Paul's words hung in the air. Time and space on the bus seemed to slow down to a standstill.
"Does he? I'm not buying a ticket" John folded his arms across his chest tightly.
"This one will be on the house." Paul looked across the aisle at George. "Go on, George, show him what you can do.” Paul turned to where John's case was and handed it to George.
"Hey, I only just bought that you swine!" John punched Paul’s shoulder.
George sat with the lead singer's guitar in his lap.
Paul leaned forward with his forearms resting on his thighs.
"Go on, George, play."
George flicked open the latches on his guitar case. The thudding clicks filled him with a low hum of excitement. He pushed open the lid like an archaeologist opening a tomb, slowly, expertly. The body lacquered in a dark Cadillac green, with a mother of pearl pickguard that sparkled in the artificial lights of the bus as he pulled the instrument out of its hiding spot.. The guitar's wood and paint made a strangled, muffled sound against the underarm of George's leather jacket. .
John pulled a Woodie out of his pack and lit it. Staring at George through his own personal plume of smoke.
George noticed the air was cold suddenly. The tips of his fingers felt frostbitten. He looked up at Paul, who had a reassuring smile and wink for him. George placed his iced digits on the maple fretboard in a D chord formation and plucked the strings.
His right hand flowed up and down the stings with surgical precision. He closed his eyes, and his hands did the work—downstroke, downstroke, upstroke. The notes flew from the Gallotone Champion and seeped into the brains of the other two boys. Paul sat transfixed, his suede boot-tapping in perfect time. John undid his crossed and arms and leaned forward to see what George was doing with his hands. They moved in ideal symmetry. George finished the song. Silence: George forced his head up. He looked at Paul.
"I've never heard anyone play Raunchy before; how did you learn that?" John lit another Woodie.
"I bought the record and listened to it."
"You can do that, can ya?" John leaned back again, one palm behind his head, his arm forming a perfect triangle.
"I can learn by ear, yeah" George felt the cold drain away from him and his hands. His heart slowed to a 4/4 beat.
John pushed his lower lip out slightly and nodded his head as if he was convinced himself of an argument, he had been having within his own mind.
"Alright, Georgie boy, next show you can fill in."
"OK Great!" George smiled;
Paul shot a look that was more of a warning than a kill shot.
"Or whatever, you know."
"OK, this is me, lads" John grabbed his guitar from George, and strapped it to his back
"Auf wiedersehen, filthy English." John sat on the rail and slid out of view.
"This is going to be great!" Paul was beaming.
"It should be a laugh."
The bus sidles up to its next stop with a jerk.
"See you on Monday, George, my boy."
"See you then."
Paul grabbed his guitar and skipped down the stairs.
The stars seemed to be bright tonight, George thought to himself as the bus pulled away down the road.
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Paul: ‘I mean, we think a lot of people lead dull lives but they don’t really. Like the woman who comes to clean our house and make meals. If I actually analysed it, all she does is get up in the morning, see her sons off to work, comes to our house, does the meals for us, goes home, watches telly and goes to bed and the same next day. Compared to us it’s dull but for her it’s not dull. She comes to our house, y’know, the great stars’ house . . .’
John: ‘You’re a great star, eh?’
Paul: ‘Huh? Oh, yeah, yeah . . . this is all purely fictional . . .’
John: ‘What it is is that people will go to see the original instead of a copy. Like I took a look at the original mouldy Mona Lisa in Paris – eccch, crap!’
Paul: ‘I mean, it’s like the Eddie Cochrane show. We all used to think he was fantastic. I remember thinking before the show that I was actually there. I mean, it’s the same thing as when you go to people’s houses, mates, or people you used to know, sort of thing . . .’
John: ‘Notice he said used to?’
Paul: ‘And they have all your records – there’s always one of them who will say “Give us a song”. They want to see you, even though it will sound terrible. It’s like why people want to see the film of Picasso drawing . . .’
John: ‘Uh, he saw it at school. Uh, we all did.’
— Love Me Do!: The Beatles’ Progress
I can totally see how John teased Paul like this:
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