16. A Picture Of You

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In the night, there are sights to be seen,

Stars like jewels on the crown of a Queen,

But the only sight I wanna view,

Is that wonderful picture of you.



Minnie's eyes are dancing. That's the only word for it. It's a warning when she's this excited, it invariably means there's some kind of trouble ahead.

'Have you seen this?' she says to me, as she pulls a vinyl LP out of the brown paper package in her hand and pushes it under my nose. I glance at it and then have to pick it up to look closer, almost not believing what I was looking at.

'Where did you get this?' I ask, looking back up at her.

She smiles enigmatically, like she's not going to tell me, but I can see she's bursting with whatever news she has.

I calculate in my head how long it's been since I saw his face. It feels so long ago. It was November 1960 and it's July 1963 now. Two and a half years, just over. We've come an enormous distance in that time. So, apparently, have they.

*

One of the most common interview questions - for us, and I guess most music groups - was how did you guys meet. In our case, how did two girls from the north of England, end up in a singing quartet with two girls from New York. Minnie would usually jump in to answer and soon her story was so cemented in our psyche that even I believed it. It was based on the truth, but essentially she'd made it up, adding more details as we went along.

Minnie didn't have many friends when we were kids, and much fewer were the ones you could count as close friends - but there was one. She was called Sarah Kelly and Minnie had known her since primary school. Not long after Minnie had turned 13, Sarah's family moved to the US, but Minnie had always kept in contact with her. When Minnie and Sarah would have been about seventeen, Sarah married a guy who worked on Wall Street in New York. He was quite a few years older than her, Minnie couldn't believe she'd done it.

When everyone except for Stu had returned to Liverpool, Minnie told me that Sarah had suggested we went over there to visit her. She'd also happened to mention how vibrant the club scene in Queens was, and Minnie - a little homesick for Liverpool, I think, thought we should try there. Sarah wired us some money - a loan that I'm not sure we ever fully repaid, and thanking Astrid for her hospitality we left a couple of days after New Years day.

Sarah was just what we needed after living out of a suitcase in Germany for so long. She looked after us. She cooked our meals, she washed our clothes. She helped us get ourselves together. In return, Minnie ensured Sarah had some fun. She'd married so young, and her husband put in such long hours at work, she was bored, lonely and depressed. Minnie took her - and me - out four or five nights a week. This created friction within Sarah's marriage - her husband thinking she should stay in, waiting at home for him. There were terrible arguments and after a few weeks, it was clear we'd out stayed our welcome.

We needed money, and fast. However, Minnie was dead set against us getting 'real' jobs, still dedicated to her dream of singing professionally. We hadn't a clue about how to go about getting 'green cards' or anything like that anyway.

Sarah knew two girls - twins, called Elizabeth and Catherine Raine - who were singers looking for one or two others to make up a singing group. This would be the part of interviews where Minnie would say, 'So we met the girls and it all just clicked into place!' - as if it was destiny.

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