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August 1963

John rolled his head back over the rest in the back seat of the Austin Princess, closed his eyes and took a long drag on his cigarette.

‘D’you mind?’ Paul asked, leaning over from seat in front.

John opened an eye.

‘Knees!’ Paul prompted.

John sighed and sat up.

‘Yer a selfish get, John Lennon!’ he laughed.

Paul was kidding, John knew that, but he still felt a sting from the comment. Truth hurts, doesn’t it?

‘Where’s George?’ he snapped, irritated, forcing the thought from his mind. ‘Ten minutes I’ve been sat here, waiting for you lot. And now we’re still waiting for George. Where the hell is he?’

‘I dunno. I’m not his bloody mother, am I?’ Paul replied with a sulky pout. 

‘He’s coming,’ Ringo, sitting next to John on the back seat of the car, pointed to the top of the steps up to the hotel’s entrance. George was there, hopping on one foot as he attempted to pull on a stiff leather Chelsea boot.

‘Don’t mind him,’ Paul said to Ringo. ‘He’s just grumpy coz his old girlfriend turned up.’

John kicked the back of Paul’s chair, as hard as he could in the shallow space the back of the car would allow.

‘Whoops, touched a nerve there!’ Paul teased, a touch of spite in his voice. John could feel his patience begin to slip away.

‘You’ve no idea,’ Ringo mumbled, and John shot him an angry look too.

‘Alright?’ George said cheerily, clambering in next to Paul.

‘Where have you been?’ John barked. ‘Five o’clock we said. Sharp! It’s nearly quarter past now! We’re supposed to be professionals.’

‘Geez, sorry,’ George said in a tone which conveyed he wasn’t sorry at all. ‘Theatre will still be there, won’t it?’

‘That’s not the point.’

‘Don’t pick on George, you,’ Paul chimed in. ‘Just coz you’re in a mard about Ruby showing up like that.’

Ruby. Fuckin’ hell. Don’t say her name. He nearly told him, but opted to glare at him instead.

The driver, not their usual one, but one who’d been roped in for the Welsh leg of the tour, got into the front and started the engine. He had the distinct air of a taxi driver about him. Not really chauffeur material. He turned round to them. ‘All aboard?’ he asked with a toothy smile.

The four of them glowered back at him. John’s bad mood was catching, it seemed.

The driver raised an eyebrow. ‘Right, off we go then.’

‘What did she want anyway?’ Paul asked, turned the right way around in his seat now, with his back to John.

‘How am I supposed to bloody know?’ John replied. ‘Didn’t speak to her, did I?’ Couldn’t he just drop it?

‘I wasn’t talkin’ to you,’ Paul snapped back. ‘I was talking to Ringo. You spoke to her, didn’t you, Ring?’

‘Yeah,’ Ringo said, hesitantly. ‘Starting to wish I didn’t.’ He took a sideways look at John. John just gave him a dismissive shake of his head.

‘Where d’you know her from?’

‘She lived near by when she was younger.’

‘She used to go out with John.’

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