71. Who Can See It

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I only ask, that what I feel,
Should not be denied me now
As it's been earned, and
I have seen my life belongs to me
My love belongs to who can see it.

George and I have lived out of a saucepan for the last week. Baked beans, tinned veg, poached, fried or scrambled eggs. Toast has been a challenge. Not as much of a challenge as this though. Scrambled egg on toast will not do tonight. Tonight I am attempting spiced aubergine bake with salad and unseasonable new potatoes. Two aubergine bakes, actually, as I don't think one will be enough to go round. I hope everyone is going to like it. George was pretty vague on the dietary preferences of his friends. Apparently, everyone was eating vegetarian when they were in India, but now he's not so sure. George is vegetarian though, and I think I am now too, as he won't have any sort of meat or fish in the house normally. So spiced aubergine bake it is. I've never made this before. I should have had a trial run beforehand but with moving in here and all the other things we've had to do, there just hasn't been time.

I bend over to look through the window of the oven, trying to judge whether I should switch the two bakes around on the shelves again. The middle shelf isn't big enough to hold the two together, so I have to either cook it on the top shelf and risk burning it or put it on the bottom shelf and end up with one not cooking as fast as the other.

Behind me, George is still trying to explain... - what exactly? I don't know, and I don't know why he has to loiter in the kitchen, getting under my feet, because whatever it is, it is too late. There's only an hour until everyone arrives and it's too late.

'Do you understand what I mean?' George says, earnestly.

I turn around to face him. He leans on his forearms across the tall kitchen counter. I've scrubbed the counter two or three times but it still looks grubby.

'No, not really,' I tell him. 'I'm trying to cook, George. Do you think you could--'

'I just don't want you to think it's going to be something it's not, that's all,' he says, cutting me off.

'What? What are you talking about?'

'The party, tonight.'

I frown at him. 'What am I thinking it's going to be?'

'Well, it's...' George twists his mouth. 'You haven't been... in a situation with all of us since-- when? That tour we did together in America?'


'So we're not really... that anymore.'

'Not what?'

'We're not a group like that anymore. We don't really hang out together or...'

'You're not the Beatles anymore?'

'We are, of course, but... but not like we were in sixty-five.'

'Well, I'm not like I was in sixty-five. No one is. Things change, people change. I don't understand, George, why does it matter if you're all different now?'

He straightens up. 'It might... It just might not go quite as you're planning,' he says, exhaling.

'I won't get my hopes up then.'

I turn away from him and grabbing the oven gloves from the side, open the door and draw out the bake from the middle shelf. It's heavy and the pot is hot, but when I stick a fork into it, it's still rather cold in the middle. An hour they should take to cook. Even adjusting for extra time for two bakes, I don't think they'll be ready in time. It's this aga oven. It takes at least half an hour to get up to the right temperature.

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