74. The Inner Light

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'Pass me that,' Minnie says, nodding towards Bobbie's babygrow.

I dutifully give it to her and she dresses her in it, cooing and murmuring to her.

'Sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at suppertime, be my little sugar and love me all the time,' Minnie sings to her. 'Do you remember that one?' she asks, turning to me. 'The McGuire sisters? It must have been about fifty-eight, or fifty-nine. I think we had that on a forty-five.'

'I remember you going on and on about how much you hated it.'

Minnie laughs. 'Yes, well, that was because there was so much better around at the time. Elvis and Gene Vincent and all those other records that we were never allowed to listen to.'

I smile. 'Still did though, didn't we?' I say, softening. 'Whenever we could.'

'Yes. Oh, remember once he came home early and we were playing music so loud we didn't hear him come in?' she says and giggles.

I do remember it, very well. Neither of us giggled at the time.

'We were playing Eddie Cochran. Come On Everybody. He ripped it off the record player and snapped it in half. I still can't hear that song without thinking of his ugly, red face bellowing about rock and roll encouraging delinquency and promiscuity.' She falls silent suddenly and finishes dressing Bobbie in her little suit. 'Alma Cogan did Sugartime too,' she muses, pulling Bobbie closer to her, resting her chin on her head. 'I don't think I do like it very much, after all.'

I stand up. 'You can put Bobbie to bed on your own if you like.'

'Aren't you going to come and sing to her with me?'

'No, I, uh... I've got a couple of things to finish in the kitchen. You can manage, can't you? Just come and get me if you have any problems.'

'Yeah, okay,' she says, a little confused. 'Sure you don't want me to go and do the dishes and you put Bobbie to bed?'

'No, that's fine. You'd be helping me a lot. Let me know if you need anything.'

'We will.'

She goes back to chattering and playing with Bobbie. I linger for a moment longer in the doorway of the bathroom and then retreat to the kitchen.


'Hello, beautiful,' George says in my ear, as he comes up behind me. He puts his hands on my hips as I stand in front of the sink, scrubbing the bottom of a large saucepan with a scouring pad, and kisses my neck, making me flinch.

'Don't call me that.' I try to shrug him off but George won't move. He wraps his arms around my stomach and clasps his hands together, locking me into his embrace.

'Why not?' he asks, teasingly, kissing the other side of my neck.

'Just... because.'

George lets go and steps back from me. 'Uh-oh,' he says. 'What's this?'


'You, elbows deep in soapy water again. What's happened?'

'Nothing. I'm just trying to get the marks off these pans.'

'Well, come away. I'll buy you new pans.'

I roll my eyes, although George is still standing behind me and can't see. 'I don't need new pans. There's nothing wrong with these ones. You always want to throw money at things, like it will resolve everything...'

George folds his arms. 'You're sure there's nothing the matter?' he asks, wryly.

I take my hands out of the water, dry them on the towel left on the side and turn around. 'I'm sorry,' I tell him, making an effort to brighten up. I move into him and slip my arms around him, putting my head on his chest. 'There's nothing wrong, honestly. I'm just a little tired.'

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