93. Om Hari Om

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Om Hari Om Radha Krishna
Om Hari Om Rama Radha
Om Hari Om Bala Shiva
Om Hari Om Rama Sita

George sits down heavily in the curved, blue tartan upholstered chair next to me, surprising me. I didn't hear him come in. I offer him a sympathetic smile, which he attempts to return as he leans his elbow on the chair arm and his head on his hand.

Bobbie and I have been waiting in a small private family room the hospital have given us to use. They only allow three visitors per bed at any one time, and George's family is so big. His brothers, their families and Louise, George's sister, who came over from the US a few weeks ago, have to visit their parents in shifts. I've spent the most of my time in here with Bobbie each night. I could stay at the house, but I'd rather wait for George. George's mother and father are in the same hospital, albeit at opposite ends. It takes nearly fifteen minutes to walk between the two rooms. Hence, I've hardly seen George - or anyone - while we've been visiting.

'How are they?' I ask.

George wets his lips and doesn't reply. He sits forward and smooths Bobbie's wispy hair. She looks up at him from the floor of the visitor's room, Bun-Bun's ear in her mouth again.

I stand. 'Show Daddy what we can do,' I say, lifting Bobbie up under her armpits and attempting to balance her on her feet. She resists, refusing to stand, legs of jelly. I give in and let her flop onto her nappy padded bottom. 'She was waddling up and down,' I tell George. 'I was only holding her by one hand.'

George gives me a nod and another smile which is a little warmer than the first, but still doesn't quite reach his weary eyes.

'Are you ready to go? I'll put Bobbie to bed and then make us something to eat when--'

'Yeah, I thought we'd go home instead,' George says, rubbing his cheek, stifling a yawn.


'I told Phil I'd be back.'

'Yes, but... Wouldn't it be better to wait for the morning? Bobbie's tired.'

'No,' he says, stubbornly. 'We'll go tonight. The roads will be quieter. Bobbie can sleep in the car.'

'Alright, um... Will you be okay to drive all that way?' I ask, carefully.

He frowns, annoyed by the question. Bobbie is tired - the hospital visiting hours extend beyond her bedtime and she likes routine, as much routine as our erratic lives can give her - but George is also tired. Exhaustion is evident on his face; in his dull, red rimmed eyes and his sallow skin, and in his slumped posture in the visitor's room chair.

The trips to Cheshire and the late nights at the studio are taking their toll on him. We've been staying at his parents house while we're here, sharing it with George's sister. It's a cosy house, situated in the countryside, quiet and peaceful, but it hasn't helped George sleep. I've felt him get out of bed in the night often, occasionally not returning for quite some time. I've lain awake too, waiting for him, listening to the muffled notes of the acoustic guitar he plays on the other side of the house until he feels like he can fall asleep again.

He's too tired to drive the three hours it will take to get back to Friar Park. A proper meal and a decent nights sleep would do him the world of good, but I can't point this out. It'll only make him more snappish.

'They're letting my dad out tomorrow,' he says, gruffly.

'Oh? Well, that's great. You don't want to wait and see him home?'

'Lou will look after him. Harry's going to drive them. They don't need me.'

He kicks at the floor with the toe of his plimsoll shoe. Bobbie says 'Nah-dah,' and leans forward to pull his shoelace undone. George would normally laugh and pick her up, but instead he moves his foot out of her reach.

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