23. Don't Bother Me

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John laughs. 'We're coming to New York in about a week. Do you want to come?'

'Come? Come where? To New York? We live here, dimwit.'

'Yes, I do know. To the show, I mean.'

'And get crushed by the thousands of crazy fans trying to get close to you? We'd be killed!'

John laughs again. 'We'll sort something out, keep you out of the bear pit.'

'I'll think about it,' Minnie says, coyly.

I shake my head at her, moving away from the phone. Minnie turns away from me, twisting the spiral phone cord in her fingers. She stays chatting on the phone for half an hour, speaking low so I can't hear what she says, giggling and flirting. I can't imagine what it's doing to our phone bill, but when she's finished she has a daft smile on her face which she seems to carry around for the rest of the week. She's been so down recently, that it's worth every penny.

This year has gone so quickly. So much has happened. The wedding date has been set for September, to coincide with the new season of The Ricky West Show. It's being planned with military precision. The TV producers want to incorporate it into the show - how much of the actual thing will be filmed is still to be confirmed. I would prefer none of it, but I don't seem to get much of a say. I even have to pick my wedding dress from a pre-approved shortlist.

We toured in May, June and July, the States and a few dates in Canada. I liked being back on stage, in real theatres, singing for real people. We've been concentrating on the TV side of things for so long, I didn't realise how much I missed singing live.

However, it was a mixed bag. Minnie performed in about only half the shows. That's been tough on everyone. Sometimes she'd back out at the last moment. Sometimes there would be several days in a row where she'd not appear. Bet accuses her of just being difficult, although she must see there's something more to it. Maurice has been quite understanding, even though he's not supposed to know anything about what happened, so I wonder if Ricky's said something to him.

On top of this, ticket sales weren't brilliant. The early dates in May were good - still a little excitement surrounding Ricky and me - but slowly it declined and by the end of July we were playing to half empty theatres. The charts, meanwhile, are dominated by The Beatles and other British bands. I think The Beatles have had four or five number ones on the Billboard Hot 100 already. I think this could be the reason behind the wain in our popularity, although that's between me and the pages of my diary. I wouldn't dare say it out loud to anyone, particularly to Ricky.

After Miami, I tried to avoid The Beatles, but it's proved impossible. They're always on the radio. They're always in the papers and magazines. In a funny way, it's like they're back in our lives again and I have missed them. Even John. I have to admit, their music is brilliant. It's totally different to what's gone before. Their music is new and vibrant and young and exciting, just as they are themselves, I suppose. I daren't say that out loud either. I can't say everyone around here feels the same.

A week after John's phone call, The Beatles flew into New York and brought a storm with them. Three thousand people turned out to meet them at the airport again. Hundreds more lined the street outside the hotel. The police were stretched, unable to keep the desperate fans in line.

The news was full of Beatles stories on the day of the concert. The streets were blocked. Fans went to dramatic lengths to try and get close to the band. We were to be collected by car and I was worried that we wouldn't make it on time with all the traffic and chaos a simple concert was causing. I made sure I was ready to go ridiculously early, but Minnie, as usual, got ready at her own leisurely pace, unhurried, even by The Beatles.

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