Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Memorable Visit to Henly-on Thames

I think this is a beautiful story of two fans meeting George in 1999. This is the last story of a fan meeting George that I know of before he sadly passed away in 2001. What I especially love about this story is that it reminds me of some of the fan stories from the 1960's where they ring George's doorbell and spend some time chattng with him and getting pictures. We often think of George as semi-recluse, especially after John's death. So I find this to be a refreshing story of George meeting his fans. Enjoy!

By Javier Estrach
Originally published in Oct/Sept 1999 Issue of
Beatlefan magazine

On holiday in England, my wife and I decided to
go for a couple of days to Henley-on Thames just to try to see George. We
were sure that it would be almost impossible but we’d try

We got to Friar Park on May 23 in the afternoon without a
clear idea of what we could do but wait. We took pictures of the house for
awhile and we waited for I don’t know how long. We were going ‘round and
‘round until a few minutes later, we decided to walk by the street beside the
stockade on the right side of Friar Park.

So we walked away from
the main gate. After a few minutes, we heard a noise in the woods inside
the estate, a sound like footsteps on dried leaves. We looked over our
shoulders and saw a man standing very quietly in the shadows watching us (we
were talking Spanish, a foreign language to him, so I suppose that called his
attention). We recognized this very familiar silhouette.
So I started
calling him: “George! George!” Then he said very quietly, “Huh? Who’s
“George we come from Argentina just to try to see you.
We have a present for you from our country. Please, could you give us just
one minute? Please, just only one!”
“What kind of present?”
“It’s a
T-shirt. It’s for you George.”
“But I don’t’ want a T-shirt.”
not? It’s a nice one! (I think he wasn’t so sure about us or what
kind of people we were). Then I reminded him about another present that I
sent him earlier in the year.
“George, some months ago, I sent you by mail
from Argentina a Juan Manuel Fangio video (the old F1 car racer). Do you
remember? I know you received it because a couple of months ago, I
received from your office this badge and card as response. Please, George,
give us just one minute. Please!”
Then he smiled and said the magical
words: “OK, go down to the gate.”
“Oh really?”
“Yeah, go down to the
I can’t describe it – it was simply one of the most emotional moments
of our whole lives. WE were almost running to the gate and meanwhile I am
thinking, “I can’t believe it! It’s true! I’m not dreaming!
I’m here!”
Of course, we got to the gate first so we had time to calm
ourselves. Within a minute, we could see one of those little electric golf
carts coming, approaching the gate. It was him! He got out of the
cart with a big smile on his face and we said, “Nice car, George.”
“Yes it
is.” Then he opened a smaller gate beside the big one and shook our hands
(terrific!). We were thrilled and knowing that we were living one of the
greatest experiences of our lives.
He was dressed in jeans, white T-shirt,
plaid shirt and a dark red jacket. HE looked healthy and had a light,
maybe 10 days’ beard, goatee-style.
We started telling him how important he
is to us and how important he has been through the years for us; not only his
music but his words and his way of thinking and that we learned to be better
people because of him.
He smiled and said, “Thank you very mu8ch. Thank
you for listening. Many people hear stupid music now, music without any
Then we were talking about the video that I sent him earlier in the
year and the “Ohm” badge and the card that he sent me back and he told me that
sometimes he prefers to send something better than a simple autograph and that
the Ohm and the Swami Sivananda’s words help people feel better inside because
everyone is special and that we were.
Then smiling he asked jokingly, “How is
Gardel?” (A famous Argentinean tango singer)”
And we responded, “Every day he
sings better! It’s an old saying our country.” He smiled.
Then we gave him the T-shirt and he looked at it very carefully and he asked
us what the drawing was on it. We explained that it was a drawing of one
of the main streets of – and he added, “Ah! Buenos Aires?”
“Yeah, very
good George!”
“Thank you very much, but you don’t need to give me
“We know but we live very far away from here and this is just a
way for us to feel a little bit closer to you.”
“OK, thank you.”
reminded him about another little present I sent him. “Did you receive the
magnet that I sent you for your birthday?”
“For the fridge?” He said
“Yeah, that one.”
I sent him a little magnet and he’s got it on
his fridge! After talking with him for awhile, we apologized if our
English wasn’t as good as we would like; we were a little bit nervous.
But he
said, “Don’t worry. Your English is very good. You speak much better English
than I Spanish.”
He asked how long and where we were staying in Henley and
what places we had been visiting in Europe. He laughed when he told him
that we went to Hamburg and we talked about the Reeperbahn and the Grosse
“That was a long time ago.”
We talked about the similarity
between the “red light district” in Amsterdam and the one in Hamburg. But the
most important point is that he was comfortable with us and always
He asked us what life was like in Buenos Aires. “I’ve never
been to Argentina. I’ve only been to South America when I was in Brazil
many years ago.”
“Yeah we remember. It was in Guaruja with Emerson
Fitipaldi in 1979.”
“Yeah Emerson is a good friend of mine.”
Then in the
middle of our chat, I asked him, “What about your health? How are you
“Oh, fine, thanks. I was in America for a lot of tests and the doctors
said I am OK. Papers are always saying a lot of silly things, but I am
After all that time at the gate of his house, we felt it was time to
start to say goodbye. We asked for just one minute and he was very nice
and gave a lot more. But first we asked if we could take a picture with
him. “Because our friend won’t believe us, George.”
“Oh yeah,
sure. One picture with each one.”
So my wife, Silvia took my photo with
him first. When I was ready to take the picture of him with my wife, I
don’t’ know what happened but the automatic camera didn’t work! I tried
two more times but without any luck and George says, “There’s no more film in
the camera.”
“No George, the film is OK. I don’t’ know what the hell is
going on!” So he very kindly took a look at the camera. HE pressed
the red button and –magic! It worked (He took the best picture of my
wife’s feet). So I took the camera again and attempted to take the picture
but again, the camera simply didn’t work.
“I can’t believe it George!”
he said joking “There are no good photographers these days.”
Fortunately, we
had two cameras with us so I used my old ‘60’s Asahi Pentex and this time I took
one of the quickest photos of my life with that camera.
Now finally it was
time to say goodbye. He shook our hands I couldn’t help my impulse so I
embraced him strongly and he embraced me very warmly. He and Silvia
embraced and George gave her a kiss.
And so matchless was this moment for us,
I said to him, “For you, this is maybe one very little moment in your life, but
not for us. This is something that we’ll never forget in our whole
“Oh! Isn’t that too much?”
“No, it isn’t at
“OK. Thank you. Bye-bye.”
“Bye George! Take
He went back inside, closed the small gate and just before getting
into the golf cart, he turned around with our gift in hand and said thank you
“Thanks to you!” We said and we could see the cart moving way
into the woods.


  1. That´s a beautiful story.

  2. Lol silly George, he never changed.

  3. Hi Sarah!

    Thanks for posting it and your comments. That was an incredible moment in our lives, my wife Silvia and I will never forget his smile, his kindness and all his inner peace. A couple of years after,we got back to England in March of 2001, but then it was a different situation, it was just months before he passed away. Anyway we left to one of his security guards a book for George with his promise to deliver to him.
    Javier & Silvia

  4. What a nice story, and what a lucky couple you are. My former wife and I where in the summer of 1999 also in henley on thames, and took a walk around friar park in the hope we will meet him. We were surprised to hear music on the other site of the wall. Not loud, but you could hear the sound of a slide gitar, That was Unique , but to meet him must have been magic. ��