Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"No You're Not" said Little Nicola

I recently won a lot Strawberry Fields Forever magazines on ebay. If you never read, SFF, I recommend it. Joe Pope was a great Beatles fan and had an amazing humorous side (reminds of me Greg from The Beatles photo blog at times actually). Anyhow, in issue #51 there is an article in the 'zine that is about the girl who played "Little Nicola" in the Magical Mystery Tour movie. Seems like there was a discussion about her in the comments recently. Anyhow...I think this article is from the early 1990's, so it might not be the most up to date, but still neat.

So who was the Walrus? Was it Paul? Was it John? Does it matter? Probably not, but one person was sure that it wasn't John! In the sleeve notes to "Magical Mystery Tour" John says, "I am the Walrus." "No, you're not," said Little Nicola! She sure was an obstinate young couldn't even talk her into having a guess without some overt form of physical threat! But we suppose, when all was said and done, she was just a sweet little girl who would gladly have a guess and who couldn't care less who really was the Walrus.

Little Nicola wasn't specifically chosen, or cast, to go on the bus. She only went along because her second cousin was given the job of recruiting the passengers for the trip and the first one she picked was Nicola's grandmother, Amy Smedley. A little nepotism goes a long way; Amy brought along her daughter, Pam Hale, Nicola's mom, and since Nicola was only four she certainly couldn't stay at home alone ... so, as one of the Magicians said, "back on the bus!"

"I have a vivid memory of fighting with Paul McCartney on the floor of a hotel," she relates, "and playing table football with John Lennon and Ringo Starr. I remember John Lennon asking my mother for sixpence. There was a party; the whole family dressed up real weird as witches and wizards. Everybody there was dressed up in Superman costumes and stuff and I felt kind of out of place. I remember Ringo played soccer with me and he bought me a little African drum. And I remember being spoiled a lot!

Her father remembers it a bit differently, as might be expected. "Nikki was more interested in the cameras than the Beatles!" But he also goes on to say that "My mother-in-law expected the Beatles to be strange and weird. But the Beatles were always nice and polite. In the evenings, John or Paul played piano and led everyone in sing-songs. And John hadn't brought enough underpants so my mother-in-law bought him some."

So where is she now? This should come as no surprise but Little Nicola is no longer Little. She's now known as Nikki Hale and is a full grown 31 year old woman. For the last five years, Nikki has been living in America. She's in the Chicago suburb of Forest Park where she works as a counselor for kids with drug problems. Since most of the kids are hard-core drug users they're at a high risk for HIV infection. It's not an easy job.

Nikki might not have appreciated what she was doing and who she was with during those five days in 1967, but it eventually sunk in, "The excitement came later for me, at comprehensive school. I used the story for my English exam. My mum told me when I was growing up that this was a story I'd want to tell people and I've since pulled it out of the bag to impress people. When people over here don't believe me I show them the video ... it's pretty wild!"

It's no secret that many of our female readers have dreamt about a date with a Beatles at one time or other. Little Nicola has a terrific memory: a five-day date with all four Beatles in which each one was thoughtful, attentive, and protective of her. And she got to see a private Beatles performance every night, too!

As far as that sing-along music goes, don't even ask. It's not secret that a few tapes of unbooted campfire music featuring John and Paul --with George and Ringo popping up throughout would be priceless. But unfortunately, the tapes do not exist. After all, why would a four year old, or anyone else for that matter, be carrying around a tape recorder in 1967? Portable tape recorders were only just coming into existence. and what sense would it make to take one along for a five day trip with the Beatles? After all, they'd be recording the important bits themselves, now, wouldn't they?

Remember what we said about the nepotism going a long way? A few days into the trip it turned into a "Magical Fish-Story Tour" when Nicola's grand-mum casually mentioned to the Beatles that she owned a fish and chips shop. The bus tracked it down and in trekked the most famous musicians in history for a plate of grease and grease (John and George are pictures in the Magical Mystery Tour booklet having a fish and chip snack.)

The general public may not remember "Magical Mystery Tour" like it should be remembered. But Beatlemaniacs do. And the Beatlemaniac who has to remember it most vividly is Little --- uh, excuse us---Nikki Hale. The four magicians in the film never broke a promise to their fans the whole time they made magic together. And because of the seriousness with which they took their promises we're quite sure that Nicola had a Lovely Time!


  1. Lovely , lovley story.


  2. I'm the same age as Little Nicola and I used to pretend that was ME on John's lap in MMT – "two little dickie birds standing on your head...." Great to finally read about her. Thanks!

  3. Heart warming on this cold December nightum.


  4. Little Nicola is my sister! That's my mum (Pam) and my Nan (Amy) in the pic with Ringo and the football... I was only just born at the time so missed out... :-( Rich Hale

  5. It says Nikki is now 31, she must be older - you do the maths

  6. she WAS 31 when the fanzine came out... great story, sara - i hadn't read it before.

  7. Yes...please keep in mind that when I put a story or article on this blog, it isn't current news. I just type it up as it was originally. The article came out in the early 1990's, when she was in her 30's.

  8. I was just sitting in front of my computer when the phrase "No, you're not said Little Nicola" came into my mind. I suddenly became very curious about it, since Magical Mystery Tour is one of my all-time favourite albums, and I decided to serch for it on Yahoo to find out what it meant. The first result brought me here, and the article just made my day! It is a warm, beautiful, timeless story that brought tears to my eyes. Thank you very, very much! Every once in a while, one needs to listen (or read) things like this.