Sunday, May 27, 2012

George in Australia 1985

This story takes place during the time when George Harrison was in Australia for the Grand Prix Race.  No date was given in the story, but according to Wikipedia, the Grand Prix took place in Adelaide on November 3, 1985.   This story was published in Issue #60 of "With a Little help from my friends."   It was written by Vicki Liascos and Kirsty Turner.

Vicki and George in the foyer of the Hilton

Vicki and Kirsty picking up some guy in the local pub.
George in Australia 1985
By Vicki Liascos and Kirsty Turner

When I got home that historical day in 1985, my mother couldn’t believe her ears.  I jumped off the bus and ran home so fast that I nearly lost it.  “It” being George Harrison’s autograph!  I’d hate to think what the neighbors thought as I ran past everybody’s front yard screaming, “I’ve met George Harrison!!”  I didn’t stop to think what sort of an idiot I must have looked like.  I just wanted to tell somebody, and that somebody was my mother.  “Mum, mum guess what?!  I just met George Harrison!”  She didn’t know what to think at first or whether to believe me or not.  She would have done anything, and I mean anything to have met one of the Beatles when they came here (Adelaide) in 1964.  No doubt she was delighted for me, but I could sense a slight air of jealousy.  And understandably too!  I ran around and gave her the biggest hug I’d ever given anybody and told her all about it.

It all started when my best friend, Kirsty rang me up to tell me that George was listed as one of the possibilities to appear at the Adelaide Formula One Grand Prix.  “No, I don’t believe it!”  I said as we carefully cut out the article from the newspaper and preciously stashed it away with the rest of our clippings we’d collected over the years.  That night I went to sleep quite excited about the whole thing, and as for the morning, well … there was no time for breakfast!  I grabbed my lunch money off the bench and caught the first bus to school.

By the time my best mate and I got to school, we weren’t in very high spirits.  As the bus drove past the grand prix and all the early morning activities, we felt like just jumping out and forgetting about school for that day.  It saddened our hearts to leave it all behind, but we knew what would happen if he hadn’t gone to school.  For that we would have got a week full of after-school detentions.  So George or no George, we decided to go to school.  Besides, we weren’t even sure if he was going to come or not, and we all know what the papers are like.

School seemed to drag on and on and it got worse when one of the girls at school claimed that her Mum got George’s autograph at the Grand Prix Ball the night before.  Well, that confirmed that he definitely was here, and we were very sad sitting thought English was like being tortured on a stretch bench, and as we made tiresome glances toward the clock, waiting for that final bell was like a jail sentence.  To make it even worse, Kirsty had just realized that her parents were at the same celebrity ball as George was!  Well, we just had to ring and find out, but her Mum said they were seated miles away from his table.  The chances of meeting our first Beatle seemed to slip away by the second.
Undeterred, we scrambled on the city-bound bus in search of George Harrison.  WE knew that most celebrities, particularly those of George’s caliber, chose to stay at the Adelaide Hilton International, so that was the first place we decided to checkout.  And boy was the adrenalin really pumping as we made our way through the outskirts of town.  Everybody else was giving us a hard time of it saying that we’d never meet him, and that hurt.  But like troopers we carried on regardless.  It certainly was “Good Day Sunshine” as we made our way on foot to the other side of town where the Hilton was.  The sun definitely was shining, as the characteristic Aussie heat hovered around 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees F).  Anyway, we made our way to the steps of the Hilton, and surprisingly enough we strolled right on in unnoticed.  We looked very conspicuous dressed in school uniforms, but nothing could stop us from meeting George.  

We started to look around in search of him, but all we got were the wrong celebrities!  And they all began to stare at us too, and we began to feel a little ridiculous.  “Oh…let’s get out of here,” said Kirsty to Naomi.  I couldn’t believe all of the famous people we were walking past Paul Newman looked straight toward us, and I felt so stupid just standing there with a blank look on my face, you know?  (hmmm.. you probably don’t, but take it from me, it was strange.)  For starters we were all under age to be drinking alcohol so really we didn’t have any purpose in being there.  And it was obvious that we weren’t tourists because we like here.  The others were beginning to lose faith, but I kept telling them it was going to happen.  But all this for a Beatle?  It was enough to turn anybody off!!  I’ll let my mate Kirsty take over now where she’ll explain how we approached his Royal Fabness.

We asked someone if they had seen George, and they told us that he had arrived only five minutes earlier.  Groan … just our luck.  At least that means that he was in the hotel.  Then we saw our friend, Graham Moyle, sitting in the foyer.  We talked to him for a short time and then he told us to look over in the bar, because he was fairly sure that George was in there.  Very shyly at first, we went over to the side of the bar to see.  The best person that I have ever seen with my own eyes was sitting near the bar – it was hard to comprehend that we were actually looking at George Harrison!  Vicki and I, our nerves in a state of total disarray, inched towards him.  It was a case of “so near, and yet so far,” as we were too scared to approach him.  We could see him eyeing us cautiously – two schoolgirls with a pen, paper and camera in hand.  And American couple sitting nearby gave us the final courage to speak to George. 

Once we had broken the ice, we found that George did not seem to mind much about giving us his autograph.  The next five or ten minutes seemed to fly by as we held a brief conversation with our idol.  He was very friendly, and his English accent was delightful.  He asked how old we were, and Vicki said, “14”, to which he replied, “You must’ve been about minus-10 when I was here last!”
George, wearing a pair of semi-faded blue Levis, and Adelaide Grand Prix t-shirt, a light blue cotton jacket, and sandshoes, looked very handsome.  I asked him if he would mind if Graham took a photo of Vicki and me with him.  “Yeah, if you can get in here.”  Naturally, we managed to find our way around the chairs and people, and had our photo taken with George.  In retrospect, it’s not my favorite photo – but did we care at that stage?  Nothing could have been further from our minds!  Thankfully we have a number of other great photos of George, minus us, to admire (and boast about).
Shortly after, George got up to leave.  Standing, he wasn’t much taller than we were!  And looked as handsome as we always thought.  By this point we had started to overcome our initial shock, and were beginning to actually believe what was happening.  However, George was soon on his way to the lift– with us hot on his heels.  Then the doors closed slowly on him, and we sighed in disappointment.   None of us seemed to know what to say except, “oh my God!”  What else could one really say with such an experience so fresh in one’s mind?

We left soon after, making Graham promise to develop the photos soon.  I hugged Vicki goodbye.  As my sole friend who truly appreciates the Beatles as much as I do, it was a great achievement that we had just shared.  As I’m sure all of you out there agree, it is the ultimate event that Beatle fans everywhere hope and wait for, for years – we were ecstatic to be one of the few achievers of this great feat.

Reluctantly, I left the Hilton and, with a definite spring in my step, I walked to the bus that would take me home – only about ten minutes away from George.  I was so happy, and very easily ignored the people who stared at the strange girl grinning her head off.  When I arrived home, I put on the music (yes, George’s naturally) and sat and stared at the autograph and reflected on the events of the afternoon.  My reverie was interrupted by the ring of the telephone.  I was more than happy to discuss the best day of my life with my best mate Vicki – who naturally felt the same.

Finally, we would both like to say that if ever you have the chance to meet George, Paul or Ringo, do anything to meet them.  You will never forget it!

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