Sunday, September 16, 2012

Crackerbox Christmas

Another Harrison Alliance story to share with you this evening.  This one was found in the March 1978 issue and was written by Leslie Bart.   I am not sure how much of the dialog is exactly correct, but as always I share the stories exactly as I find them.   

This photo was in with the story, but obviously was not taken the day of the story since George stayed in his car the entire time.

The gates of Friar Park in December 1977

Crackerbox Christmas
By Leslie Bart

I went to Friar Park December 21 (1977) and arrived around 12:30 and hung around the gate.  People were coming and going in and out of Friar Park all the time.  If anyone stopped, I’d ask if George was in; the answer was always “no” or “I don’t know.”

At 2:30 Harold (George’s brother) pulled up in a big dark green Land Rover.  We talked a bit and I asked if George was around.  He said, “Yeah, he’s in, but if he does come out at all it won’t be till later.”  I said, “That’s OK, I can wait.”

Around 4:00 Harold came back out of the gate house (As you know, that’s where he and his family live).  He came over to me and said, “George should be coming out in a few minutes.  He’ll be in a gold car.”  Nerves time for me! 

At 4:15 ZOOM!  This gold Porsche came flying down the drive, out the gate, and turned left down the road.  It was George!  I waved, but I don’t know if he saw me (as it was already getting dark).
Harold came by again.  “Did you see him?”

“Yeah,” I said, “But he didn’t stop.”

“You should’ve thrown something at him.”  Harold jested.  

“I couldn’t do that!  Do you think he’ll be back?”  I asked hopefully.

“Yeah, He’ll be back in a little while.  He just went to Farrington to pick up a car.  It’s only about 10 miles from here.  He’ll be back in a few minutes.”

“Thanks.  I’ll wait.” I said.

Someone turned on the lamps that are on top of the gate pillars and there was a yellow glow around the gate.  I stood on the right-hand side because that’s the side George would be on when he came in.
At 5:00 the gold Porsche returned and pulled to a stop just outside thegate.  The window came down and I stepped over to the car.

“Hi George!”

“How ya doin’?”
“I’m fine.  Oh!  You’re American!  Where ya from?” he asked.
“I’m from Detroit.”
“Are you here for Christmas?”
“Yeah, a vacation.”
“Oh, that’s nice.”
His hair came down to about his neck and his bangs covered his eyebrows, he still had his mustache.  He looked great!

“I um..I have some gifts for you.  Some Christmas presents.  Will you accept them?” (I don’t know why I did it, but I had a bunch of daisies for him and I practically shoved them in his lap.  He was acting very hesitant, like he didn’t know what to do.)

“Well, I don’t know.  I mean, do you want me to?”

“Of course I do!”
“Well, OK, but you didn’t really have to do it.  You didn’t have to get me anything.”
“Oh yes I did.”
“But I don’t really deserve anything.”
“I think you do.  Will you accept them please?”
“Well, yeah, OK.”
“Oh good! OK, here’s the first one.”  I handed the gift to him and he set it down on the bucket seat next to him.  “You can open them now if you’d like.  Would you like to open them now?”
“Well,  if I do that I won’t have any surprises for Christmas!” he whined like a little kid.
“Oh, that’s OK.” I said.  “You can open them now.”

“But I won’t have any surprises to open for Christmas!” he exclaimed.
“I’m sure you’ll have lots of other presents to open.  Besides, it’s an old tradition in my family that we’re allowed to open three of our presents before Christmas, so it’s OK.”  (That’s true.  It’s usually only one present, but I wasn’t going to tell him that.)

“Well, OK, but I still think I won’t have any surprises.” He moped.  He picked the first gift off and seat and started to rip the wrapping paper off as I said, “This one was made by a friend of mine for you.” George unfolded it and layed it on the steering wheel so he could see it better.  It was a rug with the OM design in red on bright yellow. “Oh!  That is very nice.  And she made it herself?”

“No, HE did.”  (Mark Plank, a Harrison Alliance member Leslie got to know through the club).  “He wanted to make you something nice for Christmas, and I promised him that if I saw you I’d give it to you, so there it is.”

“Oh, that’s nice!  Tell him thank you for me.”
“I will.  OK. Now here’s the 2nd one.”  I handed it to him. He pulled the ribbon off and ripped it open.  

“Oh!  Saturday Night Live! (the book).  I haven’t seen this one yet.” He flipped through the pages.
“I saw it in a bookstore and thought you might enjoy it.”  He set the book down on the seat next to him.  “OK.  Now here is the last one.” I said handing it to him.  Again, he just pulled the ribbon off and ripped it open.  I t was a small teakwood box inlaid in with ivory.  He was turning round all the sides; he couldn’t figure out how to open it!  He got it open and peered close at the picture of Radha-Krishna I’d pasted inside the top.  He mumbled something about Radha-Krishna  but I couldn’t understand him.  Then he flipped the box upside down with his left hand and the little purple box within fell into his right.  He put the teakwood in his lap, and after opening the little purple one, he held the object within up to the light and ran his finger over it.  It was a pin.

“Can you see what it is?” I asked.
“Yeah, a mother-of-Pearl OM.”  (He was not impressed)
“I sent one to you in a letter about a year and a half ago, but I never knew if you got it.  I wanted you to have one.”
“Yeah.  Well, you know, since I’ve been putting them (OM’s) on the albums I just get hundreds of them and I don’t know what to do with them all.  I can’t wear them all.”
“Yeah, I can understand that.”
“But if people want to do that sort of thing and send them, that’s great.  As long as they understand what it means, you know?”
“Yeah, exactly.”

“You’re a really nice person.  Thank you for the nice presents.  I’m sorry you had to wait out here so long.”
“Oh, that’s OK.  I don’t mind.”
“You shouldn’t wait out here in the cold for so long.  I’m not worth all that.”
“I think you are.  Look, all I’m trying to do is thank you.”  I tried to explain.  “I just want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me and..” I lost my words, so I quickly added, “this isn’t cold.”  (It was 38 degrees F).  Besides, I waited outside for 36 hours in Detroit to get tickets for your show, so this doesn’t bother me at all.  I’m used to it.”

After a bit of silence, George looked right into me and said, “You really are a very beautiful person.”  He smiled.   I couldn’t take it.  I looked down and I didn’t know what to say, I was afraid to say those three words cause I didn’t want to sound phony; but I couldn’t help it, the feeling swelled up inside and just poured out very quietly, after a long pause.  “I love you.”  I had my right hand resting on the car door; Geroge took my hand in his and was squeezing it and rubbing it between his two hands warming my fingers as he said quietly, but with a big smile, “It’s God that you love.  God is in each of us, and it’s the God that’s within us all that you love.”

I looked down again.  “Yes.  I think you’re right.”  After another pause I said, “May I ask you something?”  “What?”  “Well, I heard you were going to tour in the spring and I was wondering if you were or not and if so, would you come to Detroit again.”

“No.  No.  I won’t be touring at all.  I’ve got this album to work on and I’m gonna be pretty busy with that.”  “yeah, that’s OK then.” I said.

He let go of my hand and acted like he had to go but didn’t say anything.
“Well, I guess I better let you go.  I hope you have a Happy Christmas and very good New Year.”
“Thank you and all the same to you, too.”

I knew I had to let him go, but it was very hard.  I asked him, “Do you think you could do me one more tiny little favor?”
“What’s that?”
“Talk John into doing an album.”
“Oh, that!  Yeah, well, a mutual friend was talking to him in New York last week and this friend said John was being very selfish about the whole thing,  so I don’t know.  You can’t tell John what to do.  He’ll make up his own mind.”

“Well I wish he’d make up his mind to do an album.  It’s driving me crazy!”
“Yeah, well, don’t worry about it.”
Another pause.  “I guess I’d better let you go.  Thank you, George.  I hope you have a very Happy Christmas!”
“Thank you and the same to you.”

I don’t know why I did it, but I started to walk down the street before he drove away.  He watched me til I was about 20 yards away, then drove up his drive.  I was shaking so badly I didn’t know what to do.

I ran down to Henley Records and bought All Things Must Pass.  Then I went to the station and the trains took me back to London.  All I could do was thank God for having answered my prayers.


  1. Some recognisable George phrases from the 70s e.g.

    "...God is in each of us, and it’s the God that’s within us all that you love.”

    (Did he still say that in the 80s and 90s?)

  2. This reads more like a story from 'Jackie' circa 1977, if that means anything to anyone. It gets pretty racey towards the end: where she's walking away and he's watching her walk away. Explosive stuff.