Monday, October 22, 2012

Meeting Ringo in London July 1980

When you look at the history, the summer of 1980 was a busy time for all four of the former Beatles (I don't know about the rest of you, but when I think of that time period, I automatically think of John and the work he was doing on his come-back album).    Here is a lovely story of a fan from Milano, Italy named Giuliana Massimino who met Ringo Starr outside of a hotel in London in July of 1980.  This story and photo appeared in the October 1980 (Issue #32) of "With a Little Help from my Friends."

By Giuliana Massimino
It was on Tuesday 8th of July (1980) in London that my friend Giovanne, her sister Edith and I were home because it was a miserable day.  At 9:15 p.m., we got a phone call from our friends who live in the north of the city who told us, with great pleasure, that they had met Ringo that afternoon, in front of the Dorchester Hotel.  From that moment I couldn’t wait to go there and my two friends felt just the same.  We all spent a terrible night without being able to sleep because we were waiting for the next morning to leave to go to the hotel hoping to meet Ringo.  The only problem was that we couldn’t wait too long outside the hotel because we had to go to the theatre to see Jane Asher in the play “Before the Party.”  We didn’t speak a word that morning all the way from Wimbledon Station to Marble Arch.  We were walking fast along Park Lane to get outside the Dorchester as early as possible.  It was a very cold day, the wind was blowing strongly and it was raining.

The three of us found places at one side of the doors of the hotel.  We couldn’t sit down because we were thinking that perhaps one of the doormen could shout to us to get away from there.  While we were there one of them came to us and asked, “Are you waiting for someone?”  “Yes.”  “Who?”  “Ringo Starr.”  The doorman smiled and said, “Ringo’s not here.”  “Oh yes he is.  We know.”  “Where are you from?”  “Italy.”  “And you came all the way from Italy to see Ringo Starr?”  “Yes.”  “Why?”  The doorman smiled again and told us that he was coming to Italy this summer.  He liked the Italian Sea and all that, and we were happy because after all, we were feeling more comfortable because we knew that he wouldn’t tell us to go away.

Every time that the door opened my heart jumped, but it calmed down every time that I realized it was not Ringo.  Now and then the doorman came over to speak to us and then he returned to his work.  He told his colleagues not to tell us to go away because we were waiting for someone and so nobody came to annoy us.  We stood two, three hours and speaking a bit now and then, but very rarely.  One time that doorman came over to us once more and he asked us, “You know which car is Ringo’s don’t you?”  We said no and the doorman was surprised and he said, “I shouldn’t tell you, but it’s the red Mercedes over there.”  We were delighted to know which car was his.  I took a picture of the car whose plates were ECXGGGJ and   I was happy because I knew Ringo was in!

He must come out sooner or later we kept saying.  Later the doorman told us that Ringo went out usually at 4-6:30p.m. and didn’t come “home” until 3:30a.m.  Then he showed us the keys of Ringo’s car which were kept together by a little lace and a piece of paper where there was written RINGO and a number of which I can remember only 33.  My eyes were on the word, “RINGO.”  Unfortunately it was time to go, otherwise we would be late for the theatre, but we were a lot more comfortable because our friend the doorman had told us many things which were keep us up!  He was waiting for us the next morning at the same hour.

That night was even worse!  We got up at 6:30 and our host we were staying with was very surprised about it.  We were ready to go when I had the idea of taking some roses to the doorman and of course to Ringo.  Mrs. Dale, our host, wished us good luck and said she would keep her fingers crossed for us that day, we knew we had to meet him because we had eleven hours in front of us.  This thought wasn’t encouraging us at all, because the weather was the same as the day before.  We got to the hotel while it was raining and we didn’t have an umbrella.  Our friend, the doorman was happy about the roses and said he would take them to his wife.  He was much more talkative and very kind to us all.
Time dragged a lot and we tried to keep ourselves busy walking up and down and keeping our cameras ready.  Then we were told that we could wait in a bench near the parking place so that we could see the doors and see if he came out.  At 6:25 p.m. I saw a face I knew on the other side of the door and as it opened I recognized Ringo!  He was moving fast and I got up suddenly to look at him.  He walked out of the door and after a few steps he retraced his steps just as if he had forgotten something.  The doorman called him and told him that he had his keys.  Ringo smiled wide and took the keys.  Then he began to walk toward us. He was still smiling, as I suppose he understood what we were there for!  Meanwhile I took photos but my camera was shaking like mad.  I thought it was too beautiful to be true!  He was wearing a pair of white tennis shoes, jeans and a grey jacket just as if it was autumn instead of the middle of summer.  He was wearing sunglasses too and I couldn’t see his eyes.  I said “hello” and he answered back.  That was the only English word I remembered at the moment!  My friends gave him slips of paper to sign but he couldn’t write keep them on his hand.  So he looked around and saw a little book I had, and he grabbed it quickly from my hands and he touched my hand!  I was dying as he grabbed the book and said, “Give me your postcard, too.”  I had a postcard and I wanted him to sign it on the back.  While he was signing he looked around and said, “Where are you from?”  We were just staring at him and finally I answered, “Italy.”  “Oh” he said.  “I thought you were English.”  After a couple of second he said, “Ah, I’m going to Italy  next week.  Rome.  Do you know that?”  I didn’t know what to say, my friends didn’t either.  When he finished with the autographs he tried to open the door of his car.  He still had my book in his hands and looked at it.  Then he told me, “That’s yours, isn’t it?” 

“Yes, thanks, but wait a minute Ringo.  May I see your eyes?”  I badly wanted to see his eyes as I knew they were blue but I’ve never seen them quite well in the photos I have.  He said, “Here they are!”  He smiled and he lowered his glasses a bit, then he looked at me and he blinked.  I was nearly fainting!  I said, “thank you.”  He had opened the door and was getting in.

By this time he had almost finished his Marlboro and I wanted to ask him he could give it to me but I couldn’t speak.  My head was incredibly empty.  Before closing the door he said, “Well then, you’re Italian so I’ll say ‘Ciao.’”  And smiled happily he had said an Italian word.  We waved and he waved back and smiled.  We were just standing there and he was going away.  I forgot to give him the flowers but as there were some doormen outside I told them to give the roses to Ringo.  The doorman promised he would, so I hope Ringo got them.  As his car was merging into the traffic, I wanted to run after it but couldn’t move.  I was still thinking that it was too beautiful.  I couldn’t believe that Ringo was the same of “Please please me”, of “help!” of “Let it Be.”  And he is a normal human being.  Two eyes (beautiful ones!), two ears, two legs and so on.  And he was kind to us.  I was afraid he might be rude, but he was warm and on our way back to Wimbledon, nobody talked.  We were silent and our eyes were fixed on an unexisting point.

Ringo’s smile was in front of me all the time and when I think now that I’m home of him blinking, I still feel something inside that I cannot explain even to myself.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I am Giuliana, and I'm very honored to be part of your blog. i am 49 now, and still very much into the Beatles, although my dream remains to meet Paul but I have never succeeded.. Thank you for making my story part of your blog, it's great!