Monday, August 5, 2013

MPL and Air '73

I love finding the stories that go along with the photos I have in my files.   I am excited that I located the stories that go with my all time favorite photo of Paul and Linda!   I am also happy that this story was written by Pat Simmons.   I love Pat's style of writing.   She always makes me laugh and writes in such a way that I really feel like I am there with her.    

This story is found in the Fall 1981 issue of the McCartney Observer.

Air ‘73
Pat Simmons

If you ever want to meet one of the Beatles and make a complete idiot of yourself, invite me along.  I seem to have a knack for doing just that.  After 17 years, I’m still totally awestruck by them, and when seeing any of them, my entire being seems to turn into one large blob of Jell-O.  Let me demonstrate.

It is October 1973, the last time I’ve been to England.  Kris S., Kathy B. and I are nosing through a huge bookstore around the corner from Soho Square.  Kris, who has been in England for several weeks already, asks us if we’ve seen MPL yet.  We hadn’t, so Kris takes us there.  When we arrive, we see a limo conspicuously waiting outside – you couldn’t miss it, it was taking up the whole street.  Quaking Kathy and I push brave Kris up to the car to try to worm out of the driver if he happens to be waiting for Paul, and of course he snaps an irritable “No!”  Deciding he probably is, we cross the street to the square to hide behind the shrubbery and hope.  Sure enough, before too long, out bops Paul and Linda.  I was so complete startled to be seeing them so totally by accident that all I could croak out was “there he is.”  Kathy and Kris, who’d been sitting down on a bench with their backs to MPL’s doorway, said later that I said it so calmly they wondered “that who is?”  When they saw my gaping mouth however, they whipped around and saw them too.  Kathy had never met Paul before and was becoming so unglued that she managed to get hopelessly entangled in her camera straps, while doing a little jig trying to get free and swearing for all she was worth.  My but it was quiet on that street…

Our legs like lead, it took us a while to get our butts across the street, and by that time, Paul and Linda  had gone around the corner and disappeared into another building.  We stared at each other dementedly for a few minutes, and then decided to station ourselves at the corner.  When we saw them come out of the building again out of the corner of our eyes, the three of us proceeded to stare straight ahead at the lamppost.  Something about the way we were staring at that lamppost with our eyes bugged out of heads and cameras around our necks might have given Paul a little clue that we were fans, so he walked right up to us and shone a flashlight in each of our faces.  Kathy and I went into spastic silence, wanting so much to say something intelligent, and our brains not cooperating.  Kris managed to squeak out, “Is this a stick-up?”  Paul and Linda cracked up, and lingered for a minute, wondering if we were going t come out of our comatose state and be able to carry on a conversation.  My jaw was flapping up and down like an unhinged door but nothing was coming out, so giving up, they started walking toward MPL again.

Realizing they were leaving, Kathy came out of her stupor and said something like, “We’re blowing this, somebody do something!”  Yes, it was a quiet street.  He had to have heard her, and was probably eating up the entire episode with a large spoon.  Kathy’s outburst had shocked me out of my stupor, and suddenly, saying “Oh, ok!” on legs that certainly couldn’t have been mine, I started trailing after Paul, mumbling, “Uh….Paul?”  He didn’t turn around, so I croaked a little louder, “Paul?”  This went on until the time they had reached MPL, and suddenly Paul spun around, nearly giving me a coronary, and raising his eyebrows, said “Yes?”  He does like to make people suffer, doesn’t he?   I babbled out, “Ah, er..would you think I was obnoxious if I asked if you’d pose for a photo?”  Even as I said it, I couldn’t believe it.  Meantime, Paul seemed to be getting more amused by the second.  “No, I wouldn’t,” he said patiently, grinning broadly.  I could hear Kathy, still at the corner with Kris say, “all right!” and the town of them joined me.  The first photo I took, after feeling a tad guilty and asking Linda to be in the photo too, I was shaking so hard that Paul said, “You’re shaking, you’d better take another one!”  The fact that the second photo did come out much clearer was no doubt largely due to the fact that he was at the time looking toward Kris and Kathy as they took a photo.  Something about when that man looks straight at you that definitely puts you in an unbalanced state.

While posing for Kris and Kathy, Paul noticed Kathy’s camera, and whistling and seeming impressed, he crowed, “Ooooh!  Top Conn, ooooh!!!”  I thought later I should have held up m y camera and said “ooooh!  Instamatic, ooooh!!”  but it’s one of those things you don’t think of til a week later.
It seems to me some other things were said, but in the state we were in, it all seemed like a dream.  It would be one thing if we were at a studio where he was recording and knew we’d be seeing him eventually leaving the building; it’s quite another thing to see him totally by accident!
After Paul and Linda had gone back into MPL, Kris took off to call a couple of friends, who made it there in record time.  A short time later, when they emerged from the building again, Marla sent them off with a huge wave which, once in the back seat of the limo whose driver had said he wasn’t waiting for Paul, and turning around to look through the back window at us, Paul skillfully duplicated.  My worst humiliation of the whole event came a few hours later when I realized what I was wearing:  a jacket with HDN and Sgt. Pepper patches sewn on it!  Well, all I’d known was that we were going to a bookstore!  Embarrassed is not the word (try mortified!)

At this time, Paul was working on “Helen Wheels” at Air Studios, so just about every day, we’d go over there to see him arrive.  He delighted in parking around the corner on a side street  (illegally; he got tickets every day!) and walking through the crowds of people on Oxford Street, preferably in rush hour, enjoying immensely the double takes office workers would give him, staring after him as though to say, “Nah, it couldn’t be him!”  The one time he created a real stir in the throngs when he arrived decked out in plaid jacket, a top that looked like a maternity dress, baggy trousers, and complete with a “hat” that looked like underwear or shorts!  Linda was dressed equally weird (but then she usually was anyway), and they passed at the doorway of the studio to do a little dance step before going inside.

Another time at the studio, Marie had stopped him just before he went in the door to show him some concert photos she’d taken of him earlier in the year.  He stopped and admired himself for a while and when he turned to go into the building, collided straight into me.  For the briefest instant he grabbed my arm, said, “Sorry” and once again left me a babbling idiot.  He can run into my anytime!
The “guards” in this building were really nice, a lot nicer than EMI guards had been of years past.  Many times when it was cold outside they would let us wait in the lobby, and eventually even over by the elevators.  One particular night after hours and hours of waiting, my bladder was about to explode.  I    hated the thought of leaving and missing him, though.  I continued to wait, pain mounting, till I could stand it no more.  I walked up to the guards’ desk like a penguin asking if they knew if there was a commode nearby in a pub or something, and noting my slightly green coloring, took pity on me, saying “You can use the one on the 4th floor here.”  They had been so nice to us I didn’t want them to get in trouble.  Particularly when I found out that was also the floor Air Studio was on!  But they insisted it would be all right if I hurried and came right back downstairs.   I begged someone to come with me, but nobody would budge so the elevator door closed and took me up to the floor.  I was even petrified to get ouf the elevator.  I would hate to have to answer Paul’s question of “What are you doing up here” if I should run into him.  But, when you’re desperate, you’re desperate.

I followed the directions once up there that the guard had given me, but I couldn’t find anything remotely resembling a bathroom.  Beyond one of the doors seemed to be closet, but I wasn’t THAT desperate.  I was just about to turn around and go back downstairs and ask for directions again when I heard whistling and several people talking at the same time.  And one of those voices was Paul’s!  Panic and full bladder to not mix.

I couldn’t run to the elevators, I’d never beat him down there.  So I did the only think I could think of, which was to hightail it down the stairway.  Did you ever tyro t run down four flights of marble stairs with a painfully full bladder?  I wailed down those stairs like a steam locomotive, and by the time I reached the lobby, God only knew what colors I was turning while I was panting to get my breath back.  The rest of my friends were still waiting by the elevators, so when Paul and gang paraded into the lobby I was the only fan up there at the time, and he looked straight at me and broke into another huge grin, either having heard the commotion of me stampeding down the stairs while waiting for the elevator, or who knows, maybe he remember my HDN patch.

Ah, the embarrassing moments we fans have known.  But we wouldn’t’ trade those memories for anything, would we?



  1. i loved reading this! pat has been a dear friend for as long as i can remember. i stayed at her house over a weekend in the 80's, went there just to meet her. then we met again in chicago for a paul concert and press conference. i remember running down the street with her and other friends. we have been close friends all these years, and i can tell you she is still as funny as when she wrote this! i could always speak normally to any of the beatles, as long as it wasn't john. in that case, my vocabulary became rather scarce...

  2. in the early 70's Macca was very often seen obviously high so may be case of stupid clothing choices - I remember him wearing this babydoll with underwear looking hat once which made me cringe