There are 90,000 Americans residents in England, including 18,000 in London. socially London can be extraordinarily accessible even though an intensely private place. It is a city which exists behind closed doors, the entire system revolving around friends. Introductions are terribly important. There are four Liverpudlians living, working, loving and making beautiful music in London. Their names are John, Paul, George, and Richard (Ringo). This was the London of 1967 which I flew off towards on Independence Day (July the 4th) of that year. At the time I knew not a single Beatle fan, and I definitely did not know a single person in the whole of England. I was completely alone!
"For yesterday is but a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision. But today well-lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore, to this day. Such is the salutation of the dawn."
Why does a man have two ears and one mouth? So that he can listen twice as much as he talks. I think that I must have been given a very special blessing having chosen that particular time to go and see them. Everything just fell into my lap so to speak, and all The Beatles and their families were in very congenial states of mind. I'm afraid it would take me much too long to write all the things that happened during those three months I was there, but I can say that Sgt. Pepper Summer and Fall was the happiest and most memorable time of my life, and in a way, it was the high sign and a turning point in the Beatles legend.
Most of the following is fact, some is only my own personal opinion. I also at times will relate quotes, but generally will refrain from this as it has been over three years since this happened to me, and so much was said that I don't want to state anything I am not precisely sure of. Unfortunately, I did not have a tape recorder and even if I had I would not have used it as most of what was said was private and not in interview style. Luckily I did have a camera and came back home with some surprisingly unusual photographs.
I arrived in London at Heathrow Airport on an early sunny morning in July, and went by bus and then taxi to the YMCA near Great Russell Square where I was to spend only a week until I could acquire my own bedsitter. It was there I met several really super people from Scotland and Ireland, whom I went about with for the first two weeks. I was able to take in most of the London sights with them during the day, and in the evenings we doubled up for the nightlife. I fell in love with London but had begun to feel that I would never really even come across The Beatles. Maybe they were only a dream, and maybe it was true what they had said about me at home -- that I was indeed quite mad!
On the 14th day of my stay (I was now living near Baker Street on Nottingham Place), my friends left to go home and Iw as again alone. It was terrible really. I had not the foggiest notion as to where any of the Beatles lived, except that Paul was up in a place called St. Johns Wood, which on the map looked like a gigantic place to have to comb through. I did not even know what street he was on, though I knew I must have read the name and remembered it subconsciously.
During my three months (July, August, and September), John, Cyn, and Julian were together at Kenwood. Little things John did and said when he was with Cyn (and I wasn't the only one to notice this) made me feel that something and was the matter between them. Later when they separated, I was very sad at first, because I had like Cynthia very much, she was a very kind, shy, patient person. with Yoko he has however seemed to have the freedom and outlet he needed before I think he was very restrained. I don't know what the future holds but now that Cyn and Roberto have married. I do hope that all continues to go well between John and Yoko.
The first time I ever met John was that day in Kenwood. Three hours before the whole lot of them were due to leave for Athens, Greece. I have to admit thinking back, that John was the only one I was really scared of, and it was ridiculous because sometimes I think (even though he is not the one I have the deepest feelings for), that he's the biggest softy of the four. Certainly, he's the most gullible believe it or not. Some newspaper people I know, just would not believe that John is quite naive about a lot of things. He'll always be that way too. An example is the "Two Virgins" cover. He honestly didn't believe or realize that it could cause such a stupid mess of newsprint.
John at the time was barefoot, wearing bright purple trousers, and a black and white t-shirt decorated with necklaces. He was sitting quite comfortably in a lazy lotus position, hugging a pillow in his favorite chair. His hair was a bit short and fluffy with long sideburns and of course, he was wearing his famous gold-rimmed glasses. He was a bit stern looking and quiet as he watched the going on. I remember being very proud of myself when I made him smile like a little kid when I told him he was "beautiful." He had a fake tattoo flower bracelet around his wrist and a flower on the top of his foot. I have a feeling one of "The Fool" had painted in on for him. Two of them were there then; Seemone and Marijka (Dutch husband and wife team). They were and still are fantastic fools. Someone is the "Rainbow Man."
George and Ritchie were both there too, and Julian (running about in his underwear and tagging after his Dad). Cynthia had gone over to Maureen's for a bit to keep her company (It was only a month or so before Jason was to be born). I 'll tell you about the others in detail later, as I'll try to take on Beatle at a time for discussion.
|George and Thia at Kenwood|
George Harrison -- now there's a great name for a beautiful person. The first time we were introduced, he jumped over a table in one leaping bond to shake my hand. He also grinned quite broadly showing his fantastic smile. Either his parents taught him well in manners (as he was extremely polite and friendly) or he'd been smoking a little of John's special brand of cigarettes. I think at the time it was a mixture of both.
George is a very sincere, dedicated person. 1967 was far from the beginning of his interest in India and religion. He'd been studying for quite some time, even in school. I remember Judy and I giving him some books of Ravi Shankar and he just could not put them down. The greatest discussion I ever had was with him and Pattie at Kinfaun Wall Bungalow in Esher the day after they returned from San Francisco, California.
Ringo's chauffeur had offered to drive us from Sunny Heights to Kinfauns. I was with my two French friends. One being Josette Barnato, an 18-year-old Parisian who looked extraordinarily like a Boyd girl. Both George and Pattie took a special liking to her. The chauffer frequently drove all the Beatles and their families. He definitely liked Paul the best. He spoke of him as being very polite. He was upset that Ringo had not spoken to him at all during the drive back. He had been to an interview about Maureen expecting the baby and I imagine he was thinking on it.
As the driver left, we walked down the long gravel drive towards the gate. It all seemed very strange and I was not at all prepared for what was going to happen. I just pray that everyone can experience just once in their lives the sudden dreamlike peace and serenity I experienced. It was almost Holy!
Pattie' orange mini-cooper was in the drive, plastered on it were the yellow and black signs advertising "Monterey Pop Festival." Flowers were abundant and roses covered the little arbor leading to the door. On the line at the side near the greenhouse were five pairs of George's jockey shorts!
|This is my guess of what photo goes with this story. Colorful shirt, rectangles on pants, necklace, talking to him in the yard and with a girl that looks like a Boyd sister. All matches!|
I went up to the door to ring the bell as the others wouldn't. It really didn't help to see a printed note near the bell warning of certain death to the one who pressed it. I was written in a type of prose. Also, there were signs with baby's photo on it saying "Safe as Milk." I knocked first. There was no answer, but the television was on. Finally, I rang...still nothing. We looked around, snapping pictures and then went back to the gate, determined to wait. Jennie and Paula Boyd pulled up in the driveway. Jennie smiled at us and waved saying, "you can try the door again now." For some reason, we decided just to wait at the gate. The weather was getting cloudy and we had been there about an hour. We were just about to leave when all of a sudden we saw a lean long-haired figure come from around the back of the house. It was dressed in a screamingly wild combo of colors with rectangle designed trousers and bare feet. The figure casually walked across the grass pretending to be inspecting his Cyprus trees near the wall. "My God," I said to Josette, and I'm certain my eyes must have widened to twice their size. "It's George!" Josette wheeled around in extasy, spreading out her arms wide for him. "France, France, I am from France. I am a French girl!" George grinned that grin of his and kept walking toward her, then stopped about six feet away hands on hips and said, "And I am a British boy." "But you are GEORGE HARRISON!" Everyone including George had a laugh. From then on it was easy talking to him.
He told us all about his and Pattie's trip to San Francisco. He really loved California and was surprised but impressed when I told him I was born there. He was wearing the all seeing eye around his neck and I couldn't help but stare at it. This got us into a discussion on India and religion. Before that, however, I remember commenting on the great wall and asking him if it was true that Clive of India built it. "I'm sure he had some help from his friends," George replied, and I know I turned pink, but he laughed.
After speaking about California, Josette asked him why he did not go to Paris more often. He said they all tried to get around to different places, but it took up so much time. He wanted to go through, and a few months later, he and Pattie, John and Cynthia showed up in Paris to visit Ravi. Pattie and George were very pleased to find Josette there as well.
Josette wanted to know if he spoke any French. "Just a little," he replied. "Say something," she dared him. "Say something..." he repeated thinking, "Well..." and he went off into a French sentence, like a little boy reciting his lessons for a teacher. Josette nodded when he finished and everyone giggled. I asked him what he had said and he really laughed. "Can I have some milk this morning. That is really all I know."
When we were talking about meditation, which he could talk forever on, I asked him, as someone who is greatly interested in that type of philosophy, what books he would recommend me to read as a beginner. The first thing that came to his head was "Autobiography of a Yogi" and I shall forever be indebted to him for recommending this to me as it completely changed my life, and since that time I have thought of George only in the most appreciative way.
We all were dying to meet Pattie, and Josette asked him outright, "Could we see Pattie Boyd?" At the time her English translations and accent were delightfully full of mistakes. "Pattie Boyd...Pattie Boyd..Pattie BOYD." George raised his eyebrow and smiled repeating Pattie's maiden name. "Well, we'll see if Pattie BOYD will come out. Just a minute." He left us and went into the house. After about three or four minutes he returned grinning, and behind him, about four feet was Pattie with long flowering blonde hair and a bright orange dress (a mini) with a gold buckle and also bare feet. She signed autographs smiling all the while. She was so very nice and shy as well. We told her we had seen one of her commercials recently for "Dop" shampoo, where she was washing her hair under a car-wash. Her orange mini was also featured. She seemed very pleased, and when we asked her where she had gotten her dress she said, 'India."
All in all, we had talked to Geroge alone for about 20 minutes, and I forgot time after Pattie and he were there together. It all seemed too beautiful and happy to leave. I could kick myself for not having enough film to at least have snapped them together. I told George this and said kiddingly, "You wouldn't happen to have any film around?" "Just 35mm," he replied and looked sorry. "Well, that'll do if I can have the camera that goes with it." He laughed. He was also laughing then. I just hope he'll always be happy (he and Pattie) as when I saw them that day. My love to them both.