Monday, 23 September 2013

The McCartneys cont...

‘Five minutes to curtain call, said Mr McCartney.

‘Hey Paul, we’re just having a really good chat,’ said Linda.

‘Right, but we’ve really got to go. Have you finished your interview?’

‘Well, no,’ I said, feeling short-changed. I’d been promised over thirty minutes, plus I’d been hanging around for days waiting to do this. Just because I got a bit lost didn’t mean I should be penalised. This ain’t on son, this ain’t on at all.

‘Could I ask just a couple more things?’ I said gingerly. Shit, I was alone in a room with Paul and Linda McCartney and they were talking about me.

Okay, but if you could wrap it up as soon as you can,’ said Paul

Linda looked at me and smiled.

Right, er, if you weren't married now, what would…

‘I'd be living out in Arizona just taking pictures.’ Lovely Linda. 

‘Anyway,’ said Paul, ‘we are married and that's the way we intend to stay.’

The spell had been broken. Paul paced up and down and occasionally interrupted to hurry things along.  I really wanted him to piss off. I’d just scratched the surface with Linda and this could have been the best ever.

Then Linda said something so magical it took my breath away.

‘Maybe we could continue the interview back at the house.’

The house!

Yes! The three of us would pile into his Mini, the one with the black windows, and drive over to St- John’s Wood to the house I’d been reading about all my life. The one just around the corner from Abbey Road Studios, the one where he wrote ‘Paperback Writer’ and ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Lady Madonna’. Where he slept with Jane Asher and entertained Mick Jagger.

Paul McCartney’s house.

And Linda would maybe knock up a meal in the kitchen, something healthy like alfalfa beans, and we’d open a bottle of wine and talk late into the night and Paul would tell me his secrets and fears and dreams and finally explain to me the true meaning of life.

‘No,’ said Paul. ‘That’s out of the question.’

What are the worst words you’ve ever heard? ‘I’m sorry but I don’t love you anymore’? ‘You’ve failed every exam’? ‘The dog’s dead’? ‘Oh − have you come already?’

Sorry, they aren’t even close to what I felt when Paul said, ‘No. That’s out of the question.’

At that moment I would have traded my mum’s life for the opportunity of going to Paul McCartney’s house. ‘No. That’s out of the question’.

Didn’t he realise what he meant to me? What he did for me? How I could never thank him enough for simply existing?

I wish I could’ve said something glib − ‘Don’t beat about the bush Paul − do you want me to come or not?’ But all I could muster was a feeble, ‘Okay, I think I’m just about finished. I’m sorry I was so late and I’m really sorry about the Coke.’

‘Don’t worry,’ said Paul.    

‘No, it was my fault.’

As we walked down the stairs I was overcome by shyness. He said something to me but I didn’t know what. 

The three of us went out of the building together. I tried to talk to him, tried to penetrate that force field I’d erected between us. I crazily expected Paul to know me like I knew him and the fact that he didn’t was, I concluded, totally his fault.

A polite goodbye and I watched them climb into the Mini with the black windows. Linda waved.

I tried to imagine their conversation.

‘Paul, how could you be such a bastard? That guy was about the best journalist I’d ever met and I sensed he was gonna write a great article about me. And you went and ruined it.’

‘I’m sorry Linda, I didn’t know. Shall we turn back?’

‘Oh, it’s too late now.’

But it was probably more along the lines of:

‘He didn’t seem like a bad guy. A bit stupid though. How could someone get lost like that?’

‘Right. And fancy you asking him back. He’d have knocked over the Ming vase and then got lost on his way to the toilet.’ And then they’d have laughed and driven back into the dreamland.

I was angry because I felt cheated. Meeting Paul McCartney should’ve been deeply significant. But, like making love for the first time, it was a complete disaster. And, of course, in my eyes he alone was to blame.

My Record Mirror article ended:

‘You've got enough, haven't you?’ says Paul, obviously anxious to be rid of me once and for all.
Yes,’ I reply − meekly I'm ashamed to say. And they left. The interview lasted twenty minutes.
I always liked John Lennon better anyway.
Wonder if Yoko fancies a chat?

Not surprisingly, Paul took exception to my piece and the following week, while doing an interview for Melody Maker, he apparently referred to me as a complete bastard and admitted he would’ve liked nothing more than to smack me in the face.

It was like losing a lover, a brother, a mum, a dad, a son, a daughter. The Record Mirror article was written by someone I didn’t know. Someone still clawing his way out of bombsite ‘77, covered with the dust of fallen stars. Someone who felt a little cheated because ‘78 was just another ‘76 without Barry Biggs. Someone who still sneered behind his beard at the ugly-bug ball. Someone jealous of an NME writer because they got all the glory. Someone jealous of Paul McCartney for being rich and talented. Someone with a grudge against everyone. Someone. But not me.

Of all the graffiti splashed on the whitewashed walls of my soul by vindictive ghosts, ‘Barry Cain is a complete bastard, PM’ hurts the most.

But it was the demon inside guv.

It wasn’t cool to dig Wings and I went along with the cool cats. I couldn’t be arsed to write nice when it was easier and more fun to write bad. I lied to myself by distorting my dreams.

I quit Record Mirror soon afterwards.

I never met Paul again and I shed a tear when Linda died. She was a sweetheart and would no doubt still have been married to Paul to this day.     

The Beatles inspired me like nobody else before or since, but I lost them when they split. George was only good for one album, his debut triple epic All Things Must Pass. John produced two classic albums – John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band and Imagine. Mind Games was an intense disappointment and, apart from the Rock ’n’ roll album he did nothing else of real note. The last, Double Fantasy, was awful. Ringo? Ringo joked about with photographs, sixteen year-olds with lips like strawberry wine and sentimental journeys. 

Paul released two truly great albums and three or four good ones. Maybe he still does. I stopped listening to his music fifteen years ago. Mind you, I haven’t listened to much else in fifteen years so who am I to judge? I’ve taken an extended vacation from my house of music, returning, now and again, to collect the post and make sure the pipes haven’t burst.

I always regarded Paul as the most beautiful Beatle, which was why I went for John with his hook nose and pounding hips. Paul sang the prettiest Beatles songs and yet ‘I’m Down’, ‘She’s A Woman’ and ‘Oh Darlin’’ revealed an achy-breaky vocal that gave my heart a hard-on.

So, I take my hat off to you Sir Paul. You came in through the bathroom window and stole the show. I’d like to have written that back in March 1978 when the world was not enough.

Now back to the future − or, rather, forward to the past where the Intro still lurks.

© Barry Cain 2013

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