Sorry to have been so long ... the last 48+ hours have been somewhat exhausting, to put it mildly!
I think it would be fair to say that Beatlemania (well, Paulmania, anyway!) is alive in London. Though the age group of the fans has definitely increased since the sixties: the people in and around HMV in Oxford Street ranged from teenagers right through to those with grey hair!
Arriving at HMV in the afternoon, having been summoned by an anxious Jennifer Debernardis who went to check the situation and found 20 fans already in situ - I was among the first group to be issued with shocking pink plastic wristbands inscribed with the words "Paul McCartney - HMV Oxford Circus, 16th October 1997" and, in smaller type "This wristband does not guarantee you will meet Paul". The band also contained the HMV logo with the little dog with his nose in the old wind-up gramophone.
We settled down and made ourselves comfortable, buying some essential provisions from Marks & Spencer, including a couple of bottles of wine! Everyone was very friendly, but we naturally fell into little clusters - our cluster included Jennifer (naturally!), Joyce Slavik, Amy Titmus, Dorothy Hudson and Richard Cook (not on Macca-l).
There were comings and goings, the shops beside HMV complained about people unable to see their windows or get into their doors easily, I had to find a garage to leave my car overnight ... all the usual little irritations of a queue settling down for the night! :)
Eventually, the HMV security guys moved us to a fenced off section of the pavement (sidewalk to you Americans! :)), we acquired mountains of cardboard to cover the street, and established ourselves with sleeping bags, etc. The "overnighters" from this list were the group of us mentioned above, plus Debbie Wakeford (Scruff!), Eileen Neff, Harriet Perry, Leslie Young, Mary Jo Benedetto, and, I think, Chris Brewer. Quite a few Macca-listers had already left London, and plenty more declined a chilly night on a hard pavement.
It was fun! HMV provided free tea and coffee throughout the night, and toilet (restroom!) facilities after McDonalds closed at midnight. They also had staff around to keep an eye on both us, and anyone who might bother us (though nobody did). The shop was very busy all night with building workers setting up the stage and finishing off the decoration of the new store, so we certainly didn't get any peace and quiet. We also had visitors - Alex (Burack), Jorie (with a brilliant selection of photos taken this week), Susan Whyatt and Mary Jo Tinsley, Regina, Barb from Alaska, Richard Porter and Spy. I apologise now for anybody I have left out - I didn't have a notebook and my mind appears to be even more tired than my body (and that's pretty difficult! :)).
During the night, we had quite a few visits from the media - Jennifer and I were interviewed and photographed by The Evening Standard (we plugged Macca-l!!), though we haven't managed to find our article in the paper yet. We were also interviewed by several TV stations, and I know we were on UK's GMTV and then the BBC (I'm doing my best to get copies of the video).
Speaking entirely on behalf of our group of 6 (Jennifer, Joyce, Amy, Dorothy, Richard and I), we did manage to get some sleep, stayed warm and dry (it didn't rain at all, but the sky was cloudy so it wasn't too cold), and had a companionable night. I suppose we were around 20th in the queue.
Thursday morning we were moved around the corner, off Oxford Street, into Adam & Eve Court - the head of the queue standing beside a side door of HMV. The queue started growing rapidly - I can't tell you how long it was since I didn't venture down the back - I only left for essentials!
Geoff Baker gave us some money, on behalf of Paul, to buy as many coffees as we could, and we distributed these from the front backwards till they ran out - a very thoughtful gesture, gratefully received by approximately 60 people.
They let us into the shop itself at 12.30, just as a light rain began to fall (good timing!) - and from here on I cannot say what happened to anyone behind me because we were now in single file and I could only see the twenty or so faces backwards.
We now had to wait inside the shop till 2.15, and this seemed to be the longest stretch of time - it was warm inside, there was carpet (instead of pavement!) and we were SO, so tired, we began to feel very weary indeed, with croaky throats.
At last Paul arrived outside to loud cheers (the papers say there were several thousand people in Oxford Street - we couldn't see anything, being in the back of the shop, but we weren't complaining!). After the fairly short opening ceremony, Paul walked through the shop, accompanied by an army of flashing photographers, TV cameramen, HMV management and guests, and innumerable press reporters - it was pandemonium!
We had to stand our ground firmly, strangers tried to infiltrate our queue, but we called our friendly security guard and he sorted it out - this was probably not for the faint-hearted. We had invested much time and aching bones in this venture and certainly the people in our immediate vicinity were not about to let anyone in.
I held my freshly-purchased 12" vinyl of Flaming Pie - the HMV staff took care of all other possessions - and my turn arrived!
Somehow managing to totally ignore the fact that heaven knows how many photographers, TV crews, press, etc. were gathered round the little stage, cameras pointed at Paul, and, therefore, ME (!), AND the fact that, having slept all night in the street, I was hardly looking my most glamorous (to put it mildly!): I stepped forward, my heart in my hands ....
Well, he was just gorgeous - everything I had ever
dreamed he would be, and more. To be the centre of Paul's attention,
even for only a minute, was a luxury I never could have hoped for.
To get an autograph was a lifetime's ambition for me, but to get to TALK
to him, just a one-to-one conversation with him ... well, I don't honestly
think I have to explain to YOU how
wonderful that was. All those profound sentences and great witty ideas evaporated - I just told him that I'd been a fan for 35 years and that it was just fantastic to be able to personally say thank you for everything, that I thought he was just wonderful and that I was so happy that Linda had been there on Tuesday and looking so well and tremendously elegant. This was the
gist of it - I can't possibly remember the precise words! We looked straight into each other's eyes and he was just so charming and he actually said my name!!
He signed FP "To Lynn, with love Paul McCartney, 97".
I can't tell you how much this means to me - I HAVE wished for this for 35 years, and to be able to just TELL him to his face that I think he is great and how much I appreciate everything, gives me the most truly wonderful thrill. I have achieved a major ambition in my life.
Our turn over, we walked out of the crush into the main part of the shop in a daze - my face was flushed, my heart racing and I felt like a young teenager, grinning all over! A BBC camera crew and interviewer came and asked if they could talk to me and I answered the questions, hoping desperately that I didn't sound like an idiot! Knowing that my Mother would probably ask why on earth I hadn't at least applied some lipstick first (!!) and wondering what on earth my non-Beatle-fan friends and acquaintances would make of it ...
Our little crowd re-convened briefly, all in a state of total emotional overload, before having to drift away back into real life ... but I know we will never forget what we shared, and there will always be a very fond spot for each of them in my heart.
I would like to thank this list for giving me the courage and the opportunity to achieve something wonderful - without Macca-l, I know I would have been tempted, but probably not have gone for fear of looking ridiculous. To have shared the wonders of this week with such a brilliant crowd of soul-mates is riches indeed.
... from England
Indulge me, people, while I tell my London tale. I sat on the plane yesterday and wrote out 23 pages in my travel journal and don't even think I've made it to the queue yet, so this may have to come in parts...or maybe I'll just grossly condense it, as so many have already reported on the happenings.
I arrived in London on Sunday morning, much too early, and hooked up with my good friend Richard Cook from r.m.b., who led the way into London from Gatwick airport, a trip that involves trains, tubes and two legs...
I went directly to the Dorset Square Hotel where I was due to spend a few nights with our good friend Lynn Harvey, who is every bit as wonderful as I expected her to be, in fact, even more so. Lynn had her itinerary planned for the day, so I set off to catch Richard Porter's London Beatles walk with Rich. There, we found Joyce Slavik, Amy Parker, Mary Jo and Susan Whyatt, and I think Tijl may have also been along. It was great to meet those four women, who seem as though they have been friends for a lifetime (well, actually, two of them have ;-)) and who will always conjure up warm and wonderful memories of the day for me...Richard's walk was more than a couple of hours long and included such sights as Asprey's (from Help!--You can't do it, jeweler, can you jeweler?), 3 Saville Row, Trident Studios, the Gents where John was photographed, the Palladium (I was literally in prayer), and EMI Studios. After heading off to add our own little bits of St. John's Wood to the tour, we took the obligatory zebra crossing pictures (Joyce actually removed her shoes!), we had a lovely lunch and said our goodbyes...Well, actually, we never said our goodbyes, but, that's another story...;-)
That night, Lynn and I dined with KarZalot (Karen B.) and that was pleasant, but I later found out she had several more stories to tell and had been holding out on us at dinner...;-)
Monday I was scheduled to meet my good pal d. (Dorothy Northcutt), her friend, Ben, Sallie Ann Brink, and Richard at Westminster Abbey, but due to a collapse of the Circle line tube, I arrived 45 minutes late and had to experience the wonders alone. Who could visit there and not stop to pause a moment in silence to say a prayer for Princess Diana and her sons...
On to the luncheon...
The first person I met outside the door of Zia Teresa was JaneP. No further introduction is required, I'm sure...As others have said, it was a wonderful experience to meet so many *friends* face to face for the first time...What an incredibly exemplary group of people were gathered here in this one place. Regina had made her pins, which were quite nice, and Lynn Douet had made wonderful name tags for all of us...Meeting Lynn D., Dorothy, Alix Burack and Mike Tivnen was truly like a dream come true for me, as I have long regarded these email correspondents as friends...It was the most fantastic feeling to arrive in London alone, so far from home and yet be surrounded by friends at every turn. Meeting Chris Brewer, Tijl, Ro, Carol Cleveland, Sallie Ann, and Jorie was also very cool. As each new person would arrive, it was neat to discover who they were. Even still, there were many people there that I didn't have an opportunity to meet or chat with, but no doubt, they were all quite wonderful, too!
I also enjoyed seeing old acquaintances like Eileen and Harriet and Anna, not to mention Spy and Regina, as well...
When Jorie arrived at lunch, she came with the news that Paul had just arrived at the RAH for rehearsals. *That's* no doubt why Geoff Baker was so interested in our whereabouts on Monday, so that Paul could arrive unobserved by our exuberant crowd. Most of us headed to the RAH for a seven+ hour vigil for Paul's exit that evening. Again, the camaraderie of these wonderful people made the hours go quickly and *almost* added some warmth to the freezing air. Lots of stories were flowing: it was here I heard Karen's tales and Donna Andrews' story and that's what I will always remember of this day--getting to know people and sharing their many Paul/Beatles experiences over the years. It was neat to see Paul's car for the first time and it's contents were well described (and haven't changed) by Eileen in 1995. For those of you who missed it, Paul has Pet Sounds, Live at the BBC, SPLHCB, and a promo copy of Baby It's You in his tape storage compartment, along with some unmarked tapes; Juicy Fruit gum (REMEMBER THIS!) and a pocket pack of tissue in his console and some lavender sprigs tucked in his ashtray. Naturally, we all got photographed with THE car, and yes, by late night, I was huddled in a sleeping bag (although *cute* is not a word I would have used to describe myself!) and just suffice it to say it was FREEZING!!! It didn't matter, though, once Paul exited and hammed it up for the cameras. I didn't try to approach him, but I think JaneP gave him one of Sallie Ann's roses and several other people may have gotten a handshake. It was quite an experience, but the best part was the look on Tijl's face when he returned triumphant with his autograph on the Leaf sheet music. His normally quite happy looking face was radiant and his eyes were shining with joy and tears and at that moment I didn't care if I ever got near the man, seeing Tijl's joy and sharing it vicariously was enough for one lifetime...
Where was I? Oh yes, the end of Monday night, one Paul sighting indelibly etched in the brain cells...
Tuesday: The word was out that Paul's press conference was Tuesday at 12-12:30, so Rich and I swung by there to see if we could catch a glimpse of him arriving. Many listers had press passes, so I'm sure they will soon be telling that story, mine takes place totally on the pavement. Again, the crowd was filled with familiar faces, including some that I haven't mentioned before like many of the Scruffs and Karla and Cindy and Genie, who seemed to know everyone, but doesn't yet have internet access...Anyone taking bets on how long it will be before she joins us? ;-) Anyway, the wait was shorter this time and Paul arrived within an hour or so. It was quite interesting to see how the maneuvers begin with Geoff coming on the scene, the bodyguards issuing instructions, and time elapsing before Paul actually arrives...We were all gathered around an entrance to the RAH with a few steps and railing to either side. I was actually up on the curb, away from the steps, so when the Mercedes arrived, I fell in with the crowd that surged around Paul. It really is just a tad scary, and before long, he was kind of trapped on the stairs in the throng of people. All of a sudden I realized that if I just halfway extended my arm, I could touch his right arm, so I just gently reached out and put my hand on his arm! Contact! Quite cool, very dignified, very gentle, he didn't even realize it...
He disappeared through the door and I headed on to the British Museum, because, believe it or not, there really are more sights to London than Paul McCartney, although, he *is* one of the sights of London...;-)
The British Museum is quite a place, and unfortunately, I had just a few short hours to spend there. First stop was the Beatles exhibit. I havebeen told these items have been loaned to the museum by Hunter Davies and I was amazed at how humbly they are displayed. A piece of creative writing from John Lennon, complete with a sketch, the original handwritten lyrics to Help!, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Yesterday, and In My Life, plus some of the photographs from the Davies book and a handwritten letter from Lennon to Davies asking for some stuff about Julia to be deleted from the book in deference to his sisters, Julia and Jacqui. Included in the In My Life lyrics, were some extra verses, which I had never seen. If anyone is interested, I copied them and could post them, but most likely, I will probably do that eventually on r.m.b. Rich and I stood there fantasizing about which item we would want if we could have our choice. He chose Help! and I chose Yesterday, since it was perfectly represented without a scribble. Then I ditched it in favor of the probably more historically valuable I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Like I'll ever have to *really* make that choice...;-)
From there we checked out some of the other manuscripts there, works by the Bronte sisters, Austen, The Magna Carta--you know, more historically trivial stuff than Beatles lyrics...;-)
Another Beatles exhibit of interest was in the music publishing section. There is a Northern Songs exhibit and the Working Class Hero sheet music is displayed, although, underneath in the folio you can see sheets with the MPL logo. Unfortunately for our Paul, the description of the exhibit spells his name incorrectly more than once...MPL will be hearing from me on that one...!
From the BM, we headed for a rock book store as I was in search of the book Summer of 68, which I never did locate and suspect I'll order as an import from somewhere here.
Hours later, a few of us gathered at a pub near the Royal Albert Hall to catch a quick drink before the symphony. It was a rainy evening and we were all dressed to the nines and obviously in a festive mood. We made the short walk to the RAH and everywhere, things were jumping. The Hall itself is beautiful. I think it seats about 5,000, and as Lynn D. said during the Montserrat coverage, it was smaller than it looked. I won't go on and on about this performance, as it has already been so perfectly described by others. I was in heaven as Paul's row was perfectly perpindicular to my seat, so I had a perfect view of the McCartney family and their interactions throughout the performance. I had not listened to all of Standing Stone prior to my trip, so it was a lot to soak in all at once. True to Paul's attention to detail, the Standing Stone logo was displayed in lights all across the hall, and that was quite beautiful to see, and so was the cascade of confetti--quite a lovely touch. At the end of the performance, I was in prayer position. That final melody is so very beautiful and so undeniably a McCartney melody that it takes your breath away. It was during this portion that I saw the most interaction between the family taking place. Linda appeared to be in tears and I'm sure she was joined by the majority of the audience, certainly those within my view. James leaned over and winked at his Dad, and Paul was just beaming...I was so very happy to be there and especially grateful to be in the company of so many people who were as moved as I was by the whole experience. Not having many McCartney fans locally as friends, this has always been something I missed at concerts in the past--being able to share it with someone as into it as I was...so that made the whole shebang just that much more magical. I can't imagine a better way to experience any musical work than to be able to witness the composer and his friends and family responding to its first performance! Wow!
The programs are very nice, but essentially a recreation of the album insert. They are matte black, foot square program, with the Standing Stone dot logo on the front. I picked up a handful of promo flyers from the RAH ticket office, so the first five people not attending the London or NY premieres to email me for one will get one, my treat. :-) On your honor, now. ;-)
After the performance, a group of us headed out to dinner in Soho. As we walked to Lynn's car, we heard a cheer go up and I assume that was Paul and Linda leaving the theater. Tijl had bid us all farewell on the stairs and I am happy to know that he did not try to make it to Paris that night! I worried about him all night! Over dinner, I had the pleasure of getting to know Dorothy Hudson, a lovely woman if I've ever met one. ;-) Her sharing her red play doh heart with me was a moment I will always remember, one Mom to another. ;-) Dinner was as you would expect with Spy at the head of the table! We pretty much closed the place down at 1:30 and Soho was jumping, like DC in the middle of the afternoon! Amazing for a Tuesday night! Lynn D. could barely navigate her car along the narrow streets filled with cars and people...
I had to check out of the hotel on Weds. and bid a fond farewell to Lynn Harvey and Alix, who were just the most wonderful people I've met in a long time. I hope we will have many more meetings in the future, at equally joyful occasions...
I spent Weds. shopping for Beanie babies to appease my children back home. Alix also turned me onto a neat store called the Vintage Magazine Shop, which had lots of back issues of magazines, and quite a selection of old Beatles Books, not to mention postcards, keychains, stickers and the newer stuff that appeals to some...By 2 pm, I swung by the HMV store, to scope out the queue situation and was surprised to find about 20 people on line. I immediately called Lynn Douet to tell her I was setting up camp, which she agreed was probably wise, made a quick call home, and returned to the line to find Amy Titmus, Richard Cook, and Joyce Slavik had joined the queue. Well, that was to my great fortune because a nicer group to spend a night on the pavement of London with could never be found! The LIPA Scruffs were at the front of the line, and Toni (Maccabacca) was also ahead of us. There was lots of inquiring going on and the line really didn't grow for some time, although it seemed the line eventually filled with many familiar faces. Rumor was the wristbands were going to be handed out at 7, so Lynn D. was taking her time joining me in the line. All of the sudden, the rumor flowed that the wristbands were going to be distributed imminently. Geoff Baker had arrived and there was much discussion between him and the HMV suits, not to mention this had probably all been inspired by the shopkeepers whose windows were being blocked by Maccafans setting up camp on Oxford Street. Lynn arrived just in time, as the bands were distributed early. At that point, chaos prevailed and there was much pushing and shoving going on, everyone fearing their turn would never come. We were told, "Here are the wristbands. At 6 pm, the news is showing up and we would appreciate you being here for that, but then you can go home and have a good night's sleep." Our group decided we weren't moving, we were there for the duration. Some people did go away and then resume their place in line the next morning, but that wasn't looked upon too nicely by the people that had camped out. Fortunately, the weather that night was mild, and it was comfortable with a sleeping bag and some layers of cardboard. Going from the Dorset Square Hotel luxury to the streets for a night certainly made me feel like I was experiencing London from every angle! During the night, we were moved several times and pecking order had to be continually reestablished. HMV treated us very nicely, serving us coffee and leading lines to the upstairs loo throughout the night. At one point, they were testing the fire alarm (a smart move in view of the crowds expected the next day) and we were all filed upstairs with this security detail and a siren going off...It was surreal, and not a few commented on feeling like they were in a concentration camp. There were people walking by all night, some making derogatory comments about anyone wanting to see Paul but it was easy to ignore, especially from my position in the first 25 of the queue. The people that spent that night on the pavement with me know I will never forget them and how much it meant to share that experience with them. It was truly a party atmosphere and a night I will remember with great fondness all of my life...
Morning came and we were moved to the alley. From 2 pm the previous morning to 8 am on Thurs. morning, the time went very quickly, but once we were moved to the side door, time stopped. There was a bit of a drizzle and there wasn't much room to move and one was not inclined to leave the queue not knowing what might happen next, or when. It went through my mind about a million times that I'm finally going to have my opportunity to meet Paul and there I am looking like a street person with day old makeup and morning mouth and clothes that have been slept in! Like he'd notice! ;-) We all washed up in the McDonalds across the street, and actually, if you didn't know better, we all passed for civilized. People were starting to plan what they would say to Paul. I hadn't a clue, figuring I would go with spontaneity and let the moment take me where it would...We got the word that Paul would be signing only copies of Flaming Pie and Standing Stone, and SS was not yet available on vinyl. You would not believe what a difficult decision it was to make, but for me, I decided on a Standing Stone CD, as I could display it quite nicely with bits of the confetti, the ticket, and all the various other memorabilia I had collected on the trip.
HMV employees moved up and down the line selling CDs and FP vinyl and the wheels were in motion. A stage had been erected in front of the store during the night and there was a big statue of the HMV Nipper dog for Paul to unveil. Paul's management wanted crowds out front, so the people without wristbands were taken out of our line and put in front of the store. If anyone here was part of that, they can tell that story, but I think that they got into the store in small groups, but NOT into the autograph queue.Again, Alix was part of the press for the event...
Around 12:30 or so, we were taken into the store and faced with the warmth and the 1 hour of sleep I had had on the pavement I felt my body starting to crash. I was actually afraid I would fall asleep and miss my chance with Paul! Fortunately, again my Maccapals came through, entertaining me until the final moment. Paul was on the inscreen monitors with the Young Boy and Umbrella videos being repeatedly shown, with no sound. Pretty much, Flaming Pie was being played on the speakers. At about 1:30, Dr. Fox (right, Lynn?) took over as MC and he did a poor job of it, but it let us know the moment was arriving. Paul was a bit late as the traffic on Oxford Street was unmaneuverable...He finally arrived, and wouldn't you know the video portion failed and we couldn't really see all the ceremony out front. We had been coached to make a scene when Paul arrived...AS IF!!!! ;-) ;-)
Glad to be back, my head filled with warm and beautiful memories...
Just found Lynn's HMV post buried in the million digests I received while I was gone. You all are nothing, if not prolific (the pot calls the kettle black ;-)), so I am sorry for any redundancy between our posts...
I left off at Paul's arrival. Lynn and Mike have done much to describe the atmosphere in the store, so I will just move on to my moment with THE MAN. We had been told we could give our cameras to an HMV staffer who would click our picture while Paul signed for us. Apparently, last minute, Paul requested that this not be done, so I will rely on the picture Eileen said she took of me and Paul from the tv. Funny how greedy you get when the moment approaches--wouldn't it be great if we had video of this? Wouldn't it be great if we could pose with Paul? Wouldn't it be great if we could get two things signed, 10 things, 100? I wanted to shake his hand but Richard and Lynn seemed of the mind that I wouldn't be able to touch him...
I watched as Joyce, Amy, Rich and Lynn all had their turns. Paul was seated behind a high desk, but you were eye level with him when you were there. Mark Hamilton stood to one side, and Geoff Baker stood right up front until you approached. As Lynn described, all around were HMV staff and Press.
After seeing Paul's Juicy Fruit gum in his car Monday
night, I bought a pack and stashed it in my purse. While standing
in line, I decided that would be my small gift to Paul. My turn came.
I approached and Mark Hamilton smiled at the pack of gum. He took
it and checked that it was sealed and returned it to me with a smile.
Geoff Baker said, "Chewing gum. That's a first." and walked off shaking
his head. I handed the pack of gum to Paul, shook his hand, and said,
"Here's a small gift for you in return for the wonderful gift of your music
and creative talents." He took it with a smile and set it to his
left. He said, "Juicy Fruit. How lovely." The pictures
in the paper don't do him justice. He looks extremely well, very
beautiful, tan skin, and those wonderful crinkles around golden eyes. The eyes really surprised me in their color. I imagined them to be dark hazel, maybe like my own, but they are golden and flecked with green. I got a good close look at the two wedding bands, and was especially excited to see the one with the jade heart, having seen it in piccies for so many years.
Again, I took his hand and told him I had travelled all the way from Washington, DC for Standing Stone and had camped out to have this opportunity to meet him and thank him, which I had hoped for for a lifetime. He asked me if it was cold and I said something incredibly insipid like, "Anything for you, Paul!" I then took his hand AGAIN (he must have thought me a mindless moron, rather correct assessment, eh?) and told him how wonderful it had been to see Linda looking so vibrant and healthy at SS on Tuesday night, and that she and the family had been in my constant prayers. He said, "Yes, she's lovely. Thank you. Thank you for wearing that..." and nodded towards the pink ribbon Amy had handed me shortly before entering the store...
I don't really remember how the conversation stopped (perhaps a person with a cane came out and yanked me round the neck and pulled me off the stage!), but I think that I said thank you again, it's been a great pleasure, took my SS book and walked off. I was so concentrating on those eyes and trying to SMELL him (nothing ladies, sorry!) that the details fade. He signed my book, TO JENNIFER LOVE PAUL MCCARTNEY 97
I walked off and joined my crowd and was immediately asked by some news people if I was American and promptly got interviewed, the last of many times. I had given a wonderful interview the night before on the Pavement for Good Morning Britain or someone, where I talked all about Macca-L and how this group had gathered so many of us in London. Anyway, this final interview is the one I suspect Mike saw.
From the store, Joyce and Dorothy, and soon Richard, had to catch trains out of town. I cannot explain how hard it was to say goodbye and how much I will treasure the hours I spent with this wonderful group.
Looking back, meeting Paul was a lifetime dream come true.
He didn't know me from Adam, how could he?, and he is, after all, JUST
A MAN, but it was wonderful to shake his hand (three times, enough already!)
and thank him for his many gifts. But the true beauty of the moment
was sharing it with so many other wonderful fans from all over the world.
The experience was
enhanced a thousand fold by virtue of your presence, and I will never forget you all.
I had just recently started using the "Something will happen" sig., and something did. It is a week I will never forget, filled with people I hope I will meet time and again. Wow. Maybe I'm amazed...;-)
Part I - October 13th Standing Stone Rehearsal
I headed over to the Albert Hall around 10am to scope out the place.
I had no idea if and when Paul would be arriving. Therese and DebG were
there as well as some other friends. The LIPA Scruffs had already taken
their spot on the curb in front of Door 1 (Artist Entrance). After checking it out I decided to stay even though I was told there would be a rehearsal at 2:30 by one of the TV techs for A & E. About 18 fans assembled behind the guard railing on either side of the doorway.
This was the day that Macca-L had their luncheon and most of the fans were at the restaurant. Before long Paul's bodyguard Mark Hamilton showed up as well as Geoff Baker. I knew that Paul would be arriving soon. Just past noon the familar blue Mercedes pulled up and Paul just bounce out of the car. He was immediately greeted by the LIPA Scruffs and proceeded to sign for almost everyone there. He wore a black zippered jacket and a dark blue multicolored striped shirt with a black vest and baggie blue jeans. His hair was short (a little longer than at Monseratt) and colored. Just the sideburns and temples were gray. He looked trim and healthy sporting a suntan.
Paul made his way to my side first and signed for 3 Germans who had
Beatle albums. I kept snapping away. There was an official photographer
there getting photos of Paul interacting with the fans. Paul was very good
about keeping his head facing my camera as he signed and I got some really
great photos. He lingered on my side for a bit before he turned and greeted
the fans on the other side. Fans screamed as he gave the two
fisted peace sign. He signed for three fans and quickly was ushered in as he waved goodbye. He seemed very calm and relaxed.
That evening a group of about 50 fans waited outside the Albert Hall
in freezing cold temperatures. The Albert Hall has a 'wind tunnel' affect
and the wind chill was almost unbearable. Regina was there next to me and
offered a spare scarf which was greatly appreciated. No one knew exactly
when Paul would be leaving but we all seemed to know that it would be at
Door 8. Paul left at 10:20pm. The fans were moved behind railings in the
parking lot to keep them away from the door. John Hammel pulled the car
up to the door and Paul came out to the screams of the Scruffs who he acknowledged
with a wave and threw his arms up as he blew kisses. He started to come
around the car to the side where we were standing and almost got in but
turned and to my surprised walked over to the fans. He signed an autograph
for one of the Germans he signed for during the day! I guess he didn't
remember. As he started to move in our direction people jumped the railings
and ran towards him. He seemed quite freaked as people unexpectively descended
on him. Security rushed in to rescue him and he barely got into the car
in time. As soon as he was in it started to drive away with Paul waving
to the fans. I was really concerned that he would get hurt because it was
just a mad rush and his security had backed off thinking the fans would
stay behind the railings. He seemed fine when the car drove away but he
shaken as people pushed and shoved to get to him. I could see his face.
Part II - October 14th Standing Stone Press Conference and Photo Call
I went to the Albert Hall around 11:30 to go to the press conference.
There were 75 photographers and about 200 journalists from all over the
world. I was part of the foreign press representing London Features USA.
After receiving my press pass I was given a "Standing Stone" press kit containing two black-and-white photos taken from inside Abbey Road Studios when I was there in May. Also, the kit contained info about "Standing Stone" with a Paul bio and a CD of "Celebration." There was also a program.
Everyone was ushered into a very small room with a large viewing screen.
A 15 minute film was shown about the making of "Standing Stone." This will
be part of the A & E Special in November. It was quite good and I
am looking forward to it. It was fun to watch Paul on his Macintosh computer working the mouse and explaining how he used it. I half expected to hear, "You Have Mail." (AOL joke)
Then we were moved into the Albert Hall itself to sit in the seats on the main floor for the press conference. No photos were allowed so I had to be content to watch. I sat in the third row in front of Paul. There was a table set up on the stage with a "Standing Stone" backdrop behind it. Behind our seats at the back of the hall were about 20 video cameras from the media. The film crew was also taping the press conference. Paul was announced and walked out onstage and sat down. He wore a plain white collared shirt and belted blue jeans. His sleeves were neatly rolled up.
One of the first questions was from Joe Johnson of the syndicated "Beatle Brunch" radio show out of Miami. He asked his question while Paul stared at his shirt which said "Beatle Brunch." Paul said, "What is Beatle Brunch?" Joe explained it and Paul totally forgot the question and Joe quickly pointed out that Paul was not paying attention because he liked the shirt. People laughed.
One thing that Paul mentioned was that he was working on a new classical album called "Working Classical" that will be released sometime in 1998. It will include: Stately Horn, Inebriation, A Leaf and Spiral. He is working on more songs for it as well.
He was asked if he would give up pop music to pursue classical music. He quickly replied, "No!"
Someone asked him about helping out his daughter Stella with her fashions since the next day was her big fashion debut with Chloe. He said, "I'm just an old geezer" and added that she was better suited to do the fashion stuff than him.
I wanted to ask a question but I never got called on. As I raised my hand Paul did notice me and gave me the double raised eyebrows!
The press conference lasted about 20 minutes and we were all ushered
out of the auditorium into holding areas. The room I was in was filled
with fowl mouthed paparazzi who were slamming Paul's music every which
gave them an earful and they shut-up. I just about flattened one of them who was being totally obnoxious. More about him later. When they opened the doors there was a mad rush back to the auditorium to get the best
possible position for the photo call. It was chaos. I managed to get in the front but way on the side. A center platform was set-up behind the first row of photographers, but that filled up quickly. We were put in front of the stage between the first row and the stage itself facing the back of the Albert Hall. A one foot riser was put in the center aisle between sections A & B where Paul would stand. The only problem was that the best photos would be taken from that center area. The row of photographers spread from one end of the front of the stage to the
other. Paul would only be in the middle.
He walked from the back of the hall and slowly made his way onto the
platform. The photogs began to shout "Over here, PAUL!" "Look THIS way,"
as the flashes illuminated his face. I don't know how he could keep his
eyes open. The flashes were so constant that they created a continuous flickering light on his face. He waved his arms pointing, giving the peace sign, gesturing every moment. It lasted about a minute and then he said, "Enuff!" Then the photographers shouted at him to turn around but he just waved them off and left. There was a lot of swearing after that. I did the best I could and felt that it could have been set up better by putting Paul on the stage and letting him move from side to side freely so we could all get photos of him in front of us. It was
probably one of the worst photo ops I was ever at but then I thought it was better than 'no photo op.'
Part III - Standing Stone
That evening was the performance and I was delighted to see how close my third row seat was to the stage. I had carefully packed my point-and-shoot camera along with my 35mm camera in my bag. I sat next to this older couple who were probably season ticket holders. The man said, "Look, there is Sir George." Sure enough, George Martin came walking down the aisle to his seat, ten rows back. Then the man said, "And there HE is." I couldn't imagine who he was talking about until I turned and saw Paul talking to someone in the row behind me. I quickly dove for the point-and-shoot. As I raised the camera, I got a nasty look from Paul's bodyguard with a finger shake and quickly put it down. Linda was beside Paul looking very well. It was a relief to finally see her.
Her hair was very short and blonde indicating a recent chemo treatment. It explained why Paul had cut his hair back in August. He had obviously done it for Linda. With his hair short her short hair was not as noticeable. Her face looked like the old Linda. Other than her short hair (1 1/2 inch outgrowth) she looked like she used to before her diagnosis. Much better than in the videos and documentary. Both Paul and Linda were wearing tailored suits made by Stella. Linda's suit was a warm gray with a pin-stripe in it and she wore a long skirt. Paul's suit was brownish-gray without pin-stripes and he wore a tie! James, Mary and boyfriend Alistair were there as well as Heather. James wore a blue suit and had his hair pulled up in a roll at the back.
The Macca entourage caused quite a stir as they moved around the front of the stage to get to their 11th row seats in MY section! I caught Linda's eye and she said hello to me and said "So glad to see you!" She was all smiles.
One row behind me sat, Sting and Trudi, Twiggy and Mark Feather-Stone-Witty. Penny Marshall was also there as well as Mike McGear and his wife Rowena who by the way is very beautiful. Mike had blonde hair and looked very well. They sat in the row behind Paul. John Hammel was on the aisle seat with Paul next to him and then Linda and the kids. A paparazzi from the Daily Mail ran up the center aisle and started to take photos of Paul and Linda as they were sitting. 3 bodyguards pushed him back and told him to stop. He ignored them and continued to take photos until they grabbed him and his camera. A scuffle broke out and he was physically escorted out of the hall. The newspaper was banned from all future Paul press ops. Paul walked down the aisle again and as he passed Regina sitting in the front row center he said, "Paparazzi!" He headed back to the seat and the concert began. I couldn't watch him because he was behind me.
The concert started with "Stately Horn" by the Michael Thompson Horn Quartet, followed by "Inebriation" (a song written when Paul was intoxicated) and the Brodsky Quartet. Then "A Leaf" was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. (beautiful arrangement) Last was "Spiral" also performed by the LSO. A 20 minute Intermission followed.
At the intermission Paul and family walked down the center aisle again to the side of the stage where there were stairs leading to the backstage area. The celebrities followed. Later the celebrities emerged followed by the McCartney clan with Paul and Linda coming out last after several minutes. As Paul passed Harriet Perry he said, "I hope I haven't kept you waiting."
"Standing Stone" began and it was quite impressive. The acoustics at the Albert Hall were perfect. It was like listening with expensive headphones. The surround sound was amazing. After the first movement ended there was a long silence. It was broken when someone whistling very loudly like they were at a football match. Applause followed. Something not done at a classical concert. The orchestra seemed very amused by it. The applause continued at the end of each movement. When the last note ended, Lawrence Foster, the conductor urged Paul to join him on the stage. From the ceiling thousands of two inch white papers rained onto the crowd below. The confetti was printed with "Paul McCartney's Standing Stone, Royal Albert Hall, October 14, 1997" A nice souvenir.
Paul walked up to the stage and took his bows (6 of them). I took photos
and managed to capture Paul at the moment he said, "Linda, I love you!"
He was given flowers by Therese and others followed. He kept leaving the
stage and coming back obviously overwhelmed by the thunderous applause. He finally left and I decide to go out and catch his car leaving. It was raining and as I got near the stage door I heard screams! I quickly started to run in that direction and managed to out run his car and take a photo through the window. It was too dark to see into the car but when I got the photo back there he was, waving by the window and his bodyguard was next to him in the backseat. Linda left from another door in another car.
Part IV HMV Record Signing
With a little luck, I managed to get a photo pass for the HMV record signing. It was set up with a small stage in front of HMV store on the sidewalk. The photographers were in an enclosed area in front of the two foot stage and fans lined both sides of Oxford Street. The crowd was estimated to be about 2,000. It looked like a parade with the people lined up as far as you could see. HMV blasted "Flaming Pie" as we waited for Sir Paul to arrive. The stage had a cartoon pink backdrop with a dog house. Paul was to unveil the six foot statue of the HMV logo which is the dog (Nipper) cocking his head listening to the gramophone. Nipper himself was there (live dog) and HMV hoped Paul would pose with him. A DJ from Capitol radio was the MC and off mike he said nasty things about "Mull of Kintyre" as the paparazzi agreed. I stood up for Paul. They shut-up. These so called hotographers talked about how they beat up people/celebrities to get photos, etc. They even bring ladders with them to get above the crowd. After seeing some of the second rate photos they took in the papers at these events, I have no respect for their abilities as photographers and as people. Back to Paul.
Paul arrived in a limo and everyone screamed! He waved and made his
way to the stage where he was greeted by the DJ and a representative of
HMV. He wore the same suit jacket from "Standing Stone" with a light blue
white striped shirt and blue jeans. HMV gave him the "Composer of the Century" award which looked like a Grammy Award. Then he was handed Nipper! It was so CUTE! He held the little dog and they had a moment
together. (I got the cutest damn photo!) The papers ran one the next day with the title. "MuttCartney!" (sleezes)
Paul was given a switch that when pressed would drop the curtain behind
him and unveil the huge statue. He looked right at me as if to say, "Are
you ready?" and pulled the switch. The curtain dropped and there was the
statue. He and the DJ posed with it, then Paul left the stage giving the thumbs up sign to the crowd.
The photographers and news crews scrambled into the store after Paul.
By the time I got in to my horror there was no room left to stand in front
of the table to take photos. Photographers and fans were ten deep not to
mention paparazzi on ladders. The area was barricaded so not one inch of space was left. I walked to the side of the table that was open and was turned back by security. I couldn't see anything. Frustrated, I was determined to make my way to the front of the barricade--an almost impossible if not fool-hardy task. I squeezed my way through to the front of the line of photographers and pushed until I found a space. I saw my friend who was waiting to get his photo taken with Paul (which I was going to take). It was pre-arranged with Geoff Baker. He was inside the barricade and encouraged me to 'jump' it. I saw TV crews in the 'secure' area in front of Paul's table videotaping plus the official HMV photographer was there. So I jumped the barrier. It took a while before
security came over. My friend also jumped it. Finally HMV security came over to escort us out. They asked us to move and we said that we had permission to be there. They said that they would check it out with Geoff Baker. I figured that I could shoot off a few rolls by the time they got to him. Paul was signing away. Baker was busy pulling people out of the line that looked like a better photo op for the papers (i.e. babies, kids, old ladies). Then this Brazilian girl went up to the table. As soon as Paul spoke to her she started crying. He gently wiped the tears from her face and put his hand on her cheek. He was so sweet!
Security finally got Baker's attention, pointed to us and Baker told them to leave us alone. We had permission to stay! I couldn't believe my luck. I could now freely take photos and I got photos of my friends meeting Paul and wound up doing what the official photographer was supposed to be doing but was too busy elsewhere. Paul looked over many times and posed. Meanwhile, the photographer who was nasty at the Albert Hall threw a Sh*t fit because I was in the VIP area taking photos (just a few feet from him). He caused a scene and was thrown out.
At one point I put my foot up on the platform where the table was to steady myself. Paul's bodyguard looked at me and then said something to Baker who told him to leave me alone. My friend and I waited for the signal to approach Paul at the table. I had an envelope of photos to give him including the photo of him onstage at the Albert Hall saying to Linda, "I Love You." The signal came and I went up to the table. My friend had the photos. Paul posed for six photos. My friend put the envelope in front of Paul and pointed in my direction. Paul looked at me and I said, "These photos are for you from me." He said, "Thank You." My friend and I went back to the VIP area and I took more photos. Paul signed a few more autographs and then said he was very tired and apologized for not being able to stay longer. He said into the microphone,"Thank you and Goodbye HMV" and then looked right at me and said into the microphone, "And Jorie, thank you for THOSE photos." He waved and left. I couldn't believe it. I even asked my friend if he heard it and he said yes and repeated what Paul said word for word.
On the way out some of my friends saw Paul leaving the store. He stopped
by a bin of CD's and pretended to steal them. Putting some in his suit
jacket. He signed autographs outside in the alley behind HMV for some
fans and construction workers waiting there and then left.
End of story. To be continued in New York...