Paul McCartney: Hands Across the Ocean
I have, for as long as I can remember, been something of a Beatle nut. I know the songs and the lyrics, and minutely followed the epic Beatles Anthology
. I bought the big book published by Chronicle Books of the same name
; I'm a fan of Paul McCartney's Wings
experiment, and have turned a kindly ear to his classical effusions
. So, it was grist to my mill on a recent British Airways
flight from New York to London that I could listen to the White Album
on the audio system and read about Stella McCartney
's fashion line in BA's High Life magazine.
I went to collect my bags at one of Heathrow's carousels when who should catch my eye, getting his bags and making sure his little daughter Beatrice didn't run away, was Paul McCartney
himself, working out with two BA assistants which pieces of luggage were his. Well, I thought, Oh-Bla-Di, Oh-Bla-Da. Now, nobody else seemed to be talking to him, and I pondered while I looked for my own bag whether I should bother the man at all. After all, he must get pestered all the time, and he looked tired (every one of his sixty-four years). Yet, it was a once in a lifetime thing, I thought, and he wasn't going anywhere soon, so why not?
Once I'd got my bag I went up to him. "Sir Paul," I said, thinking that he probably wouldn't tell me to sod off if I flattered him with his honorific, "I just wanted to thank you for all the work you do on behalf of animals
." "Thank you very much," he said, proffering a hand. We shook. "So, I had to ask," I continued, preparing to plunge off the cliff of respectability into the warm sea of stupid-things-you-say-to-celebrities. "Did you listen to the White Album on the way over?" The man smiled, graciously, as I edged toward customs. "No," he said. "I watched a film instead."
And that was it. I'd shaken hand with Paul bloody McCartney. My sister-in-law wondered if I hadn't washed my right hand for the rest of the day. I had to confess I had, remembering the story of the man who once came up to the great Irish writer James Joyce
: "I want to shake the hand that wrote Ulysses
," the starstruck reader had intoned. Joyce had looked at him quizzically. "It did a lot of other things as well," he said.