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Home » Beatles » JEAN SHEPHERD-Travel-JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE, RINGO, SHEP part 3

JEAN SHEPHERD-Travel-JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE, RINGO, SHEP part 3

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So the big concert went on and the people screamed and yelled.  It was almost like a fever in the air.  It was like the bubonic plague.  As if the entire country has decided it’s going out of its skull.  And they have appointed the Beatles to be the reason.

And the Beatles don’t even sing anymore, they just go out on the stage WHOOOOOOO! it starts, they wave a little and they leave the stage.  And the roaring continues for hours.

About two hours later I’m in the back seat of the Beatles’ car and we’re heading for the Scottish Highlands.  A very interesting experience.  These hills climb all the way to the sky.  The country is probably the most beautiful in the world, next to Switzerland, and possible even Switzerland included.

You can’t believe it.  It’s two or three o’clock in the morning and we are screaming down a highway at ninety-five miles an hour in a gigantic Austin Princess, which is about the size of  a supper-deluxe Rolls.

1956-Austin-Princess-

An Austin Princess

They’ve got it floored, screaming through this little country road, taking corners on one wheel WHOOOOO! in the back with the Beatles.  I say, “What’s the matter, what are you doing?!”  They’re all sitting back there changing clothes.

Their clothes zip-on.  You can’t put on those little skinny suits they wear.  Their pants zip all the way up the back.  They have a guy who zips them and they walk out on stage.  Have you noticed the Beatles don’t move much when they’re on stage?  No Elvis-movements.  They just sort of stand there.  The curtain goes down, it’s wild, they all turn to the right and a guy rushes out and unzips them and then they walk.

I’m riding through this countryside with them.  Can’t believe it.  This is Britain.  This is what we in America have a vague sense of inferiority about.  And at two o’clock in the morning the road is lined with dour-looking people just looking out from haystacks, “waitin’ for tha Beatles” to go by. Two o’clock in the morning and you can see them holding lanterns up, and we’re sailing through the countryside and every car they see they throw rocks at.  You see the rocks bouncing across the street and the Beatles say, “Get down, here they come from the haystack, watch this nut!” BOOP!  PING! you hear the rocks.  And I’m sitting there—Ohhhh!   What would King Arthur have thought?  How would he have handled it?

We went deeper and deeper into the countryside until we finally arrived at the loch where we were staying.  The Beatles have more security regulations governing where they stay than that which governs the President.  People are sworn to secrecy all over the countryside, and they always stay outside of town in the most likely place.  The most likely place for anything but Beatles.  They’ll stay in a little place that’s marked “Diner.”  Just staying there overnight.  Or they’ll be in a little place marked “Motel” and they’ll stay there.

We were staying in a tiny inn next to an ancient Scottish loch, which is one of the most ancient and most revered.  In fact, Bonnie Prince Charlie had fought a battle twenty feet away from where I was staying.  They had a little plaque out there.  Rob Roy had robbed somebody twenty feet outside the other way.

Rob_Roy_1820s_engraving

Rob Roy

This was really Scotland.

We arrived about three o’clock in the morning and the innkeeper was there.  You could see that this was the greatest moment in his entire life.  He had been knighted, he had been designated, but this was like a visitation.  It was like a second coming or something had happened there.

He stood by the door, bent over.  “Are the Beatles there?”

I said, “Yes, they’re going to be coming.”

“Are you with them?”

I said, “Yes, I’m one of the party.”

He said, “May I shake your hand?”

“Put ‘er there!”  I’m one of the Beatles party.  Somehow that made me part of this whole scene.

The Beatles slowly straggled up the hill in the darkness, and one after the other they came in through the door.  A couple of managers arrived out in back in their little car.  And we went into the bar.

I want to give you a little vignette in the Beatle world that you never hear about.  Strange world—I can only say that this is the world of—I guess the word would be almost—delirium.  It’s surrealistic.

Remember, it is three o’clock in the morning.  We are next to an old, old Scottish loch with hills surrounding it.  There is not a sound for miles, a sullen, quiet, angry countryside.  And all of us go up to the tiny bar at the inn.  Paul, John Lennon, George, Ringo, the manager.

The innkeeper brings out a bottle of sherry.  Apparently, a bottle of sherry he’d saved since the last coronation and he is saving for the next one.  He says, “Would you like a glass of Sherry?”

“Uh.”

John says, “Sherry?  What’s this sherry?  Who drinks sherry, man?!”

“What will you have?  I have anything you want.”  He’s got Scotch, he’s got all the fine drinks there.

Each one of us is poured a little drink.  We start to sip the drink when, without warning there’s a sound outside in the darkness.  A hum, like the hum of angry bees—at three o’clock in the morning.  And it’s getting closer and closer.  It is coming like a big storm.  And the Beatles are doing nothing, they’re just sort of standing.  And I say to the man behind the bar, “What is this, a storm?”

“I don’t know what that sound is.  Must be something on the road.”

Just when he gets this out of his mouth, the door slams open and there stands a Scottish constable, who says, “Are the Beatles staying here?”

The man behind the bar says, “Yes, sir, yes, sir.”

The constable says, “I have just called out all available men.  There are twenty-thousand people coming this way.  What are you going to do about it?  What have you done to us?”

The Beatles, calm, are just drinking their Scotch.

That night we spend in total darkness, in the hills, with a ring of policemen.  Five hundred policemen keeping the entire British Isles away.  You can hear the hum of them out there.  You can hear them in the trees.  You can hear them in the hills.  Once in a while you can hear a little wail and it would trail off.

A couple of the very famous local gentry had been allowed to come and see the Beatles at first hand.  A tall, thin girl, obviously the sweet, Beatle-fan-type had just been admitted to see them and she comes over and stands behind one of the Beatles.  She can’t believe it.  Because they’re not real people anymore.  They’re kind of like dolls or strange automatons.  And here they are!

She just sort of looks at John, and by mistake she brushes one of the Beatle’s coats.  He whirls on her and yells, “Get your filthy hands off me!”

She sort of ducks back.

“Nobody touches me after midnight!”

“Yes, yes,” she says timidly.

There is a kind of embarrassed pause and the Beatles keep on eating.  Finally, she says shyly, “May I have your autograph?”

One of the other Beatles looks up at her and says, “Will you clear out?!”

“Thank you, thank you,” and out the door she goes.

End of Part 3

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