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Macca fan, Mary Little, pens her view of a typical tour press conference
Photos: Bill Bernstein and David Modell
Like getting married and giving birth, the day will forever stand out in my mind. I didn't really think we'd be admitted, and pretty much had accepted the fact. After all, he was a mega-star, and besides there was the concert to look forward to. I had anticipated it for months and suddenly, we were being ushered in. I was actually getting into the press conference.
I'd admired Paul from afar for over 20 years, and lately my feelings for him were as close to love as possible without ever having made contact. My husband, Dave not only understood my passion; he financed it. Working in radio, he has a few 'connections', so before the tour dates were even announced he'd been working on us getting the best seats possible. His boss, Dick, also has a few connections, and it was because of him that Dave and I, along with Dick and his wife, Julie, now happened to be walking into the press conference in Seattle for probably the most famous rock star in the world.
I tried to look cool, like the member of the press I supposedly was, but every time my eyes met Julie's, I'd mouth a silent scream and whisper something like, "I'm in Heaven!". Embarassed, Dave and Dick would look at me and mouth, "SHHHH!". Security led us into a small, curtained off area, about the size of a living room. TV cameras were set up behind us. We passed a table stacked with Press Kits, I tucked one under my arm. We sat in the fourth row of chairs facing an empty table where He would sit, to the left, a blue curtain through which He would enter. Dave and Dick instructed me on what to say if I dared ask a question: my name, the name of the radio station, and where I was from. Knowing I'd otherwise forget, I wrote my name down on my Press Kit.
To help pass the anxiety ridden moments, I opened the folder and found an assortment of gorgeous, glossy photos of The Man with his band and his beautiful, blonde wife. I remembered how crushed I was when I found out that he, like most men, preferred blondes, and I was afraid that if we did get a chance to meet him, he'd pay particular attention to Julie and ignore me. Men always noticed Julie. I thought back to a few weeks earlier when she and I together had cooked dinner for our husbands' boss. Julie, blonde, poised and confident, had made the perfect impression, knowing just the right things to say. I, on the other hand, had sat there, awkwardly fumbling with a piece of asparagus I'd caught in my hair. I sent a silent prayer to God that if I did get to meet my idol that day, I might for once be the one to come across as cool, calm and collected.
Soon our eyes were drawn to the front of the room, where a man with dark hair and an English accent kept walking through the now familiar blue curtain. Each time he did, we thought it might be Him. The man was very friendly, but informed us there was to be a sound check immediately after the press conference, so it must be kept to twenty minutes. No one objected, realizing how lucky we all were to be here at all. Finally it was announced that the one we had all been waiting for would be out in five minutes -five minutes of sheer anguish, stomach churning, feeling like my heart would leap out of my throat! For a moment I was afraid I would pass out and miss the whole thing. To ease the anxiety I reminded myself that I had never fainted in my life, and even if I did now, it would be OK. Clattering from my chair would at least attract His attention, and He would have no choice but to acknowledge my existence, if only for a moment. Trembling, I reached into my purse for my Bic pen and the orange flowered word sheet from the cassette I'd been carrying with me, just in case I could get his autograph. Important rustling sounds came from behind the curtain; then all hearts stood still as a man announced, "Would you please welcome Paul McCartney".
And then my fantasy for twenty years became manifest. Fumbling with my pen , I dropped my paper and tried to clap. A vision dressed in black, he stood there, softly smiling. Unashamed, we sat in awe of his gentle, but powerful presence. I was amazed by how much he resembled the poster hanging behind him, yet it didn't begin to do him justice. His dark hair was streaked with just enough gray so that it softly framed his face likew an aura. Longer now, it reached a few inches past his collar, and I'd gladly have given anything just to touch it. The crinkles around his eyes gave evidence to the fact that he was no longer the baby-faced Beatle we'd all fallen in love with, yet he looked at least a decade younger than his forty-seven years. Unaffected, perhaps unaware of the spell he'd cast on us, he spoke: "How are you today?" I suddenly realised why English accents are so desirable. Nobody got off on English accents until he and his mates arrived here so long ago. They had set the standard. "Nervous," a female reporter giddily replied. "Nervous, why should you be nervous? I'm the one who should be." With a relaxed smile he put us all at ease.
Totally enamored, I sat gazing, trying to burn his face into my memory. After that night's concert I might never see him again. I couldn't take my eyes off his. They were young and clear and they caught the light as he spoke. I'd always wondered exactly what colour they were; it was so hard to tell from pictures. I now made a special point to find out, but I couldn't really tell from where I sat. They weren't blue, but they weren't dark either - some shade of hazel? But oh, how they shined!
I can't recall much of what was said during the rest of the conference, except that when he spoke of saving the earth he did so with great passion. Other than that, the usual questions were asked and the usual answers given. Most of the time I sat staring, dreaming, completely transfixed. Occasionally I tore my eyes away from his in order to catch a glimpse of his famous hands. I noticed that on the right he had a blackened fingernail. I speculated as to how it might have happened. Perhaps while racing into a limo, escaping from an adoring mob of well-meaning but over-zealous fans, he'd got it slammed in the door. With that hand he kept raising a white china cup to his lips. "I want that cup," I thought, and considered asking for it after the conference but was too intimidated by the atmosphere. A bald head in front of me kept leaning to the right, blocking my view, and I somehow resisted the temptation to strike it with my pen.
I kept wishing Paul would stand up so I could see his entire body - his clothes, his shoes , his layered haircut. At the same time I was so grateful to be seeing what I could. Over fifty-five thousand people had tickets to his performance that night, and here I was in this small room less than fifteen feet from him. I didn't feel selfish, or that it was unfair. No-one could possibly be a bigger fan than I am. I hadn't driven over three hundred miles just to relive the days of The Beatles; I came to see and hear Paul McCartney. Ever since 1976, when I'd been stuck out in Montana and missed the "Wings Over America" tour, I'd been telling people I'd see him someday, maybe even meet him. "No way," they'd all said. "He doesn't tour anymore." "He lives an extremely private life." Even my husband would shake his head sympathetically and say, "Don't get your heart set on it, Babe. There's no way it could ever happen." Then, about eighteen months ago rumours started up of a world tour. Though no mention had been made of the US, I knew my time was coming soon. And now, there I was, being ushered into this makeshift press room, with my husband behind me, shaking his head and muttering, "I don't believe it. You're actually going to meet Paul McCartney."
I was suddenly whisked out of my trance and back to the present as I noticed Dave's hand was up. "He's going to ask a question!" I shrieked in my mind. That meant Paul would see me, at least for a portion of a second. So this new outfit I'd spent my daughter's school tuition on over a month ago was not purchased in vain. I took off my jean jacket to reveal the pink, off-the-shoulder sweater I'd picked out with him in