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A TOUR IN THE LIFE OF THE PRESS
Geoff Baker takes us into the manic world that stalks a tour publicist
The Editor, Club Sandwich: "Write a piece about the publicity around Paul's tour, tell us what's involved"
Tour Publicist: "No-one'll believe it"
Editor: "Just write it"
At Press conferences for The Rolling Stones, the hacks say "So when are you going to marry Jerry, Mick?"
At Press conferences for Kylie Minogue, they say "Written any songs yourself, yet?"
And at Press conferences for Paul McCartney, they yell: "Paul! Paul! Paul! Over here, Paul, sign this will you? Paul...oh please, Paul, pleeeeeeeeeease, sign this. And this. And just this. Just once more. Oh please, ....get out of the way he's signing mine first...Ohmigawd, I touched him, I'll never wash that pen again".
It's true. Anyone who wants to witness Maccamania first hand only has to take a peek at any of the Press conferences we've held since the tour began in September. In the old days, when I was hack on Fleet Street, we were only here for the beer, wine, whisky, gin, and whatever else we could swish down gullets. That day is done. The era of the Press sitting back to ask sensible and probing questions has been replaced by near-hysteria every time the Press come to Macca.
If you think the fans get a little out of control at times, you should see the hacks. It's been the same all over - in Oslo, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Los Angeles, New York, Detroit Tokyo, Rio...every time we hold a Press conference they can't wait for us to say "thank you, we've gotta go"
Because that's the sign the Press take to rush to the front of the room, brushing aside security, scrambling and elbowing each other in order to get Macca's moniker on the heap of albums, posters, bootlegs, pictures of Mother, T-shirts and whatnot that they bring by the truckload.
Never, in the 13 years I've misspent in journalism, have I seen the like as Macca's very presence reduces the middle-aged cynical to gushing and scrabbling teeny-boppers.
You wouldn't, as I tried to tell the Sarnie Editor, believe it. But then there's a lot that begs believing on this tour.
Take Tokyo - "We'll have a little Press conference there"' said Mac,"get a few of the lads in".
So two hours before this conference, we're in this large hall near the quayside that Macca is also using for rehearsals with the band and I'm saying to the Japanese organisers "Ahhh, why are they putting out so many chairs?"
"Hai! We have invited many, many writers. Hai!"
"So how many will come?"
"Hai! Maybe five hundred".
Fact: Nine hundred and fifty journalists turned up.
Working on the universal truth that everyone on this globe wants to meet and chat with Macca, Press conferences are the best way of staying sane and killing 950 birds (or whatever) with one stone. In more-or-less each state, certainly each country, Paul trots out to face half an hour of (usually) the same questions.
The way things are meant to work is as follows: Five minutes before Paul arrives, I meet the Press and say "Hi, my name's blah blah blah, I'm the tour publicist, blah blah. Paul will be here in a minute...as we've got a soundcheck to do, we're a bit pushed for time so we've only got about 25 minutes and then we'll have to go...so when we're getting close to time I'll ask for two more questions and that is it - no more questions. OK?" They all nod yes; of course, that's OK.
But what happens is this: Paul arrives. The Press stand and applaud. Paul waves, sits and sips his tea. Silence. No-one asks anything, on account of their jaws have hit the floor because they can't believe they are in the same room as Him.
More silence. Paul still sips.
"Who's first?", we ask. Silence.
"Anyone wanna ask a question?", says Macca and so signals The Off. Twenty five minutes later, publicity interrupts with a "sorry, just two more questions, please". Five minutes later, publicity says "Thank you, we've gotta go".
But they're not letting him go now. No way, Jose. Now questions come thick and fast, yelled over one another, any question will do so long as it keep him in their room.
"Right, thank you - this HAS to be the last question"....
Publicist is completely ignored.
"Thank you...we're going. Thank you..ahhh, thank..."
Another question nips in.
(Publicist mounts Macca's rostrum and scowls)..."OK ladies and gentlemen, we MUST GO NOW!!"
Another question hits.
And so it goes until Paul, who does like his bit of chat - and, even more, likes watching you get frazzled with frustration - looks up, winks at the wobbling jelly you've suddenly started impersonating and says "OK,