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MINING THE FILM AND VIDEO ARCHIVE
We continue our scan around the archive
With it being December again there can be few competitors for the video staking a claim to exhumation in this seasonal Sandwich. It has to be 'Wonderful Christmastime' (the word that computer spell-check programmes always change into 'Christianise'), the single issued by Paul, solo, in November 1979, for which a video was filmed by Wings, group.
What happens therein is this. A pub-owning couple, somewhat senior in years, arc sitting in their spartan establishment, bereft of customers, cold and lonely, watching television. He's puffing on a pipe, she's knitting what may well be a tea-cosy. Exciting it clearly isn't. On screen are Wings, performing (filmed during rehearsals for their 1979 UK tour), obviously having a wonderful time. Suddenly, magically, the jollity then jumps from screen to pub, transcending the stillborn atmosphere into a place of great festive merriment, with customers - Paul, Linda, et al - supping some stuff and dancing happily.
The fun then spreads outdoors, with Linda riding a white horse, and musicians and locals mingling around a splendid bonfire. At the end of the video, a huge beribboned gift descends from the night sky, lands plum in front of the pub and opens to reveal Wings, playing and singing. For Mr & Mrs Pub-Owners, the wonderment of Christmas has been realised on their own doorstep.
Club Sandwich recently tracked down said Mr & Mrs Pub-Owners and asked them to recall the occasion, which they could do obligingly well because, let's face it, it's not every day that your very own humble hostelry - in this instance The Fountain, in Ashurst, West Sussex - is invaded by cameras, lights, "grips", makeup artists...and the all singing, all dancing McCartneys.
But first, a confession: Maurice and Jean Caine, who then ran The Fountain on behalf of a brewery and now own it outright, are not the same senior couple seen in the video. The couple on camera were "extras", brought along by director Russell Mulcahy. But it was the real Maurice who received the approach about Paul filming in his pub. "The producer just came down, bought a pint, had a look around, introduced himself and asked whether I'd be interested in them using the pub for making a video," he recalls. "It was all verbal and happened very quickly - they were filming within two weeks of him coming down.
"It took a whole day to shoot. The crew arrived about seven o'clock in the morning - we gave them breakfast - and the filming went right through. We didn't have an all-day drinking licence in those days, but we stayed open anyway, and there were absolutely hundreds of people in the pub, mostly locals, from start to finish. The last person left about one o'clock the following morning. It was one heck of a day."
The essence of the video shoot, naturally, was to simulate Christianise...sorry, Christmastime. The trouble was, the video was shot on 16 November. "That was a great pity," comments Maurice, "because a professional crew came in and put up Christmas decorations throughout the pub. They did an absolutely superb job but it was just that little bit premature, so after they'd gone we had to take it all down, only to put it all back up a couple of weeks later. The video producers [Jon Roseman Associates] didn't pay us much for using the pub but at least we got to retain the decorations, and we still use them, every year."
Something else kindly left behind by the video crew was snow. Tons of the stuff. "They used polystyrene chips to simulate it," says Maurice, "and when they were emptying sack after sack of it across the car park I asked them who would be clearing up afterwards. They said, 'Don't worry, mate, there'll be a crew of blokes here tomorrow morning and it'll all be cleared away'. Of course, they didn't turn up - I had to do it myself, and for two or three years afterwards I was still finding those bits of polystyrene. The wind had got up and blown it everywhere. I even found some in the cellar."
Counteracting the inconvenience, the Caines have fond memories of playing host to Paul and Linda. "We found them a charming couple," says Maurice, "and let them use our private kitchen as their retreat. At one point in the afternoon, while the cameras were setting-up in the inglenook bar, Paul sat down at our honky-tonk piano and entertained the customers for quite a considerable period of time. We'd not long moved into The Fountain, and found that the piano's pads had been eaten away by mice. It sounded absolutely dreadful when any of the customers tried to get a tune out of it but when Paul played it he made it speak.
"And he told me, 'Don't change it -this is just what a pub piano should sound like'. I can still visualise him sitting there now, in his army greatcoat, playing for the customers."
With the video receiving frequent TV screenings, Maurice and Jean soon found their pub becoming famous - even though its location was not revealed. "We have a wide following anyway because we're one of die old, traditional pubs that hasn't been spoiled," remarks Maurice. "But people all along the south coast recognised The Fountain in the video and came up to say hello. And we're still being asked now by customers, even 13 years on, if this was the pub that Paul filmed m. Our only disappointment was that Sir Laurence Olivier was away when Paul and Linda were here, because this was his local pub and he was a frequent customer m the years before he died."
Bringing the subject up to the present, Wonderful Christmastime is also a new stocking-size folio featuring 23 seasonal favourites from the MPL publishing catalogue, arranged for piano, vocal and guitar and published in the USA