I have found life can be a mixed bag. Sometimes bad things can happen – without warning and sometimes good things can happen with equal intensity. Such was the case November 1986.
I had been overseas – to the UK for a visit and was scheduled to return November 21, 1986 – a Friday. My funds began to run low which prompted me to return a few days early. Might as well get back in the swing of things I said to my friends so my return trip was bumped up a few days.
I found myself back at my apartment, to the warm welcome of my two kitties in the city of Houston. As soon as I could I went grocery shopping and noted a Houston paper at the coffee shop. The paper’s pages were rumpled but that did not deter me from spotting something of immense interest in the social pages. The headline Beatles Ex comes to town on Friday stopped me in my tracks.
As a life long Beatles fan I took note – the Beatles ex was none other than Jane Asher – actress, writer, business owner, wife, mother. Jane has just about done it all and she was going to come to Houston on Friday. I was thrilled at the prospect of meeting her – the woman whom I both admired and envied as she was Paul’s fiancé during the Beatles heydays. I called two friends who had similar interests and together we planned to go to downtown Houston – to Tree Beards – a cozy little restaurant located in the center of Houston. So it was we found ourselves standing in the November chill – the late hazy sunlight which accompanies fall weather – and the reality of meeting Jane. We were propelled back to our teen years – to the days when we tried to wear our hair like Jane and in fact be Jane.
Looking back it was a surreal scene. We arrived early and noted a few people sitting to the left. To the right sat Jane and her husband Gerald Scarfe – a famous cartoonists who was in town in connection with the Houston Grand Opera. The Scarfes were sitting at a table and seemed isolated from the reality of the situation.
Being a friendly type I immediately approached them and shook their hands. I also welcomed them to Houston. I noted Jane’s hair was not red but rather a strawberry blonde. Her make up was minimal but she was the type whose natural beauty would emerge with little help.
Gerald was very polite – made good eye contact and was far more relaxed than his fabled wife. She knew the three of us were not there in connection with the opera. She knew we were Beatle fans. To that I say – so what? I am not ashamed of having good taste. Her place in history assured and she was part of something so exquisite she should never hang her head but rather embrace her good fortune. At that time in her life – less than 20 years after she and Paul parted ways – she was not so keen on her Fab connection. She came across as rather uneasy as the three of us stood beside her. Within a short time the small restaurant began to fill with eager opera types. My two friends and I found ourselves standing beside the left wall. Jane and Gerald mingled. A display of Gerald’s art garnished the wall and his pride in his work evident as he spoke to attendees.
While we finished our drinks Betty Ewing, social columnist for the Houston Chronicle approached us and asked who we were? I don’t remember my words or Phoebes but Peggy who tended to have little grasp of situations stated she was a Beatles fan. Betty nodded and walked back into the crowd. Our last glimpse of Jane – she was standing with her back to us – talking and enjoying herself.
The next week was Thanksgiving. I spent the holiday with my parents. We visited an aunt in Hunstville – then spent the night with another aunt. That night I noted a Houston paper on the coffee table and a review by Betty Ewing of the Scarfes Houston visit. One sentence made my blood boil – as Betty referred to three women who crashed the party at Tree Beards were groupies of Paul. Excuse me Betty but we did not crash anything nor am I a groupie of anyone. I informed my two friends of the inaccurate report and it reinforced our beliefs regarding the media.
I realize had I not returned a few days early I would have missed meeting Jane – who came within an I Do of marrying Paul. It was an event I enjoyed and do not regret. By then there was no such phrase as Bucket List. It was referred to as Wish List and meeting Jane was on my Wish List. I had met Cynthia, John’s ex wife, their son Julian and Mrs. Powell, Cynthia’s mother. I would later meet Paul at a sound check. I would speak with Maureen – Ringo’s ex just weeks before she died from cancer. The only one I have not met is Patti – George’s ex wife. Maybe someday I will? I do know the events of those November days held meaning then and they do to this day.
The reality of sudden took on new meaning and 30 Novembers later has not lessened that fact for me.
We are 30 years older. Peggy moved to Colorado within a year and has never left. Phoebe retired and lives with her mother. I left Houston – now live in the family home. Jane continues to redefine an A type personality. She and Gerald are still together. She has never mentioned Paul and continues to remain silent. It is hoped one day she will lessen her resolve and write a chapter or two regarding her life as an inside member of the Greatest Rock Group of all times – whose music, influence continues to create a new generation of fans year in and year out.