The year was 2002 and it was during the ten months I lived in London with some of my best friends. Four of us lived in a two-bedroom flat in Clapham South which was rather nice for Aussies in London aged 22. Vivian Westwood’s mother lived in our building and that was as far as our links to celebrity went.
Except for that time I met Paul McCartney. Now when I say met I mean locking eyes, just the two of us, Paul having the look of a deer in the headlights and me with the look of “Holy fuck that’s Paul McCartney!”.
I was walking in a quiet corner of a park with my student and friend, Federico. I worked at a school in Clapham, took the northern line every day and always fell asleep on the way home if I wasn’t eating a tub of hummus dipped with Pringles, those delicious vegimitey twiggy sticks. On this day though Federico and I had walked all the way from the school to this great park.
We could have been discussing a range of things. He was an amazing guy, came from Northern Italy and his father was a cubist painter, but what stands out most was his love for Bruce Springsteen. At that point he had been to, like, no joke, 127 Springsteen concerts and he was only in his early or mid twenties. When Bruce would come to Europe, Federico and his friends would go to every show they could and wait outside the hotel as well as wear these big pointy hats at the concert. Springsteen knew them and had done a shout out.
But this is not a story about Bruce Springsteen. That Wednesday afternoon as we walked through the park, Federico must have been talking when I locked eyes with a very familiar face. It’s a funny thing when you see someone famous. The brain takes a while to calculate why you’ve seen this face 1000 times before. At first it feels like you’re seeing an old friend.
Paul was all alone with his then wife, Heather Mills, and their newborn baby, sitting on a bench having a normal moment. Absolutely no one else was around. Seeing me see him, the look of not fear, not pleasing, but asking in his eyes made me not want to approach him. Sure I tapped Federico and whispered “There’s Paul McCartney” but I didn’t feel it right to disturb his peace and normality.
What for? An autograph? That seems silly. Recently Federico and I connected over Linkedin again and Federico wrote, “Remember when we saw Paul McCartney in X Park?! We resisted the temptation for a picture with History. And we did well!!” and I replied, “Yes we were bigger than history in that moment. We were humanity.”
And to that I say, Amen.
Wishing you a magical week. Till next Tuesday..
Lots of love,
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