One of my earliest major responsibilities, the organization of The Beatles’ first real holiday, had been handed to me within hours of my entering the NEMS office. The holiday was to last all of May and was to remain top secret, classified. With code-names, disguises, decoys, unmarked cars – everything but the elimination of witnesses – it proved a deeply thrilling affair. I chose the aliases: the Lennons were to be the Leslies, George was to be Mr Hargreaves and his girl-friend, Pattie Boyd, Miss Bond; they were all going to Tahiti. The others, Paul and Jane Asher (Mr Manning and Miss Ashcroft) and Ringo and Maureen Cox (Mr Stone and Miss Cockroft), were off to the Virgin Islands.
Neil Aspinall was Ashenden and I was Tatlock. The names had a nice fictional feel to them: ‘Ah, Manning, I see you have the documents. Kindly step into the library. Ashenden will have Tatlock serve tea…’ It was about the only fun to be had out of the arrangements, which were so elaborate as virtually to ensure a supreme cock-up. Sure enough, a travel agent mixed up the travel documents so that Ringo, en route with Paul and me to their first stop (Paris), discovered he had George’s passport; while George, on his way with John and Neil to Amsterdam, found he had Ringo’s. Ringo was angry but reasonable about the slip-up; I never did find out how George reacted. In any case, with extra planes travelling to and fro, the passports were properly delivered at the next intermediate points of the journeys.
Fifty Years Adrift
We had a 30-foot motor boat that we’d rented. It came with a captain and his wife, and a deck-hand. It was nothing palatial, but we cruised around having a great time. I was with Maureen, and Paul was with Jane Asher. Jane couldn’t go in the sun and Paul got sunburnt one day and was screaming all night. Our bedrooms were either side of the passageway with only curtains dividing them, so you could hear everything.
One of the holidays we went on, again with Ringo and Maureen, was on a yacht in the Bahamas, the Happy Days. I remember writing ‘Things We Said Today’ in one of the cabins below deck one afternoon on my acoustic guitar. I got away from the main party but it was a bit queasy downstairs; you could smell the oil and the boat was rocking a bit and I’m not the best sailor in the world, so I wrote a little bit of it downstairs and then the rest of it on the back deck where you couldn’t smell the engine. I don’t know why the engine was on, I suppose we were moving.
I wrote Things We Said Today on acoustic. It was a slightly nostalgic thing already, a future nostalgia: we’ll remember the things we said today, some time in the future, so the song projects itself into the future and then is nostalgic about the moment we’re living in now, which is quite a good trick. It has interesting chords. It goes C, F, which is all normal, then the normal thing might be to go to F minor, but to go to the B flat was quite good. It was a sophisticated little tune.
Then someone like the Daily Express got word that we were there so we had the buzzing little boats around. The reporters would say, ‘My editor says I’ve got to stay here till you give us a picture!’ So we always had to pose for a picture, smiling hello but thinking, Piss off!
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
The guitar was given to Peggy, the wife of Captain Bolyard who manned the ship on which the party stayed.
Fantastic scenery in those islands – we really felt we were in another world. I remember taking the dinghy out to do some spear fishing. I had this clumsy old spear with me – honestly, it was big enough to catch whales. So I dove – or is it dived? – off the boat and started hunting around for fish. There were lots of little fish kicking around down below, but suddenly I saw some barracudas. Miniature sharks. Nasty fellows those! You can annoy other fish but barracudas are not for stirring. They’re for avoiding. I tried to get them to go away but it didn’t work. So I ran for my life – well, swam for it, anyway! You couldn’t see me for bubbles. Of course I didn’t catch anything that trip.
The holiday came to an end on 27 May 1964.
Also on this day...
- 2022: Paul McCartney live: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle
- 2018: Sir Paul donates Linda McCartney photographs to V&A museum
- 2012: Paul McCartney narrowly avoids helicopter disaster
- 1968: John Lennon and Yoko Ono record Two Virgins
- 1967: Recording: Magical Mystery Tour
- 1965: Filming: Help!
- 1962: Live: Star-Club, Hamburg
- 1961: Live: Top Ten Club, Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.