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Sober Life
by Sinclair Newton



Sober Life

I met George Harrison once during the drinking years and he had a large bourbon and water. I had a glass of wine in a big goblet provided so you wouldn't spill anything if your hands were trembling. He said Keith Wotsisname from the Rolling Stones had introduced him to the drink when he (George) had stomach ache. He chain-smoked all the time.

The lap-dancing wife had been invited to his 100-room mansion near Henley and some of the Travelling Wilberries were there (though not Bob Dylan).

At the time I was writing about rock music for the Daily Mail and I felt obliged to ask at least one question, but I couldn't think of anything sensible.

Finally I managed something along the lines of "What was it like to be one of the Beatles, then?"

He looked at me in a way I've seen other very rich people look when faced with inanity.

"You tell me," he said, with that lop-sided grin, "what was it like NOT to be a Beatle?"

I wasn't there when someone asked him if there would be a Beatles' reunion.

"As far as I'm concerned," he said, "there won't be a reunion while John Lennon remains dead."

The obituaries say today that he was the quiet Beatle, the shy one. I've usually found that people who claim to be shy are usually dull, boring and sober.

It's true he was the youngest of them, but George never said he was shy and he was none of those other things; it's just that he had the money to have his teeth fixed.

He had been fighting cancer for four years and laid the blame totally at the door which is composed of empty fag packets.

Don't forget he brought about a lot of awareness of Eastern culture and indeed poverty in the Third World through his Sitar and his "Concert for Bangladesh" in which Eric Clapton, who went off with his wife, was one of the stars. Yet he went to their wedding.

Yoko Ono, as ever, seemed to speak for the Beatles and us all yesterday when she said: "George has given so much to us in his lifetime and he continues to do so even after his passing, with his music, his wit and his wisdom.

"His life was magical and we felt we had shared a little bit of it by knowing him.

"Thank you George. It was grand knowing you."

Sinclair Newton