Posts : 11
Join date : 2008-12-01
|Pattie Boyd|| |
In the 60's London belonged to the young. All the old class structures of our parents’ generation were breaking down. All the old social mores were swept away. No one cared where you came from or what school you’d gone to, what accent you spoke with or how much money you had. All that mattered was what you could do, what you could create.
Bohemian baronets smoked grass openly, dukes’ daughters went out with hairdressers and everyone put two fingers up to the conventions of their youth and the expectations of their families. The capital was abuzz with creativity, bristling with energy. Everything was possible — and money was not the key to every door.
Painters, poets, writers, designers, ad men, media figures and, of course, musicians expressed themselves with fearlessness, freshness and freedom.
They wore fabulous frocks and flowery shirts and grew their hair long. They weren’t going to knuckle down and wear the uniform of their class. The rule book had been thrown away. A new age and a new value system had been born.
People wanted to experiment and have fun. And, to use the old cliché,.... make love not war. As long as you were young, beautiful and creative, the world was your oyster. It was a golden age, an exciting time to be alive. As a model, working for the most successful photographers in London,. I was in the thick of it.
One of the seminal books of the sixties was the coffee-table Birds of Britain, a collection of photographs of the girls whom photographer John D. Green thought epitomised the decade.
I was on the front cover and most of my friends were in it. The introduction was written by Anthony Haden-Guest, who, I thought, had painted a perfect picture to set the scene:
They were chased by hundreds of screaming fans, then jumping into a train that pulled away leaving the fans forlornly on the platform. They had done that bit at Marylebone station before they met up with us. We were involved in the action once they had supposedly jumped into the carriage.
The train took us to Cornwall and back, not that I remember much of the scenery I spent most of the day watching the action, chatting to everyone during the breaks and waiting to do my bit. The Beatles were so funny together, so quick-witted, and their laughter was infectious. I couldn’t understand half of what they said because of the thick Liverpudlian accent — a revelation to me: I’d never heard anything like it.
It was impossible to be in their company and not be helpless with laughter.
On first impressions, John seemed more cynical and brash than the others, Ringo the most endearing, Paul was cute, and George, with velvet brown eyes and dark chestnut hair, was the best-looking man I’d ever seen.
At the break for lunch I found myself sitting next to him, whether by accident or design I have never been sure. We were both shy and spoke hardly a word to each other, but being close to him was electrifying.
As the train neared London and the filming was winding down I felt sad that such a magical day was ending. It had been pure joy and I wanted to capture it for ever. As if George had known what I was thinking, he said, ‘Will you marry me?’ I laughed, as I had at all the Beatles’ jokes. I scarcely allowed myself to wonder why he had said it or whether he might feel as I did. Then he said, ‘Well, if you won’t marry me, will you have dinner with me tonight?’
I was thrown. Was he serious or just playing around? I felt awkward and said I couldn’t, I had a boyfriend, but I was sure my boyfriend would love to meet him — maybe we could all go out. George didn’t think so, so we said our farewells at the station and disappeared into the night.
From our window, from the mêlée, we watched men and women going about their business. Ravi arranged yoga classes every morning, to teach George how to sit and hold the sitar, followed by several hours of lessons and practice with him and his other students.
After about a month we travelled together around India. Arnong many others, we met Ravi’s spiritual guru, Tat Baba, who explained the law of karma to us both — the law of action and reaction, or cause and effect.
Ravi was respected all over India: his students would bow down at his feet. He gave concerts across the country and people would sit, sometimes until four o’clock in the morning, to listen to him play, accompanied by Alla Raka on tablar and harmonium, while his students kept time. They counted the beat, which confused me: it was unlike western classical or even rock beat.
I found it intensely moving: these were not just concerts — there was something profoundly spiritual about the experience. Ravi told us that sometimes he would go into a meditative state and not know consciously what he was playing.
We visited many jewels of India with him — the Taj Mahal, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra, Delhi, temples with ancient carvings of gods and goddesses in love, fighting and sometimes disguised as demons. We met some holy men who were more than a hundred years old, and sadhus who live in abject poverty We visited the sacred ghats of Benaras, where people are cremated and have their ashes scattered in the Ganges.
It was an astonishing sight to see bodies burning on the banks as we stepped out of the boat to walk up to a ghat. I was unable to look away, although I wanted to. We went to a festival of Kumbh Mela, the most sacred of all Hindu pilgrimages which attracts millions of people from all over India.
We found ourselves in a crowd of about three thousand, most of whom had come on foot. We watched as the compound filled, pink dust rising, and in’ the distance I saw the maharajah riding an elephant, followed by a prince on a smaller one. They dismounted and sat on a dais where two wallahs kept them cool by wafting peacock-feather fans.
Meanwhile a man sat at our feet with a length of bamboo. Every now and then he would lean forward and stick his tongue into the hollow stick. Ravi told us there was a poisonous snake inside it: each time the man extended his tongue the snake struck, which gave him a high. ( well it would, would nt it ! )
When everyone was assembled, we watched a religious play with wooden characters twenty feet high mounted on wheeled trolleys that moved back and forth across the arena.