The Art Of NOT Dying
Like every Beatle fan, my heart sank with dread when I first heard the news about George being attacked. I received the news when my phone started ringing off the hook early in the morning with TV producers wanting reaction from people in the Beatles world. And like every fan of a certain age - it instantly brought back the awful memories of December 1980.
We are all relieved beyond words that George's life did not end tragically as it so nearly did - and we hope and pray for a full recovery for both George and Olivia. Not just from the dreadful physical attack. But also from the mental and emotional trauma of being attacked in their home. Let's just hope that it doesn't drive George into total seclusion and inhibit him from sharing more music with the world - because of a fear of being in public.
My dear pal Terry Gilliam (of Monty Python fame) visited George and Olivia recently and gave me a very encouraging report on George's progress. Let's be thankful that George is a tough Liverpool lad - and that Olivia is a very brave lady who helped save her man!
ODE TO THE TAXMAN
I wouldn't be me - and this column wouldn't have its P.I. inspired name if I didn't observe and comment on two socio-political issues arising from this horrible - nearly tragic - incident. I don't expect that everyone will agree with the sentiments I'm going to express. But I want to say what's on my mind. And I respectfully suggest that the views that follow are consistent with the collective philosophy of the Beatles - and with views expressed at various times by John and Paul in particular.
The mother of the mentally ill person who made the attack has claimed that she had been trying for a long time to get her son into treatment for his obvious sickness. But it was not possible. Why? Well though Britain has had an enlightened Labour Party government for the last two and a half years, it has still not fully repaired the savage slashing of Britain's health care system that took place in the dark 18 years between 1979 and 1997 - when Britain was ruled by a Conservative Party intent on dismantling the nation's public health care (among with many other elements of a caring society.)
And Paul McCartney can testify to this. Paul was one of the celebrities brave enough to stand up to the bulldozing tactics of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the mid-80's when she refused to grant Britain's nurses a fair, living wage. Paul publicly supported the nurses in their stand against Thatcher - even though Thatcher was riding high in the opinion polls at the time (tax cuts are a very effective bribe in the short run!)
But the protests of Paul and millions of concerned citizens were ignored - and vast sections of Britain's National Health Service were brutally smashed. Recovering from 18 years of a wrecking ball is naturally taking quite some time - and Britain has not yet fully restored the health services which I believe a civilized society is morally obligated to offer its citizens. And the result is that mentally disturbed people who need help cannot always be given it.
So how did the woman and the political party that declared war on its own citizens' health system get away with it for so long? Easy. She bribed the electorate. With tax cuts. And who could be against tax cuts? Sounds so attractive - doesn't it?
But it's important to remember that when taxes are cut - other things also get cut. And despite the support of caring people such as Paul McCartney in the mid-80's - among the many things that got cut in Britain was the health care system that treats the mentally ill.
It's something to ponder in this election year here in the USA. Next time somebody tries to buy your vote with the promise of a tax cut - ask yourself "what ELSE gets cut?" If it's anything that detracts from a caring compassionate society that takes care of the less fortunate - just remember the key words of the Beatles. "Say the word I'm thinking of. Have you heard? The word is LOVE"
HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN CONTROL BILL
The sick person who attacked George was armed with a knife - which was nearly lethal. Half an inch further over - and it would have been. But what are we to do? You can't ban knives. Unlike guns - knives have multiple uses. They only become lethal weapons in the hands of a sick person.
But just imagine if this sick intruder had managed to get his hands on a gun...
Thankfully he didn't. He couldn't. Because Britain has super-tough gun control laws. There are no innocent uses for guns. Guns are used by sick people to kill living things. Including children. And Beatles.
When people in the USA advocate gun control laws including support for the Brady Bill (named after the heroic Republican who was shot during the Reagan assassination attempt) - the sick apologists of the NRA (National Rifle Association) laugh and say that such rules are useless and unfair. (Presumably unfair to people who think that everyone should have the right to kill.)
Well we in the Beatles family already lost someone to a gun. As do thousands of American families each year. And if George's intruder had had a gun - we'd have lost TWO of the four Beatles to guns.
So in honor and memory of our beloved John - and in relief that we didn't lose our dearly loved George to a bullet - I urge you to do everything in your power to support gun control. Reject candidates who toady up to the gun lobby. Send money to - and help elect - candidates who stand up for gun control. One of the Beatles' best pals - the late, great Harry Nilsson (who John, George and Ringo all counted as a wonderful friend - and whose talent Paul adored) used to attend every Beatlefest - just to encourage fans to support gun control. Please follow the lead of Harry. Here's how to find out more: http://www.handguncontrol.org tel: 202 898 0792