When George Harrison died, I helped move a friend from her flat in Elizabeth St to her new place then in Tasman St. From Mt Vic to Mt Cook sounds like the title to a down-scaling book but this was just how it was back in 2001. We scrubbed the walls to get the smoke stains off from where the pictures had been and all the while the radio was playing Beatles songs.
I was on the heavy lifting, helping the removal men when they arrived. I was lifting tables and chairs, computer desks and various things down the alleyway to the street front. It was baking hot; I’d played a gig the night before and stayed up late drinking whatever was in
the house as a toast to the Quiet Beatle. My hangover was getting a workout.
The removal truck arrived, driven by the world’s rudest man. He was instantly a caricature. Loud and dumb and full of himself. And his truck was in the middle of the street – a one-way road. He figured everyone could wait because he was on a paid job. And when he did, grudgingly, move the truck, he backed it into someone’s car. A neighbour popped his head in to say he’d seen what happened. The moving man stuck his neck out to tell the man to forget what he saw if he wanted to keep all his fingers. Then there was a car of women beeping. Beeping. Trying to tell this man to move.
I was head-down and just bringing out the loads of stuff. But I said, at one point, that maybe he ought to move his truck. He laughed maniacally and then went to meet the women in the car. He bent down, leaned in and hoiked a giant spit right into the face of the driver. His co-worker laughed, then corrected himself, shook his head, was mortified. And he asked the lunatic, “why did you do that?”
The meathead replied that it was the “the dirtiest thing I could think to do”.
The radio belted out I Me Mine and Here Comes The Sun and Taxman and While My Guitar Gently Weeps. All those great George Harrison-penned Beatles songs. We heard a few of the solo gems too – obviously My Sweet Lord and All Those Years Ago, that cover of Got My Mind Set on You and a Travelling Wilburys song – or two.
But this was the end of the line. A guy spat in a woman’s face because he couldn’t be bothered to move his truck. Because he was sure that he was the boss. Because he knew that he was large – and if not in charge he was still the king. At least of anything that mattered in his world. We were mortified. Horrified. We were stunned to silence – and didn’t feel good about that.
We had a story. A weird story. And it’s one we’ll always have. Me and the friend I helped move that day…were married a few years on, we’ve moved houses a handful of times since that occasion. We’ve streamlined all we can but the mess continues to grow, the stuff we don’t need builds up around us. And we have a son now that wants to know any story about The Beatles that we can think of.
One day, he can read this. And make of it what he will.