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I See Elsie

The Ithaca College London Centre

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Posted by Claire Mokrauer-Madden at 11:31AM   |  Add a comment

Dear Claire,

I read your recent blog post, the one in which Bill interviewed you.  In fact, I've read all of the interviews between you and Bill, and I would like to give my side of the story.

Bill and I met in the summer of 1968 when he was a young graduate student.  I was on a break from recording The White Album, so I went to Cambridge for a quiet weekend.  I had broken a string on my guitar while playing it on the banks of the Cam and was gently weeping.  At the same time a rowing team was speeding down the river.  They were going by so quickly, but I could see before it happened, that they were not going to make it smoothly around the bend in the river.  The boat crashed, the rowers were flung into the water and all I could do was watch.  After some twisting and shouting, one of the rowers swam away from the wreckage, and I held out my guitar to him to help him come ashore.  

As soon as Bill had recovered and gotten the wind back into his lungs, we met formally.  He was so grateful, and kept saying that I had saved his life.  That afternoon Bill offered to be my lifelong servant.  I couldn't accept the offer, generous as it was, but it quickly became clear that he had an interest in music.  He seemed to be trying to entice me away from the rest of the Beatles, but I said, "That'll be the day!"  At least I did agree to a few impromptu sessions with him.  Nothing like a worldwide tour or anything, just a bit of busking.  

I think the real misunderstanding came about a few months later.  We were talking about new places to busk and he suggested we do it in the road.  I said it was unsafe.  He kept saying that we could do it if we got a little help from my friends, but I wouldn't budge.  We never really saw eye to eye after that, and I admit I was hurt by our parting of ways.  That pain inspired some songs that I would come to write, but I couldn't abide by Bill claiming that he wrote my songs.  The restraining orders only came out when he was spotted outside of Abbey Road Studios.  He claimed he was there showing the iconic zebra crossing to a group of students, but the local traffic cameras were spotting him there with too many groups of students for me to believe it was innocent coincidence.

I hope this helps clarify whatever Bill has told you about me.  I miss him as a friend, but am genuinely glad my busking days are over.  However, I have enclosed a photo of our last busking gig together.  We played our final performance outside Tower Hill tube station.  I remember that Saturday afternoon as if it was yesterday.  We ate hummus sandwiches before we performed and, ironically, talked about what we thought our lives would be like by the time we became pensioners.  We argued over whether men officially became pensioners at 64 or 65.  We had no idea that would be our last performance together.

Thanks for listening,

 


 


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