Author's Introduction
Preface by Bennie Strange
Logan Airport
The Briefing
The Red Barn
The Stones Might Come
The Stones Are Coming
The Stones Aren't Coming
The Slender Strand
Twin Cessna 75 X-Ray
Keith Richards
Jane Rose
For Engineers Only
Systems, Inc.
Joe Rascoff
Ian Stewart
The Little Boys' Room
Master of All He Surveys
Paul Wasserman
The Tennis Courts
Bill & Astrid
A Typical Morning
A Typical Mid-Morning
My Friend Mark
The Pantry
The Rock Wall
Fraternity Brothers
The Red Line
Club Owners
A Typical Rehearsal
Rob Barnett
One Sunday Afternoon
Bennie Strange in Worcester
The Show Must Go On
Bill Graham
Little Girls
Steve Morse
The Raging Rose Saloon
The Publicist's Handbook
Charlie Watts
Mick and Freedom
Press Conference
The Strange Afterglow
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Wire-copy news
Stones Cinderella Story
The Tennis Court Fiasco

Bill & Astrid

"I'll tell you what's wrong! It's something in the bathroom. Something crawling. A spider."

    Bill Wyman stood squarely in front of me, looking me straight in the eye. He seemed rooted to a terrain he was willing to defend at all costs. He was mad. "You're the owner of this place, right?"
    "Yes, Bill," I said. "I am."
    "Well, there's something terribly wrong down there in the 'Cottage', as you call it, and I'm asking you to do something about it, right away."
    "Bill," I said, "what is it? What's wrong?"
    "I'll tell you what's wrong! It's something in the bathroom. Something crawling. A spider."
    "There's a spider in the bathroom?"
    "A spider. Came right down on Astrid from the ceiling, just as she was using the toilet. She's very upset, and so am I, I might add."
    "If there's a spider in the bathroom, then I'm upset, too, Bill. But don't worry, we'll get after it right away. How's everything else down there?"
    "T.V. set's a bit dodgy. Can't get all the stations. Pity, too, since I'm here to do some taping off the air."
    "No problem, Bill. We'll have that attended to, as well. Besides that, how are things?"
    "Well, otherwise O.K., I guess. One thing I'm going to need is a good cassette deck down there. I've some interviews of my own to give, and we'll want to record on cassettes."
    "No problem, Bill. We'll do that, too. In the meanwhile, let me get the anti-spider division in motion."
    "That would be very helpful. Very helpful indeed. I would be further obliged if you'd give your assurances to Astrid, as well. She's on her way over here now." Bill did a crisp right-face, and disappeared out the door. Within seconds, lovely Astrid was standing in his place, looking fairly put out herself.
    "Astrid," I said. "Did Bill tell you we were going to paint your bathroom today?"
    "Oh, Geel!"
    Astrid called me "Geel" — pronounced "eel" with a hard "g" out front — not Gil. Maybe that's the way "Gil" translates into Swedish. I don't know.
    "Oh, Geel," she said. "What about the spider?"
    "Won't paint him, Astrid. We'll take him out first. Sorry about that, really."
    "Geel... " she began again.
    "Astrid," I interrupted. "Look at me. You don't recognize me, do you? We've met before, you know."
    Astrid stopped in midstream, forgot about the spider, and stood looking at me. Her right-hand index finger was wagging at me, slowly, and she attempted to solve this little puzzle.
    "Astrid, you won't believe this, but it was twelve years ago — in London — at Olympic Studios. In the control room. They were recording 'Sweet Virginia' and I was there as a friend of Jimmy Miller's."
    "Jimm-eee. Oh, Jimm-ee," Astrid sang.
    "A friend of Jimmy's, I was. We hung out in the control room for half the night, you and me. I thought you were the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Ever seen, mind you, Astrid. I remember it as though it were yesterday."
    Astrid was to claim starting that very evening that she remembered me, too, but I know she didn't. It was a great beginning, though, for the two of us. She moved a step or two closer to me, and the mood changed.
    "Geel," she said. "I knew there was something, how to say, special about you. Now I know, we're old friends! Oh, Geel, it's so good to have a friend here. I just didn't know what I was going to do for a while." Astrid's right hand dabbed at an eye with a handkerchief, and she moved a step closer still.
    "It's them!" she said. "Them. I just don't know what I'm going to do when they get here."
    "They? Who's 'they'?"
    "You know, Keith and Woody. Why, do you know where Keith's bedroom is? Well!"
    "Down in the barn, right? The Gold Room?"
    The Gold Room was a favorite of the stars. We could have named it after Cat Stevens, Arlo Guthrie, James Coburn, John Belushi, or a host of others. But we called it the "Gold Room" instead. It's right next to the sauna, and the Jacuzzi.
    "Right next to us," Astrid cried. "His bedroom's just across the wall from us." Astrid seemed ready to burst into tears.
    "Look at me," she said. "I'm exhausted already — just the thought of it — and he's not even here yet. The noise — hour after hour. Those cassettes of his. Well, there'll be no sleep for me, I can see that right now. Geel, you must simply do something. I know you can."
    Astrid now had her hand in my arm, and she was tugging at me ever so slightly, moist eyes looking up at me, just about ready to cry real tears. "Something, Geel! Something."
    "Astrid, listen to me. I've got an idea."
    Astrid perked up almost immediately.
    "You need a place for all the clothes you've bought, right?"
    "I can't even unpack them, Geel. There's no place to put them. I just can't go around in, how you say, rags, can I?"
    "Listen to me, Astrid, we'll go out and buy a bedroom set — a real nice antique one — and we'll put the chest over there, against the wall to Keith's room. That'll quiet things down and give you a place for your clothes at the same time."
    "Do you think, Geel... ?"
    "I'm sure it will work, Astrid. And if it doesn't, we'll do something else. I promise."
    "Promise, Geel?"
    "Astrid, we're old friends, right?"
    With that remark, this particular scene was concluded. The next one standing out in my memory was Astrid, in cut-offs and a kerchief around her head, directing traffic in the doorway to the Cottage. A paint ladder and empty paint cans were on their way out the door, carried by two paint-spattered youths from North Brookfield. A large moving van was parked just outside the Cottage, on the gravel drive, and the rear gate was open. Half the antique bedroom set had already been lowered to the ground. The other half was still in the truck, being shuffled about by two cursing and temporarily stymied moving men. A large Sony TV set was waiting in the arms of two burly technicians, who were themselves waiting for the boys with the paint ladder to get out of the way. A representative from Preview — the local pay TV concession — was busy stringing UHF cable to a point just outside the stained glass window. Jesse had just hooked up a cassette deck to the Cottage hi-fi. Two female attendants were busying about inside the Cottage, exchanging the existing curtains for those of another color — Astrid's favorite color. The spider had been removed. Astrid was in her glory.
    "Geel!" She waved to me from across the driveway. Ebullient. Happy. Pretty beyond words.
    "Geel! Look!"
    She waved her arms about in wide circles, in an effort to encompass, enclose, and demonstrate the activity which raged around her.
    I smiled, waved back, and counted this incident over.

 All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.