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  • Magical History Tour
    2002 Tour Report by Batya Selavan

    Part II

    We took our coach to the airport and before we knew it we were landing in London.

    We arrived in merry ol' England, where tour guide Richard Porter greeted us. We soon went with Richard on a walking tour. We couldn't stop raving about how much fun we had, and how many new and great Beatle sites they visited. It was perfect weather for a walk-about. Others opted to go to the theater for a West End play (at least four of us went to see the Queen show "We Will Rock You"). Others went to dinner and made it an early night, some went out to Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus, while others found a casino and did some gambling. Monica, one of our returning tour-members, was celebrating her birthday today, and her goal was to have a celebratory visit to the Hard Rock Café in both Amsterdam and London. She succeeded!

    For the first time ever, we stayed at the Bonnington at Bloomsbury Hotel, home of the Beatles Day conventions in London. We began our first full day in London with a hearty breakfast and took the coach tour of Beatle sites with an emphasis on locales from the films "A Hard Days Night" and "Help." Our official tour band, "British Export," broke away early and took a taxi to Abbey Road, where they began a full recording session. We would join them later on. People who had gone on the MMTour before commented that this was the most complete London tour Richard Porter had ever done. First-timers were in awe of all the sites covered. Richard was pleased to have more time to show fans the sites. When the group went by Cavendish Avenue, Paul was there, but didn't come out. A security guard did, and asked our group to leave. I'm sure Paul wanted his privacy. His daughter Mary had another son, and it may have been that she was there also. That's my best guess. One of the American travelers did see Paul outside, and hopefully her pictures will come out!
    I went with friends to Windsor Castle and the British Museum. The castle grounds are breathtaking and this place is huge! It's the Queen's residence during certain times during the year. We saw many rooms with paintings, old furniture, sparkling chandeliers and lots of gold.

    Back at the hotel, everyone met for our early evening group recording session at Abbey Road Studios. This never loses its magic. Before we arrived, "British Export" recorded four tracks (one eachper band-member), and as a group, we recorded the chorus to "Yellow Submarine" with lead vocals by Jim "Ringo" Martin. The band played their roles perfectly, dressed in appropriate "Abbey Road" outfits.
    Before we began our recording session with master producer Will Schillinger at the boards, we ascended upon the front steps of Abbey Road to pose for many pictures. Most of us took turns going back & forth across the Abbey Road zebra crossing, of course snapping photos by the dozens. We were privy to a collection of Abbey Road souvenirs and memorabilia on sale by the staff. When we entered Studio 2, we were joined by fans from Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina and Venezuela. One of the guys played the piano and we sang "Hey Jude," "Martha My Dear," "Maybe I'm Amazed" and some of "Live and Let Die."

    Recording the background chorus "Yellow Submarine" with British Export wasn't easy. Too many of us were too nervous and too excited to sing loud enough. We had to do 2 or 3 takes. But we did it, and it was a rousing good time!!
    Groups of five at a time made their way up the famous steps to George Martin's control room, but most of us didn't want to leave the studio. We never really know if we'll ever get into Abbey Road again. It was brought to our attention that this was the 33rd anniversary of the very last time The Beatles recorded as a group at Abbey Road Studios.
    Tour members Katie and Shelley sneaked back to Cavendish Avenue, hoping to catch a glimpse of Paul. It is rumored that Katie crawled under Paul's fence and videotaped very exciting footage of his car's tires. Shelley tossed a rock under Paul's fence, with a note attached, reading "Still Pissed At Yoko."
    We stayed as long as possible, and finally left as a group for our late-night dinner & dance party at London's Hard Rock Café. They were kind enough to keep both the souvenir shop and "The Vault" open an extra half hour for us. The Vault contains Hard Rock's rarest and most valuable collectibles. The Hard Rock Staff was especially generous that night, let us touch and pose with some of the rare paraphernalia from The Vault.
    It was then time to parteee! We went in, had dinner and drinks, and our DJs Charles and Danny got our party started with some solo Beatles cuts before getting into the best Beatles dance tracks. Our Mexican friends and also some membersof the Venezuela Beatles fan club joined us. It was a great finale to a wonderful time spent in London. This was the point of the trip where everyone really bonded and the group really came together as one.
    After the Hard Rock party we headed back to the hotel. Some stayed up a little later hanging out in the hotel lobby; most of us went to bed.

    Two coaches were waiting for us when we finished breakfast and checked out of our London hotel. The one leaving with Charles aboard was supposed to be the "party" bus with trivia, a penny auction and fun interaction. That was the "A" bus for "active." The bus with Danny was earmarked as the "sleeping" bus for all the tired people who wanted to catch up on sleep. That was the "B" bus for "boring." Sometimes things change, because the "A' bus wound up standing for "also sleeping," as all of us crashed.
    Our first stop of the day was a very meaningful one. For the first time in a number of years, we drove to Henley-on-Thames for a respectful visit to George's Friar Park residence. Several of us brought flowers and some wrote notes and poems to leave on the front gates. A handful of us lit candles and paused for a moment of silence. For those of us who had visited Friar park years before, this was a very different experience. It could be compared to walking past the Dakota Building before and after losing John. We sure miss you, John and George. We were there for only a few minutes before a security guy came out and asked us to move on. He was nice and courteous about it. We crossed the street, took some final pictures, and left. With some time to spare, a few of us visited a nearby used record shop, while a bunch of us checked out a beautiful old church nearby, and, totally coincidentally, found Dusty Springfield's grave therein (with her picture).

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