All My Loving: coming of age with Paul McCartney in Paris
In January 1964, I heard the Beatles sing “She Loves You” and turned instantly into a passionate Paul Girl. I was thirteen.
That summer, my family and I sailed away to spend a year in a suburb of Paris. Desperately lonely, trapped between my powerful parents, I kept myself company by scribbling a stream of stories — poignant yet funny and articulate fantasies about my love life, and, later, shy imaginings of my marriage and sex life, with Paul McCartney.
All My Loving is set in the mid-Sixties, just before the Western world broke wide open. We kids heard the rumblings first, felt the power of the musical explosion into our staid world. But my world also included the Ban-the-Bomb movement, the fight for civil rights, the casual anti-Semitism of small-town Canada, even the question, lurking at the back of my mind, of why my mother’s life was so much more limited than my father’s.
Society was about to change very quickly, but in 1964-65, all those revolutions were on the horizon. Except for the music, which was right there, in my tiny transistor radio, filling me with joy.
After leaving Venice, my family drove north on a twisting mountain road towards Switzerland and Austria. Three handsome young men in a red Alfa Romeo convertible were following close behind. And then at a wider stretch of road, they passed us. Zooming by, they waved and smiled, and we waved back. They slowed in front of us, and as we watched, puzzled, the one beside the driver leaned out of the little red car and ripped wildflowers from the side of the road. They began to drive so slowly that my father had no choice but to pass them. We all waved again. And then they revved up and roared by us once more.
As they pulled up, the young man on our side stood with a wide smile and pushed the flowers through the open back window of our car, into my hands.
We saw magnificent things on our trip: Michelangelo’s David, the mosaics of Ravenna, Mozart’s pad in Salzburg. I appreciated the beauty before me and felt privileged, glad to be there.
But the most wondrous sight of my summer was a brown arm covered in dust, holding a tangled bouquet.