One day in early October, not long after we got back from the U.S., an official-looking man came into MC's. Both Auntie and I were working. He walked up to the counter where Auntie was standing and asked, "Does Miss Jill Dearborn from Granite City, Illinois, United States of America, work here?"
Auntie looked puzzled, and gestured to me re-alphabetizing some 45's. "Miss Jill Dearborn?" the man asked.
I turned, thinking that this was a surprise--usually it was women who came in bitching to me about Paul. "Yes, that's me."
"Martin Stamp, British Government." He flashed some sort of official-looking badge at me and shook my hand. "Is there someplace private we can discuss something?"
"Sure," I said slowly. I went to tell Auntie that I was going to take Mr. Stamp into the back of the store, and she nodded. I led him to the desk in the back and we sat down. My curiosity was getting the best of me; I asked, "So what do you need to talk to me for? Am I in any sort of trouble, or is this just a practical joke?"
"I can guarantee that this is no joke, miss. You recently returned to England after a visit to the States, correct?"
"Yes," I answered, still wondering as to where this was leading.
"Upon your return, you went through customs just like everyone does with an overseas trip. Your passport was processed, but there was a slight problem we just discovered. Your temporary work visa has expired, and we will not be able to grant you another one. If your stay here is permanent, you must become a British citizen in order to work. You will not be able to get any government assistance unless you are a British citizen. You will not be able to do anything unless you are a British citizen, if they will give you citizenship at all." He reached into his breast pocket and handed me a business card. "You can go see this woman, Sophie Miles, at the U.S. Embassy, I'm sure she can work something out for you."
I was stunned. I took the card from him. "Um, why am I in trouble here? Why is my permit expired? Will I have to leave?"
He replied with little emotion, "I'm sorry miss, I can't answer all of your questions because I don't have the answers myself. I'm just a messenger for the government to notify people who are here and need to leave. Go talk to Sophie, she's a nice lady, she'll be able to answer your questions for you." He shook my hand again, and walked out of the store. I stayed there in the back room for a minute or two, thoughts racing through my head. Even after all that he had said, I was still confused about the situation. I slowly walked out to the sales floor in a daze, still clutching Sophie's card in my hand.
Auntie queried, "So, what did he want? Kinda cute, huh?"
"Um, yeah," I said as I forced a smile.
Auntie noticed the sullen look on my face. "What's wrong, Jill?"
I sighed and began. "Well, apparently there was some sort of paperwork SNAFU or something, who knows, maybe the daughter of someone important set this up, but my temporary work visa has expired...and they won't give me another one. I either have to stay here and not be able to work until I can go through the citizenship process, or just leave and go back to America. He gave me this woman's name at the U.S. Embassy to see her to get everything straightened out. Can I go over there now, Auntie? The sooner I get this out of my mind, the better."
"Of course! I want this straightened out as soon as possible, too, honey. Not only would I be losing a great worker, but a good close friend." She hugged me and sent me on my way.
The U.S. Embassy was about a ten-block walk, and it was a nice crisp day, so I put on my jacket and decided to just walk it. The Embassy was a huge stone building with shiny marble floors in the lobby and a large mahogany receptionist's desk. The woman there directed me to Sophie Miles' office on the third floor.
Sophie's office was painted robin's egg blue, with light green carpeting. Sophie was an attractive woman of about 30, with a big pile of long brown hair done in an up-do on top of her head. I introduced myself and sat down at her modest desk. "Marty called me about you," she said. "You seem to be having some trouble with your work visa, right?"
"Yeah, I guess. He was kinda cryptic, said he was just the 'messenger' and I should talk to you about the problem."
She went to a file cabinet and took a thin file out. She explained as she sat back down, "We keep a file on every U.S. citizen who stays in Great Britain for longer than one month. Nothing shady or anything, just something to help us keep track of everyone. Now let's see..." She opened the file and scanned it as she hummed an unrecognizable tune. She pursed her lips and flipped through the few papers in the file as she muttered something to herself and went back to the unrecognizable tune. "Hmmm...um, could you please excuse me for just a moment, Miss Dearborn?" I nodded as she took my file with her into another room.
A few minutes later she came back and sat down at her desk. "Well, Miss Dearborn, I have bad news. Your temporary work visa has expired and you will have to leave. There's nothing that we can do about it, I asked my boss."
I was expecting this, but still wasn't prepared. "So, what does this mean? Why didn't I get notification that it was going to expire? When do I have to leave?" I demanded, the pitch of my voice rising with each query.
Sophie leaned forward and replied, "Well, this means that you have to leave and re-apply for another work visa, and then return."
I whined, "So, I can't stay at all?"
"Pretty much, darling. You have to be out within a week. Sorry, I wish I could help more, but I don't make the rules." She gathered the papers from my file into a stack and inserted them back into the plain manila folder with my name on the tab.
The gears inside my head were turning. Before this, I would never think of using who I knew before to influence people, but the worst she could tell me was no, which I already knew. I leaned forward and asked, "Um, how about this, what if I told you that I am Paul McCartney's girlfriend?"
She raised her eyebrows and said playfully, "My first instinct would be to laugh in your face and refer you to a good psychiatrist."
I said bluntly, "No, really, I am his girlfriend. Do you read the Mirror?" I couldn't believe that that horrid tabloid might actually come to my aid. I rummaged through my bag in case I might have shoved one of the papers in there.
Her eyes lit up. "Oh! That's where I've seen you! I read that all the time! I knew you looked familiar...wow, it really is you! A real celebrity, wow," she said in awe.
I smiled a little. "Yeah, I guess I am. Um, so is there anything that can be done here for my situation?"
She replied, "Honey, in that case it might be to your disadvantage--I'd bet there are quite a few young girls who would love to see you get deported. But I'm afraid that even celebrity doesn't get you past the British laws. Sorry, Miss Dearborn, I've done all I can do."
I sighed in exasperation. "Well, I guess that means I'm leaving, then." I picked up my bag and got up to leave, trying to keep a brave face on until I could get away from everyone. As I was walking out the doorway, I heard Sophie call out to me, "Oh, and could you get an autograph for me? That's S-o-p-h-i-e..." I rolled my eyes and continued out; I didn't even look back at her while she was talking.
I walked back to MC's in a fog of sadness. My brave face has melted about five steps out of the embassy building. When Auntie saw my tear-stained face, she immediately hugged me and asked me what had happened. I explained everything to her; she was visibly upset. "Isn't there anything they can do?"
"No," I sniffled. "They said I should try to straighten this out in the States, and then try for re-entry after it's all taken care of."
"But why didn't they let you know? How soon can you come back? When do you have to leave?" Auntie was shooting off questions faster than I could listen, and I snapped.
"AUNTIE, JUST SHUT UP!" I closed my eyes tight to try to hold back my tears. Luckily there were no customers in the store at that time or we would have been creating quite a scene. "Auntie, I don't know the answers to those questions, all the woman at the place told me was that I needed to leave as soon as possible. I have a better chance of getting back in if I leave of my own accord than if I'm forced out."
"Is there anything I can do?" Auntie asked.
"No...um, I'm going to go home now and start packing, I guess. I'll call the airline to get a ticket, and I'll call Mom & Dad--Paul! Oh god, they're in Scotland for three days! I have no way of getting hold of him, I'm pretty sure Brian is with them, too." I sat down on the floor behind the counter and buried my head in my hands as I heard a customer come in and ask for any records we had from the Beatles. That triggered my sobbing on the floor of MC's, hiding behind the counter, wallowing in self-pity. How sad, I thought to myself. I had done absolutely nothing wrong, but I was essentially a fugitive. After the customer left (armed with some Beatles singles), I pulled myself off the floor and went back to Auntie & Rog's.
I knew I would have to wait until later to phone Mom & Dad so I could catch them at home after dinner. There was almost no way I could get hold of Paul, and I couldn't even book an airline ticket until I had talked to my parents. The only thing I could do was laundry. So, I washed all the clothes I could, called some shipping services to find out how much it would cost to ship what I couldn't take on the airplane, and watched television for the rest of the day.
***Two days after my run-in with the British government, the trusty Mirror got word of what was happening, and of course had something to say about it. Auntie brought in the paper to me at the store, plopped it down in front of me and said, "I doubt you'll want to see this, but I brought it in anyway."
On the cover at the top of the page was a small and (for once) fairly decent picture of me. Unfortunately the caption to the left of it was what I really didn't want to get out, especially before I could talk to Paul. The caption read, in surprisingly small print, "Beatle Girlfriend Deported! See page 5."
I winced as I turned to page five. Thankfully the article was just one paragraph in a news briefs section. It wasn't very nice, though. It read:
SOMETHING FOR THE YOUNGER CROWD--Jill Dearborn, and American and the girlfriend of Paul McCartney of the music group the Beatles, has run into some trouble with the law. Much to the delight of many young girls in England, Miss Dearborn's temporary visa has expired and she must leave the country soon. We can only hope that she doesn't re-apply, and Paul can find himself a nice, attractive British girl!
I was in total disbelief. at least when I left they'd hopefully leave me alone, I thought. All I could do was hope that Paul hadn't seen it yet. I began to think that maybe this was supposed to be an omen, a sign of what I was supposed to do with my life. I had grown increasingly annoyed with the press anyway, and didn't want to think what they'd dig up or fabricate if the Beatles got even more popular. Maybe some time off from the Beatle and public eye thing was what I needed. But did I want time off from Paul as well?
Paul came over on Tuesday, 8 October, the day after he returned from their short Scotland tour. I thought that the few days I had had to compose myself would have prevented me from crying about the matter any more than I already had...but when I saw him, I collapsed in his arms in a fit of tears. He hugged me and let me cry for a while, then asked, "Jill, what's wrong?"
"Oh Paul, you can't even begin to know what I've been through the past few days." We sat on the living room couch as I recounted the events to him. He sat patiently and listened to me babble incoherently about everything that had happened to me. I also showed him the brief article in the Mirror.
After I had finished talking, Paul sat there in silence for a minute, digesting what I had just told him. "So, is there anything that we can do here? Brian knows some people...I'm sure with his name, he can get something done here."
I shook my head. "I already tried, and the woman laughed at me." I paused, wondering if this was a good time to tell him how AI felt about the whole situation. "But you know, I'm not really sure if I want something done. I've done a lot of thinking over the past couple days, and I've been racking up quite a transatlantic phone bill! Um, I talked to my parents about this for a long time. They're worried about the family name being dragged through the mud, and they want me to come home for a while, at least until this crap cools down...Mom found me a job substitute teaching music for the rest of the fall and all of spring semester for a woman who had to go on bedrest because she's having a bad time with her pregnancy. I really miss my family, Paul. I know that I haven't been letting on that I've been homesick, but I am. The trip we just took really made me realize that I miss the States. Auntie could adapt to life over here, but there's just so much stuff and people over there that I miss. You know I'm not really a spiritual person, but maybe this is a sign that my place just isn't here. You're busy all the time anyway, how much have we seen each other lately? Not much! I knew going into this relationship that it wouldn't be easy, but it's been harder than I thought it would be. I just don't know..."
Paul looked like a lost child. "So you're going to leave? When?"
"Well, I bought a ticket for Friday; the plane leaves at 3 in the afternoon. I already have a lot packed. I've been trying to avoid the press; Auntie told me there was already someone hovering around the front of MC's armed with his camera. She told me about it and I didn't even go into work today."
"There's no way they will let you become a citizen?"
"Well, like I said before, I was 'strongly advised' to leave before they kick me out, saying that would give me the best chance for re-entry and possible citizenship. They told me to go back to the U.S., and then I can re-apply for another work permit, or even come back and go through the citizenship process. But I would have to be back in the States for a while, I think."
I could almost see the gears turning inside Paul's head. "Let me get this straight...you'd be able to stay if you were a citizen, right?" he asked, scratching the dark stubble on his chin.
"Yep," I replied. "But like I said, I'd need to take the tests, I'd still have to wait 'til June of next year, and that's even if there was nothing wrong with getting another work permit, and--"
Paul turned to face me and blurted out, "Marry me."
Now that was startling! I wasn't even sure if I had heard him correctly. "Uh...I...what did you say?"
He took my hands and said, rather matter-of-factly, "I said 'Marry me'. Will you marry me, Jill?" He slid off the couch down on one knee in front of me, still clasping my hands in his.
Now, most girls in England at that time would have gladly taken my place at that moment. This was big--a real marriage proposal! I was excited...and confused. I was suspicious of his intentions. Before I could blurt out a "yes" before I had time to think it through, I said, "Paul, why are you asking me now?"
"Do I need a reason?" he said as he sat back down on the couch next to me. "I love you, and I guess the time just seems right. What more reason do you need?"
I was still suspicious. I didn't want to get married for the wrong reason. "Did you ask me just so I can stay?" I asked in a low voice.
Paul sighed. "Well, that brought the thought to my head. We've been together for a while, why not? C'mon, Jill, let's do it!" He was smiling like a kid at Christmas.
I was honestly speechless. He was serious about this marriage proposal. And I honestly didn't know how to answer. I was not expecting it at all. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to get married. We really hadn't discussed those kinds of things. We had been dating for a while, but the time we spent together was becoming increasingly sparse. On top of that, I was already sick of the press, and I knew from talking to Cyn that it would only get worse. I felt the press had it out for me, not only because I had snagged one of the most eligible bachelors in Britain, but I was foreign, and not just foreign, but American. I loved spending time with him, I was extremely attracted to him physically...but did I want to marry him? Did we want the same things out of life? Did I even know what I wanted out of life? As much as I loved him, I realized that, at least at that moment, I couldn't marry him.
I looked up at him, and he was still looking at me expectantly. My heart sank; how could I say no to that face? I stood up and walked around the living room, trying to gather my thoughts and compose a sentence, finding a way to break it to him gently. I finally decided that I just needed to tell him; if I was honest with him, I knew he'd respect that more than if I wasn't. I sat back down on the couch, and began. "Paul, what I have to say you're not gonna want to hear, but I still need to say it. You've piled a lot on me today, and my pile was already about to tip over without all this. I do love you, I really do, you've been a great friend to me...but I can't make a commitment like that right now. It has nothing to do with you; it's just me. I don't think I am ready for marriage, at least not yet. We haven't discussed what we want out of life. I know that you've mentioned that you just want to be a family man with a gaggle of kids once this Beatle thing blows over...but I don't even know if I want kids. Marriage just isn't something you do on a whim, Paul. You've been through so much more in your life than I have, you've had so many more life experiences, traveled more in the past couple years than I will in my lifetime...I'm too immature, too selfish to get married right now. Maybe later on in life, when our paths cross again, if we're meant to be together, it will happen on its own. But it's not meant to happen now, and especially not like this for the wrong reason. I guess we'll just put 'us' on hold." I was surprised at how I had kept my composure.
I looked over at Paul and he was looking down at the floor. After what seemed like a thousand years, he spoke. "Well, you were right, I didn't want to hear that answer!" He laughed nervously, and continued. "But I understand...I'll admit I hadn't thought much about it, either. The thought just popped in my head when you were talking about the citizenship thing, and I figured what the hell, might as well ask, the worst you could say is 'no' anyway, right?" He paused for a moment, then said, "So, you are going to leave then?"
I nodded and quietly said, "Yeah...I have to, Paul. And I don't know when I can come back."
He responded to that with, "Don't take this wrong, but I might not wait."
"I know...I know...I guess that's the risk I have to take." I was trying not to cry; I didn't want to cry. I honestly thought that after all I had cried on that day I had found out about all the trouble, I should have been dried out!
Paul put his hand on my knee and said, "I'm proud of you, Jill. Thanks for helping me see straight on this. We'll keep in touch, write back and forth, I can send you souvenirs from wherever we go, we're going to Sweden the end of this month. Here, let's enjoy the few days we have left. We can do whatever you want, go to the park, go shopping, catch a movie, anything! You know, hang out like friends do, right? We seem to keep bouncing back to that, don't we?" He gently elbowed me.
"Yeah, I guess we do," I laughed. Hanging out sounds good, I'll go get my jacket." I ran upstairs and grabbed my black wool jacket and we were out the door.
The next few days were spent together as friends. I think it made it easier at least for me, knowing that we could still be together in some capacity. We went shopping, out to parks; he even took some pictures of me while learning how to use a new camera he had just purchased. I knew I would miss him a lot, not only as a lover, but also as a friend. I enjoyed spending time with him those last few days.
Right after Thanksgiving 1963, which I spent with my family, I got a package from Paul in the mail. It was a copy of their latest British album, With the Beatles, as always, autographed by all four lads. He enclosed a note:
My dearest Jill,
I hope you enjoy our latest album. Isn't the cover picture great? It was John's idea. It looks like those photographs that Astrid took in Hamburg that I was telling you about. Anyway, there are a couple songs on here that I think you'll find familiar. I won't tell you which ones, I think you know already. Hope all is well with you and your family.
Until next time,
P.S.: Don't wait by the phone, but I will be calling you sometime soon with some good news!
I flipped the album sleeve over to see which songs he was talking about. On that album were "'Til There Was You" and "All My Loving."
On to Chapter Eighteen
Back to Chapter Sixteen
Copyright © 1999-2006, Winona Patterson