"This is ridiculous," I said to myself... Hyper-educated male, teacher, entrepreneur, and show business impresario, pressed into service at the pinnacle of his career as a water closet footman.
Mick Jagger is one of the most famous people alive. If there are, say, fifty people alive in the world today whose names and faces elicit immediate recognition among individuals young and old alike, the world over, then Mick Jagger certainly is one of them. Near-savages in jungles respond to the mention of his name, and almost always in an overwhelmingly positive manner. Semi-literates in farflung regions know of this man, and they like what they know of him besides.
And so it was a stirring exercise for me to commission my airplane and crew of pilots in the service of this luminary, as I was called upon to do one or two days into the gig. It was a Tuesday, I think, because Ian Stewart had "sat in" on the performance of the band Roomful of Blues the night before at the El Morocco, and jazz night at the El Morocco is always and only Monday.
"Mick wants to be picked up at Teterboro at 4 PM and he's got four people with him, plus baggage. His daughter Jade is one of them."
"Bianca's, right, Kathleen?"
"Right. Mick and Bianca's little girl. Jade's her name. She's nine years old, I think."
"Tell them no problem about the airplane, Kathleen," I said, and made a note to myself to check on a thing or two as soon as I got to work, in Worcester. First of all, my liability coverage on the airplane. Had it been tripled according to my instructions to the agent, a week ago? And had "This Is Something Else, Inc. d/b/a/ Long View Farm" been specifically named as insured? That I'd check on right away. Today's passenger was particularly well-known. Also, that damned attitude indicator. Had pilot Bob Adams replaced this faulty instrument, so he'd fly level in the clouds; no ifs, ands, or buts? I'd check on that, too.
Car washed, chilled bottles of wine in the back, change the cassette in the Nakamichi (which contained notes for the eventual writing of this book, dictated by me on my way to work only the day before).
No word of Mick's arrival to anyone else in the area, except Wendy who'd stay in touch with Teterboro for me and let me know exactly when to expect him on the ground.
Finally, forget all that unsolicited advice I'd been getting about "what not to say," "what not to do," in the presence of one of the world's fifty most famous men. I'd had people telling me what to do in the men's room if I was ever in one with Mick Jagger. (See if you can go in the urinal next door, and offer him some "blow.") I'd had other people warn me that Mick Jagger was moody. ("Don't get your feelings hurt, Gil. He'll love you and make you feel like a king and then, bang, he won't talk to you for two years.")
I was sick and tired of this sort of advice. My job was simply to deliver the goods. The services required. No touch. No relate-to-me-please. No "just sign this for my little girl, Mick... " No nothing. Smooth and effective delivery of first-class services. World-class services. Period. That was my job, and that's mainly what I had to be concerned about. Right?
The fact is I was thrilled to death, and I had the big black car cooling and anointed an hour before I had to. Mick Jagger was coming!
Mick was punctual in his arrival at Teterboro Airport, and met up with pilot Bob Adams and the Twin with no problem. Their take-off was slightly delayed, however, when a maintenance truck temporarily blocked them from passing from the apron onto the runway. The maintenance men were Stones fans, and they simply wanted to get a closer look at Mick, who they knew was in the airplane. So they blocked the airplane for a few minutes, and gawked.
75 X-Ray landed at the Worcester Airport about 5:15 PM. It was a beautiful day — a clear day — and Bob Adams taxied the airplane to a halt with particular grace and verve. The passenger door swung open; first to the top, then to the bottom, and the stairs folded out onto the ground. There was movement in the cabin, a canvas strap temporarily caught between one of the rear seats and the door, and finally a figure appeared in the door, set to descend.
I approached the aircraft with long, self-posturing strides, extended my hand, and spoke.
"Hi," I said. "I'm Gil Markle."
"Hi," he said. "I'm Mick Jagger."
He said it in my voice, using my words, and the exact inflections I had assigned to them. He had successfully mimicked me. I knew he was Mick Jagger, after all, and didn't need for him to tell me. Of course he was Mick Jagger. I knew that. He knew that I knew that, too. Let's face it, he wasn't informing, he was imitating. He was getting things straight out front. This was his arrival, his rehearsal, his world. And that was all fine with me, and as I've already said, I just wanted things to go well.
"Car's over there, Mick," I said.
"Hmmmm... show me to the little boys' room first, will you?"
"Little boys' room?" I asked.
"Little boys' room. The toilets."
"O.K.," I said. "Let's get your little girl and Charlie into the car, and I'll bring you inside."
"Great," Mick said. "This is Charlie Watts." Charlie looked at me, head slightly canted, through a somewhat quizzical grin. He extended a hand to me in a perfunctory manner. It was limp, but on time.
"Hi, Charlie," I said, "I'm Gil Markle."
Charlie did not imitate me. He smiled, shuffled his feet a bit on the ground, and stood waiting for instructions.
"Car's over there, Charlie. Unless you want to take a walk to the little boys' room with Mick and me."
"The little boys' room. The toilets."
"Nah, I'll be here in the car. You go ahead."
I motioned to Mick, he nodded, and we proceeded across the grass toward the building, which contains our offices, and a large and very complete little boys' room. I looked over my shoulder and saw Charlie Watts, and Jade Jagger — who does look about nine years old, and who's a very beautiful little girl — easing themselves into the Long View limo.
"This way, Mick," I said. "This way."
"This is ridiculous," I said to myself, standing guard outside the men's room at the Worcester Airport. Hyper-educated male, teacher, entrepreneur, and show business impresario, pressed into service at the pinnacle of his career as a water closet footman. "At least I didn't goin there with him." I didn'twant to be in the urinal next door, or offer over drugs on a silver spoon, or anything like that. I was a show business professional.
Mick burst out the door, his face now less creased and more relaxed, and we ducked out the front entrance, jogged past a small but growing crowd of admirers, and jumped into the Cadillac.
Mick immediately cranked open his window, defeating the efforts of the air conditioner, and making the Long View limo his.
"How far is this ranch of yours?" Mick asked.
"Twenty minutes, Mick. Farm, though. It's a farm. You're thinking aboutCaribou Ranch," I said, alluding to a studio somewhat like ours located in Colorado.
Instead, Mick was nudging little Jade on his left, and Charlie Watts on his right, and getting a feel for his new car.
All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.