The Stones Aren't Coming

 

"That's very nice, but I don't want you spending money on the assumption that the band is going to use Long View Farm for its rehearsals. Kathleen had quoted us a much lower price before you got back from Rome..."



    That had to be good news, I reckoned. Alan and I spoke earlier, and left things open and uncommitted. He was going to go to rival Woodstock tonight, in the rain. Things couldn't get much worse than that, I reasoned, so this phone call had to be about something substantive — some upturn in the course of events — something we could discuss. Maybe I was about to do some business with Alan Dunn. My tongue instinctively wet my lips, and I looked about for a notepad. Just Abby's crayons, and some notes to Nancy, to call Bennie, in my mother's handwriting. Bennie? The phone rang. 
    "Nancy," I shouted, "keep the kids quiet. I know who this is. Just a few minutes, please." 
    I picked up the phone and sure enough, it's Alan on the line. 
    All services provided to the Rolling Stones pass through their friend and Logistics Chief, Alan Dunn. He works in close consultation with Mick Jagger. Alan can make almost any deal he wants, since it's for the Rolling Stones. For that band, people are often willing to work for nothing, or for whatever is offered to them. Period. Alan is of course aware of this, and handles his responsibilities with reserve, care, and grace not often seen in rock 'n' roll. He wants to see a fair deal done with suppliers of services, just so long as the final prices are strictly competitive, and in no case markedup just because people think that the Rolling Stones have lots of money. 
    "May I speak with Gil Markle, please?" 
    "Alan," I said, in my most American of accents. "It's me, what's up?" 
    This had to be good news, and there was a trace of jaunt and confidence in my voice. 
    "It's not what's up, Gil, it's what's not up, and that's why I'm calling to speak with you." 
    Gulp. Torpedo attack! It's that ol' feint right, move left. I had to learn to play with this guy, Alan Dunn. He seemed to want to play with me. He wascalling me to tell me what wasn't up. 
    "All right, Alan, tell me what's not up, then." 
    "The deal, Gil. Your prices don't fit, ah, don't fit thebudget. Budgetary problems. Stu and I really liked the place, though it was a wee tight space-wise, like I said to you just this morning." 
    "Listen to me, Alan," I said, "I told you we're going to take care of that problem. We can build a stage — we've already started on it, and know where it's going to go — high up in the loft of the barn, not toward the front, but in the back. A big stage. We've got just enough time, and we can do it. We've already started." 
    "That's very nice, but I don't want you spending money on the assumption that the band is going to use Long View Farm for its rehearsals. Kathleen had quoted us a much lower price before you got back from Rome..." 
    "Jane Rose led her to believe that you were calling about an unknown new wave band with no financial resources at all," I interrupted, "not the Rolling Stones with a retinue of thirty, and international guests to cater to each day, every day, for six weeks! It's going to cost us to do all this for you." 
    "Well, I still don't want you to go and build a stage, and then have us not come." 
    "All right, Alan," I said, "don't worry about that. The stage is something we were going to do anyway." I was lying through my teeth. 
    "Well, the band might still be more comfortable with Woodstock, and might opt for it just because it's known to them, whereas Long View..." 
    "Alan," I said, now in desperation. "There is no sense in our talking about this on the phone. You've got to come back, and I'll show you what we're doing, and you should bring a member of the band with you. The Twin is at your disposal. Use it." 
    "Mick's just left for India, so it'd have to be Keith. Do you know how difficult it would be to get him to show up at Teterboro Airport? Mick's one thing. If he says four o'clock, you can be sure he'll be there at five minutes to four, but Keith! There's no way I could promise to get him at a certain time to Teterboro." 
    "La Guardia, then," I snapped, figuring I'd swallow the higher $60 landing fee with relish. 
    "That's not the point. I just don't know if he'd come. He may even say he will, but there's no guaranteeing it." 
    "Try then, Alan, try. Teterboro Airport, Monday afternoon at 2 PM. And we can talk Monday morning to fine-tune things." 
    "All right, Gil, maybe you're right. That would solve a lot of problems, if it happens. But there's still the matter of the, ah, budget." 
    "Alan," I said, "please listen to me. I want to do this gig. It obviously would be very good for the studio. Also — and forgive my immodesty — I think Long View would be perfect for the band, as well. They'd benefit, too. Tell your clients that I won't let price get in the way, if it comes to that." 
    Silence. 
    "Just started to rain down here," Alan said finally. "And I've got to go up to damned Woodstock tonight. I tell you, Gil, thirty-nine is too old to be in rock 'n' roll." 
    "Alan," I interrupted. "I'm older than you, so that means you have to do what I say. Go to Woodstock, have a lousy time, and see me with Keith at 2 PM on Monday at the Avitat Terminal at Teterboro Airport, just over the bridge in New Jersey. Got that straight?" 
    "Yes, Gil," Alan laughed. And I laughed, and just as he was about to hang up, Alan managed a parting shot. 
    "Just don't go and build that stage, Gil. Really." Then he hung up. 
    So there I was, holding a telephone receiver, and there Nancy was, looking at me with disapproval in her eyes. The look carried with it the following message: "Why, you're not back home two minutes and you're on the phone. It's been three weeks you've been away from your kids, and from your so-called home, and now there's some new Fire Call that's going to take you back to the Farm. Business, no doubt, while I stay down here on this spit of sand with your two kids, and soon with your mother and father to boot. I could do better than that, let me tell you." 
    "Nancy," I said, "what do you think? Are the Stones coming or not?" 
    She didn't answer me, but continued to busy about with her sewing machine. 
    "I hope your kids look all right to you," she said, firmly. 
    "They look great," I said. "David's brown as a berry. Abby looks great." 
    "Good," Nancy replied. "I'm glad."

 


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