"Lemme tell you something. I've been in the band for years now. I never ate with them all before. All at one table, I mean. I never saw 'em all together over a bottle of wine before I came here."
Ron Wood, who's sometimes called "Ronnie," and at other times "Woody," is by far the friendliest member of the Rolling Stones. He will always say hello to you, for example — even go out of his way to do so. And he will address you using your first name, and in a manner which is always upbeat, happy, confident, and selfless. Selfless. Yes, that's exactly the word I wanted to use. Woody — who's a most talented guy — doesn't make you wrestle with this fact day in and day out. He seems interested in you,instead. He hangs out with fellowguitarist Keith Richards almost all the time. Keith beats on Woody, which is funny most of the time, and a concern to Woody's friends for the remainder of it.
The door to the Game Room was closed, and I figured no one was in it, since it was 11:30 in the morning, so I burst through as though I owned the place, figuring I'd check things out a bit, and see if the Advent TV was working. Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn't.
"Woody," I said. "Fancy meeting you here!"
Woody was prowling around the pool table, taking an occasional shot. He'd not yet been to bed, as I could tell from the prowl, which was a touch unsteady. He relaxed his aim on the ball, which was teetering on the edge of falling into a pocket, straightened up, and smiled broadly.
"Hi, Gil!" he said. Woody was genuinely happy to see me. "Howya doing?" he asked me.
"O.K., Woody, I guess. You'd know the answer to that question better than me. I'm just hoping things are going well for you guys, and that we're doing a good job for you... "
"You mean, you don't know already?"
"Well, Ronnie, I've been staying out of sight, mainly — not jumping into the middle of things, you know?"
"Gil. The band loves it here. Loves it here. Honored to be here, Gil. First time I heard talk like that from any of 'em."
"Lemme tell you something. I've been in the band for years now. I never ate with them all before. All at one table, I mean. I never saw 'em all together over a bottle of wine before I came here. Here, take this."
Ron Wood passed me a large and healthy-looking cigarette. I can only assume it contained English tobacco and black hash. Then he grabbed a cube of blue chalk off the shelf, applied it to the business end of his cue stick, and continued his playful taking-of-shots at whichever ball seemed closest to him on the pool table.
"Never happened under one roof before," Ronnie continued. "No problem if more than one roof is involved. Bill and Astrid, they'll disappear almost right away. Mick'll be up in his penthouse with his friends, and his telephone. Charlie not far away probably. Keith and me'll be messin' up in some dungeon downstairs letting out our energy. People in different places, usually. But under one roof? Never saw it before."
BLAM! The door to the Game Room flew open, propelled by Keith Richards's right boot. It slammed against the wooden wall, and bounced back again, catching Keith on the elbow, and partially spilling the orange juice and vodka Keith was carrying in that hand.
"Ronnie, that was yours. Always carry yours in my right hand."
Keith gave the half-filled drink to Ronnie, slapping him on the back as he did, and causing him to spill even more of the screwdriver onto the cement floor. He spied me on the other side of the large TV couch — an infrequent visitor here in the Game Room. "Hey, Gil, whaddaya doin' here in the crypt?"
"Just checking out that everything's working, Keith," I said lamely.
Keith swings a leg up and over the couch. It lands right in the middle of the cushion. Keith steps up onto that leg. He's now standing in the middle of the couch on one foot, Advent video projector immediately to his right — three circles of blue, red, and green, shining cone-like through the air, and illuminating Keith Richards in three basic colors. Keith lands on the floor beside me, cat-like, and now on two feet. "Haven't seen you to talk to since the time before, when Patti and me were here."
"I know. I've been concentrating on the gig. There's not been much time. I want to talk to you about that tape of yours, however. I haven't found time yet to do the edits. So how are we doing, Keith? I mean, the Farm and everything."
"Yeah," Keith said. "Everything's fine, man. Just don't schedule any more 'a those meetings down here, or Ron and me'll revolt."
Ronnie looked up, smiling over his cuestick.
"Meetings? You gotta be joking, Keith," I said. "You must be joking."
"Wasn't much of a joke in here yesterday. A dozen of Mick's clothes designer friends in here watching videos on that damned wide-screen TV of yours. Who brought 'em down here anyway?"
"I did. Keith," I confessed.
"Yeah," Keith acknowledged. "Good thing you like rock 'n' roll, or Ronnie and me'd gang up on you."
Ronnie had just got off a shot from the far end of the pool table which had miraculously put three balls into three different leather pockets. He smiled up at us once again.
"Don't listen to him, Gil," he said.
All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.