*falls on his knees in front of Paul* I've been in love with you since the day we met! You are the most beautiful man I've ever seen and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Paul McCartney, do you want to marry me? *holds out a ring*
Oh, Johnny! You are so funny! For a moment I actually thought you were serious! *pets his head and goes away*
O’HAGAN: Can we talk about specific songs: ‘English Tea’?
PAUL: That’s about living in England and listening to the way some English people speak and parodying that. I love it but I also find it funny. I mean, I say, “Do you wanna cup of tea, la?” But somebody else will say, “Would you care to take tea?” or “As a rule, we take tea at three” or whatever.
O’HAGAN: So is that the scouser in you taking the piss out of poshies?
PAUL: Nah, it’s more an affectionate nod. I kind of like that language. I went to a grammar school, and had a really good English teacher, and I love to read Dickens, so I love the English language. I even worked in the word ‘peradventure’. (Sings in snooty voice) “Do you know the game croquet/Peradventure we might play.” (Laughs) In a way, I was playing Noel Coward. He could sing that straight.
O’HAGAN: Or the Bonzos?
PAUL: Yeah, The Bonzos! So, in that song, I reclaimed the word ‘gay’ and got ‘peradventure’ in. You know what ‘peradventure’ means?
O’HAGAN: Go on?
PAUL: I won’t go on, you tell me.
PAUL: Correct! I’d sort of heard it and it had stuck in some little corner of my brain. It fell out of my head into the song then afterwards I had to go to the dictionary, and go, “Please, let there be a word ‘peradventure’!” And there it was. It’s just putting myself in a fruity voice. It’s a lady who lives in the town here, a classy dame, an old lady who speaks like that. It’s lovely. “Would you care for a cup of tea?” All that stuff. Plus tea and hollyhocks and roses and gardens and croquet and church bells chiming and nanny baking fairy cakes.
O’HAGAN: That English pop vernacular, Ray Davies?
PAUL: Yeah, yeah. It’s ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and Terry and Julie, and all that. It’s great, that. Spot on. And it resonates. The second song [‘How Kind Of You’] is also me being intrigued by that old, fading language… “How kind of you.” And, it sings well. It’s pretty elegant, genteel. Plus, what I really like is that if you don’t sing it posh, it becomes more ironic, more fun.
O’HAGAN: I took it as a very plaintive song, actually.
PAUL: I know, I know. Some people have said that. But I’d never say, “How kind of you to think of me when I was out of sorts.” That’s not an expression that I’d use. It gets more me later on. It is about thoughtfulness, though, and things that are fading. It’s got a phrase and a theme right there in the title. What more do you want?
O’HAGAN: What about the lines: “How kind of you to stick by me during the final bout/And listen to the referee when I was counted out”?
PAUL: Well, I know what that’s all about – tragedies, the Beatles break-up, things going wrong, people writing me off, and all of this. (Sings from the heart) “I thought my time was up.” So, there’s this sort of therapy aspect I find about songwriting that’s one of the other reasons I love it. If I’m feeling really low, I’ll take my guitar to the darkest corner I can find in the house, often a toilet – good echo – and go there and sit with it, and talk to your guitar, explain it all to your guitar. And you come out and it’s magical.
Paul McCartney, interview w/ Sean O’Hagan for the Guardian: Macca beyond. (September 18th, 2005)