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GEORGE: THE FRIENDLIEST BEATLE

THE SECOND IN A SERIES OF PROFILES IN WHICH TONY BARROW EXPLAINS WHAT THE BEATLES WERE REALLY LIKE

George always got along well with the ladies. He was known for it within the Beatles’ circle. When the Beatles did a television special involving dancers, George would steam in there like a shot to chat up the best-looking showgirls, two or three at a time. They said he was cheeky, had a smashing smile and stared deep into their eyes.

Other people had very different views. Some thought George was the shy Beatle, the one who said very little. He frowned a lot on stage, giving fans a false impression that he was being temperamental. He wasn’t really in a bad mood, just trying hard to hear if his guitar sounded right through the loudspeakers.

Not only was George the Beatle who changed most during the lifespan of the group, he was the one who was seen totally differently by different people. To some he was serious, studious and sometimes sulky. Others saw him as a pleasant, chummy and cheerful lad. Others would say he was far too deep for them. In a way, everyone was right and he was all of these things and more. George wasn’t a simple person to assess, even once you got to know him, but the one characteristic which never changed was his fundamental sincerity. George genuinely believed in what he said and did.

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“On September 20 he surrendered to the police at Mehta Sahib and was taken into Ludhiana jail. They established a court in the rest house there, and Santji was called to appear. And there was one interesting incident that took place there.

There is a tradition in India that they would give you a holy book, sometimes the Gita [Bhagavad Gita, a holy book of the Hindus], and you would say that you wouldn’t tell a lie in court. When Sant Ji was there he was asked to put his hand on a Gurbani Gutka [a Sikh prayer book] instead. He said to the court officers, ‘What is this?’, They said ‘It’s a Gurbani Gutka’. Then Sant Ji said, ‘In the constitution you call us Hindus [referring to the controversial Article 25]. But you are asking me to swear an oath on a Gurbani Gutka. Why not make me swear on the Gita?’ They said, “Well, you might tell a lie then.’ ‘Look,’ said Sant Ji, ‘you change the constitution then. Recognize me as a Sikh, and I’ll happily say the oath on a Gurbani Gutka.’ The officers kept pushing him for two days, but he kept saying. ‘Either change the constitution or change the book!’ Finally they decided to skip the oath taking on a book completely. That’s how strong Sant Ji was.”

“What finally happened in court, then? What was the verdict?”

“Sant Ji was cleared. They never found any evidence against him.”

-Cynthia Keppley Mahmood, Fighting for Faith and Nation, page 62.