The first memory that always comes back is swimming in John's pool at his house in Weybridge. I'd gone to spend the day with him, but when I arrived, it turned out he had decided it was a day for not talking. I walked round his garden with him, not talking. Cynthia made lunch and we ate it, not talking. I sat with John in his cramped little den, under a sticker saying "Safe as Milk" while he watched children's television, not talking.
Then we had a swim, round and round in his pool, not talking, but while we were swimming, we suddenly heard the noise of a police siren floating up the hill from Weybridge itself. It was giving that familiar two-note wail - Ah, ahh, ah ahh, ah, ahh. John started playing with the two notes - humming them, while not actually talking.
Then he went inside, went to his piano, till he had turned the two notes into a song, or at least half a song. John was very good at half songs, quickly growing bored, often needing Paul to coax the other half out of him. A lot of their joint working sessions were like competitions - to show the other what they could do, or make the other do better.
That particular tune didn't appear on any record till Let It Be, when I recognised it on "Across the Universe".
08 December 2005
Wind inside a letterbox
Hunter Davies remembers...