Paul McCartney storms Lima

By Tony Darrington

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

If you were unable or unwilling to fork out the rumored several hundred soles for a McCartney Concert 9 May 2011 ticket try http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghkDt2CIiAE .  Lima’s reception of the Beatle (later Wings leader) was said to be a record as was the number of pirated videos of the concert which suddenly appeared on YouTube. The concert provided temporary respite from the torrent of election propaganda put out by the media.

A recent reminiscence in the Peruvian Times about a certain visiting Beatle has prompted this detour in the Jewels of Lima series. I can’t claim to have met Paul McCartney, who played for Liverpool. But his counterpart in a London team, Mick Jagger, now that was a different matter.

At LSE (the London School of Economics) in the early 60s he would come into lectures a trifle late. He was specializing in politics and government and grooming his “sophisticated-rock” group for the next student bash. I had inherited – the incumbent had flunked his exams – what they called the presidency of the LSE Music Society and 50 years ago “music” didn’t seem to include sophisticated rock – so we were pitched at opposite ends of the then great cultural divide (rock versus classical). A talent scout at a student dance spotted this rolling stone that, until then, had gathered little moss – and the rest is history.

In those days it was “Beatles versus The Rollin’ Stones. Liverpool versus London”, but the Rolling* Stones and the Beatles combined have probably contributed more to UK foreign earnings and to cultural change than any other particular force in society.

That Paul McCartney should be found in Lima, Peru 50 years later drawing crowds big enough to swing the current Peruvian presidential election would have seemed improbable. It takes a lot to force Ollanta and Keiko (the Peruvian second round presidential candidates) off the front page. However, in the last few weeks we’ve seen three “Hola! Celebrities” achieve just that. Ollanta Humala, get McCartney to write your campaign song “Whispering words of wisdom,” then you can “let it be.”

And the other two celebrities? Prince William and his Princess. How many votes would they have got? After all, if you were not too keen on Simon Bolivar’s constitution why not try that proposed by San Martín: a constitutional monarchy based on the British model. It would save an awful lot of election newsprint.

 On the other hand, if Mick had stuck to Politics & Government he might just have ended up as the sort of interim president that the United Nations would have parachuted in to run the failed state that the Peru of 1999 (very) nearly became.

Incidentally, Mick Jagger is quoted as having seriously considered “becoming either a journalist or a politician. Jagger had compared the latter to a pop star”. Perhaps, just perhaps, Gana Peru should have put up Susana Baca or . . . . . . . . for the Presidency. Think Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  We note that Mick did not compare journalists to pop stars.

* Rollin’ Stones was changed to the more formal Rolling Stones.

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