In my November column I described the arrest and conviction of Beatle John Lennon. Now it’s the time to do the same thing with a second Beatle: George Harrison. Both were busted by Detective Sergeant Norman (“Nobby”) Pilcher, the point man of Scotland Yard (London’s Metropolitan Police) Drug Squad.
From an analytical point of view, there were a number of differences between John’s arrest and George’s.
Let’s start with Scotland Yard’s marihuana-sniffing dogs. An article in The Guardian, an English newspaper, suggests that the size of this K-9 unit was fairly modest. It says that the unit was made up of just a couple of agents, named Yogi and Boo-Boo, Alsatian Wolf (German Shepherd) pooches, which, by the way, look beautiful in photos.
George thought that Yogi the Dog was named after Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a guru who was a mentor to the Beatles between 1967 and 1968. But no, he was named after Yogi the Bear, the TV cartoon character. Now, well, both Yogi and Boo-Boo participated in the raid to John’s living quarters; only Yogi did so in the raid to George’s quarters.
John’s arrest on Oct. 18, 1968, provoked an uproar in England, which shook even the top levels of government. To try to calm the storm, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department, James Callaghan, took the unusual step of skipping going through the chain of command and summoned Picher himself to the secretary’s office, where he reprimanded him for his tactics. To avoid further disciplinary action Pilcher resolved to shift tactics when dealing with George. He decided to conduct the raid while this second Beatle was not in his estate, Kinfauns, located in Esher, south of London itself but within the Greater London Urban Area.
A third Beatle, Paul McCartney, was getting married to Linda Eastman at Saint John’sWoodChurch (Church of England) on March 12, 1969. Pilcher conjectured that George and his wife, Patti Boyd, would be attending this ceremony, so he timed his raid to coincide with the nuptials. But, oddly enough, George didn’t make it to the wedding. Instead, he went to a meeting with Apple Record’s press officer Derek Taylor, held at the record label’s headquarters while Patti stayed home.
In my short story titled “Pilcher’s Long and Winding Road,” which I wrote in October 1996 for the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, I say that George and his wife at the time of the raid were at a Pisces party thrown by Rory McEwen. A Pisces party is a joint birthday party honoring a bunch of people born between March 14 and April 14. The critically acclaimed “Pilcher’s Long and Winding Road” is a masterpiece in the genre of satirical historical fiction and immortalizes Pilcher in rock’n’roll history, but as an artistic artifact it takes quite a bit of license with history. Another of the factual inaccuracies in my short story is when it says that it was Pilcher who nabbed Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones on Feb. 12, 1967, in a raid in Redlands, Keith’s home. I must confess now that the truth of the matter is that it was Police Chief Inspector Gordon Dinely who snagged both Stones. Of course, Pilcher would have loved to carry out the raid himself but it just happens that Redlands is located in an area outside the sergeant’s territorial jurisdiction: Greater London. That’s why the task at hand had to be delegated to Dinely. Insterestingly enough, Dinely waited until George had left Keith’s house to burst into it.
A third difference between John’s and George’s arrests is in which objects the hashish was alleged to be found by the sniffer dogs. In George’s situation it was in an old brown shoe; in John’s situation it was in a binocular case, a cigarette case, a cigarette rolling machine, a film canister and an envelope.
George, like John before him, said that the hashish was not his, that it was planted by the police.
About the author: Miguel Balbuena is a writer in the academic, scientific, journalistic and literary fields (in the fiction and non-fiction genres).