The radio stations in London were full of it Sunday, playing "When I'm Sixty Four" as an ironic birthday tribute to Paul McCartney, just as his bitter divorce negotiations begin.
I feel sorry for Paul McCartney. As birthdays go this can't have been his best, even though he was surrounded by his family, minus his shortly to be ex wife, Heather. I feel sorry for Paul because that old truism your grandma used to quote at you, that "wealth doesn't make for happiness", seems to apply to him more than most.
I think that Paul, always a controlling force, set himself on a very specific road to happiness and security when he was young and that happiness was based on three things: family, public popularity and money in the bank, and probably in that order. Now and despite all his wealth, he has reached that point where nearly all the dreams of his youth must seem to have disappeared. And the reason I think is that, amidst all the glitter and the success, McCartney has been haunted by loss all his life.
Brought up in the austere city of Liverpool in the nineteen fifties, his mother died when he was only fourteen. Then he lost his band mate Stuart Sutcliffe at the beginning of The Beatles success story. His manager, Brian Epstein killed himself and John Lennon was murdered. Paul, having married Linda, a remarkable woman who was stronger than him and with whom he was deeply in love and trusted completely, lost her to cancer. For a man who longs for certainty and security, it must have seemed as though they were both crumbling. It's easy to say that there's no fool like an old fool.
But fairer to look at a man in his sixties profoundly aware that he was unlikely to have another relationship, certainly not one that would compare with his first marriage, grasping for that one last chance. Who can blame him? And that it all went so sour so quickly and so publicly will be double humiliation for someone who has always been a bit wary of people, a bit of a control freak.
So, I feel desperately sorry for a decent person who I think despite his oddities has always tried to do the right thing. As for Heather McCartney, do I feel sorry for her? Not one bit I'm afraid.
By Simon Bates