Give Me a Chance
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May 1969. As a sixteen-year-old, Gail Renard joined John Lennon and Yoko Ono in their week-long bed-in for peace in a hotel in Montreal, Canada. She looked after Yoko's five-year-old daughter, helped to find tambourines and joined in the first recording of "Give Peace a Chance" with Timothy Leary, the Smothers Brothers and various other celebs. John looked after her - sending her home every night to her mother who had spoken to him on the phone and insisted that there were to be no drugs or sex while her daughter was around. It was John's faith in Gail's ability which directly lead to her later success as a writer, and he helped her to secure her first paid submission - an interview with him for the Beatles' magazine.
that – especially since so much more was happening all around her. A steady stream of celebrities kept arriving. I couldn’t believe my luck when we were joined by the brilliant black comedian Dick Gregory. He was active in the civil-rights movement, which was potentially dangerous as those who were against its beliefs often turned violent, and many good people were murdered. I admired his commitment. Dick had even run – unsuccessfully – for President of the United States the year before, as a
and promised that if they did, he’d broadcast a special radio message, just for them. He asked everyone to trust him, just as he had always trusted them. The girl apologized, saying, “We never meant to hurt you or your friends.” She looked around. “I feel so sorry for you, crowded into this room.” I thought that was an understatement. It was a frightening glimpse of how John and Yoko – and many other celebrities – were sometimes forced to live. Meanwhile John was gathering armfuls of the white
flowers that were all around the room; he gave them to the girl, asking that they be shared with the others as a gift from him. She assured him they would be. John thanked her and the girl left. We all breathed a huge sigh of relief as we heard the crowd disperse and the noises outside quickly became distant murmurs. Suddenly all was quiet. The danger was over … for now. But I wondered if there would be a next time? Derek arranged for the radio broadcast to the fans that John had promised. The
their group. This seemed such a huge step. And anyway, even if I wanted to go, would my parents let me? Thoughtfully, Derek offered to ring my mother. Over the past week I had told each of them so much about the other that they chatted like old friends. Derek assured Mum that everyone promised to look after me well. By now, my mother trusted Derek and the Lennons. She had seen me come to no harm; quite the contrary, in fact – she’d seen me take on responsibility and have the time of my life. She
mother and, trust me, you don’t mess with those. She’s descended down a long line of five thousand years of unstoppable Jewish mothers. The Lennons might be two of the most famous people in history, but she had never met them and I was still her little girl. If I was going to be spending much time with them, she’d need to know a whole lot more. “Put John on the phone,” she demanded. I recognized her inquisitor’s voice and was mortified. “Oh Mum, you can’t!” She answered calmly, “Oh yes I can!”