Heather Mills and the nutty Beatles

Heather's weird behaviour stems not from her separation from Paul, but from her attachment to him (and his wacky hippy outlook) in the first place.

Patrick West

Patrick West

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What a pity it was that Top Gear winning the most popular factual programme at the UK National Television Awards for the second year running has been overshadowed by the performance of Heather Mills McCartney. I hate to labour the point, but as Jeremy Clarkson would say, her high-profile performances on various television channels on Wednesday have to be the most embarrassing I’ve seen in the world. Ever.

Heather Mills, estranged wife of Sir Paul McCartney, believes she is being persecuted by the tabloid press, and has seemingly taken leave of her senses. First she appeared on GMTV in the morning, claiming that the ‘spin’ of the tabloid newspapers from nebulous ‘certain corners’ during her divorce negotiations had deeply hurt her. Even worse, Mills complained she had suffered ‘worse press than a paedophile or a murderer’ and had ‘done nothing but charity for 20 years’. She admitted she had considered killing herself because the Sun newspaper made an allegation that a firework display organised for her daughter Beatrice caused a neighbour’s horses to stampede and a dog to die of a bloated gut.

Now, I’m a sensitive soul, but I don’t think even I’d be particularly upset by this. Mohamed Al Fayed once accused me of working for the British secret service, and even I found that amusing. A dead dog is really not something to kill yourself about.

And yet: later on Mills was off to ITV’s This Morning, where the presenter Fern Britton made the rather sensible point that maybe she should just ignore bad coverage, and that being in the public sphere this is something often you just have to put up with. ‘I can’t forget it’, Mills protested. ‘They’re not responsible for nine countries. Fern, come off it’, explained Heather, in a display of delusional megalomania not seen since David Icke claimed to be a Godhead.

‘I’m going to the European Parliament and I’m going to change the law’, Mills also explained… on BBC News the same day, Sky News, Radio Five Live, and so on. So exasperated was her hysterical behaviour that Phil Hall, her PR agent, actually resigned on Wednesday.

So what explains Heather Mills’ conduct this week? Part of the clue lies in comments she made to Victoria Derbyshire of Radio Five Live. When Ms Derbyshire read out less than complimentary text messages sent to the station, Mills retorted: ‘That is just the Beatles nutters who sit on websites writing things in.’

But why marry a Beatle in the first place? The Beatles may have made some of the best pop music of the twentieth century, but they were largely horrible people who sent out a horrible message. OK, Ringo was just a nice simpleton who really can’t be blamed for much, and I did enjoy Thomas the Tank Engine. And, yes, yes, George Harrison was actually a decent cove, who wrote one of the great conservative anthems of our time, ‘Taxman’, and funded two of my favourite films: Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Withnail & I. But John Lennon was a truly horrible character: a drug-taking, allegedly wife-beating, air-headed utopian whose legacy is that ultimate Stalinist anthem: ‘Imagine’.

And then there’s Paul McCartney, the idiot, pouting sentimentalist who created the band Wings, sang about frogs and then did a clichéd bit of multi-racial rubbish with Stevie Wonder about ebony and ivory – which was not at all about black and white people living in harmony, but about two incredibly rich popstars playing the piano together.

I suspect that Heather Mills was drawn towards Paul McCartney, and is consequently going through an evident crisis, because she shared the same fantastical dream as Lennon and McCartney: that the world could be made a perfect place. ‘Imagine all the peeeeple, living in harmony, woo-hoo-hoo-ho-ho.’ It’s about as complex as a five-year-old wheedling, ‘Mummy, why do bad things happen?’ And then McCartney tried to out-do Lennon with his ‘Pipes of Peace’, about Scottish and German soldiers having a game of football in winter 1914, before they more than literally resumed chanting ‘You’re gonna get your fucking ‘ead kicked in’ in January 1915.

Mills and McCartney are both children of the hippy era, which I think explains her behaviour. The hippies were utopian, deluded, egomaniacs – and fundamentally very stupid. Think Neil from The Young Ones. They had this infantile delusion, which still permeates our society, that when bad things happen it is a sign that the order of the world is somehow disharmonious, and that as a remedy – in that most hideous Blairite mantra – ‘something must be done’. Mills thinks that carrying out 20 years of charity can change the world, or that it puts her in charge of nine countries. All you need is love.

Well, if I may return to Clarkson-speak, all you don’t need is love, matey. The world is a cruel place, and a duplicitous one, too. Mills began her career as a model – that is, her career was built on image, and a manipulation of image, so there’s no point complaining about media distortion now. The press has always been subjective and prone to exaggeration – the red-tops of the past 40 years have merely taken it to new extremes.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on Mills or McCartney. It can’t be easy for her having one leg; it can’t be easy for him being the first person held to ransom by an uniped since old-fashioned pirates were around in the seventeenth century. But, in truth, her behaviour stems not from her estrangement from Paul McCartney, but from her attachment to him in the first place.

Patrick West is spiked’s TV reviewer. Visit his blog here.

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