- Published by:
- Animals' Agenda
- Interview by:
- Kim Stallwood and Jill Howard
- Timeline More from year 1999
More from year 1999
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As animal activists, Paul and Linda McCartney were quite famous and quite average at the same time. Despite their success and wealth, they dealt with animal issues on a daily basis: what to eat, what to wear, what to say to the unenlightened. They read The Animals’ Agenda to learn about current events in the animal movement, and wrote protest letters to companies involved in animal abuse. They incorporated their beliefs into their “day jobs,” Paul writing songs inspired by or concerning animals and Linda writing cookbooks and creating a vegetarian food business.
Soon after Linda’s death from breast cancer last April, Paul contacted The Animals’ Agenda and explained that he wanted to break his silence and reiterate his commitment to animal rights campaigns, using primarily animal-related publications instead of the mainstream press. He began speaking to vegetarian groups and related activists, promoting the release of Linda’s Wide Prairie album and honoring her memory by continuing the work they both believed in so passionately.
In November the former Beatle met with Agenda Editor in Chief Kim Stallwood and Senior Editor Jill Howard Church to discuss his life with Linda, vegetarianism, hunting, fishing, vivisection, and other issues, not as a celebrity spouting off but as a genuinely concerned and committed activist seeking to strengthen and advance the humane movement. Agenda also spoke with British television writer Carla Lane and renowned artist Brian Clarke, close friends of the McCartneys, whose interviews will appear in this and the following issue of the magazine.
When it comes to animal rights, Paul McCartney doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk-in vinyl Doc Martens boots.
Agenda: You’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately. Has this been a way of promoting Linda’s album and animal issues at the same time?
Paul: Yeah, the original thing was that because Linda was so visible and really our family spokesperson, I had the luxury of just backing up all her ideas, going to events with her, but always pushing her to the fore. That was my luxury. And we’d make all the decisions together, like about her foods and stuff and whether we’d donate to a certain cause, so really it was the two of us doing it all through the last 20 years. But because she was most visible, I had the feeling that when she was no longer there that a lot of people around the world might get very disappointed and think, “Oh God”-which is true, we’ve lost a great advocate. But rather than have them think we’ve lost a great advocate and there’s no one to take her place, I just wanted to remind people-and myself in some ways-that I was there on all the decisions.
And in actual fact, once she had the graciousness to say to me that it was actually me that suggested we went veggie, which I can’t remember. So I just wanted to reassure people that it wouldn’t suddenly mean a big hole where the McCartney family wasn’t weighing in where it had been for 20 years, in vegetarianism, and food, and animal welfare, and in all the kind of connected things. So that’s where rather than coming to the press and saying what they wanted, which was, you know, “How are you coping with the grief?”, rather than intrude into that period of my life I felt happier just doing what Linda would have done, which was just to talk. She might have been doing this interview.
A: Did you make plans with her to carry on certain things when you knew she wouldn’t be here?
P: Well, we never knew, fortunately, but we would say, “If anything ever happens…” She said to us she’d like her food thing to continue. When someone dies people assume, “Oh well now who’s going to do it?” But the great thing was when Linda got into the food thing I was very much part of it. I just thought with food, it’s far better for a woman to do it. I’m not being sexist; the way I am, it just felt better. She was just the best cook in the house, too. It was kind of practical.
A: Who taught her to cook?
P: Nobody. She picked it all up. Her mum wasn’t around [Linda’s mother died in a plane crash when Linda was a teenager], and her mum was a good cook. But Lin used to like to hang out in the kitchen a lot. I used to joke with her that she was from a rich family, and she said, “We weren’t that rich.” She used to like to hang out with whoever was doing the cooking, which would sometimes be a cook. So I said, “Well that’s rich, I don’t care what you say.” So we had a bit of fun over that. But she learned to cook because she loved food.
When she was a kid she would raid the cocktail cabinet for the silver-skinned onions-not the martini. And we ended up once writing to Heinz about putting preservatives in these blessed silverskins, ’cause I got to love them so much. But they wrote back the standard letter, “It’s to improve shelf-life.” Which doesn’t matter! You shouldn’t be doing it, they were great! But I think Linda learned to cook out of necessity, out of loving food, and then just over the years she learned to be a very good cook. I think she took one or two little courses, too, but it was really instinctive.
And when she came to do her cookbooks, people would say, “How many tomatoes are you using?” and she’d say, “I don’t know, a few.” She’d just pick ’em, she’d go, “That looks enough.” And so they’d have to say, “Stop the process! Measure them.” You know, they’d weigh them, however many grams, or “four whole tomatoes.”
So we always had the benefit of that, it was really good cooking. Real big sort of Italian-style meals with the kitchen smelling proper. And I still boast, because our kids are great cooks, I still boast that it’s the finest restaurant in Britain.
A: How did her vegetarian food compare to vegetarian food that you’d been exposed to before?
P: Generally speaking, when we first started on it, it lacked imagination. Both of us were highly into the principle of not eating our friends, which is basically how we saw it; it was a compassionate thing rather than a health thing. Then we started and we found this sort of missing ingredient, because most meals are the meat and “the other stuff,” so we were just doing “the other stuff,” and it was a bit bland. But very soon she started, “Well, we’ll put pasta in there,” or these baked beans or mashed potatoes or some macaroni cheese. And out of that her repertoire grew. We used to work together on the “macaroni turkey,” we used to call it, because it used to be a development of macaroni cheese that we’d slice. We’d leave it [in the refrigerator] for a few days and it firms up a bit. It was like a rice pudding. We could actually slice it so we could get our token slices for the Christmas meal. We didn’t have to [eat] what we used to call “rabbit food:’ That was always the joke with veggies. Over the years it got to the state where it is now, which is really very lusty. So I think Linda took the fear out of cooking. And all the kids loved it. And she’d start them off, and me.
I know I’m a great chopper, which you need in a lot of food. “Anyone want to volunteer for chopping the garlic?” [Points to himself] Me. And I’m good at that, I enjoy the art of it, you know, I kind of like art. “What do you want, finely chopped?” You know, I respond well to direction. So it was Linda’s thing, she communicated this passion. And she also saw it as an art, cooking. And it is. We talk about it being the greatest concept art. You prepare this fantastic stuff and within half an hour it’s gone. What a concept! And then you start over. We always saw it as almost like a philosophical thing.
And it was ’round about that time that I’d go, like, to Nashville and someone would say, “You wanna go fishin’?” You know, good old boys time. And I’d say, “Sure.” This was before we went veggie. And I’d find myself fishing in a pond and if I’d get lucky after a few hours I’d pick out this fish. I’d see him flailing around and I remember thinking, “Oh God, I really am ending your life.” This is it. I’m the “final man,” as Carla says in one of her lyrics on Linda’s album. And I mean it, “This is your judgment day.” And I didn’t want to be that! So I put him back in. And after that I just started to question whether I wanted to do that kind of thing. Invariably, the answer was “No, you don’t.” But I’d been tricked by convention, by tradition, by good old boys.
One of my problems is hunting in the States. I feel very sorry. Because in American culture it’s the beautiful thing for the boy and his father. But I feel sad for the sort of dad who’s been brought up traditional-“Now come on, son, we’ll go crack a few beers, we’ll get in the tent”-I mean, I can see that. But my problem is you’ve got to take something’s life, someone’s life, and you’re just reinforcing this brutal effect on your son. And it’s this idea of, “We’re in this kind of society, lad, you know, we must do this.”
So whilst I do see the traditional aspect, that is why Linda and I tried to keep the food looking sort of traditional. I mean, we barbecue for instance. Married to an American, we barbecue. And it looks exactly the same, in fact it’s better than what my memory was of traditional sort of “yuck.” We gradually just got to be able to eat very well, which was the first problem-not seeming too untraditional when people came ’round. “Are you going to have a burger?” “What? Aren’t you veggie?” “Oh, have a glass of wine and a burger.” “You drink?” They think you’re something strange. And as Linda used to say, “You’re only cutting one item out of your diet. Big deal.”
A: Do you remember who the other first vegetarians you met were? Were there other vegetarians who influenced you?
P: No, it was completely our own decision, in Scotland [after] seeing the lambs gamboling. I only knew of a couple of vegetarians. There was a guy, Yehudi Menuhin, a famous fiddler, that I knew was. There actually weren’t that many then, strangely enough, because even Carla Lane wasn’t. When we met Carla, and she was going on about [animals], and Linda said, “Carla, are you veggie?” She said–people used to say to us-“Getting there.” We used to say, “There’s no such thing as half a virgin.” We had to temper our view in the end. We said, “OK, getting there is good. It’s a step.” You mellow a bit on all that stuff. Carla said, “I’m getting there, I don’t eat any red meat.” “Oh, you eat the white stuff?” And as Linda said, “It’s still got red blood. It doesn’t bleed green blood, love. It’s still just the same. It’s got a face, and its mommy loves it,” as Linda would put it. So it was basically out of this compassion and this waking up to this idea, this nice modern idea, that maybe we can question what we do. That we don’t just have to automatically do everything our parents told us to. Not out of rebellion so much as out of, “We’ve got to make our own way in life.”
A: Your son, James, is vegan. Has veganism played a role in the family diet?
P: James is now 21, so all our kids are sort of moving away from home, they’ve moved, really. But he will come home for a few days and then we eat vegan. And I don’t bother trying to not be vegan. It’s as easy for me to eat vegan as not.
A: Among vegetarians there’s always the “How vegan are you?”
Well, James is completely vegan, and I’m “getting there” [laughs]. I enjoy soy milk a lot, which I didn’t think I would, but then again I didn’t think I’d like skimmed milk after having had fullfat all my life. Now I couldn’t go near full-fat milk, but I will [use] skimmed milk if someone’s having an ordinary cup of tea. But over here it isn’t too clever because we’ve got a BSE [mad cow disease] risk in the milk.
A: A lot of vegetarians were obviously upset in general because of Linda’s death, but the fact that she developed cancer on such a healthy lifestyle seemed especially ironic. Was she upset by that?
P: Yeah, obviously it was a major upset just at the fact itself, but yeah, it was a sort of secondary thing. It’s like, “Oh, shit.” We’d been saying that we believed it reduces the risk, which I still do think is true. And I think probably the way she was able to be so brave during her treatment and not complain-we almost had a good time during the two and a half years of her treatment; almost, well you can’t say you really had a good time-but I think that [her diet] had a lot to do with the resistance she built up. But I still don’t know what caused [the cancer]. She used to think it could have been dietary, she said, “You know, for an awful lot of my life I had meat,” and used to like the steak quite rare. That’s the old traditionalist kind of thing. So we never knew, really. There was quite a possibility it could have been a genetic thing. I have to tell you, they don’t know.
A: Americans for Medical Progress, which is a biomedical group in the States, published a letter in USA TODAY after your BBC interview about the “absolutely necessary” comment on animal testing. Would you like another chance to clarify that?
P: Yes. What happened during our treatment was this very difficult moment where people would put it differently, they’d say, “If your child was dying, and the only way you could save your child was some form of animal experimentation, what would you do?” It’s a real dilemma, it’s very, very difficult. And we’d always say, “Well, you’d have to see the
Captioned as: Paul, fill, and Kim
circumstances.” It had always been our worst nightmare scenario. And so what I said in that interview was that in America, before any drug whatsoever can go on the market, there’s this statutory requirement for it to be tested on animals before humans. So I was talking about that. Obviously I would prefer that it wasn’t so, but I suspect that unless you can get the government to change its mind, that there is some sort of requirement at that point, and at that point only.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m totally opposed to all animal experimentation whatsoever. Even this type. But at this fine end of this talking point, there is this very, very difficult period, full stop, to get stuff onto the market for AIDS, cancer, for all these things. It would be so great to see a cure. But I wouldn’t want scientists to now think, “Aha! He’s given in on that point,” because I haven’t at all.
Captioned as: Above: Paul with his sheepdog, Martha, who inspired the Beatles song, “Martha My Dear.”
A: It’s very telling that they actually did this, they actually took the situation and manipulated it around.
P: They take it out of context and they completely switched the meaning around.
A: They labeled it “An Ex-Beatle’s Courage”-he had the “courage” to say his animal rights convictions were complete crap once it came down to him being faced with his wife’s illness.
P: Yes, I saw that, and they completely misinterpreted, but then again, what else is new? And I’ve had letters over the years from people saying “You’ve come out against animal experimentation, do you realize what you’re doing? We at Maryland University, or whatever it was, are involved in all sort of da-da-da.” In fact, I’m engaged in letters at the moment just about exactly this where it’s a very difficult thing for me to give to cancer charities when I know there’s animal experimentation. Because I know what Linda thought about that.
A: Tell us about the video.
P: Linda did a song on her new album called “The White Coated Man,” which was Carla’s words that Linda and I set to music. That’s a very poignant lyric, so the video is filmed from the point of view of a rabbit. We get a small inkling of what they go through, as the viewer.
We wanted to make something hardhitting that I know Linda would have liked, but at the same time something that would actually get shown. Because that’s the trouble, if you’re so hard-hitting they just say, “Well, we’re not going to use it. Our licensing laws will not allow it:” It’s like [when] the Norwegians got mad at us because we showed a film before our tour that showed them whaling. And they wrote to us and said, “Children under 15 should not be allowed to see this.” We said, “We are merely projecting images on a wall. If you don’t want them to see it, you stop it. We’re just reporting what you do.”
And actually Linda and I did have to be quite courageous in that because the band that were working with us were a bit unsure of that film because they weren’t all veggies and it was a fairly uncompromising film that Kevin Gardner made for us. It was showing anal electrocution and stuff like that, and people don’t want to know about that. That’s very shocking. But then we did the “Paul’s Furs” thing with PETA. It said, “Get your free fur video, save thousands,” and it was great. The New Yorker got a little bit peeved with me because I’d sort of tricked them.
But the thing is that every little bit helps, all these campaigns. Because even though I know all your readers support this thing, it’s a bit of a difficult life, standing up. And as Linda and I always used to say, “For what? These ‘dumb’ animals? Nobody’s getting paid around here.” It’s not all the usual enticements of society, like pay, holidays. It’s exactly the opposite. It’s a bloody difficult life. One friend of ours, an animal activist, picked up something in the jungle that he won’t get rid of his whole life. And that’s the price he’s got to pay, what for some ‘dumb’ pigs? Exactly that, for some ‘dumb’ pigs. But that’s why we do it, but it isn’t easy. You can certainly think of an easier life to carve out for yourself. It’s just a passion that we’re blessed to have. And I think a lot of your readers will understand that it’s not easy for them being the odd man out in the crowd.
Stella just went to Japan, she said, “They couldn’t believe I didn’t eat fish.” It was Linda, I think, getting massaged on our tour in Japan, and the woman couldn’t believe her complexion-Linda had very lovely skin-and she said, “Oh, you eat lots of beef, huh?” And Linda said, “Ooo, no! Just the opposite.”
A: Do people ever ask you if you eat chicken?
P:[Chuckles] Oh that’s a vegetable, isn’t it? Chicken and fish are officially vegetables now. I think you have to be strong, you’ve got to stick to all your principles. I used to call Linda “Mrs. Pankhurst” [a leading British suffragette], “my little Mrs. Pankhurst.” Because you know, all you guys doing this, all us guys who are doing this, it’s not an easy life. You get made fun of a lot, but you’ve got to stick with it. And I think the gratifying thing is we see things happening. We see the California horses got some kind of reprieve, we see that Gillette isn’t testing, possibly because of that campaign I did through PETA. And this is the gratification.
A: Like the [British] cosmetics testing ban announced two days ago.
P: And we could only dream about all of this [before], and now it is actually coming online, and that is really gratifying. Linda and I actually had been surprised at the speed at which it’s come around, because when we started 20 years ago, we said, “Oh, maybe in about a hundred years’ time you’ll see it happening.” We were prepared for it to be a slow, inevitable grind toward sense. Every so often you get a little spurt. You go, “Wow! So many more veggies.”
A: What about the future, as far as animal rights stuff you plan to do?
P: I’m not a great planner, so it’s when somebody comes along, if you ask me to do an interview, I’ll say, “Yeah, OK,” and that’s my role. We keep on plugging vegetarianism, because I think that is one of the single greatest things someone can do. And so many animal activists still aren’t. What we want to try and do is to educate young people. For instance, we’ve got an animated film that will come out at some point and that’s really aimed at young kids. It’s a very lovely little animation thing, and it’s sweet, and it’s a song, and it’s a celebration. But the idea is, we see a shot of a deer for instance, like Bambi, and one of the characters says, “Do you believe someone wanted to shoot and eat that lovely animal?” So you have to, I think, infiltrate kids. Let’s face it, the other side infiltrates. We pay for all the meat adverts; we give them a very large amount of money out of our taxes, even us veggies pay for the meat adverts over here. So I have no worry about infiltrating on the other side, I think that’s exactly what we ought to do.
I like the idea that little kids, when they watch Babe, will say, “Is that a pig? What is that, Mommy? Is that a sheep? Oh, no thanks.” I think that’s a good thing for the future.
As Linda and I used to say to people, “Look, you want to do something to save the planet, go veggie.” In one move. People are so frightened of it, though. And as someone said recently, “People don’t like to be inconvenienced.” And I can relate to that.
The extraordinary activist
Author: Anonymous Source: Animals’ Agenda v19n2 (Mar 1999): 18-20 ISSN: 0892-8819 Number: 04213541 Copyright: Copyright The Animals’ Agenda 1999
In part one of our extensive interview with extraordinary activist Paul McCartney, he spoke of his support of vegetarianism, his opposition to hunting, and his pledge to carry on Linda’s humane work. Here, in part two, he talks about his children, his animal companions, and his thoughts on life and death.
Agenda: Was it difficult raising your children vegetarian?
Paul: We’ve brought them all up [vegetarian], except Heather, who’s the eldest, who was part of our conversion. Then all the others almost from birth, I think. The only time it came into question really was when we were in a hotel and they’d say, “What’s a barbecue?” We’d say, “Well, it’s chickens, it’s a cow, or it’s this,” and we’d explain what it is. And they’d say, “Can we try it?” And we’d say, “Yeah, OK.” We’re not that strict. “Yeah, try it, this has got to be your decision.” So they’d try it and luckily for us they’d say, “Ooo, we don’t like it. It is chicken, I’d rather have the [live] chicken.” We had chickens at home. You struggle with all those things, trying to find your way. I think one of the good things is that we who perhaps are a little bit more advanced just from doing it a bit longer can sympathize with people who are still struggling with all this shit they’re having to put up with.
A: Did your kids do any other forms of activism?
P: Stella’s done [an anti-]fur thing recently. They’re just coming into it. You see, we all had the luxury of Linda; we could just say, “Yeah, way to go, Lin!”, “Yeah, I’m coming to this one!”, “I’ll raise that donation.” She was not only the spokesperson, [she was] the office it all went through. So the kids dealt with being veggies and are now very proud of it. James, being vegan, just did a sort of [anti-]milk thing, wrote a letter, and that was put about in a few places.
My most surprising thing about milk is this new campaign in America with the white over the top lip. I always used to be very supportive of milk because we’ve all been brought up [that way]. My mother was a nurse, so I had all the old traditional medical values. She died when I was a teenager, but I know she would have said when she heard I went veggie, “Where are you going to get your protein?” So I, like she, was a great advocate of milk. We’ve begun to reassess that. Someone pointed out that we’re the only animals who feeds its young milk after the first year. And I actually think the people, the ones with the [white] upper lip, all think like I used to think.
A: Did the milk industry ever approach you?
P: I don’t think so. But I sympathize with those people. I used to remind Linda that the Beatles were nonvegetarians, and I said, “And we were OK people.” We still wanted the world to be a better place, we just didn’t know. So that made us have more sympathy and compassion for people who didn’t know yet. I quite like that. I’m sort of glad I wasn’t a veggie all my life because it gives me a perspective that I can relate to people who are having trouble. I can say, “Oh, I know exactly that problem. You know what you do? You do this. Here’s Linda’s book.” There’s always an answer.
A: Tell us about some of the animals you’ve had over the years.
P: Oh, I’d love to tell you about the animals. I personally never had a pet growing up, because my mom and dad both worked. And even the day we saw free puppies going and my brother and I thought, “Definite, we’ll get one,” we couldn’t have one. So my first pet was when I was living alone as one of the Beatles and I got an Old English sheepdog called Martha, and I loved her dearly, she was beautiful, she was really good for me; we were good for each other. I remember John Lennon coming ’round and saying, “God, I’ve never seen you with an animal before.” I was being so affectionate it took him aback, he’d not seen that side of my character. Because you don’t do that with humans-not as obviously anyway.
And then I had two cats called Pyramus and Thisbe, which showed my literate bent, and then I had three-they all had to be cool names, of course-that were called Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. And then as a family, Linda and I, after Martha died, we then got another Old English sheepdog and we eventually had a litter by the one after her. We kept two of the puppies, so that meant we’ve got three now. I have four dogs at home, three English sheepdogs and Stella’s dog, the mutt. She’d hate me to say that!
A: Everyone will want to know, are the dogs ‘fixed’?
P: Yes, they are.
A: That was the correct answer.
P: Oh good.
A: Any cats?
P: We have Picasso, we have Motley, and Seal, a very beautiful Russian Blue. We have two terrapins… Linda was fantastic with animals. She didn’t have many pets. She had a dog called Missy, [who] wasn’t allowed on the bed, but she had her trained so that if her parents ever came [the dog] jumped down on the floor; the rest of the time she was on the bed. Plus horses, she was horse mad. She never owned her own horse, although she’d ridden at Madison Square Garden, so she was a fantastic rider. But her parents didn’t understand how to buy her a horse, even though they had the money. And she used to look out of her window every Christmas morning half expecting to see a horse on the lawn. She used to tell me that, a very poignant story. The good payoff, then, was that I was able to be the one that bought her her first horse, called Cinnamon, a big chestnut mare of Irish extraction. She was being bred as a polo horse, so it was good she came to us because I think she wouldn’t have had as good a time. Well, none of the animals would have had as good a time because we really spoil them and let them live out their lives.
Linda bought a stallion from America when we were on tour, this lovely stallion called Lucky Spot, and he was an Appaloosa Foundation stallion. We brought him back to England and bred off him with this other American Foundation mare who’d come across the Mojave Desert while she was in foal to come to England. We used racehorse facilities, so it was as if she was a million-dollar stud, she got good treatment. And there came a crisis at one point about five or six years ago when she was lying in the field with something obviously wrong with her stomach. They said it might be colic, and the vet said, “There is an operation that requires six vets.” It’s a huge procedure, cost a lot. I said, “I’m not worried about the cost.” I walked the horse around and I said, “Look, you’re going to go with them and let them do what they’re going to do because you need this, and this is something you should do.” And the vet said she might not even survive the anesthetic. We rang that evening-“How did it go?” He said, “She’s had the operation, it was totally successful, she’s standing up and she’s eating.” We said, “Yo, that’s our baby!” So she was fantastic. She was called Malaspina Maid, and she lived three more years after that. She was over 30, which is pretty old for a horse.
A: Were there specific animals who helped Linda while she was going through her tough times?
P: The dogs were very good, and her horse. Her Appaloosa stallion, son of Lucky Spot, is called Blankit. And he’s beautiful. He’s tough. But she talked to him like he was a big puppy dog. He’s a couple of tons of horse, and a full stallion, so she’s not messing around here. He’s not gelded, which quiets them down, [jokingly] as it would you or I.
A: On Flaming Pie you wrote the song “Little Willow” for the family of Maureen Starkey [Ringo Starr’s former wife], after her death. Have those words come back to help you?
P: I wrote “Little Willow” before we knew anything about Linda’s diagnosis, and there was a terrible moment when we were listening to it. It always used to make us cry anyway, but once Linda was diagnosed it was terrible, because we looked at each other and she said, “Oh God, it’s about me now.” And it was horrible, it was a very sad moment. But you know, none of us get out of this alive, and you have got to look at it philosophically. As I said at the New York memorial service, we shouldn’t judge a life by its length. You could have people who live forever and be complete idiots. You can have people who live just a few special years and it’s quite often the case that people get what they have to say said, and then they find that they don’t live that long. And I certainly think in many ways that was Linda’s thing. Except you know, it’s horrible for me ’cause she was my best friend. And for the kids, because they were her best friends, too. So it’s tragic from that point of view.
But you’ve got to go on, we’ve all got to go on. We’re all involved in a struggle, we’re all involved in trying to change the world. The last thing she would want is that any of us would be not encouraged by her death. She would want us to go the other way, and I think it’s had that effect. That was why I made the point when I made a statement about how I felt, to say, “And if you want to tribute Linda, do the one she would have liked best [go vegetarian].” Which got me in a lot of trouble; a lot of people said, “Oh, typical grandstanding, showboating, even when his wife’s died.” Well, I knew that she would have wanted that. It came to me, I knew she would nudge me-“Use it, use it for all it’s worth.” And I told Carla [Lane] and people like that, “This is so difficult, but we’ve gotta play this out. We’ve got to use all this media attention for what it’s worth, for everything we can get out of it, because even in the most horrible of circumstances she would want us, and I would want us, to use the moment.”
A: Did you and she believe in heaven?
P: That’s such a big question. I wouldn’t say we had a conception of heaven. It’s like, “Do you believe in God?” Linda and I pretty much shared the kind of view where I would say, “God is the word ‘good’ with an ‘o’ taken out.” And I have a feeling, sort of historically, that it was personified by the priests and other people who wrote the literature. Because it’s easier for people to understand if you say it’s a big guy with a white beard. But when you ask people, “OK, how do you see God?”, even the most committed of Christians have a little trouble with that. You say, “Well, I’m not sure it is a guy with a white beard.” For instance, somebody a few years back said that God might be a woman. Well I must say, since Linda’s died, I’ve thought, “Have I got a contender!” [laughs] That would be my most devout wish, I could handle that. She’s a real good candidate-she’d be very merciful, yet tough as nails.
We were very spiritual, and still are, believing goodness, believing all of that. But as to whether there actually is a place called heaven and a man in a white beard called God, I just don’t know. I don’t know whether [her spirit] is lodged in a place called heaven, but I think it’s in a good place because of who she is.
Linda and I were amazed for years to hear Stephen Hawking, the scientist, say that they’ve discovered now that we are made of the same things that stars are made of, sort of a molecular base. And Linda and I loved that, we said, “OK, we’re stardust.”
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