'When the Beatles Split Up I Was on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, You've Never Known Such Heaviness. It Was Linda Who Brought Me Back to Earth'; in the Most Moving Interview You'll Ever Read Paul McCartney Reveals How Linda Saved Him from Drink and Drugs - and Her Last Gift to Him before She Died

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), October 18, 1998 | Go to article overview

'When the Beatles Split Up I Was on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, You've Never Known Such Heaviness. It Was Linda Who Brought Me Back to Earth'; in the Most Moving Interview You'll Ever Read Paul McCartney Reveals How Linda Saved Him from Drink and Drugs - and Her Last Gift to Him before She Died


Byline: REBECCA HARDY

On the night Linda McCartney died in her husband's arms after a courageous two-and-a-half-year battle against breast cancer, Paul lost 'my girlfriend, lover, wife and the mother of my children'. Yesterday he told Daily Mail readers how he had known Linda had just days to live, but kept it secret from her. He spoke movingly of Linda's astonishing bravery and optimism throughout her illness . . . and revealed his struggle to come to terms with her death, which had added poignance because the same cancer had killed his mother when he was 14. Today in the second of a series of exclusive and heart-searching interviews, concluding in tomorrow's Daily Mail, he tells of their magical love affair and how Linda 'put some sense back into my life' after the bitter break-up of the Beatles. It is the most moving love story you will ever read. . .

WHEN Sir Paul McCart-ney received his knighthood in March last year his wife Linda ordered some stationery to be made up with his new title.

She also bought a silver pocket watch and engraved it in her own hand: 'To Paul my knight in shining armour - Linda.' Paul has never used the notepaper; he wears the watch every day. Linda was desperately proud of the honour bestowed upon her husband, but she was unable to attend the ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Her breast cancer had been diagnosed some 18 months earlier and Linda was too ill to go that day.

Three of her children Mary, Stella and James took her place. Little more than a year later she was dead.

'It was hard for her not being able to be there,' says Paul. He shows me the watch, removing it from a red silk case he has had made to protect the precious metal from scratching. Linda's moving inscription includes two hearts and kisses.

'The knighthood was important to her, more for my sake than hers,' he says. 'Lin was the most down-to-earth person I've ever known.

Sometimes I'd tease her and call her Lady McCartney, but it was all low-key and just between the two of us.

'Linda was happier if we were going to bed early with a meal than going to a huge function. She hated the shackles of social etiquette. It was a part of her upbringing that she had never liked.'

LINDA was born in New York, but spent most of a strict childhood in the rich suburb of Scarsdale.

Her father, Lee Eastman, was a highly successful showbusiness lawyer, but she was particularly close to her mother Louise, who was killed in a plane crash when Linda was 18.

After her mother's death, Linda went to the University of Arizona in Tucson to study art history and discovered an exhilarating sense of freedom in the desert state.

Arizona remained one of her favourite places on earth.

'Arizona was freedom for her. She roamed a lot when she was at school out there and realised you could be free in the world. She threw off her strict upbringing and found herself in Arizona so it was a magic, special place.'

Linda died in Arizona at the McCartney family's ranch six months ago. She ended her courageous two-and-a-half year battle against breast cancer in Paul's arms.

Their children were with them.

'It was a help that when it happened, it happened in a good place,' says Paul. 'Towards the end, when we knew it was getting serious, I persuade her long and hard to be his wife before they booked the register office and then they rowed the night before their 1969 wedding. Today, Paul says he cannot recall what the argument was about. 'Something daft I expect,' he says. 'I said to her, "Let's not row, let's get married instead." ' Linda arrived at Marylebone Town Hall on March 12, wearing a daffodil yellow coat over a fawn dress and giggled throughout the ceremony.

'I loved it,' says Paul. 'I thought, "These are vows and she's laughing."

I loved it that she was so irreverent.

You start as you intend to continue and we were going to have fun, not become these staid, conventional people just because we'd got married. …

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