by Phyllis Nesmith as told to Ann Moses
The way Mike and I wound up in London, England on our first real vacation was a funny scene! Mike got some time off from the studio last spring and he said, “I’d really like to go on a vacation but there’s no place I’m really interested in seeing. We’ve been everywhere there is to go.”
I looked at Mike in complete astonishment and said, “Michael, we haven’t been anywhere! I’ve always wanted to go to London.” He said, “That’s a thought,” and walked out the door to a rehearsal or something like that.
He called me in the middle of the day and said, “It’s all set, we’re going to London. We’ll have three days in New York first.” He had everything arranged and I just couldn’t believe it. I was so intrigued over England because I wanted to see the contrast of the old and the new. I had heard that England was so beautiful, I just couldn’t wait.
Rested in New York
We were really tired when we arrived in New York, so we slept a lot and mainly had fun because we had never been in a big hotel like that before. We stayed at The Plaza Hotel and we had snails for dinner our first night there, served in our room, and we stuffed ourselves. We’d had snails before and we think they’re great.
We didn’t get out too much in New York, though we did see the movie, “Grand Prix,” which we really enjoyed because it’s all about racing. The kids in New York City knew Mike and Micky were at the hotel, so we had a hard time going out. Micky stayed at the same hotel we did in London too.
The very first thing that struck me in London was I saw an East Indian man in a turban walking down the street and I said, “Oh, my gosh, it’s an Eastern potentate!” There are lots of Indian people in London because India was once a British colony. It’s very groovy to see those people in their native dress. Also, their double-decker red buses made a great impression on me, along with driving on the opposite side of the road.
While Mike and I were in London, it wasn’t important to me what I saw, because every time we would get out of the car, a crowd would begin to gather. We took one afternoon and drove around the city and looked at things like Buckingham Palace. The architecture they have is so beautiful.
What was more important to us than seeing sights was being with the young people. I wanted so much to be around young people and go to small restaurants and listen to them talk. You wouldn’t think there would be a communications barrier in another English speaking country, but there is. They have a very different way of describing things and their sense of humor is different.
We had a driver who drove us around in a limousine. His name is Alf Weaver and he’s now working for us here in the States. He’ll be our “man-Friday,” our chauffeur and all that. He’s very young and very hip and very groovy looking. He’s married and has two children.
It was so cool, because Alf wasn’t like a chauffeur at all—he would go into all the places we went. He would introduce us to people, because he knew everyone. Like he introduced us to Spencer Davis and his wife Colene. Alf was great because he’d remind us of things we had to do and tell us little bits of information. I would say, “I want to go to the grooviest boutiques,” and he would take us there. Mike would sit in the window box hiding behind the curtains and I would look at things.
I really loved shopping in London! The shoes and the boots are the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I bought boots and shoes and one mini-dress while I was there. I had heard a lot about the antique stalls on Portobello Road, but we never got there.
Besides staying for a few days with John and Cynthia Lennon, we spent an afternoon with Donovan. Don’s house is several miles outside of London in the peace and quiet of the English countryside. We spent an afternoon at Don’s house and I’ve never been in such a peaceful atmosphere in my life. It was a beautiful climax to our most wonderful holiday!