One of the most heartfelt letters I have ever written was to ask for the body part of a drummer.
I desperately wanted Ringo Starr’s tonsils when he had them out, to keep in a jar by my bed.
I didn’t really know what tonsils were but my “uncle” Peter had taken me to see the Beatles. Not bad for a first gig.
In the playground people would ask whether you were “John or Paul”, so I always went with Ringo. To be honest, I didn’t get the Beatles until I was much older.
Then John Lennon died. Though he was not my favourite, this murder was shocking.
When I got to work that evening – at a restaurant in Miami – Adele, an older waitress, took me aside.
“This is your night, honey. Tonight you are going to make a lot of money.”
I was in awe of Adele. She was amazing-looking – black hair and a huge wonky mouth. One of those women who was beautiful for no good reason. She had also been divorced four times and was still in her thirties.
She taught me how to deal with difficult customers or people we didn’t like. We would accidentally spill apple sauce on them, sometimes whole plates of food. We would wipe them up and talk of dry cleaning, and Adele would cry. She was brilliant.
“Your Beatle is dead, honey. You can work these tables.”
It hadn’t occurred to me that I could use the death of a legend to get bigger tips but I was not in the same league as Adele.
“You need to break down after the appetisers,” she said and winked.
This seemed sensible.
Adele took me over to the table of a couple of elderly New Yorkers on vacation. “This is Suzanne. She is from England. She is going to do her best for you tonight but as you can imagine she is very upset.”
They looked bemused.
“John Lennon is dead,” I blurted out. “Would you like me to run through the specials?”
“Of the Beatles,” Adele said helpfully. She nipped me to make me cry but I just jumped.
Back at our station, she told me I was going to have to do much better.
As I was writing down their order, I went for it. “Do you know what it’s like to lose someone who has inspired the entire world? Do you?”
At this point they called the manager over and said they wanted another waitress. By now I genuinely was upset – about possibly getting the sack.
When they left, Adele followed them out into the car park and shoved their paltry tip through the car window, screaming at the alarmed octogenarian, “Here – you left something behind. Go home and blow your old man!
“It’s what John would have wanted,” she said to me, as she burst into tears.