GEOFFREY: How do you remember your guru, Srila Prabhupada?
GEORGE: Prabhupada always used to say that he was "the servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna." He was very humble. The thing about Prabhupada, he was more like a dear friend than anything else. We used to sit in this room in my house and talk for hours.
GEOFFREY: I understand that on his deathbed he called you "his archangel," took a ring from his finger, and instructed his disciples to make sure you got it. Did you?
GEORGE: Yes, I got it. I have it.
GEOFFREY: Were you his disciple?
GEORGE: As far as being a full-fledged devotee, no. I was never really into it that far. I liked him and his philosophy, though. I never followed the rules and regulations that strictly, however. Wxcept for maybe a few months.
GEOFFREY: Anything else to say about the Hare Krishna movement?
GEORGE: Well, I love the food. When I visited the place in India [Mayapur] last year I got up with them at four in the morning and after mangal arti [morning prayers] they brought me a forty-course breakfast. All on silver and everything. I was the honored guest. Which, of course, is better than being an unhonored guest!
GEOFFREY: What is your attitude towards spiritual life these days?
GEORGE: I was at the airport in Honolulu and I met a guy dressed in these old saffron corduroys. He approached me with a book and said, "My guru wants you to have this." I didn't make out if he recognized me or not. I said, "What do you mean, your guru wants me to have this book? Does he know I'm here?" The book said, "Something, Something Guru, the World's spiritual leader." Now I read the book and this guy doesn't like anybody. He ran down Sai Baba, Yogananada, Guru Maharaji, and everybody. Although he did quote Prabhupada's books (and everyone else's for that matter). It seemed very dogmatic. I'm just not into that. It's the organization of religion that turns me off a bit. I try to go into myself. Like Donovan said, "You've got to go into your own temple once a day." It's a very personal thing, spiritual life.
GEOFFREY: Tell me a bit about the new book [The Love You Make] on the Beatles by your former Apple attache Peter Brown.
GEORGE: Peter Brown came by with this guy [co-author S. Gaines] for about ten minutes to Friar Park, had a cup of coffee, and they left.
GEOFFREY: What did he ask you?
GEORGE: Nothing. There was no interview, nothing. They just had a coffee and split. Then he goes away and acts like the three of us sat him down and said, "Right, Peter, you're the one. You should be writing this. You tell the story." The guy made millions, you know.
GEOFFREY: Millions, really?
GEORGE: Yeah. It's one of the best-selling books in the world. Well, a million anyway. But it's crazy.
GEOFFREY: What do you mean?
GEORGE: We took this guy from Liverpool. Made him. Gave him a job. Helped him establish himself. After all those years, then he comes out with this rubbish.
GEOFFREY: I've heard that Mal Evan's diaries were stolen and are soon to be published by an American magazine.
GEORGE: Well, Mal certainly kept diaries for years. He always wrote down everything that happened. The problem is the legal ownership of those diaries.
GEOFFREY: I've heard that the woman he was living with at the time of his death had taken them.
GEORGE: Yeah, but the rights are so unclear. They'll never be published.
GEOFFREY: How do you feel about the Beatles' myth today?
GEORGE: All this stuff about the Beatles being able to save the world was rubbish. I can't even save myself. It was just people trying to put the responsibility on our shoulders. The thing about the Beatles is that they saved the world from boredom. I mean, even when we got to America the first time, everybody was running around with Bermuda shorts on, brush cuts, and braces on their teeth. But we really didn't create any great change, we just ...
GEOFFREY: Heralded it?
GEORGE: Heralded the change of consciousness that happened in the sixties. We went along with it, that's all.
GEOFFREY: Gave it a voice, maybe?
GEORGE: Yeah, I guess.
GEOFFREY: I met Yoko recently. She seems fine, you know. She seems to be trying to carry on with life, her and Sean, who, by the way, is a very bright kid.
GEORGE: Yeah. I'd love to meet Sean. I bet he is. I don't know, the whole Beatles thing is like a horror story, a nightmare. I don't even like to talk about it. I just hate it.
GEOFFREY: Sorry. What about gardening? I know you love that. Don't you have all kinds of exotic plants and trees from around the world up at Friar Park?
GEORGE: No, not really. I get all my stuff from a local nursery here in Henley. I've got a few gardeners working the place. Trying to spruce it up a bit. It was let go for years, but it's coming along, little by little. Getting better all the time, you might say.