"Oh well, it's nice if they buy a lot. If they buy a medium amount it's quite nice, if they don't buy it at all, it's very disappointing." He unleashes a particularly disarming beam. "I dunno, it's a bit of a silly question, really."
Thanks a bunch, your Imperial Highness.
"But it is! It hasn't happened, so come back to me when it does and I'll tell you. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. There's no point asking me about it now."
Worrying does not come naturally to Jagger. First, he does not appear worried that his floppy green jumper and baggy blue trousers make him look like an out-of-work fringe theatre extra. Second, he does not seem bothered that he has turned up three-quarters of an hour late. And third, it, concerns him not one bit that his entire life is rooted in his command of vast amounts of attention - a situation which can damage the equilibrium of even quite sensible human beings by its presence, or, conversely, sudden absence.
Yet while all the other instant icons of the Sixties are either six feet under or carrying great quantities of scar tissue around, Mick Jagger looks thin and fit and lolls on a chair in his Chelsea office, replete with an enviable and perfectly matter-of-fact self-esteem. Forty-four years old, and apparently fully insulated against paying the Price of Fame. If people still exist who long to touch the hem of his garments, so what? It is just one of those things.
"I don't have that feeling for anyone, right? Do I find it absurd?" A pause for thought. "I find it a little bit . . . strange."
Ah. Henry Kissinger speaks.
"Aw, look, what can I tell you? I don't wanna put people down who find all that stuff fascinating. I do find it a bit strange, but when I'm actually up there doing it, or when I'm talking to people on the street who come up to me with that feeling, they get me enthuasiastic about the idea of it again. I mean," he shrugs, reasonably, "it's a nice kind of thing."
"On Saturday night I was in a small town in the Cotswolds, all kind of picturesque and nice, seeing some friends. And there was about a dozen very young teenage children. They were standing there in the main street with nothing to do, you know, and when I came out they all started singing `Honky Tonk Woman'! It was really lovely, you know."
Jagger, it seems, is also perfectly reconciled to the two, sometimes conflicting, halves of his professional life: being a musician and being a celebrity. The latter has its pros and cons. ("You can get into hotels when they're all booked up. There's very few advantages . . . it's not all it's cracked up to be"), but the former is what he enjoys best. "I like to create things. I enjoy making a record once a year."
Simple as that, mate. Mick Jagger's new long-play, out next month, is a solo effort conceived and partly executed with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics. They met by accident, Jagger "thought he was an amusing guy", and they spent some days together "writing a couple of songs, then going down the pub. It was fun." In the event, Stewart co-wrote just three tracks out of the 10 on Primitive Cool, though Jagger suggests that his spirit informs the bulk.
Mick Jagger has the outlook and the middle-class grounding which can take veneration in its stride. He doesn't moan a lot, because he knows he has not got much to moan about, and maybe because not much bugs him enough anyway. His album is the work of a man who puts recreation at the centre of his life but has no real need to suffer for it. And if it does not much suit his nature that the Rolling Stones are a part of Britain's stifling need for nostalgia, well, so it goes.
"Nostalgia? I don't particularly enjoy it . . . so let's throw it out the window!"
Just as simple as that.
From the Arts page of `The Independent', Wednesday 26 August 1987