Fans bring ex-Beatle a special present

Only two autograph hunters breached the security outside the hotel above the Spanish Steps in Rome where Sir Paul McCartney stayed last weekend. After Francesca and Bianka De Fazi had explained their errand, they were ushered into a suite, relieved of their treasure and asked to wait.

They sat clasping their original Beatles EPs "Long Tall Sally" and "Twist and Shout" for a long time. After an hour he arrived, and they were relieved to see that he was smiling. Because the treasure that gained them entry was Paul's diary for 1970, the year the Beatles broke up, its pages littered with cryptic, historic entries such as (in the handwriting of Paul's late wife Linda) "Paul tells John 'I'm not a Beatle any more'" ("Good, that's two of us," is John's reported comment underneath) and "Paul leaves Beatles".

In 1983, when the sisters were 11 and 12, they were "two kids obsessed by the Beatles". On a holiday in London, a pilgrimage of Beatles sites took them to the door of Paul's house in St John's Wood. "The house was being done up," Francesca said, "and the door was open. We got our courage up and went in." Inside, amid the rubble, they found the diary and scarpered with it.

On an impulse last Monday they returned it. "Paul was very nice, a humble person." He joked with them, called them "naughty girls", signed their records. And, since they are singers in their own right, they gave him a couple of their own records. "Perhaps the Beatles will bring us luck," Francesca said.

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