Dylan Jones: Freud proudly pointed out his new acquisition – the actual bass drum from the 'Sgt Pepper' album cover

Talk of the Town

Saturday 17 January 2009 01:00
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Walking into a Matthew Freud party is a bit like walking into a modern-day version of the cover of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band – look, there's Bill Clinton over there in the corner with WC Fields, Barack Obama gossiping with Marlene Dietrich, Rupert Murdoch arguing with Laurel and Hardy (about what, one can only imagine). Ah, and there's Mariella Frostrup, trying to psychoanalyse Sigmund Freud.

His most recent party attracted the likes of Mick Jagger, David Cameron, Bono, David Furnish, Lily Allen, Piers Morgan and U2's manager Paul McGuinness, who was celebrating the fact that the band's new album had been finished the night before. Oh, and Ken Livingstone was there, too, talking about his autobiography, and how he was worried that, so far, it didn't appear to be very interesting. "And I haven't even got to the newts yet."

Later, I bumped into Matthew himself, standing at the top of the stairs, proudly pointing out his latest acquisition, the bass drum that actually appears on the cover of Sgt Pepper. It was bought at Christie's last summer by a "mystery bidder" for £540,000. Apparently Stella McCartney was rather confused by the drum's appearance, as she'd always assumed her father owned the original.

The drum has always been at the centre of the "Paul is dead" conspiracy theories. It was meant to have been painted by a fairground artist called Joe Ephgrave (the name is thought to be an amalgamation of "Epitaph" and "Grave") and if you hold a mirror against the words "Lonely Hearts" you can see the message "I ONE IX HE <> DIE". The "I ONE" has been interpreted to mean 11 – and so the message reads "11 9 HE DIE" or 9 November, the date that McCartney was alleged to have died. One wonders just how much dope someone would have needed to figure all this out.

Personally, I'm quite happy to let Matthew and Stella fight it out among themselves. Why? Because my most recent acquisition is a replica of the Sgt Pepper bass drum in the form of a circular carpet, six feet in diameter, and bought just a short while ago in Vegas. And you know what? It's my very own original.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

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