Sandra was the younger sister of famous 1950s singer Alma Cogan, and through her she was a major part of the London showbiz social scene of the 1960s.
While performing in a satirical revue at The Establishment Club in Greek Street during 1962, Sandra noticed a young man who kept attending her shows. As she remembers "I would often see a young, god-looking man in the audience. One night he introduced himself and told me how much he enjoyed my work. I asked him what he did. 'I'm with a group,' he said. 'We have a record coming out in a few months.' I lost touch with him for a time, but when I discovered what his record was I could see why he was busy. It was 'Love Me Do', and his name was Paul McCartney. The Beatles had taken off."
She didn't see him again properly until January two years later when her sister Alma was performing with the now world-famous Beatles, and invited them back to her home after they had finished Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Alma hadn't had the chance to let her family know The Beatles were coming home with her, and due to the chaos trying to smuggle the band out of the building away from their hysterical fans before the final curtain, they arrived at Alma's home long before she did. Luckily Sandra remembered Paul and let them in, and Alma arrived a short while later to explain.
The flat at Kensington was run in the same informal way that The Beatles were used to up in Liverpool. An open house where guests arriving unnanounced at any time were welcomed with a drink and sandwiches, and could relax listening to records, playing charades, and socialising with the many visitors from the showbiz world that the family knew.
Paul remembers "I saw a documentary about John Betjeman, who said that when he got out of college there was a country house to which he was invited. And he said, 'There I learned to be a guest,' and that's what was happening to us at Alma's flat. There we learned to play charades, and we started to do it at our own parties. It was just a little learning curve. We'd never seen anything like this but we liked a laugh so we played charades with Stanley Baker and with bruce Forsyth; he was always at those things, Bruce was absolutely great... They were all a little older than us, probably ten, twelve years older than us, but they were great fun, very confident showbiz people who welcomed us into their circle. It was exciting for us, we would hear all the showbizzy gossip and meet people there that we hadn't met before; Lionel Bart would sometimes be there, Tommy Steele, Lionel Blair would nearly always be there." Sandra reckoned that "They needed to relax and get away from the crowds. Our flat gave them refuge for many months to come, with Mum - Mrs Macogie, as they called her - making pots of tea and sandwiches, and playing charades."
"At first we saw rather more of Paul, who would drop into the flat at all hours." Sandra remembered about the young McCartney who popped in frequently to learn about this new middle class showbiz way of life and see Sandra at the same time. Soon the rest of the Beatles would also be round frequently at the family parties, especially when Sandra's sister Alma became closer to both Beatles manager Brian Epstein and John Lennon.
Paul was very fond of the two sisters and started becomming especially fond of Sandra. "They were very nice, Alma and her sister Sandra. There was a slight romance thing there with Sandra. Sandra was a little younger than Alma." he would spend many quiet hours with her and took her and her family some beautiful gifts. Sandra especially remembered a huge bottle of perfume. "One time, with his niece in tow, a lovely little girl, he brought the three of us a gift. It was the biggest bottle of Hermes perfume I've ever seen. It looked like a gallon."
The romance never got anywhere serious, but Sandra's mother was very fond of the match and tried to push it a little further with her daughter. As Paul recalled "It never sort of took off or anything but I sensed the mum saying when I went to visit, 'That's a nice boy, darling, you could... you know?' Looking back on it now, there was a sence of that. And there were parties and, after all, young people, it was a par for the course."
SOURCES: various Beatles and solo biographies including Many Years From Now by Barry Miles, as well as Alma Cogan: A Memoir by her sister Sandra Caron.
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