The woman from Brazil has excused herself to ask, “This is Abbey Road?”
Let’s see: more than 30 people are taking turns stopping traffic to pose on a familiar striped street crossing. Some have their shoes off; all of them are pretending to be either John, Paul, George or Ringo; others are scribbling on the graffiti-covered stub wall outside the fabled studios where the Beatles were photographed crossing the road to get to the other side.
Yes, this is Abbey Road, and on the Friday night when Sir Paul McCartney played the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics, it seemed a natural place to be; a generational thoroughfare.
One of the first things you notice at Abbey Road, aside from how poorly it’s marked (it’s done that way because people keep stealing the street signs as souvenirs), is how many young people come to honour a band they only know through their parents. On this night, a group of American teens from Saline, Mich., had taken time from celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts to come to the place where the Fab Four spun one of the greatest albums in history.
“You weren’t even close to being born when Abbey Road was recorded,” a nosy reporter said to one of the Girl Scouts.
“That doesn’t make it any less iconic,” she answered. She was just 17, if you know what I mean. One of the leaders said the girls picked Abbey Road as a must-see site, along with the Tower of London. “My husband would love to be here,” Kathy Van Buren said. “Me, I’m just okay.”
As the crowd milled around the crossing, someone sang out, “All you need is love.” For these Olympics, there was a slice of graffiti that spoke best to all things London: “Forget about beans, give peas a chance.”