Where’s my digital footprint?

I came across a site this morning where my book had been selected, or hand picked, as a recommendation based purely on its cover. It was here. I came across it by accident as I had decided to Google ‘A Table In Berlin Mark Davies’ to see whether any book bloggers out there, unbeknownst to me, had maybe written anything that I didn’t know about. We love the attention, you see. Or do we?

The thing is, I find it mildly disturbing that there is a generation of people who turn to Messrs. Google et al to somehow validate another person’s very existence. I am often told I need to leave some sort of digital scent, like some mangy tom cat, so that the good people of the world can better track me down and check up on whether I am real. I have made the faintest of efforts, since the publication of A Table In Berlin, but otherwise I like to keep out of the way. But what if I tell someone some tale from my past and, a week later, I’m ostracised as a liar because my ludicrous yarn cannot be verified online? It happens all the time. I actually know a little fact connected with the big piano chord at the end of The Beatles’ A Day In The Life and yet you won’t find this little nugget online, or anywhere else for that matter. Therefore, it didn’t happen. Right? Here’s a harmless little example, while we’re on the subject of The Beatles.

I went to Berlin in 1986/87 (I can’t remember, right now, exactly when and it doesn’t matter). I was with an old friend of the family, Klaus Voormann, and we drove there in his car, taking the long West German-funded highway from Hamburg and tootling through East Germany at a precise and law-abiding 100 kph the entire way. My friend had persuaded his friend, a certain George Harrison, to pay for my flight to Germany from the UK, in return for me bringing back a guitar. Not just any guitar. This was a lovely black Gretsch and it was the first expensive guitar that Harrison had ever owned. He had given it to Klaus as a gift but now, more than twenty years later, he had made a beautiful display room at his home in Henley, with all his guitars. All except that first one. So he asked Klaus if he wouldn’t mind letting him have it back. (Funnily enough, a couple of years before Harrison had given away the Gretsch, original Beatles bassist Stuart Sutcliffe had given Klaus his bass guitar. During my little visit in ’86, Klaus was playing on this bass, while I idly strummed the Gretsch, and said of Stuart, with a mischievous smile: “Well, I guess he’s not going to ask for it back!”)

And I took the guitar home (oh, yes, not forgetting that I left it on the plane, only remembering when I was queuing up at passport control) and occasionally held it, eyes closed, trying to appreciate the enormity of what this guitar had done and where it had been, for a few evenings until George Harrison phoned up to arrange for someone to come and collect it. Some months later I was honoured and surprised to see the guitar on the front cover of his first album in years, Cloud Nine. Of course, you think that anyone could have brought the guitar back. DHL, perhaps? Parcelforce? Another person? But I know differently. Okay, I left it on the plane but I was in a hurry, and probably in love to boot. And there’s the funny little story that you can confirm by clicking on the photo, just without any mention of me.

So I must have made it up. Or is it true?

George Harrison and first Gretsch
George Harrison and first Gretsch


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