"You're our mascot, kid," Ringo had told her that day in the BBC studio. "A real dyed-in-the-wool Beatle buddy, my little Hayley."
It's not every group that has itself a life-sized good luck charm," George added with a look of great satisfaction.
Hayley Mills was in her glory. To be a movie star was fun, but to be dear friend and companion to the Beatles was nothing short of shear heaven. "We're having a party," John would call to say, and Hayley would hurry to their gigs to mingle with their friends and laugh at their antics.
Hayley's been the unofficial Beatle mascot for some time. She's clowned with the mop-haired Liverpudlians on many British TV shows, attended their riotous parties and served as general confidante and girl buddy with full devotion to duty. People used to think she and Ringo were an item. Then, for a while, it looked as if George might offer her a promotion, maybe to Mrs. Beatle.
A few months ago, however, odd things began to happen between Hayley and her Beatles. She didn't hear from them for weeks at a time. They didn't write or call. Hayley was tied up with movie contracts; she didn't have a chance to see the boys to find out what had happened. But she worried about it a lot, until Herman's Hermits invaded Hollywood one lovely day, and chased the whole problem right out of her lovely head.
Hayley was introduced to Herman at a lively party in their honor. "Hayley, this is Peter Noone. He's Herman. Peter's his real name."
"Hi, Herman, I mean Peter." Peter introduced her to the rest of his group. They were typical English boys, full of spirit and fresh young enthusiasm. The Hermits, still relative newcomers to the showbiz world, had that boyish innocence that she so ardently adores. She was ecstatic!
And then one evening, shortly after the party, some of her friends dropped by to say hello. They found her curled up on the couch, listening to the hi-fi. "Let's hear the new Beatle album," they urged her.
"Haven't got it," Hayley told them as she dropped another disc onto the turntable.
It was another rock 'n' roll group singing. "Who's that?" her friends asked.
"Aren't they unbelievable?" she said, sighing. "I think I'd like to become a Hermit."
"A hermit is someone who lives in a cave," they said, laughing at her.
Hayley laughed too. "Not that kind of hermit. I want to become one of Herman's Hermits! They've got a fantastic sound, haven't they?"
"What's this big thing you've got for Herman's Hermits all of a sudden?" one of her friends asked. "What happened to the Beatles?"
"They're still number one, but not with me," she said as she quickly changed the subject. "Peter and the boys are just wonderful. And they're so much fun." She sighed again, this time louder. "It's so delightful to find a real man among all these Hollywood hounds."
"You really sound like you've got it bad for Herman and the rest of the group!" her friends exclaimed.
"You're right!" She laughed happily and then shook her head in disbelief.
"Peter's got manners. Where am I going to find another guy like him around here? And besides, we have so much to talk about."
So Hayley has unofficially become a Hermit. She still thinks about the Beatles, but it is just that the Beatles are married and living different lives now. Except George, but he's steady with Patti Boyd so he doesn't count. Peter and Hayley have found they have lots in common. Herman's Hermits have made Henry the Eighth a household word - and Hayley's always said her fondest ambition is to play a glamorous Kim Novakish-role in a movie about Henry VIII. Hayley and Peter also share a deep and abiding love for whatever's loud and has a lively beat.
On the serious side, Peter's made no bones about the fact that he prefers English girls. He just likes them and that's all there is to it. Touring with the Hermits, he's met girls from all over the world, but he likes the English variety best. And Hayley says she favors English boys, "because they're more serious about the important things in life." That's the bond which brought Hayley and Peter together in a foreign land.
Hayley will never forget the night she became a Hermit. "You're a grand girl," Peter had told her that evening as they were coming home from the party, "and we want you to be our Honorary Hermit, Hayley. How about it?"
A Hermit? Of course she'd like to be a Hermit. Hayley's Hermits - it had a nice sound to it. And then she remembered - how was she going to tell the Beatles? It wouldn't be easy. They had always been so nice to her, even though they hadn't been asking her to too many of their parties lately. She didn't say anything to Peter until they were sitting on the couch in her living room.
"What about it, Hayley? Want to be a Hermit?" he asked again, growing uneasy about her silence.
"I don't know!" she cried at last, struggling with her loyalties. "I'm the fifth Beatle - Ringo always said so. How can I be a Beatle and Hermit at the same time?"
Peter shook his head sadly. "I don't know. It's up to you. Since we got to Hollywood, you've been such a great hostess and such a good friend to us. You really made the Hermits feel at home."
"It's been so much fun, too, Peter. Really."
He stood up and reached for his coat. "It's late," he decided sadly. And then he left.
She watched him go down the stairs and then she sank back on the couch and buried her head in the pillows. How had she gotten herself into this fix? She never meant to be disloyal to the Beatles, even if they had seemed to forget her since she had come to live in this country. What if they found out, and thought she was defecting to the other side?
"You're our mascot," Ringo had said.
"A life-sized good luck charm," George had added.
She had to make a decision. A Beatle or a Hermit: she couldn't be both. She thought of Ringo and George, and John and Paul, too - all the Beatle boys. How could she desert them? And the Hermits, especially Peter, who took her to parties and treated her as if she were a grand lady. Peter, with the beautiful hair and the boyish smile ...
She had made her decision!
"I'm a Hermit," she told her friends happily. "I'm Herman's special Hermit, and it suits me fine."
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