Although McCartney has lost people close to him since he was a young teenager, the death of George 16 months ago came as a shattering blow. “It was different from my mum’s and John’s and Linda’s because theirs were sudden and we knew George had been very ill for a while.
“But it was very, very sad because I loved him so much,” says McCartney in his Barcelona dressing-room, still choked by the loss of the life-long pal he persuaded John Lennon to let into The Beatles all those years ago.
“I’d just been through cancer with Linda and here I was going through it all over again with a mate of 50 years. He wasn’t my immediate family but he almost was. He’d always felt like my little brother.”
He takes a breath, focuses on a point in the distance, mutters “What a lovely boy” then carries on. “The last time I met him, he was very sick and I held his hand for four hours. As I was doing it I was thinking, ‘I’ve never held his hand before, ever. This is not what two Liverpool fellas do, no matter how well you know each other.’
“I kept thinking, ‘He’s going to smack me here.’ But he didn’t. He just stroked my hand with his thumb and I thought, ‘Ah, this is OK, this is life. It’s tough but it’s lovely. That’s how it is.’ I knew George before I knew any of the others and I loved that man. I’m so proud to have known him.
“Still, as sad as it was, you take the great bit, which was that last time you saw him, and that’s what you remember. That and all the other lovely memories.”"