'Letter?' I said. 'I don't think so. What letter are you talking about?'
Then the penny dropped. 'Was that from you? I had no idea you felt that way.' It was the most passionate letter anyone had ever written to me and it put our relationship on a different footing. It made the flirtation all the more exciting and dangerous. But as far as I was concerned, it was just flirtation.
From time to time during the spring and summer of 1970, Eric and I saw each other. One day, walking down Oxford Street, he asked: 'Do you like me, then, or are you seeing me because I'm famous?'
'Oh, I thought you were seeing me because I'm famous,' I said. We laughed.
He always found it difficult to talk about his feelings, instead pouring them into his music and writing.
Once we met under the clock in Guildford High Street. He had just come back from Miami and had a pair of bell-bottom trousers for me – hence the track Bell Bottom Blues. He was tanned and looked gorgeous and irresistible – but I managed to resist him.
Dream girl: Pattie modelling in 1964
On another occasion I drove to Ewhurst and we met in the woods nearby. Eric was wearing a wolf coat and looked very sexy. We didn't go to his house because someone would have been there. A lot of people lived at Hurtwood Edge: his band, the Dominos, Paula and Alice Ormsby-Gore, another of Eric's girlfriends.
The convent girl in me found the situation uncomfortable but strangely exciting, and so it was later that year after Eric had played me Layla in the South Kensington flat that I succumbed to his advances.
After George and Eric's confrontation at Robert Stigwood's party, I went home with my husband. Back at the house I went to bed and George disappeared into his recording studio.
The next time I saw Eric, he turned up unexpectedly at Friar Park. George was away – I don't know whether Eric knew that in advance – and I was on my own. He said he wanted me to go away with him: he was desperately in love with me and couldn't live without me. I had to leave George right now and be with him.
Happy days: Pattie's own photo of Paul, Ringo and John in 1968
'Eric, are you mad?' I asked. 'I can't possibly. I'm married to George.'
He said: 'No, no, no. I love you. I have to have you in my life.'
'No,' I said.
He produced a small packet from his pocket and held it out towards me.
'Well, if you're not going to come away with me, I'm going to take this.'
'What is it?'
'Don't be so stupid.' I tried to grab it from him but he clenched his fist and hid it in his pocket.
'If you're not going to come with me,' he said, 'that's it. I'm off.'
And he went. I hardly saw him for three years.
He did as he threatened. He took the heroin and quickly became addicted. And he took Alice Ormsby-Gore with him.
Eric already did a lot of drugs, the ones we all used – marijuana, uppers, downers and cocaine – and he drank quite heavily too. But his dealer had been insisting recently he bought heroin when he supplied him with cocaine.
Eric had been using it infrequently for about a year and had amassed a big pile. He now set about using it. He and Alice retreated into Hurtwood Edge and pulled up the drawbridge. He didn't leave the house, he didn't see friends, he didn't answer the door or the telephone, and the two of them sank into virtual oblivion.
By this time Paula had gone. She had been with Eric in Miami when he was recording Layla and knew instantly it was about me. She had always had a suspicion he was with her only because she was the next best thing to me and I was unobtainable. Hearing Layla confirmed it.
Love rivals: (Left to right) Eric and George
She had been seriously in love with Eric, but he destroyed her pride, her self-esteem and her confidence, which were already fragile.
On top of that, her big sister was the last person to whom she could turn for comfort. I tried to telephone Eric but Alice always answered, so I hung up.
I turned my attention to my husband and to renovating Friar Park. For a brief period the project united us but the house was so enormous, and there were always so many people living in it, that we never had any intimacy. Most of the time, even when George was in the house, I didn't know where he was.
At meal times, too many other people were at the table for us to have any real conversation. And even though we shared a bed, he was often in his recording studio or meditating half the night in the octagonal room at the top of the house that had become his sanctuary.
I felt more and more alienated. I didn't feel included in George's thinking or his plans. I wasn't his partner in anything any longer. He was surrounded by yes-men. When I challenged him about it he said: 'Well I'd hate to be surrounded by no-men.'
I heard from Eric again in January 1971, two months after he had walked out vowing to take the heroin. He wrote to me from a cottage in Wales.
On the title page of a copy of Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men, he had written: 'dear layla, for nothing more than the pleasures past i would sacrifice my family, my god, and my own existence, and still you will not move. i am at the end of my mind, i cannot go back and there is nothing in tomorrow (save you) that can attract me beyond today. i have listened to the wind, i have watched the dark brooding clouds, i have felt the earth beneath me for a sign, a gesture, but there is only silence. why do you hesitate, am i a poor lover, am i ugly, am i too weak, too strong, do you know why? if you want me, take me, i am yours . . . 'if you don't want me, please break the spell that binds me. 'to cage a wild animal is a sin, to tame him is divine. 'my love is yours.'
It was signed with a heart. That one short note stirred up feelings I had spent two months suppressing. I wrote and told him what he wanted to hear.
'How are you? I hope the Welsh air has been soothing your mind and warming your heart. Oh, I so long to spend some time with you there . . . it would be beautiful to be together, just for a while.
'If the stars should suddenly change their course and I can come to Wales I'll send a telegram. Please take care of yourself. 'Moons full of love 'L'
As soon as I had posted the letter I had terrible doubts and immediately wrote a postcard. It simply said: 'Hullo, Please forgive and forget my bold suggestion.'Love L'
His reply came by return of post on the dust jacket of a book of Scottish ballads and was written in green ink.
'it was rather significant that i received both communications on the same morning. something like watching a boomerang in flight.'
He said he understood my situation and didn't know what to recommend.
'i love you even though you're chicken.'
Nothing came of our fantasies and I didn't see or speak to him again until August 1971. George had persuaded him to come out of Hurtwood Edge briefly to perform at a charity event, Concert For Bangladesh, in New York.
Eric was in a bad way but George thought that if he got him on stage, even propped up with drugs, his addiction would become an open secret and maybe he would open the door a little to his friends, who might be able to help.
Everyone knew that if Eric was to have a chance of getting through two performances – one in the afternoon and another that evening – he would need a supply of heroin when he arrived in New York.
I remember discussions about finding a really good one, called White Elephant, for him. It had to be very pure because he never injected – he was terrified of needles – but snorted it instead, as if it was cocaine, from a gold spoon he wore round his neck. Alice found it – she always did the scoring.
While they were living at Hurtwood Edge, she went to London to do the sordid business of getting supplies while Eric stayed at home. If ever they ran short, she would give him her share and take something else. She was drinking at least two bottles of vodka a day so he could have the heroin.
That day he and I scarcely spoke. He was surrounded by people, then on stage, and he was very out of it; I'm not sure he really saw me. It was a shock to think that he had done this to himself because of me. At first I felt guilty, then my feelings would swing violently the other way and I was angry that he should have asked me to choose between him and my husband.