What do you do when John Lennon approaches you? It was a quiet morning on the sidewalk of 5th Avenue, New York, 1979. John was alone. No escort. No bodyguard. No Yoko.

I had been a fan of the Beatles from when I first heard Love Me Do, Please Please Me, and Hippy Hippy Shake. There were no pirates of Radio Hauraki yet so to hear the Beatles' new hits we had to chase various radio stations as they played the evening Hit Parade.

My pocket money was used to buy Beatles' records. Mum bought me a record player to use in my bedroom. "Play them quietly, dear," she advised, "at least when your father's home."

I was in the theatre when the Beatles visited Christchurch in 1964. The event was bigger than the music. My girlfriend, Marion, spent the entire performance jumping up and down on her seat screaming and crying with every other person. It was both magical and madness. The papers called it Beatle hysteria.

Now, 15 years later Lennon was headed toward me. Should I stop him? Should I ask for his autograph? Should I say 'hello'? He caught my eye and held it, but kept walking. I lost courage and said nothing.

We passed so close we breathed the same air. I looked back as if to check that it had really happened. At that moment he slowed, turned back to me, nodded his head, and gave the faintest of smiles before walking on.

These gestures said, "Yes, it's me." I like to imagine they also said, "Thanks for not asking for an autograph."