following story is true. It’s based on memories of my teen years on Merseyside
where I was born.
won a two year art scholarship at
the age of fifteen, and at first stubbornly resisted association with the
students, due mainly to their wild reputations and my own innate shyness. Eventually, I began what
proved to be some of the most memorable years of my
friend from art school raced alongside me one morning yelling excitedly that she
had a date with Paul
McCartney, one of
the Beatles playing at the Tower
ballroom, I wasn’t impressed.
on a hill surrounded by fairground exhibits, and resembling a huge medieval
castle, was the Tower
Originally standing 544 feet high and built in
1896 it resembled the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and
peered bleakly over the River
Mersey, and was adjacent to the Liver building on the other side, which was
Liverpool, a few miles away from my home town of Wallasey.
art school’s annual ‘Rag Day’ involved engineering colleges, and art
schools from within a fifty mile
radius. John Lennon studied at our ‘sister
school’ in Liverpool. He was an eager costumed participant.
of over forty floats, which resembled a Halloween holocaust, provided wild,
entertainment for all who watched. One wild evening as floats coasted
inch by inch down the main street
in all their coloured splendor, a ‘gang’ from John’s college
‘captured’ me. I was thrown onto over stuffed
pillows in the Egyptian float,
until I snatched a huge oar from their display and started swinging, needless
say I was released amid profuse apologies! Surrounding the hysteria of the
moment, my focus of
fascination was the sight of John’s friends in their
soccer outfits, while at the same time wearing ballerina
tutus. I’m almost
positive he was one of them.
one occasion our ‘life model’ Mary Antoinette Birtwhistle, who posed at our
school in the buff,
decided to abandon her raincoat in sub zero temperatures.
Being completely naked underneath the coat,
and without the benefit of warm
clothing, the students in John’s crowd gleefully pelted her with rotten eggs.
This caused a great deal of friction from ‘our side’ and after a heated
exchange, we dutifully gathered up
Mary, grabbed her raincoat, and shoved her on
the next train home.
of our students, a pianist called Samuel and a talented musician was engrossed
in banging out jazz
on an old Salvation Army piano whilst our float moved slowly
down the cobbled streets of Liverpool.
Suddenly several pounds of flour and
rotten eggs descended upon him from an abandoned building,
his loaned piano, not to mention his bronchial tubes!
to say, these wild and reckless rag days were coming to an abrupt and hasty
inevitable decision to terminate future rag days was made, much to the regret of
Lennon lived with his in-laws during this time. The “Powells” lived across
the road from my brother’s
home in Hoylake. My brother was newly married, and
also resided with his in-laws who were named
“Powell.” Therefore it wasn’t
surprising that confusion within the postal system constantly occurred.
brother’s first born son
Mark, was often the recipient of many of John’s fan mail, especially when
Julian Lennon was born. The cards and gifts were inadvertently sent to my
family's home by mistake.
schools first year offered freedom and challenges. My friend Diane and I often
skipped classes on
many a rainy afternoon for a frolic in Liverpool. I was
dating a disc jockey “Clem” of the Iron Door Club,
which was located near to
the Cavern. This was where we met one grey rainy day, for coffee. Alone,
we envisioned a peaceful and romantic interlude in the tiny, empty ballroom. However within five minutes
we were rudely interrupted by four belligerent lads,
complete with sets of drums, wires and microphones
they set up their ‘gear’
amid exaggerated noise and laughter. Clem loudly shouted as we departed,
them a job and they get big headed!” The Beatles were unfazed.
incident at the club, involved a loud pounding at the door one evening, Clem as
excused himself, in order to investigate. Upon returning, he
explained that a lad named Ringo was
frantically trying to gain entry in order
to join his ‘band,’ but obviously was in the wrong club. He raced
to the Cavern, albeit late for his ‘gig!’
Clem just shook his head in
disbelief. No doubt poor Ringo was his
usual disoriented self that night.
Smiling, I understood.
one of Clem’s work nights at the Tower ballroom where he was a disc jockey, we
spotted the Beatles
arriving for their ‘gig.’ Four little black headed
figures in black leather jackets were coming to the stage to
‘set up.’ They
owed Clem money, three pounds to be exact, approximately five dollars. The
became heated, so out of curiosity I joined them. My boyfriend
demanded repayment, and did all the talking
as they humbly bowed their heads,
barely saying a word. Paul suddenly pulled out the lining of his pockets
said “ sorry we don’t have it mate. Honest!
Cavern became a Mecca for the local students. It was a small underground cellar
of an old warehouse,
in a dark dismal alley. At night it became a sea of faces
and neon lights. Our front, folding metal seats often
vibrated with the pounding
music. Groups from London often played the Cavern and seemed more
than our local lads, at this time. The floor literally shook as we sat
dangerously close. It
seemed that Ringo and his drums would bounce from this
tiny stage, and land in our laps at any given
musical talents were impressive, although his silly vacant expression was
hilarious. He spent many
an evening ‘making eyes’ and pursing his huge lips
in my direction as my friend and I danced the twist!
My sister Jean admonished, “if you ever bring HIM home, your mother will choke you!”
an art student, I worked part time at the Tower ballroom café as a cashier.
lads often brought their
trays laden with cellophane packaged goodies through
the check out. Ringo’s attempts at flirtation were
more amusing than annoying! Remembering my sister’s warning, I remained aloof.
the Tower spotlight one evening was John, the manager’s son. He fell for every
girl who showed
him attention, and was smitten with me for around two weeks. On
this particular night, he ‘spotlighted’
myself and a friend several minutes
at a time while we danced, leaving the “Fab Four” in total darkness.
language and yelling, which emanated from the dark and gloomy stage was
especially, reacted angrily when the swooning teenage girls excitedly grabbed
his ankles, in an almost
successful attempt to extricate him from the stage. He
became ‘heated’ quickly, and his language was crude
leaving no doubt as to
his intentions. John was more patient but prone to being quick tempered and very
sarcastic. Ringo the ‘clown’ was dopey, adorable, and silly. George was
painfully shy and kept quietly to
himself, barely raising his head to ‘view’
was a sensitive sixteen year old. My best friend Diane and I enjoyed a rum and
blackcurrant in the Tower
bar one evening. We were seated in the almost empty
room next to the Beatles. Shortly an ex boyfriend
entered. He was a bouncer for
the Tower, we were not on speaking terms, so he loudly stated that at sixteen
was underage and had to leave. The group of four at the next table snickered,
giggled and nudged each
other as I made a hasty albeit humiliated retreat, glass
Brian Epstein, their new London connection and manager entered our lives. We
‘quickening’ an acceleration as though we were losing something,
we’d taken for granted. He
around the ballroom which quickly emptied of its’ revelers, as one
noisy Saturday evening concluded.
paused to hear the conversation of this imposing and confident foreigner, whom I
sensed was in complete,
and irreversible control of our ‘lads.’ “Passing
ships in the sea” was all I heard, as he gazed at the last few
to catch the late bus home.
afterwards, the lads left for Germany. My mother returned to live in her native
island of Jersey near
France. At seventeen I was alone. For several months I
worked in Jersey then decided to try my luck in
London’s West End. I found a
job in a fashionable store in Oxford Street, as a window dresser/designer.
I proudly related my experiences in animated detail to my friends and
co-workers, I was thrilled to see
the ‘lads’ in a postage stamp sized photo
in a variety magazine, Rolling Stone. Excitedly I passed the page
these people were unimpressed.
weeks later, the lads returned from Germany and took London by storm. The world
would know the
Beatles. My co-worker said, “Glen, let me see that tiny
clipping of your Liverpool lads again!”
to Home Page