Sunday 31 August 2014

Why don't we do it in the road?

If this photograph isn't a hoax then it purports to be over a hundred years old - taken at the turn of the century on Chernomorskaya Road in the Russian city of Yeysk.

Saturday 30 August 2014

Howard and Hilda

Lauren & Bas
A trip to the seaside today: we were on a mission. However, before the job in hand we had time to pull in a spot of breakfast (baked beans and poached eggs with coffee to die for at the Mojo), then a slight detour while I tried on a few shirts: the Uncle Burt I came way with was probably last seen at the height of Rollermania. I was actually singing Shang-a-Lang in the unfeasibly small changing room.

But I digress. Our mission was two fold. We had to get our photographs taken and then present them at the railway station to acquire a rather neat railcard currently doing the rounds called Two Together which gets you a third off all rail journeys - well, all rail journeys with the other person on your, what is in effect,  joint railcard. A couple of trips to see the Number One Son and it'll have paid for itself. As for the photographs, we found a charming photo shop tucked away in a quiet part of town where a most genial chap in a plaid shirt (not a Rollers shirt, I hasten to add) took us into his parlour at the back of the shop and turned us both into beautiful people. We were allowed to giggle as it wasn't for passport purposes. 'You have to look as if your budgie has just passed away, on the day your wife announces she's leaving you, if you were having a passport picture taken' he informed us.
Howard & Hilda

Back to the front of the shop to print our smiling beguiling pictures where a most helpful girl, wearing a matching plaid shirt, behind the counter took payment. 'Company issue?' I enquired, pointing to the shirts. A look of embarrassment shot over her. 'No!' she said, emphatically. 'Bas walked in five minutes after me this morning wearing the same shirt. What are the chances?' I couldn't possibly say. That's one I'll leave to Howard and Hilda.

A short walk to the railway station where our shiny new photos were put in a shiny new case for the next time we climb aboard one of East Coast's shiny new trains.

Just time for a quick aside. Before leaving the station we took a walk to the farthest platform as I knew we would find a truly remarkable, and indeed record breaking, bench: weighing in at 139 metres long it's the longest railway station seat in the world.

Monday 25 August 2014

Bath time

Bath and bog
Bath, no bog
London may have been swinging and California may well have have been dreaming, but in 1966 there was no way you could release an album with four people in a bath, clothed or unclothed, on the cover and get away with it. Nor could it have a lavatory in the foreground. And thus a collectors item was born.

Bog all
But what a debut album The Mamas & The Papas' If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears was. Aside from the monster hit singles, Monday Monday & California Dreaming and John Lennon's I Call Your Name, it also contained a sassy cover of The In Crowd. Pass the soap.

Sunday 24 August 2014


Clearing out the garage this morning I stumbled upon a veritable treasure trove of seemingly lost photographs, slides, concert and theatre programmes, button badges, commemorative beer glasses and general flotsam and jetsam I've been dragging round with me all my adult life.

My penchant for badges has never left me. From my Blue Peter badge (which I still have c/w the letter from Biddy Baxter that came with it) to the band badges I used to wear as a kid on denim jackets - I would always hunt them down at Record Fairs and market stalls and pin them on my lapel. And only recently I picked up an Old Grey Whistle Test 'star-kicker' that I have on a 'going down the pub jacket'.

But in 1973 I discovered patches: take a look at the photograph of me (found earlier today) taking against a watery backdrop. If you look really carefully you'll be able to make out two letter boxes on my knees; they're actually cloth patches about the same size as an old bank note. In fact, the one on my left knee is a bank note - an Alice Cooper Billion Dollar note. The one on the right, and I can see it now, is Messrrs. Connolly, Priest, Scott and Tucker: The Sweet.

Keith Moon, it would appear, was rather partial to patches too. His famous white boiler suit (the 'July' calendar photo from their 1976 Charlton gig - this was also in a box lurking at the back of the garage) was bedecked with them. I always hankered after the Esso one, but could never find one. Interestingly, the above mentioned drinking jacket has three patches running down the left arm. More proof, if proof were needed, that I'm still not ready to be a grown up.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Today, I've mostly been listening to Saint Motel

I heard this tune for the first time yesterday. A little over 24 hours later, I can't get the bloody thing out of my head. And I can't help thinking I've heard it before, which, of course, I have: it's ABC's and Haircut One Hundred's notes but, to paraphrase Eric Morecambe, 'not necessarily in the right order.'

Tuesday 19 August 2014


Norm Larsen (1923-1970)
Norm Larsen, founder of the Rocket Chemical Company based in San Diego, was a chemist. A bloody good chemist. And like a lot of chemists he was always looking to find that elusive breakthrough. In 1953, at the fortieth time of trying, he hit upon a formula for a water degreasing agent/lubricant he thought may have applications in the aerospace industry.

As with a lot of boffins he never had a commercial brain. He sold the company not long after, complete with its only product, for a paltry $20,000 - no royalties, no residuals. He always reckoned on inventing something better; he never did. Larsen died in 1970.

The WD-40 company (they dropped the Rocket moniker 'because we don't sell rockets') now has an annual turnover in excess of $300 million.

These days WD-40 is one half of, along with duct tape, what is affectionately called the Redneck Tool Kit: if it isn't moving and it should: WD-40. And if it is moving and it shouldn't: duct tape.

Saturday 16 August 2014

David Hepworth

I've been reading David Hepworth's blog 'What's He On About Now?' for as long as I can remember. In fact if it wasn't for him and the irrepressible Mondo, 'Even Monkeys Fall Out Of Trees' probably wouldn't have got off the ground. Last year David and I both both appeared in Saga magazine's Top 50 over-50 Blogs; not quite the Man Booker Prize, but I was chuffed all the same.

David's CV, however, extends way beyond blogging. Broadcaster, journalist, publishing industry analyst, he's been spinning around  in my orbit ever since he co-hosted The Whistle Test with Mark Ellen in the 80s and continues to do so through his writing and podcasts. He is also soon to be a published author.

David kindly agreed to answer a few probing questions for this humble blog.

You're obviously passionate about print journalism, but where is the next generation of great writers going to come from?

I'm not sure I am passionate about print journalism. I read and value some of it but my children's generation don't, and they're the ones who will decide its future. There's lots of good writing all over the place, some of it long and some of it short; there's more of it than ever before. The difference is people have great difficulty getting paid for it. I don't know what the answer is. If I did I'd be a billionaire.

I understand you're writing a book about 1971. What, for you, sets that year apart from any other?

It was the last year before rock starting repeating itself. It was the last year before the music business took over and the tail began wagging the dog. It was the last year of all rock stars having hair. It's the annus mirabilis of the rock album. There wasn't a dull moment.

If you hadn't have been hosting Live Aid would you have gone to Wembley for the day?

Frankly, probably not. Those were our years for raising small children and Saturdays were spent ferrying them between swimming lessons and parties. And since I never watch music on TV I would probably have missed it altogether.

Can anything replace the 45 rpm single?

For all sorts of reasons, no. Pop flourished amid scarcity and now it's just another thing which we have an over supply of. That's not to say people don't still like music. It's just that they can never feel what I felt for Good Vibrations because nobody can imagine the background against which it appeared. Two TV channels. One radio station playing no more than ten discs a day.

Is Amazon the new HMV on Oxford Street?

Well, it's bigger, better stocked and a lot more sinister. The thing that shops like HMV offered was an education. You spent hours in the place - in my case, since I worked there, years - and you absorbed a huge amount that it's impossible to absorb nowadays. That's the problem with on-line retailing. Vast choice which you can only glimpse through a tiny window.

Is London getting too big for its boots?

The great thing about London is its complete indifference to what anybody thinks of it. We're really not bothered because we live in London and we wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Once a year Hartlepool supporters descend on the capital dressed as Smurfs or penguins or whatever. This in my experience is the only thing from outside London that impresses Londoners.

Who was the last band you paid to go and see? And were they as good as the first band you went to see?

I honestly can't remember. But since the first act I went to see was Chuck Berry I think it's safe to say that they weren't.

What a bummer, you've just had two dinner party invites land on your doormat for next Saturday night. One from Paul McCartney, the other from Ray Davies. Who do you let down politely?

I suppose I'd go to Macca's because he's living history and my wife would be tickled to meet him. Mind you, vegetarian food is a bit of a drawback. Seriously, I've met lots of famous rock stars and the overwhelming majority of them are only comfortable talking about themselves which makes them not brilliant at socialising.  If I could choose one to socialise with it would be Randy Newman, who's just interested in people and funny about them. He's had me weeping with laughter.

Can you ever read for pure enjoyment or are you always framing a 500 word review whilst turning the pages?

I am *always* reading for pure enjoyment. There is nothing I would rather do. I find it very difficult to read out of duty.  I'm never framing 500 word reviews because they're really hard work. I prefer to write something on my blog because as soon as I'm bored I stop.

It's common knowledge that Penny Lane is the The Beatles' finest hour. But what other two tracks would it share the podium with?

'Help!' and 'If I Fell'.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Missing cousins

I hadn't seen Suzie in nearly 40 years. But about two years ago I received an email that contained in its subject box the words 'Are you the John Medd that used to live in Grantham?' The email read 'If you are,  I have a photo of us together and you're wearing a most remarkable shirt.' I may be paraphrasing. And it was signed 'Suzie, your cousin - though everyone calls me Susan these days.' I simply replied 'Yes.'

That shirt
The next thing I knew another email arrived enclosing a photograph of us taken at a family wedding in 1975 - the last time we saw each other. And of course I remembered Suzie (and the shirt) vividly. Suzie not least because whenever we visited her I was always struck dumb by her bedroom: it was, quite literally, covered from top to bottom in Marc Bolan posters. Walls, ceiling, mirrors, every square inch of her room was given over to The Jeepster himself. The shirt because, as I told her when she came up on Friday for a 24 hour smash and grab visit, I loved that shirt so much I'm actually thinking of going to a tailor, with the photograph, and asking him to reproduce it - albeit several sizes larger.

Anyway, we stayed up 'til 7 o'clock in the morning drinking wine spodeeodee and generally playing catch up. But by the time the sun came up I'd be hard pushed to tell you most of what we'd been talking about. Though I can remember, quite clearly, her telling me that she went to see Marc Bolan and T Rex in the spring of 1977 not long before he wrapped his Mini round a tree in Barnes. She said he was back on form and it was also the tour he'd got The Damned supporting him. Sorry Suzie, you're going to have to come back again and tell me all that other stuff again.

Monday 11 August 2014

Martin Kelner

Local radio often gets a bad press; I blame Steve Coogan. If Alan Partridge wasn't the figment of some smart alec Mancunian's imagination you'd think BBC radio out in the provinces was full of identikit jocks playing the same golden oldies from an identikit playlist. Thank God then for stations like BBC Radio Leeds, home of respected broadcaster Martin Kelner. Martin, it would be fair to say, has been around the block a few times. Apart from the aforementioned gig at Radio Leeds he's on Five Live's Fight Talk and back in the nineties could be heard nationally on Radio 2; sometimes depping for Wogan, but more often than not on his own late night slot on the nation's favourite network. He's passionate about sport too and used to write a very engaging column, Screen Break, in The Guardian as well as writing a well received book on the history of sport on TV - Sit Down and Cheer. He's recently moved his typewriter to The Racing Post.

So, no slouch he: a voracious blogger and podcaster too and, back in the day, gave Caroline Aherne a springboard for Mrs. Merton with weekly comedy sketches on his Piccadilly Radio show in Manchester. Matin kindly agreed to answer a few quick fire questions for the blog.

Talking for a living or writing for a living: what feels more comfortable – being in front of a microphone or a hunched over a keyboard?

I much prefer the radio for the immediacy of it. I find writing a struggle. It is however satisfying when you have crafted a piece and it has worked out well.

In your memoir, When Will I Be Famous, you likened working in show business to cleaning up after the circus elephant.

It was just a joke really!

Were you at Radio 2 when it was still pipe and slippers or had they started morphing into what it is today?

Very much pipe, slippers, and Mantovani in my day. However I was given the Saturday afternoon show with a brief to make it slightly more daring; playing exciting sounds from Simon and Garfunkel and The Kinks

Who did you look up to when you started in radio?

Mainly comic figures; the Round The Horne people, and the cast of I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again. 

Is writing about sport better than playing it?

It all depends on the level you play at. I played football for various junior clubs and on those rare occasions when I played a blinder it certainly beat writing about it.

I heard you and Danny Baker had a bit of a set to.

Not really. I had a bit of a go at his last show on Radio London, which I thought was self-indulgent - and still do - and Alan Davies got the wrong end of the stick, thinking I was attacking the great man per se, and rushed to Twitter, as he has done on other occasions rather unwisely. Danny himself never reacted.

It says on Wikipedia you're a singer.

Different Martin Kelner, a Spanish artiste I believe. Though you should hear me in the shower. Have done some karaoke - Do Wah Diddy Diddy, song of choice.

And that you discovered Mrs. Merton.

I did. She appeared on my North of England late night show in the early to mid '90s

Do you still read The Guardian?

On a Saturday always. Occasionally midweek.

Writing for the Racing Post, you must have tips coming out of your ears?

Hmm. It's picking the winning ones that counts - a trick I haven't mastered yet.

You're a northerner with roots in Manchester and Leeds. Do you think London's getting too big for its boots?

Economically, definitely. But I'm not alone in that, both Government and opposition are promising a boost for the North post-election.

Thursday 7 August 2014

The Hendersons will all be there

Artwork c/o Charlotte Macrae
Glossop Record Club are screening Made in Sheffield - The Birth of Electronic Pop, complete with an introduction by its director Eve Wood. Maybe when the good people at Henderson's are looking at branding their next limited edition bottles (as they did successfully both locally and nationally with Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United colours), they could do something similar with Sheffield bands, perhaps with Heaven 17 or Human League labels. Or even The Comsat Angels.

The film is showing at Glossop Labour Club on Thursday 11 September and admission is free. Unlike my favourite relish, often referred to as Hendo's or just Relish, which currently retails at £2.49.

Friday 1 August 2014

Hello, Goodbye

A couple of years ago I wrote a 30 minute radio play called Hello, Goodbye. It was a work of fiction based on a real event - the last meeting of John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1976.

Scene 1





INTERCOM: It’s the concierge here Mr Lennon. Sorry to disturb you

sir, but you’ve got a visitor.

JOHN LENNON (J): Who is it Sam?

SAM (S): Says his name’s Paul, sir.

(J): Paul who?

(S): Fella won’t give me his last name sir. I must say he looks familiar;

just says he’s an old friend of yours.

(J): Whoever he is, tell him I’m not in.

(S): Yes sir.


(S): I’m afraid he’s adamant sir; says he won’t leave without seeing


(J): (sighs deeply) Put him on Sam.

Paul (P): John? It’s me John…Macca.


(J): What the hell are you doing here?

(P): Any chance of a cup of tea and a jam-butty?



(J): (shouts) Come In!

(P): Alright man?

(J): How did you get here?

(P): I caught the One After 909! Sorry, I couldn’t resist that. Me and

Linda were in Manhattan and, I know what you said last time I rang, but

hey, I couldn’t not come and see you…it’s been too long, man.

(J): I think you’ve wasted your time Paul.

(J): Come on John. Meet me half way here. This isn’t easy for me

either you know.

(J): Look Paulie. Nobody made you come here. I’ve got myself sorted

at last. I don’t need you or anyone else coming here and dredging up the


(P): (genuinely hurt) Don’t ‘look Paulie’ me. Whether you like it or not John

you can’t hide who you were: you were a Beatle. So was I. Just because

we called it a day seven years ago, or whenever it was, isn’t going to

change the fact. Look John, what’s gone is gone but let’s move on. I’m

not asking you to marry me here, I just want to be your friend. Yeah?

(J): You said some crass things when we were breaking up man.

God, when my first wife divorced me she wasn’t that nasty.

(P): As you once said yourself: The past is a different place…they do

things differently there. And anyway, if Cynthia hadn’t divorced you,

you’d not be with Yoko. How is she by the way? Is she not around?

(J): Lucky for you she’s in the Park doing her Tai Chi. (John goes into the

kitchen at this point, next line ‘off mic’) Do you wanna coffee?

(P): Her Tai what?

(J): Tai Chi. It’s a meditation technique. You know like all that shit we

did in India.

(P): That was all George’s idea wasn’t it? (laughs) I don’t think me and

you needed much convincing but do you remember when he was

persuading Ringo to come?

(J): He said he’d only come if he could take his own baked beans!

(P): Bless him. I saw him last Christmas you know. He hasn’t


(J): You know what? We might have come up with the songs, but he

kept it all together. He kept us together. (off mic): Milk and sugar?

(P): Black no sugar. I’ll go along with that. There were times when I

wanted you to see some lyrics I’d written but I knew you’d slag them off

if I gave you them, so-

(J): - So you’d use Ringo as a go between? Was I really that bad?

(P): I could lie to you. Near the end, no, what am I saying? From about

68 onwards you were hard work. What had started out as the best job

ever, writing songs with my mucker, turned into a drag.

(J): I still let you put your name to my songs.

(P): That works both ways John. Remember ‘Yesterday?’ I don’t

remember you giving me a dig out with that.

(J): (Angrily) Hold On! Hold On! This is precisely the reason we aren’t

muckers’ anymore. You’re right I was a Beatle. Was. Not now and not

ever again. And for that reason I don’t give a toss about whose name

appears on the songwriting credits; yours, mine, it makes no difference

to me. Can’t you see that?


(P): You’re right. Of course you’re right. I just thought we had a few

more songs left, that’s all. I guess it just ended so suddenly. One minute

it’s like ‘all for one and one for all’, next minute we’re all at each other’s

throats with the lawyers doing all the talking.

(J): Don’t beat yourself up. What happened, happened. We’re grown

men now. Don’t forget we were just boys when we started. You can’t be

in a gang forever. That’s all we were…a gang. That’s what my therapist

told me anyway.

(P): Therapist?!

(J): Oh yeah, it’s all the rage over here: got problems with drugs? Get

therapy. Got problems with drink? Get therapy. Got-

(P): -Got problems with your past, get therapy. How does that work?

(J): I don’t know that it does in all honesty. All I know is that for an

hour a week I sound off in her office on the East Side and when I come

out I feel like my head’s had all the crap taken out.

(P): But it keeps filling up again?

(J): Some days it fills up quicker than others.

(P): I’m sorry to hear that. So much for the American dream.

(J): If I had to choose between Manhattan and Mull, Manhattan wins

every time. What made you move to the middle of nowhere for God’s


(P): Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it: for one, I can walk out of my

front door and not be door stepped by The Daily Mirror. Or young girls.

Two, I can be on the beach in less than a minute and, three, what your

therapist takes an hour to do, the sea air does in five minutes flat. I bet

you can’t go anywhere in this town without being mobbed.

(J): You’d be surprised. I put my flat cap and overcoat on and I just

blend in. New York’s got so many weirdoes that if anyone suspects I’m

John Lennon they just walk on by thinking ‘it can’t be.’

(P): Don’t you miss Lime Street? You don’t need a Green Card in


(J): I can’t go home now Paul; it’s been too long. America isn’t

perfect, God knows, but I’ll take my chances here. Everyone I meet has

got a half full glass. The few times I’ve been back you see the

desperation in people’s eyes. Over here even the kids lying in the gutter

are looking at the stars.

(P): At least when you had a British passport you weren’t talking in


(J): That’s rich coming from the man who wrote ‘Mary Had A Little


(P): That hurts. You may have a point, but it still hurts. But when we

were writing together I knew that if either of us wrote anything tacky the

other one would flag it up: I remember with ‘A Day In The Life’ (sings)

Woke up, fell out of bed’-

(J): -Found my socks and pulled a thread! It wouldn’t have been the

same if you’d left that in!

(P): That’s what I’m saying to you John: we were tight then. We

needed each other. You were a mate and a big brother all rolled into one.

I valued that. Take when we went to Hamburg; I was only 18, George was

only sixteen, Christ, they wouldn’t allow that now would they? But we

looked up to you. You’d been round the block a few times already.

(J): Is that you thought? I was shitting myself just as much as you. I

only pretended to be tough. It was just a front. If one of us hadn’t we’d

have been eaten alive.
(P): It was a convincing act.

(J): It had to be Paul. We were in the middle of the Reeperbahn.

Playing for twelve hours a day with drunken Germans throwing God

knows what at us and then sleeping on rat infested mattresses. We did

well to get out of there in one piece didn’t we?

(P): There were times when I wanted to rag it all in and come home, I

must admit.

(J): Well, there wasn’t a lot waiting for me at home. Not after mother


(P): I remember you calling a band meeting and persuading us all to

give it a chance.

(J): I figured if we could make it at The Star Club we’d be prepared for

anything. And I wasn’t wrong was I?

(P): It made coming back to The Cavern a walk in the park. And, I

don’t quite know how it happened, but when we came back to Liverpool

we were treated like prodigal sons!

(J): It was the first time we had girls down the front screaming at us!

That was weird. I know it got a whole lot weirder, but those first few

nights back in the ‘Pool will live with me forever.

(P): So what do you do when you’re not in therapy? How do you fill

your days?

(J): I look after Sean. The little feller’s only eight months old so he

keeps me on my toes. I watch a bit of TV and I make bread.

(P): You? (Incredulously) You make bread? Are you serious?

(J): Totally. You wanna try it sometime. It’s, how can I say this…?

(P): Therapeutic?

(J): You got it. My therapist tells me I’ve got inner demons. I tell her

she’d have inner demons too if she’d walked a mile in these shoes but,

and you won’t find this in any self-help book, when I’m kneading that

dough man, I don’t have a care in the bloody world.

(P): Fancy showing me how?

(J): You better roll your sleeves up then.


(P): I never had you down as a househusband, man. What happened?

(J): Sean happened. When he was born I promised myself that I’d be

here for him when he was growing up. Not like Julian – I never saw that

kid for years. Pass that bag of flour. No, when Jules was growing up I

was just this voice on the end of the ‘phone calling lost distance. I must

have really messed with his head. So I vowed I’d do it differently this

time. Right, watch and learn.

(P): Aren’t you meant to weigh out the ingredients?

(J): I could. But doing it by eye means that it’s slightly different every

time. Always good, but never the same; I like that. Right, mix in the yeast

and salt, add the water and then do what I do. That’s it, work it you’re

your hands and feel it thicken up. Come on, punch that dough with your

fists. Go on: really work it.

(P): I see what you mean. It’s quite a work out, isn’t it?

(J): If I’ve had a snotty letter from the Taxman I tend to make better


(P): I must admit, I body swerve those letters and give them straight

to my accountant. Is this the right consistency, yeah? He tells me that if

I wanna keep on living in England then I’ve gotta be prepared to pay

crippling taxes. To be honest, that’s why I’m still touring. Right what do

I do with this.

(J): Right, fashion IT into the shape of a football…yeah, that’s it. Now we

cover it up with a tea towel.

(P): Then what?

(J): We leave it for an hour. Fancy a walk?

(P): OK!

(J): Put this hat on!

Scene 2



(P): You were right! It’s like they think they know who you are and

then they walk right on by.

(J): I told you. We couldn’t do what we did just now in Liverpool,

London, wherever. But over here, even when they clock me in a

restaurant – they wait politely ‘til I’ve finished my meal and then they

come over; I tell you, an American John Lennon autograph would be

worth ten times an English one ‘cos there aren’t that many!

(P): I was with George a couple of years back. He took me to the

Formula 1 at Silverstone. Anyway, we’ve got these really nice seats

above the pit lane and this young lad spots us. He taps up George first

and as this kid hands over his pen George gives me a wink and signs

the bit of paper. Half expecting the kid to pass me the pen, George and

the kid laugh and they show me the piece of paper. George has only

gone and signed not only his name but yours, mine and Ringo’s: perfect


(J): (Laughs) He’s been doing them for years! Didn’t you know? Never

give him your chequebook! Right, lets have a look at this dough.

(P): Bloody hell! It’s alive!

(J): Well it is. That’s yeast for you. Now we just bang it in this oven

for a bit and Bob’s yer Uncle. More coffee?

(P): Yeah, go on. How often do you play this? (picks up a guitar and plays a couple

of chords) Looks a bit dusty (laughs)

(J): You cheeky sod, I wrote ‘Give Peace A Chance’ on that. That’s the

guitar Elvis gave me. Check out the back.

(P): Someone’s carved ‘T C B.’

(J): Don’t you remember when we went to see him up in the

Hollywood Hills? That was his constant catch phrase: ‘Taking care of

business.’ He had a ring the size of your fist with TCB engraved on it. I’ll

never forget it. What a fella.

(P): I think me and George had popped something before we went: I

don’t remember much about that night. I certainly don’t remember ‘T B


(J): ‘T C B.’ Here, pass it over…(quickly tunes the guitar and launches into…) ‘Ever

since my baby left, I’ve found a new place to dwell, it’s down at the end

of Lonely Street, at Heartbreak Hotel (plays the first verse and chorus

and then…) That’s where it all began Paulie. If it wasn’t for Elvis there’d

have been no Quarrymen and no Beatles. He kick-started me; within

hours of hearing that on Radio Luxembourg I pleaded with Aunt Mimi to

buy me a guitar. Bless her, I must have caught her on a good day cos we

went straight into town and into Hessy’s on Matthew Street. £7 it cost

and you got a free lesson! That’s how I learned my first three chords!

(plays 3 chords to demonstrate).

(P): And I showed you a fourth, B Minor. Remember?

(J): How could I forget? With B Minor (plays B Minor chord) I could play Little

Richard, Buddy Holly and Elvis!

(P): Don’t forget Eddie Cochrane. It was because I was the only kid in

Liverpool who could play ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ that you let me join The


(J): Here (passes guitar back) – See if you can still remember it.

(P): Right. (coughs) - ‘Ooh, well I got a girl with a record machine, when

it comes to rockin' she's the queen, We love to dance on a Saturday


(J): -Hang on! Hang On! Let me go and get another guitar.


(J): Do you know what? You and me never recorded together. It was

always the band or solo; never just the two of us. Let’s just hit the

record button and see what happens…

(P): That’s cool with me, man.


(J): That’ll be the bread! Come on, let’s go and look at your first loaf!


(P): That’s amazing! And it smells amazing!

(J): Let’s leave it to cool down for a few minutes and then you can

taste it.


(J): Oh hello love. You’ll never guess who’s here… Paulie…I know I

what I said, but he was very persuasive…making bread and playing

rock and roll!...OK, I’ll tell him. See you later love. Yoko says hi but she’s

working on an installation in Greenwich Village; said she’ll be late.

(P): Tai Chi, Installations. She’s a busy woman. Tell her I was sorry to

miss her; I used to like chewing the fat with her.

(J): You used to wind her up something chronic.

(P): That’s because I blamed her for breaking up the band.

(J): Breaking up the band?! She kept the band together! It was Yoko

who kept pushing me out the door to go to all the recording sessions, to

meet the press, to write new songs. Without Yoko there’d have been no

White Album, no Abbey Road, no Let It Be. Paul, there’d have been no

rooftop gig without Yoko. Get Back wouldn’t have seen the light of day.

(P): You couldn’t be persuaded to go back on tour after ’66. Getting

up on that rooftop was the nearest we got to playing live again.

(J): And then the bizzies moved us on! (laughs)

(P): One of those coppers tried to unplug George’s guitar – Ringo

threw a drumstick at him! (laughs)

(J): That was a good day – I enjoyed it.

(P): What about today? Are you enjoying today?

(J): I’ve always enjoyed your company Paul. Even when you used to

get all heavy on me. We drifted apart that’s all. It’s quite common. Most

marriages end up the same way – we were no different.

(P): You’re probably right. If we’d done the rooftop gig 6 months later

you’d have probably chucked me over the edge – they’d have been

scraping me off Saville Row! That would really have given the ‘Paul Is

Dead’ conspiracy theorists something to work with.

(J): I’d forgotten all about that; you crossed the Abbey Road zebra

barefoot and half the world thinks it’s a sign that Paul’s dead and it’s not

you but a body double crossing the road?!

(P): (laughs) It was a baking hot day, so I just kicked off my shoes!

(J): I remember the photographer setting up his step ladders to get

that shot – he pissed off a few bus drivers in the process. Beatles or no

Beatles, they’d got timetables to keep and we were putting a real crimp

in their day!

(P): I had a dream the other night that we all got back together and

recreated the zebra crossing photo. Only there was a marksman hiding

behind the Volkswagen Beetle taking pop shots at us. I woke up


(J): Marksman! You must have been at the cheese, man! Who went

down first?

(P): You don’t wanna know. Anyway, never mind about the cheese,

where’s my bread? It’ll be ready now won’t it?

(J): In a minute (sounding concerned). This shooter took a pop at me? What about the rest of

us? Don’t tell me I was the only casualty.

(P): It was only a dream. And anyway, George bought it as well. Ringo

ran away and I just finished walking over the zebra. Then I woke up.

(J): Bloody hell, that’s how it’s going to be isn’t it? I go first, George

next and you and Ringo live happily ever after.

(P): John, it was only a dream. You can’t read anything into them you

silly sod.

(J): What if I told you I’ve had similar dreams. Always a gunman.

Always after me.

(P): (eating) Fantastic bread, man. I can’t wait to make this at home for


(J): It’s not bad is it? Your first loaf of bread…It’s better than anything

you can buy at the deli.

(P): Deli? We’ve only just got self-serve supermarkets back home!

(J): That’s one of the things about New York – you can eat food from,

all over the world – but at he end of the day you can’t beat home made

(P): Put the telly on man. I love American TV.

(J): Really? Even their crazy adverts…sorry, ‘messages? (switches TV

on and to demonstrate his point a stereotypical wash powder/or some

such ad comes on)

(P): Especially the messages (he then parodies a US ad in mock American accent).

(J): Hey (John finishes flicking through the channels), this should be good –

Saturday Night Live – Raquel Welch is meant to be on.


Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I’m Lorne Michaels (LM) and we’ve

got a packed show for you tonight: John Sebastian from The Lovin’

Spoonful is dropping in and (drum roll)……Raquel Welch! But

first…remember this bunch of boys from Liverpool, England?

(Cue The Beatles playing on the Ed Sullivan Show from the mid-60s).

(J): Bloody Hell! To this day I don’t know how I played the guitar

without me glasses on!

(LM): That’s right ladies and gentlemen, The Monkees! No, of course

not; that was the one and only Beatles. And, you may be wondering why

I’ve opened up tonight’s show with an old clip of The Beatles. Well, join

me on the other side of these messages and all will become clear.

(P): What do you think that’s all about? Do you know that Lorne

Michaels fella?

(J): He’s a comedian. You heard that Monkees gag! He’s probably got

Ringo waiting in the wings. Here we go, ad break’s over.

(LM): I’m Lorne Michaels, welcome back. Right now we’re being seen

by approximately 22 million viewers. But, please allow me, if I may, to

address myself to four very special people - John, Paul, George and

Ringo – The Beatles. Lately there’s been a lot of speculation about you

guys getting back together – that would be great. In my book The

Beatles are the best thing that ever happened to music. It goes deeper

than that, you’re not just a musical group, you’re a part of us, we grew

up with you. It’s for this reason that I’m inviting you to come on our

show (oohs and aahs from the studio audience). Now, we’ve heard and

read a lot about personal and legal conflicts that might prevent you guys

from re-uniting, that’s none of my business. You guys will have to

handle that. But it’s also been said that no one has yet come up with

enough money to satisfy you. Well, if it’s money you want, there’s no

problem here (more delight from the audience). Which is why The

National Broadcasting Company authorises me to give you a cheque for

$3,000. That’s right, three thousand dollars (unrestrained laughter now

from the studio). As you can see, verifiably, a cheque made out to

you…The Beatles for $3,000. All you have to do is sing three Beatles

tunes. ‘She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’, that’s a $1000 right there (the

audience by this time are uncontrollable). You know the words…it’ll be

easy. Like I said, the cheque is made out to The Beatles. You divide it

anyway you want – if you want to give Ringo less, that’s up to you. I’d

rather not get involved. I’m sincere about this. If it helps you to reach a

decision to reunite, well, it’s a worthwhile investment. You all have

agents, you know where I can be reached. Just think about it, OK?

Thank you.

(J): Bloody Hell!

(P): Bloody Hell!

(J): I’ll give him one thing.

(P): What’s that?

(J): He knows how to get a laugh. You know if he’d have said ten

dollars or even ten million dollars, it wouldn’t have been funny: but three

thousand dollars…genius.

(P): You told me he was a comedian. But the thing is, what are we

gonna do?

(J): What do you mean, ‘what are we gonna do?’ The guy’s just having

a laugh. I told you, he’s a joker – he’s doing this sort of stuff all the time.

You weren’t seriously thinking about calling him back were you?!

(P): Better than that – we can get in a cab and go down to NBC’s


(J): I think you’re the one who needs therapy! And just what would we

do when we got down there? Play the spoons? Tell a few jokes?

(P): We’d play some rock’n’roll – that’s what we’d do; like we’ve been

playing this afternoon – like we’ve been playing for the last twenty

years! Come on, John…what do you say?

(J): I say you’re mad, that’s what I say! I’m not saying we shouldn’t do

it…but it’s still mad! You’ve not thought it through though, have you?

It’s all well and good turning up like two kids at Liverpool Empire, but

once we get through the doors we won’t be able to move for the press –

it’ll be like Shea Stadium all over again. Flashguns, microphones,

screaming – it’d be Hard Days Night 2!

(P): You’re probably right. It would have been fun though, wouldn’t it?

Maybe another time?

(J): Maybe.

P): Paul picks up the guitar and plays the opening chords to Buddy Holly’s Maybe Baby ‘Maybe

Baby, I’ll have you, maybe baby you’ll be true, maybe baby I’ll have you

for me………….’

I better be going now John. It’s been a blast.

(J): Same here. Let’s not leave it so long next time: ‘Don’t Be A

Stranger’ as Aunt Mimi used to say to me.

(P): I won’t. You take care now.

(J): Here, before you go. Sound of cassette being ejected from machine.

You best take this tape. If anything happens to me, make a copy for

Yoko and then decide between you what to do with it.

(P): What if I go first?

(J): It’ll be me. Mark my word.

Scene 3


FLASHBACK/FX-ECHO-(J): What If I told you I’ve had similar dreams?

Always a gunman. Always after me.


Good morning and welcome to the Today programme. It’s 7 0’clock on the 8th of December 1980. The news is read by Peter Donaldson (PD)

(PD): News is just coming in that John Lennon, the former Beatle,

was shot dead last night outside his New York City apartment building..

Police have arrested a twenty five year old man. Eye witnesses say the

accused had asked Lennon for his autograph.


(P): Oh My God!


(P): Yeah?

(Caller): Is that Mr McCartney?

(P): (angrily) Who is this? What do you want?

(Caller): I’m calling from The Sun newspaper, Mr McCartney. You’ve

obviously heard the news coming out of New York this morning. Have

you got anything to say? Any messages for our readers struggling to

come to terms with John’s untimely death? How long had it been since

you two met?

(P): (faltering voice) Although we would speak on the ‘phone from time to

time, I’d not seen John since 1976. He was a bit cagey at first as I’d just

landed on his doorstep unannounced. But after a few minutes it was just

like the old days when we’d write songs in his Aunt Mimi’s front room.

John showed me how to make bread and we talked about the old days;

we played some rock’n’roll on our guitars and we laughed: it was a

perfect way to spend a day. Good food, good music, good company.