There were lesser Gods, in Liverpool: The Big Three, Rory Storm, The Searchers, Billy J Kramer, The Swinging Blue Jeans (My daughter invariably squirms with my rendition of Hippy Hippy Shake) and even smaller Gods, some as small as the ‘Hideaways’ who once performed at Mable Fletcher Technical College. They had their own logo, but that was all.
Mabel Fletcher attracted all kinds. Roger McGough, the Liverpool poet taught there for a time. He was a gifted teacher, and his poetry’s ok, too.
It also attracted a strange pregnant woman. She sat in the Common Room, at the far end, and people drifted by her, some touching her stomach. A few candles and a touch of incense it could have been Lourdes. The bell went, and I drifted off to make some sausage rolls.
Later rumors spread like rats in a Take-Away. She was carrying a Beatle baby; it was John Lennon’s, Paul’s, others swore blind Ringo or George was the father. All of us who had not touched the holy stomach felt vaguely cheated, though many years later I comfort myself it was probably the window cleaners.
Some now like to demystify the Beatles, refer to them laughingly as the first Boy Band. They were more than that, but were they ‘manufactured’?
It was my last day at the college and I was wandering around the Common Room - strangely empty without the pregnant woman. There was a waste bin there though, and in it was a large poster advertising the Beatles.
Printed in large red letters on a white background, it was advertising a Beatles Concert at the Locarno Ballroom in Liverpool. It went something like this.
LAST CHANCE TO SEE
YOUR VALENTINE BEATLES.
Free Gifts for the first 300 girls
Note the free gifts for the first 300 girls (boys always lose out) A clear case of priming the pump - bribing girls to see the Beatles!
I’d missed the holy stomach but what was in the bin made for a nice souvenir. And that was all it was. You need to remember the Beatles were only big in Liverpool then. No one else in Britain had heard of them. Two months later they had taken over the world and over the years I held on to that poster in my various moves from Liverpool to Swansea, Aberystwyth, and then Newport. And over the years it became steadily more battered and creased.
At the back of my mind I thought it would make a nice heirloom for Thomas and Frances. (…yeah, well, like my Dad trying to sell me Bing Crosby) But the paper was creased and yellowing, there were little tears, each growing bigger as every year passed.
Then my guardian angel intervened.
In the paper I saw an advert offering best prices for Beatles memorabilia. There was also a phone number and a man from Chorley answered. I described my poster and he nearly bit my hand off. Send me a photo. And I did.
Two days later, he phoned back and in a soft Chorley accent he traced every little crease and fold, from top to bottom, then said he'd be there the following day, having to purchase some Beatle contracts from a hall in Bristol first.
Sure enough, the following evening there was a knock on the door and in he walked, pockets bulging with money. The poster was laid bare on the table. It looked wrinkled and sad beneath the glare of a light bulb, like a raddled old woman.
He rubbed its corners and nodded. 'The real thing' he said. 'There's lots of fakes about'. Then he pulled out wads of money and gave me £2000.
When it was done and dusted I asked him how much he'd sell it for - 'possibly £3000 maybe a bit less - he stared pointedly at the tears and creases.
Anyway we lost our bit of history, but to be honest it was decaying fast and we didn't have the wherewithall to preserve it. I’d been cheated out of a Bob Dylan ticket at Mabel Fletchers but learnt a lesson. Life is what you make - or salvage from dust bins.