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30th April, 2020

#PaperbackWriter - Do you know the Beatles?

In part five of our #PaperbackWriter campaign, Irene, from Liverpool, shares her take on the Beatles and how they have influenced her throughout life. 

From a cameo in 'Yesterday' to a missed invitation to a very special intimate gig, this enjoyable read shows how the Beatles can influence all aspects of life. 

The Beatles have loomed large in my life for a number of reasons and not just in relation to their music. Always keen on music I was eleven when my Dad arrived home from work with a surprise for me, he was always bringing me little gifts. It was 1962. To my delight my latest present was the Beatles first hit 'Love Me Do'. Funny, I can still remember that 45 single being on the Parlophone Label, the label being black with white letters. The Beatles had arrived and very soon Beatlemania and the Mersey Sound were famous all around the world.

It was a particularly exciting time for those of us who lived in Liverpool. The city quickly became the place to be and although we didn’t travel far in those days, when visiting friends or family outside the area the first question on strangers lips were “Do you know the Beatles?”.

You suddenly found yourself the centre of attention just because you came from Liverpool. 

Too young to have seen the Beatles play the Cavern, my Dansette record player and my tiny transister radio brought me close to them. I didn’t have a particular favourite liking them all equally. My wonderful Dad came up trumps again. In 1963 he bought my cousin and myself tickets to see them at the Liverpool Empire. Those tickets were like gold dust. I wish I’d kept the stub.

My cousin was about sixteen at the time and I felt very grown up being allowed to go to a concert (they weren't called gigs in those days). Roy Orbison was also on the bill. What a night it was, we could hardly hear the music because of the screams from much of the audience, mainly young girls who were hysterical and fainting left right and centre. Like many teenagers the Beatles became the music of choice when my friends and I visited each others homes, dancing in the kitchen and singing away, yeah, yeah, yeah. 

‘In My Life’ was one of my firm favourites as was ‘Norwegian Wood’ a song I taught to my brother who was about three years of age at the time. I had relatives in Llandudno Wales, and my Uncle often worked in one of the theatres where many famous groups performed. He was able to get a number of autographs for me including those of the Beatles. I kept the autograph book for many years finally selling it in the early 1980’s as circumstances had led to my being short of money. How I wish I still had that book if only for the sake of nostalgia although I imagine it would possibly be worth more now as many of the stars have sadly passed away. 

As many of my generation I have never left ‘the fab four’ behind. They are deep in our psyche. In 2012 I saw an article advertising a Beatles themed playwriting competition called ‘Ticket To Write’. I entered a piece entitled ‘Please Please Dad’ based on my relationship with my Dad. To my amazement my first attempt at playwriting came second, beaten only by half a point. A segment of it was performed at The Beatles Story some months later, I was thrilled. 

That minor success led me to continue writing and I have had many plays and poems performed in the ensuing years. In 2015 my play ‘Norwegian Wood’ again with a Beatles theme was performed, highlighting ‘stranger danger’. I was encouraged to perform it again and with this in mind I entered it in the Leverhulme Drama Festival in 2016. It was awarded Best Original Script, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. The play was also nominated in a number of other categories. ‘Norwegian Wood’ has also been performed in a local school. The subject matter still resonates today and I would love to take it on tour to other schools and community centres but unfortunately there is little funding available for me to do this. 

In 2018 I appeared in one of the crowd scenes in the film ‘Yesterday’. For those of you who don’t know, the film depicts a world where nobody can remember the Beatles, that is except for one man who becomes famous by pretending to write songs, songs which were in fact written by John, Paul, George and Ringo. My scene was set in Russia and featured the song ‘Back In The USSR’ followed by an appearance by Ed Sheeran. Exciting stuff. 

Not long after the above I received an email inviting me to apply for a ticket for a secret event to be held in Liverpool. For some reason I misread the information and thought I was ineligible to apply. What an idiot, it was that secret surprise gig held by Paul McCartney at the Philharmonic Pub! 

2019 saw me involved with a project run by Writing On The Wall. As a writer I was tasked to write and record a short piece to be played on a loop in Sefton Park as part of a three day event called ‘The City Of Light’. My piece was called ‘In My Life’ and was centred around life in a concentration camp in WW2. The Beatles song ‘In My Life’ was the favourite song of the main character, a camp survivor. I recently met with Pete Best at a function, I had worked alongside him in the early 1990’s, such a gentleman without a trace of bitterness at having been replaced by Ringo Starr. 

My link to the Beatles has continued to the present day. A couple of months ago the team from ‘Ticket To Write’ decided to resurrect the said competition. I submitted a play based on the song ‘She’s Leaving Home’ entitled ‘Our Baby’s Gone’. I wanted to write a play relating to current issues. The piece highlights the need for families to talk to each other, not easy as we all lead busy lives, and also tackles the dangers facing rough sleepers. Along with three other pieces it was chosen to be performed in June of this year. Unfortunately the lockdown has put paid to that for the foreseeable future. It is hoped that sometime in 2021 will be the rescheduled date. Perhaps The Beatles Story will invite us to put on a performance! 

The lockdown has also resulted in another of my plays having to be postponed. This piece called ‘Michael’ has another reference to the song ‘In My Life’ as the lead male character asks the lead female character to marry him by giving her a framed copy of the song as it is her favourite song. When I gave the script to the lead female, she told me that ‘In My Life’ had recently been played at her Father’s funeral and she was comforted that it was included in the play, serendipity at work. 

As the reader can see, I have a number of links to the Beatles and they have given me a great deal of joy and inspiration through the years. It is unbelievable to think that when the Beatles broke into the music scene my Dad, as did many adults at the time predicted that they would be one hit wonders and would disappear within a short time. How wrong they were. My Dad passed away in 1988. I wish he was still here to see that the Beatles are still as loved and as influential today as when he bought me their first single.

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