Executive Honorary Members
Sir Paul McCartney
Sir George Martin
(The Original Quarrymen):-
(Be sure to check out the photo's on page 2)
The weekend started at about 12:30pm on Friday afternoon when Maureen and I left out two tins of meat for the cat, plus instructions on how to operate the can-opener. We informed our next door neighbours that we were away for the weekend, asked them to throw the cat an odd slice of bread and make sure that he did not break back into the house for more tins of food! The last time we left the cat on its own we left him a key to the house. When we got back the place was in a mess. He’d had all his female cat friends over, boozing’ and smoking pot and generally making lots of other cats – so no more key being left for him!
We got into our small car and headed for Newbridge – some 170 miles away. The journey was uneventful but extremely pleasant – it is terrific to watch the miles go flying by to the sound of John, Paul, George and Ringo singing all their early songs. With the volume turned up fairly loudly. I was in heaven.
Dublin’s Fair City
We arrived in Newbridge at about 5:30pm and called round to our daughter’s house, where we had a cup of tea and a sandwich before she took us to the railway station. Our destination, Heuston Station in the fair city of Dublin. I know it’s Dublin’s Fair City – I was singing about it later that night on the bus! We arrived at Heuston to be greeted by Vani and Di Di – if you do not know who Vani is you would have lost £300.00 in Grafton Street too – just like the other eejet! Vani took us out to Ranelagh where we had more to eat. Vani had laid out a lovely salad for us.
God it’s great to be spoiled – and all my women spoil me. Vani also had a lovely surprise for me. She had bought me a new Beatles Book – 'The Beatles Files' - filled with previously unpublished photos of the Fab Four from the archives of The Daily Mirror. A lovely book and one I did not even know existed. I listened to a few CDs whilst Maureen and Vani discussed the forthcoming evening’s activities – as well as the festivities to be experienced the following day. We eventually departed from Ranelagh and headed up the mountains to The Blue Light, where a great party was in full swing and Pete and Pat met us – and of course Derek – all working like beavers, ensuring that all was going well – and indeed it was.
The Original Quarrymen
I was introduced to Alistair Taylor and Geoff Rhind – Geoff signed his photo in the Pete Shotton book that I had brought along. We were also introduced to some members of the Original Quarrymen – Len Garry was there – God what a character – I enjoyed his company immensely and could listen to him relate stories from the early days in Liverpool all night, and never get tired. Eric Griffiths and Rod Davis were also in attendance, and of course the demure Colin Hanton – their drummer. The ones from the photo taken by Geoff Rhind all those many years ago.
In their company it was easy for me to transport myself back in time and share with them; those magical moments when Skiffle was the rage and a young man called John Lennon, together with this motley crew was to instigate the creation of a group that would conquer more of the world than any group prior to them had done – or any group since for that matter.
Feel The Magic
If it is difficult for you to fully appreciate the way I was feeling then think of your favourite person, favourite invention, or favourite film and recall the joy it brought you. Right – you got that firmly set in your mind – can you smell the perfume? Can you feel the magic? Are you tingling with excitement? OK – now multiply that feeling a thousand fold. You are now experiencing something near what I was feeling. It was magic – it really was.
Pete Shotton was not there unfortunately, but I was assured that he would be in attendance tomorrow and so now there was even more excitement to look forward to. I had a brilliant night in The Blue Light, and for a while I was even jamming with the Quarrymen – the originals – Eric Griffiths, Rod Davis and Dick Hall – (stand-in for Pete Shotton) - man I was gone.
Molly Malone Murdered
All too soon the night began to draw to a close – or should I say morning. How do we get back to Ranelagh I wondered? No bother there – back in the group’s transport. Can things get any better – now I can boast I was ‘on the road’ with the Quarrymen! The return trip was hilarious as we tried to sing folk songs. God love poor Molly Malone – she was brutally murdered on numerous occasions as the bus made its merry way down from the peaks of Sandyford and back into the quiet suburb of Ranelagh.
On arrival back at Vani’s, proper priorities were established – kettle on, tea made – some sandwiches were created and the remainder of the beautiful salad was made to disappear. Vani and Maureen decided to sit up and talk but I sneaked out of the dining room to the bedroom and before long – although I was lying in a horizontal position – in dreams I was standing up and singing along with The Quarrymen yet again. It did not take me long to enter the land of nod. There are those who say I do not NEED my beauty sleep – but they are just being kind!
The Big Day – Saturday
Saturday morning arrived and after we were all up and had breakfast, plans for the remainder of the day were made and we eventually made our way out and got on a bus heading into town. We had a few more laughs – I was quite frightened really – we were upstairs on the bus - and there was no driver! We had a great time wandering around Grafton Street, going into Tower Records and the two girls had a nice time in The Body Shop. I went into The Body Shop myself, but once I found out that it was not an 'exchange' shop, I left. We soon made our way to The Castle Inn and on our way I saw some cars that had been ’clamped’. I couldn’t help but think 'Park your car in Dublin – get a free security lock fitted’.
The Castle Inn was filled with ‘Beatle People’. On view were many of the terrific drawings by our own Georgina Byrne and there were stands displaying lots of Beatle memorabilia. I ordered a CD-ROM of The Beatles albums and I am eagerly awaiting it's arrival. It will be a nice Christmas present from me to me. I have been told that I will also be getting The John Lennon Anthology BoxSet for Christmas and I have been strongly informed that I WILL NOT be getting it UNTIL Christmas! Women can be so cruel when they want to be.
I really enjoyed the time in The Castle Inn and later on I listened to the interviews with Alistair Taylor and then with The Quarrymen. I got a delightful photo of Vani as she watched The Quarrymen being interviewed. She was 'hanging on' to every word being said by Pete Shotton - she was not alone. I also got a really nice snap of Danielle Byrne (Georgina's sister) talking to Pete Shotton, it will be something for her to hang up in her room and relate to her grandchildren - Oasis - rubbish - I met the originals! Maureen herself was interviewed by UTV, and it was great. I met a lot of people - many from Northern Ireland, and there was a chap up from Wexford also.
There were many ladies in attendance too - some of them real Beatle Fans - others forced along by the choice - 'either come with me or stay at home looking for the TV remote - which I have in my pocket' - men can be nasty too, at times. Someone at our table bought a gigantic plate of chips and a hamburger and just left it there. The invitation was - 'dig in - help yourself', so I did. They were not the best chips I have ever eaten but they found their way to the empty cavities within my stomach and made their home there.
In attendance at The Castle Inn also was none other than Mr. Pete Shotton - the person I was looking forward to meeting. Pete was John’s closest friend. They had both attended Quarry Bank High School, and had fallen out quite often but had always made up – just like best friends always do. Pete was John’s best friend and John was his. To be in his company was really great for me and I will be eternally grateful to Beatles Ireland for inviting him over and to Pete Shotton for coming over. He related some lovely stories, which I will not repeat here. He came across as being very sincere and down-to-earth – at one time I reminded him that he used to call John ‘Winnie’. "That’s right," said Pete – "I did". "Yes", I added "and he would call you ‘Shitty Shotton’ in reply". "How right you are," replied Pete, "How right you are".
I was positive I could see a little extra crease at the corner of his eye as he no doubt recalled those far-off days when he and John ran amok through the fields that surround the suburbs of Liverpool. They were not destructive boys just boys trying to be "JUST WILLIAMS" in their own boyhood way. Pete and I are about the same age – I am only 4 months older than John Lennon myself and I found it very easy to visualise Pete and John ‘acting the Mick’, having fun at the expense of others and getting up to all sorts of pranks. It was terrific meeting him and I was sure that this had to be the highlight of my day. Boy, was I ever wrong.
We departed The Castle Inn at about 7:30pm and made our way to The Olympia Theatre for the night’s entertainment. We were to be entertained by Beach, The Quarrymen as well as the original Quarrymen, and I had been told that Beach and The Quarrymen were supposed to be good. That’s like saying ‘the film TITANIC is about a ship that sinks’. On entering the hall we were told that BEACH would be on first. We stayed in the hall with Vani and did not go upstairs until much later. Beach came on stage and entertained everyone with their own brand of music – which I thoroughly enjoyed. When they departed the stage was taken over by The Original Quarrymen who entertained us with some old Skiffle songs as performed by Lonnie Donegan, and of course be themselves. It was most interesting and entertaining to watch them perform and to imagine how they must have sounded all those years ago when they were just starting out.
Pete Shotton played lead Washboard. This was obviously a brand new Rickenbecker Washboard - It had to be because John Lennon broke the original over Pete’s head after an argument! For a few numbers he played Hoffner Tea Chest Bass. A rather ungainly instrument that requires quite a bit of ingenuity to create the correct sound. If you put too much exertion on the broom-handle it is quite possible for the main string (the ONLY string) to be extracted from the tea chest – this results in a rather quiet sound coming from the now totally relaxed bass string. I am glad to report that such a catastrophe did not occur on this night. I also got a few photos of them and in between taking photos I sang along with them on stage. Let me say that again – I sang along, on stage with the original Quarrymen.
On drums was the shy Colin Hanton the original drummer before Pete Best before Ringo Starr even before Tommy Moore. Colin is a lovely man – I am sure the wild crew that hung around with John Lennon led him astray! Also there, again, were Len Garry, Rhythm Guitar, Eric Griffiths, second Rhythm Guitar, Pete Shotton, Rickenbecker Washboard and Hoffner Bass Tea Chest, Rod Davies, Guitar. To share the stage with these five was marvellous for me, and the memory of that night will stay with me forever. Too soon – their time was up and they closed their show. The curtain came down and the stage was made ready for the appearance of THE QUARRYMEN.
I didn’t know what to expect. I had been warned though, by Vani, by Di Di, by Pat, By Pete, by Derek. "They are Good, Dick," I was told – "They are good". They opened their show with that Beatles Anthology Intro – I’m Ringo and I play the drums. When they started playing though – WOW – when they started playing. I could not believe it. How could any group, who are NOT The Beatles play Beatles music with that same raw energy, that same excitement, that same magic – how? I didn’t know the answer then – and in time the only answer I could come up with was – because they want to – that’s how.
I moved from one side of the stage to the other and stood in the wings. I was less than three feet from Fran King (the nearest thing to Macca you will ever see). I can remember every single second of their performance. They sang 'You Can’t Do That’ and I stood – in my best John Lennon stance and sang along with them. Well actually, I was really only miming - I didn’t have a mike though I was giving it some Shi – on my invisible guitar!