Countries, Culture, Music, UK

A Magical Mystery Tour of Liverpool

Relax, Holly Johnson’s kid brother Jay has got this one… welcome to A Magical Mystery Tour of Liverpool For Ever

The Magical Mystery Tour is Liverpool’s oldest Beatles tour, dating from 1983, just three years after John Lennon died.

Jay, as you would expect, is full of the witty Mersey repartee for which John and Paul, George and Ringo are famous.

We head out from the Albert Dock on the coach to Toxteth listening to rare renditions of John singing Lonnie Donegan and Gene Vincent.

Bingo, it’s Ringo

In my Liverpool home: And the Liver Birds

Jay points out Ringo’s house and the pub which he used for the cover of his debut solo album Sentimental Journey.

And he explains that Ringo’s mum would play the song on the piano.

Jay reminds us that the city’s airport is named after John Lennon.

And then points out the chip shop named after Ringo.

By George

We pass by all the Beatles boys’ homes, although we aren’t able to stop off at George’s because of Covid.

A two-bedroom house up an alleyway, social distancing was never an option for the youngest Beatle, nor was it for us.

The house in which John spent most of his young years, Auntie Mimi’s, was, in truth, more middle-class.

And Jay reflects on that as Working Class Hero belts out.

Dear John

A born raconteur, our guide also retells how John’s mum Julia, who had reconnected with the family just before her death was run over in a car crash.

And that some kind of justice arrived for the off-duty policeman who was acquitted at the time, when he later became a postman.

And was given Paul McCartney’s route and so became weighed down with the sackfuls of mail for Macca.

Let it be Paul

Strawberry Field: For Ever

Paul’s house is our last stop… it was to be his mother Mary’s forever but she only got to stay there a year before dying of cancer.

Poignantly Let It Be which was inspired by a dream he had of his mum visiting him plays out to the coach and we all join in.

Penny Lane, Strawberry Field and the church hall in Woolton Village where John and Paul first met are the most popular spots.

Before they went out to Hamburg to hone their act.

Jay points out the landmarks in the lyrics…

The Barber who shaves another customer is still there, under new ownership.

Penny for your thoughts

In my ears: Penny Lane

While the shelter in the middle of the roundabout is still there.

And Jay fills in how the Penny Lane area played a huge role in the Beatles’ young lives.

For John, Strawberry Field held particularly fond memories.

It was here that he would climb a tree and ogle the girls from the orphanage.

And Auntie Mimi would warn that he would get hung for that.

All of which sparked him to use the line ‘Nothing to get hung about, Strawberry Fields Forever.’

Meanwhile in the Cavern

Club together: At the Cavern

Jay drops us back at the Cavern Club with the ticket providing free entry.

To listen to the tribute acts in the club where they and music’s finest have graced.

Looking back now, I say, well done Jay.

It really was A Magical Mystery Tour of Liverpool

America, Canada, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Lennon’s revolution… 80 years a working class hero

Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans – John Lennon

We could pick any number to define our times as we mark John Lennon’s 8Oth birthday this week. Suffice to say his was a life lived.., and how.

We’ll never know for sure how he would have spent the last 40 years since his murder outside the Dakota Building in NY.

Blue for you. www.johnlennon.com

But it would be safe to assume he would have been at the forefront of all the great struggles of our day.

The Fall of the Wall, Apartheid, Black Lives Matter, Freedom from Covid.

Lennon bestrode his world, leaving his imprint, and still does.

And as his adopted New York celebrated his legacy by turning the Empire State Building blue, here are four Lennon cities.

Liverpool Lou Lennon

Liverpool 4

Oh Liverpool Lou, lovely Liverpool Lou, why don’t you behave like other girls do?

And we have Yoko Ono to thank for knowing this, that John would sing this song, his Mum’s fave, around the house.

John’s statue stands alongside his pals on the Liverpool waterfront near the Beatles Story museum.

Lennon is everywhere in his home city and the under-threat Cavern Club is a good first stop while let someone else do the work for you on their Magical Mystery tour.

Growing up in Hamburg

I didn’t grow up in Liverpool, I grew up in Hamburg.

Not that John was dissing his home city, it was just that he was giving an honest reply to a reporter.

Lennon and the boys (five of them then, with Stuart Sutcliffe on board and with Pete Best instead of Ringo Starr) lived in Hamburg between 1960-62.

And Stefanie Hempel’s Beatles Tour Das Original will take you all over their favourite haunts.

John was his favourite and she had his poster above her bed.

She will take you to the St Pauli door where he posed for a shot later used for the Rock ‘n’ Roll covers album and much, much more.

John’s New York

If I’d lived in Roman times, I’d have lived in Rome. Where else? Today America is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself

While we all know that John died in NY let’s dwell on his life in the Big Apple.

John loved its vibe, its people, its energy and put it down in song on New York City off the album Some Time in New York City.

Dakota Building and the Strawberry Fields memorial where the music never stops are obviously on the itinerary.

For the rest, check out this video.

The Lennon wall in Prague

The Lennon Wall, Prague

What to make of it when you’re told that the Lennon Wall in Prague now has ‘Fuck Trump’ messages on it?

It put off my Czech guide who remembers the wall well from the days when it was an organic centrepoint of protest against the Communist.

‘Appen though John would approve.

And let’s not let Amsterdam and Montreal lie

Of course, this is where John and Yoko had their Bed-ins for Peace.

At the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam and the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.

And I hope that John would approve as I find myself compiling my thoughts here bolt upright in my bed.

While waiting to get back out there travelling again.

Countries, Culture, Music, UK

Britannia? Yacht to try these UK sites instead

You know when you live somewhere but never visit that famous site, like me and the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh.

It can’t be because I take a stand against lavish palaces or ostentatious wealth… I love Rome and the Vatican.

Comfort is the watchword

So, I’ll need to get myself along and see how the other half live.

One would like tea for two

Heck, who am I kidding? It’s how I like to live when our killjoy leaders aren’t closing down all the borders.

But for now, and in the spirit of the Which survey of the best of the top 50 most-visited attraction I give you…

My entirely scientific and undeniably definitive five UK attractions.

Cottage industry

Anyone know a poem? Burns Cottage

Alloway, Ayrshire: Well, if it was good enough for Wordsworth and Shelley and Muhammad Ali to visit!

Robert Burns’ home village in Ayrshire, the centre point of which is the cottage in which he was born in the 18th century, is a truly spiritual place.

Check out the statues of Tam O Shanter, Souter Johnny, Burns’ father’s grave, the statue of a mouse and Brig o’ Doon.

Robin reliant

Boy and the Hood: Nottingham

The Robin Hood Experience, Nottingham: It takes an outlaw to know an outlaw.

You’ll immerse yourself in Sherwood Forest in an un prepossessing building near Nottingham Castle and get a chance too to twang your arrow.

While actors dressed in costumes of those heroes of legend interact with you.

Chocs away

The best bar none for chocolates

Cadbury World, Birmingham: And you thought Willie Wonka was an invention, you Willie Wonka.

You can take a cart through the history of cocoa in this chocolate heaven in Bournville (yes, really), Birmingham.

On your tour, you’ll see how chocolate is made and best of all are sent away with a handful of bars.

Daddy’s Little Girl took two handfuls.

Churchillian speech

Mapping out a day out… in the War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms, London: And deep within the vaults in Whitehall in the heart of London, Winston and his pals waged the Second World War.

You can see his bedroom, the map room, the decoders.

And when we found all the other sites were closing up for the day they let us in. Well, we were on the right side!

Get back!

Fab Four in Liverpool

The Beatles Story, Liverpool: If The Beatles had been American then they’d have turned their home city into a visitors’ attraction.

Which may seem like a step too far although it does work in Graceland because it is outside of Memphis.

Yes, it’s great to have the museum down by Albert Dock in Liverpool, the bus tour, Penny Lane and the Eleanor Rigby statue.

But the idea that the Cavern Club should be in danger of closure because of financial troubles is a local and national disgrace.

Over to you Paul McCartney… don’t let it be!