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  • "1998 Magical History Tour Report"
    By Jil Michorczyk

    Picture yourself on a lawn in the sunshine, between tall shady trees under blue sunny skies. But this is no ordinary picnic and you have to pinch yourself to realize exactly where you are. You have just walked through the ornate strawberry-colored gates and you're actually inside the hallowed grounds of Strawberry Field, where a summer fete is in full swing. What is even more amazing to be here is that in many Beatle guidebooks under the picture of the old red gates it states, "Under no circumstances should you enter these grounds of this Children's Home." And so it was on this Magical History Tour to London and Liverpool in the summer of 1998 that we experienced the sights and sounds of the Beatles' England.

          Our story begins on Sunday, Aug. 23rd at JFK Airport in NYC, with many of us having driven or flown into New York from other eastern cities and Canada. Others from the West departed from Texas and arrived at London's Gatwick Airport. Those of us at JFK were met by Charles F. Rosenay!!!, our illustrious tour originator and guide. We anxiously boarded the British Airways plane bound for London's Heathrow Airport, which promptly left U.S. soil by 7:00 p.m. Many of the group were seated together in the same section, so the seven hour flight gave us an opportunity to jump right into a Beatles frame of mind with our fellow day trippers. Several people managed to slip in a few hours of sleep on the flight that night, while others were happy just to talk, laugh and sing as they made their way across the universe.

          Early Monday morning we were met by the ever-smiling Richard Porter of The London Beatles Fan Club. He informed us of our first surprise, that someone special would be accompanying us on our journey that morning. Many of us were zombies from lack of sleep, so we quietly stood grouped together waiting in the terminal. Suddenly one person noticed that morning's bold headlines splashed across the British tabloid, The Sun: "I'm Lennon's Lost Sister." Immediately, copies of The Sun were scarfed up by several members of our group, of course feeling quite superior to any poor souls an ocean away in America to whom current Beatle news would be later in arriving.

          Soon the surprise guest of the day arrived, Alf Bicknell, the Beatles' charmingly unassuming chauffeur during their touring years. Many of us had met him at previous conventions and enjoyed his candid and humorous stories about his early days with the Beatles. We all boarded our first coach for a ride to Henley-on-Thames, where George has lived since 1970. Beautiful countryside, green pastures, and herds of sheep dotted the hillside along the way, and soon we arrived at the famous Friar Park. Quickly we all filed off the bus to have a closer look at the quaint gate house with its ornamented carvings and turreted roof. We took our pictures in a kind of hushed awe, when suddenly the heavy iron gates started to open on their own! The crowd let out a collective shriek and we all did what people do when they're not sure what comes next---we laughed! Yet no one attempted to move inside the gates. In the next instant a young male gardener came into view with a lawn mower, the gates closed shut, and there we stood. Why, oh why didn't I take off running straight to the main house? Tea... biscuits... George on the lawn with guitar in hand...(Fantasy #1).

          We strolled the sidewalks of the town, browsing in the art galleries and antique shops, and meeting the group for lunch at the Row Barge, George's favorite pub where he has been known to down a few pints and throw a few darts.

          We departed picturesque Henley and set off for our home in London, the luxury Forum Hotel. Barely able to stay awake yet too excited to sleep, we could only imagine how fab the next eight days a week would be. To sleep or not to sleep was the dilemma, and with a spare couple of hours that afternoon, that's what some of us did, while others jumped right into the London sightseeing mode. Riding the tube and seeing the hustle of Leicester Square, I could feel the excitement in the air.

          Back at our hotel we met and talked with another person from the Beatles' past, the impeccably besuited show business tailor Gordon Millings, who together with his father Dougie Millings, was recommended to Brian Epstein in 1963. He produced five hundred variations of suits for the Beatles, including the famous collarless jackets, applauded by Brian for being simple yet unique. After talking with Gordon awhile, we then had the evening free. Some people in our group had their first taste of London at the Hard Rock Café, while others opted for Rolling Stone Bill Wyman's restaurant, Sticky Fingers. Still another group dined at The Fashion Café where they were treated to a great meal, excellent service, and even a surprise fashion show complete with music and the new fall fashions.

          Tuesday morning came early for those meeting in the lobby to take the four hour panoramic tour of traditional London sights. According to the famous novelist John Lennon, these include "Buckinghell Parcel, the Horses of Parliamint, the Chasing of the Guards, and one place of particularge interest is the Statue of Eric in Picanniny Surplass." Sights surely not to be missed if you've never been before! Instead of the London tour, two of us spotted Alf Bicknell seated in the lobby waiting to do an interview for Brazilian TV, so we sat with him for almost an hour while he told us stories of his life. He was so warm and amicable and totally non-pretentious, exactly as presented in his delightful 1996 video, "Alf Bicknell's Personal Beatles Tales."

          We then took advantage of our one-day tube pass and set out to find Jane Asher's Tea Room in Chelsea, stopping once on the way to visit a favorite London venue, The Sock Shop (those leopard tights are smashing!). Finally after walking quite a while, we spotted the two big blue awnings with Jane's famous signature in bold letters. Inside the small store are two separate rooms, one a bakery with cakes displayed, along with various baking items and her own cookbooks. The other side is a tiny café holding a few tables where patrons can order and eat a variety of homemade sandwiches and sundries, or enjoy a cup of tea. Theatrical posters adorn the walls, evidence of Jane's first love, acting. In fact, Jane had been starring for the last several months in the successful comedy, "The Things We Do For Love," at the Duchess Theatre in Covent Gardens. Unfortunately her critically acclaimed role had just ended two days before our arrival in London.

          With Jane's cheese and cucumber sandwiches in hand, we tore off to Sloane Square, stopping once at Hatchard's Books in Piccadilly to complete our 'Jane mission' by buying a copy of her mystery-romance novel, "The Longing." (Girls, this suspenseful story is a must-read.) Soon the stately Royal Court Hotel loomed large in our vision, so we snapped pictures of the Beatles' first London lodging in early 1963. We slipped into the lobby and relived that Sunday evening of February 10th when the Lads were photographed in the lobby and lounge, and then outside around the Square, all just a few hours before the group's marathon recording session at EMI for their debut album "Please Please Me."

          Running everywhere at such a speed, we made it back to the Forum just in time to savor our sandwiches in our room with a view of London from the twentieth floor. Looking dreamily out the window, Fantasy #2 takes shape: Oh, to be able to live here long enough to see all 400-plus Beatle sites in Mark Lewisohn"s "The Beatles London." Snapping out of my daydream, I found myself with the group on a double-decker bus for our four-hour Beatles tour with Richard Porter and Alf Bicknell. One of the highlights was a stop at Marylebone Station, the setting for several scenes in the film "A Hard Day's Night." It was down the pavement of Boston Place, the street to the right of the station, that three of the guys in our group ran, (one brave purist even tripping like George), mimicking the opening scene in the movie where John, George & Ringo tear down the same street, being chased by hundreds of screaming fans. All the action led naturally to inside the station where many of us discovered Solero 'ice lollies', hereby crowned as 'The Best Popsicles on Earth.' (You know that what you eat you are...)

          On to another really fab sight, Chiswick House and Gardens. It was here to these gardens, constructed in 1729 and modeled after an Italian landscape, that the Beatles came on Friday, May 20, 1966, to shoot the color promotional films for "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" (can anyone really tell that they were miming the words?). One couple in our group, the unforgettable John Lennon look-alike and his fun-loving long-haired wife playfully posed for our cameras in the statue garden, as did Alf, ever the good sport. Gradually we all strolled lazily across the grounds on that balmy afternoon towards the gigantic picturesque cedar tree, where one by one we took turns sitting on the low, heavy branch of the tree seen in the Beatles video. Suddenly the real John appears and his voice ruffles through the air, "When the sun shines we slip into the shade..." (Definitely Fantasy #3; it's just a state of mind.)

          From Chiswick it was off to many other fascinating Beatle sites such as Montagu Square, Apple Shop, and EMI House. But the undisputed toppermost of the poppermost Beatle site in all of London has to be (everybody in unison) ABBEY ROAD!! No words can describe that evening inside Studio Two when we solidified our recording careers by singing the chorus of "Hey Jude!" First we began the evening risking life and limb by dodging traffic zooming across the famous zebra crossing in the street outside, a necessary activity for any respectable Beatles fan. There was even a BBC news reporter and cameraman on the scene. Then the next thrill was actually getting to step inside the front door of the lobby, something normally reserved only for those with legitimate business inside; but hey, we had a recording contract to fulfill here! We were then ushered into the famous Studio Two where the Beatles taped all but a handful of their 200-plus recordings between 1962 and 1970. I mean, this was history here folks! Confined to the studio for nearly three hours, we took turns sitting at the original piano used by the Beatles, and a few talented people in our group even played and sang some Beatle songs while others joined in. We also took pictures standing at the various microphones and instruments, and also took a group picture. While sitting at Ringo's drum set, suddenly the reporter's microphone was held up to my lips waiting for me to utter some words of wisdom on how it felt to be inside Abbey Road at that moment. I think I muttered something about the Beatles' music affecting our lives so profoundly and here is where it all happened. Pretty deep, I know.

          Then the magic really began when we took our seats facing the lead singer, the rhythm guitarist/vocalist for the fabulous Sergeant Pepper Band from Brazil, Aggeu Marques. Standing there facing us with headphones on, he sang "Hey Jude" with all the depths of emotion of Paul McCartney singing to a packed house. Then came the chorus and we all joined in singing our hearts out, swaying to the music in a heavenly trance; talk about a spiritual experience! And we completed the entire song not just once, but a second time when we were clapping through the entire song, and yet a third time when we all stood up to sing, as instructed by the recording engineers at the top of the stairs outside the control booth behind us. Once we had finished our hard day's work, we ascended the stairs to the small control room with the picture window that overlooks the studio. I could have sat all night in George Harrison's swivel chair, but all too soon we were ushered back to the main lobby where most of us bought souvenirs to remind us of our session at Abbey Road Studios, as if we will ever forget. "I'd like to say thanks on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we pass the audition!"

          We ended the evening back at the Forum Hotel with many of us gathering in the miniature Boardroom to once again listen to Alf regale us with his tales from the Beatle years. Beep beep mm, beep beep yeah!

          Up early the next morning, some of us saw the BBC TV show with the Beatles segment from the day before at Abbey Road. It was so great to be in London to experience firsthand the excitement that people still feel for the Beatles. After breakfast we boarded a coach that dropped us off in the West End where half of us started our walking tour with the ever-knowledgeable Richard Porter, and the other half went the opposite way with the wry-humored Dave Jones of Cavern City Tours (who emphatically doesn't like Americans!) We stopped at many well-known sites such as Trident Studios, MPL, the Apple building, Indica Gallery, the Miranda Club (formerly Bag O' Nails), and the newly opened Beatles Shop upon which we converged to buy our first Beatle souvenirs of the trip.

          With the afternoon free, two of us found ourselves walking west along Piccadilly Road when we accidentally stumbled upon St. James Church, recessed from the street behind a courtyard filled with a bustling crafts market. After shopping, we relaxed with a marvelous inexpensive hot vegetarian lunch in the charming Wren Café which is attached to the church.

          Next we headed back down Piccadilly to the London Pavilion, a major West End cinema from 1934 to 1978. With the world premiere of every Beatle movie taking place here, just imagine the Beatles attending and bringing chaos to the surrounding area. We went to the upper floors of the theatre to see Madame Tussaud's Rock Circus, open since 1989, where we were entertained by the 'Cavern Beatles' and the 'Sgt. Pepper Beatles,' as well as dozens of other rock legends in wax.

          On our way back to the hotel we dashed into Tower Records to buy Julian Lennon's new CD, "Photograph Smile," not released in the U.S. until October. We figured it might come in handy when we would be seeing none other than the Famous Son himself that same evening. Yes, another unbelievable surprise event was that our group would get in to see the taping of the Jack Docherty Show, a popular BBC talk show filmed at the Whitehall Theatre near Charing Cross. Julian was to be the third guest on the show that night, after a local DJ with dry British humor, and an older British actor resembling Thurston Howell III. It turned out that the host Jack Docherty was on 'holiday' so the guest host was Blonde Bombshell Belinda in a low-cut high-slit gown whose every cheeky comment contained some seemingly hilarious sexual innuendo, much to the delight of the mostly British audience. Admittedly, the warm-up comedian of the evening kept us laughing with his game with the audience, "Who would you least like to wake up next to?" And once again our own Lennon look-alike was in the spotlight when the cameras turned to him during the opening credits as he mouthed the words, "hi Julian."

          And what a welcome the crowd gave to Julian, so gorgeous, smiling, laid-back, funny... need I go on? First he sat and talked with Belinda, and she asked him how he felt about Yoko recently auctioning off many of John's things without asking him first if he wanted them. To this Julian replied, "I'm very upset with her, to put it politely." Then he said he thought he might have kids someday and would like to have his dad's things to be able to pass on the heritage. With that said, he and his excellent band sang one song from his new CD, "I Don't Want To Know." Wow, what a song; what a night! (Fantasy #4 involves backstage passes to meet Julian, and you can imagine the rest.)

          But fantasies don't always come true, so instead we danced the night away at The Rock Garden nightclub at Covent Gardens, where bands from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Japan performed different eras of Beatles music. Several people from our group quickly secured places on the floor in front, and I'm sure I heard them screaming "John!" when The Beats were on. ( Poor mute 'Paul' though!)

          How we were ever expected to sleep that night after the final night in London bash I'll never know, but many of us did manage to squeeze in about four hours of golden slumbers before boarding our coach to Liverpool early the next morning. Along the way we played the ABC Beatle song game, and we stopped once for a 'Welcome Break' as they say on England's expressways. At last in Liverpool, our informative driver Mark surprised us with a quick preview of Menlove Avenue, and then magically "there beneath the blue suburban skies" we found ourselves in the real live Penny Lane! Then it was on to Speke Hall to drop off eight chosen people lucky enough to be the first in the group to see Forthlin Road, Paul's boyhood home.

          Lastly, the rest of us passengers arrived at our final destination and Liverpool's most famous hotel, the Britannia Adelphi Hotel, our home for the next glorious six days. The official Beatle Week had begun the day before, so many of us bought programs and T-shirts on sale in the lobby while waiting to check in. We were then free to explore nearby Mathew Street and catch our first glimpse of the famous Cavern Club where it all began, or go across the street to the Cavern Pub for an afternoon concert by the local band No Reply. It was also a good time to visit Walker Art Gallery where we were lucky enough to catch the month-long tribute to Linda McCartney, a showing of 14 silk-screened prints of her photography. It was quite a moving tribute to a woman we are so sad to have lost. Also out of the vault specially for Beatle Week and equally as stirring was Stuart Sutcliffe's massive original oil painting owned by the gallery, "Hamburg No. 2," created in 1961 when he was still in the band.

          From there we relaxed on the steps of the City Centre Shops and savored some authentic mouth-watering fish 'n chips, all the while taking in the sights and sounds of a bustling Merseyside workday on a late summer afternoon. Then the evening found our group at LIPA (The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts), formerly the Liverpool Institute where Paul and George attended grammar school. Just going inside the building was a thrill, and then we took our seats in the magnificent 500-seat Paul McCartney Auditorium, restored to its former Victorian glory, for the MMT's first ever concert there. We rocked the night away first with the Flying Postman, a LIPA student band who wowed us with their Kinks set. Then The Beats from Argentina rocked on with early Beatles songs, never revealing how little English they actually spoke. And last came the highlight of the evening, Sgt. Pepper, with their searing long version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." This band is one of the best, and a big glass of Wah-Wah goes to Marcos Gauguin for his Lead Guitarist of the Week award.

          After such a great concert we also needed to quench our thirst, so many of us met in the school's Cantina for drinks and socializing with band members. Then the evening ended in front of the Institute with a look at the new 45,000 pound (as in currency) cement sculpture honoring the Beatles and other music legends, entitled "A Case History In Concrete." The pieces of luggage and instrument cases donated by the musicians were used as molds for the sculpture created by Canadian-born artist John King, and consists of two large stacks of luggage with several smaller pieces scattered about.

          The next day early on a chilly Liverpool morning, everyone I see is half asleep...good morning! And so our all-day Beatle tour began, with half of the group boarding the MMT bus (the same one used in the "Free As A Bird" video) with Beatle guide extraordinare, Eddie "The Walrus" Porter. But there outside the Adelphi the rest of us stood, in full view of our friends aboard Eddie's bus. Then there was much mock crying and sobbing as their bus pulled away,we stood waiting to roll up for our own mystery tour. It couldn't get much worse when we heard the news today oh boy, about our bus with a broken fan belt. So our cheerful guide Hilary decided to start the tour by walking us to many of the important Beatles landmarks. By mid-morning we stopped inside the beautiful Anglican Cathedral where Paul auditioned (and failed) for a place in the choir in 1953, and where his "Liverpool Oratorio" premiered on June 28, 1991. Also Imagine the capacity crowd for John Lennon's memorial service here in March, 1981.

          It's getting better all the time, as a regular city tour bus eventually came for us outside the cathedral. Our congenial bus driver Gary swiftly drove us to Speke Hall where we divided into smaller groups to see 20 Forthlin Road, Paul's family home from 1955 to 1964. Now owned by the National Trust and restored to its original 1950's style, this home just opened in July to the public for tours three days a week. Walking up the sidewalk past the neatly trimmed lawn and hedges, I imagined a young Paul bounding out the front door on his way to Woolton where John lived. Once inside the house, we were greeted by the caretaker who lives there full-time and a Beatle fan himself, John Halliday. We each found headphones and a tape player for our narrated tour, and for 30 minutes we were free to roam about, gazing at the haunting photographs on teeing apples grow on a tree before, just citrus (being he walls taken by Mike McCartney of his family and of the Beatles before they were famous. Barely able to tear myself away from the piano in the front parlor where Paul and John wrote many of their old songs, I made my way through the house as if in a dream. I couldn't believe I was standing on the original floor runner going from the front door to the kitchen. Then alone in Paul's bedroom upstairs, I couldn't help lying down on his bed for a minute (Fantasy #5 is unprintable!). Soon downstairs again, I enjoyed talking to Mr. Halliday who was obviously thrilled to be living there. But it was outside in the back garden while sitting in the low canvas chair as Jim McCartney often did with his pipe and newspaper, that I most felt the heart of the McCartney family.

          Our time inside Paul's house over all too soon, we were ushered out and back onto the bus for the second half of our Magical Mystery Tour, most memorably stopping at 251 Menlove Ave. Standing on the sidewalk outside Mendips, I could just imagine John practicing his guitar in the tiny glass porch above the front door where his bedroom was. Around the corner was John's neighborhood church, St. Peter's, where we were led quietly through the graveyard to Eleanor Rigby's grave. Walking behind the church across the grass I could almost hear the sounds of skiffle wafting through the trees as they did on that historic day in July, 1957. We made one last stop at Penny Lane where we saw the barber shop, the bank, the fire station and the round-a-bout, all frozen in time by the classic song.

          Dinner time came and many of us met at different restaurants to relax before the evening concert. Several of us ate at Wetherspoons, a very sociable restaurant/pub which is a far cry from its former Blacklers department store where George briefly worked in 1959. During dinner we had a wonderful visit with our good friend from Liverpool, Marie Crawford, whom we had met two years ago here when she took two of us on a Beatles walking tour. Years ago Marie lived across the street from Ringo at his 10 Admiral Grove address, and because Ringo was frequently ill and in the hospital, Marie taught him to read and write at home.

          Hardly able to tear ourselves away from stories of Ringo, we all left the restaurant and walked to the Royal Court Theatre. There we were entertained by Instant Karma (The Show Lennon Never Gave), the great Hare Georgeson (a real treat for George fans), and Banned on the Run (rock on, Ram Army!). This was a great venue for dancing on the main level, as well as in the forgotten area at the back wall of the balcony ("Junior's Farm" will never sound the same again!). After the concert was over, some of us continued partying to more live music at the Adelphi Nightclub, while others took a walk down Mathew street for a look at the latest Liverpudlian teenage fashions (short and tight!).

          Saturday morning was the long-awaited Beatles Auction at the Masque Theatre. A few people from our group won bids for lots of priceless Beatles treasures, the coolest being John's 'doodling dagger' (an Oriental style dagger in a matching metal sheath that John kept at his home in Kenwood). Two of us spent a leisurely mid-morning brunch at the charming coffee shop in 'Dickie Lewis' store overlooking the shuffle of weekend shoppers. From there we walked over to The Beatles Shop where we discovered that one can never have too many Beatle badges (buttons to us Yanks). Then it was over to Ann Summers, the 'naughty knicker shop' (formerly NEMS) where we tried to find the false ceiling that was supposedly hiding Brian Epstein's original display of '60's album covers. Good thing we didn't bring a ladder, because we were told that the ceiling was torn down sometime earlier in the '90's during the remodeling from Rumbelows appliance store.

          Next it was over to the Lomax 2 for an afternoon concert by Fool on the Hill, followed by a fantastic Beatle Years show by the Overtures. They featured classic hits by all the great '60's bands, and had three video screens taking us through the amazing journey of that turbulent decade. After the show some of us took a walk to the docks for some fresh air and sunshine before meeting a few others from the group at the Jacaranda for a late afternoon party with Alistair Taylor. The party was hosted by Jean Catharell of the Liverpool Beatlescene, the international Beatles fan club based in Liverpool. We gathered for a couple of hours down in the basement of the club where John, Paul, George and Stu used to hang out. Back in the late fifties Allan Williams used to pay the Beatles a few pounds to paint murals on the walls (still there) and to play as the amateurish Johnny and the Moondogs. I could have stayed all night in this place so significant to the Beatles' history.

          We had another evening concert at the famed Royal Court, beginning with Chattanooga, and then Lenny Pane gave us a phenomenal show with their Past Masters Concert. It was great to hear the hidden gems of the Beatles' repertoire that we all love but seldom get to hear live. Shortly thereafter the night fell on me, but I'm sure some of us could still be seen at the Adelphi Nightclub in the wee hours.

          Sunday morning dawned early as we anticipated our garden fete at Strawberry Fields. Since St. Peter's Church in Woolton is directly down the road from there, my roommate and I decided to go to church first. We just felt compelled once again to visit that place where John met Paul on July 6, 1957. Before the service while we sat outside on a quiet bench listening to the bells chime, several churchgoers approached us to talk about the nice sunny weather, where we were from, and how we liked it there, all in a typically friendly Liverpool fashion. Once inside the church we gazed upon the lovely stained glass windows and ornately pillared alter. It was quite a stretch though to imagine John as a choirboy and member of the youth club there. After the service the 'Beatle representative' in the congregation, Diane Gabriel, graciously spent a long time with us inside the church telling us about last year's "Woolton Fete 1997" when St. Peter's Church celebrated the 40th anniversary of the day John Lennon met Paul McCartney. The Woolton Fete was recreated and the original Quarry Men reformed to play, and a plaque was unveiled on the front of the church hall across the street to commemorate the meeting of John and Paul. At last as we turned to leave the church, what stayed in my memory most was the kindness of the people and their eagerness to make us feel welcome.

          Next, let me take you down, 'cos I'm going to Strawberry Fields. Nothing is real; everything is real. Everybody had a good time; everybody saw the sunshine; everybody let their hair down... strawberry tea... strawberries on trays... strawberry ice cream cones... pretty nurses selling poppies from a tray... playing games for charity... the Salvation Army Band gent dancing in the crowd... Julia's shimmering hair of floating sky... find me in my field of grass while the bands played on... nothing to get hungabout... Strawberry Fields Forever!

          I could easily end the story here, but you know I know when it's a dream. How could I not mention the evening concert at the L2 to top off our dream of a day? Seeing Gary Gibson in concert was like being in the audience at John's 1972 Live in New York City show; the likeness was astounding. And after that there was still the late night party at the Adelphi if anyone still hadn't had enough Beatles music for the day.

          Monday was the culmination of Beatle Week. A bank holiday in England enabled thousands of local fans to attend the Mathew Street Festival organized by Cavern City Tours. Dozens of great Beatle bands played continuously in different pubs and at outside stages throughout the day and evening. But our group was encouraged to attend the Liverpool Beatles Convention held in our hotel, so there at the Adelphi we wound our way through the biggest annual Beatle flea market in Europe. Throughout the afternoon we were entertained by many interesting guest speakers recounting tales of their glory days with the Beatles. Allan Williams and Bob Wooler were a comical duo, and Barry Miles, Johnny Gentle, Alan Parsons, and Sid Bernstein were amusing and informative. Julia Baird was as warm, friendly and willing as ever, with a real knack for reaching out to everyone. And one subject that Alistair Taylor covered quite assuredly was that he really believes himself to be the famous Raymond Jones in Beatles folklore who on Saturday, October 28, 1961, went into NEMS and asked Brian Epstein if he had the record "My Bonnie" by the Beatles. Certainly food for thought.

          Also in the Adelphi that day was the "Merseybeat '98" Video Programme, where for seven hours straight you could watch non-stop Beatle videos, concerts, and news clips. Also from noon to midnight in the hotel was the much publicized Album Convention. Twelve of the absolute best Beatle bands each performed one entire Beatles album with such accuracy and authenticity so close to the original that it was mind-blowing. I wish I could have seen every group, but I had to take a break after hearing "Love You To" on Revolver (which ignited an intense desire for some curried rice and tofu at a nearby Indian restaurant).

          With all this zany, kooky, crazy fun we were having, you may wonder if we ever got any sleep at all. If any of us attended the VIP Bash at 12:30 a.m. with four more Beatle bands in the Adelphi Nightclub later that night, sleep was indeed scarce. As night turned into day in a matter of minutes, our last day in Liverpool was upon us. It was a Rutles kind of day, the stuff of which legends are made... legends that last a lunchtime. Neil Innes and John Halsey (a.k.a. Ron Nasty and Barry Wom) of the Rutles appeared in the main lounge of our hotel for an informal meeting with us that morning. Amidst clicking cameras and rolling camcorders, Neil and John amused us with Rutle tales carefully chosen and told in such a way as to avoid litigation (all kinds of things it seems upset the apple cart). Time goes by as we all know, naturally. Afternoon came and we all headed one last time down Mathew Street to the Cavern Club for our Farewell Liverpool Party. Standing outside the club at almost the end of a very long line, the weather changed several different times all in less than an hour. Rain, I don't mind; shine, the weather's fine. It takes me back, and in my mind I see happy smiling faces if I flog my memory.

          Soon we were winding down the famous Cavern stairs lined with pictures of the Beatles and others painted on the brick walls. Once inside this dark and sweaty cave where it all began, Neil Innes performed some Rutle songs solo, and then John Halsey joined him for more wacky fun. Rutlemania was certainly evident that day, with half of the semi-legendary group who made the '60's what they are today. Wearing a stunning gray wig, Neil's final performance with the Bootleg Rutles guarantees the legend of the Prefab Four will live on forever. You can be whoever you are in Shangri-la-ha-ha-ha!

          After the show as a final get-together, many in our group met again at Wetherspoons for dinner. Once again we met our Liverpudlian friend there, and it was such a treat to be invited back to her house to spend the rest of the evening with her and her husband. A more lovely English home with a beautiful lawn and colorful garden you will not find, as well as hospitality that was unsurpassed.

          Arriving back at the Adelphi sometime after 11:00 p.m. we had no time for sleep, as we were departing for Heathrow and Gatwick in London at 3:00 a.m. Packing, snacking, last minute socializing, and we were off. As our coach pulled away, it was almost unbearable to be leaving this city that had captured our hearts and become such a part of us now. How infinitely lucky to have been able to see the places that mean so much to us all, and to celebrate them with those who feel the same connection. Although we may be physically gone, in our hearts we will always stay. After all, there's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be. It's easy... all you need is love.

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