Ad­ver­tiser Life My close en­counter with Paul in­spired new novel

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Front Page -

WEST Lan­cashire au­thor John Win­ter has used his ex­pe­ri­ences of life in Liver­pool for his new book.

Blame It On The Bea­tles... And Bill Shankly is set in 1960s, post-war Liver­pool.

Liver­pool FC are stuck down in Divi­sion Two, look­ing up at the mighty Ever­ton, and for Tony and his teenage friends life is pre­dictable and dull.

Then The Bea­tles and Bill Shankly come along. And ev­ery­thing goes com­pletely crazy.

John, who lives in Aughton, was born in Liver­pool and was a stu­dent in the city dur­ing the 1960s.

Al­though the char­ac­ters in the story are fic­tional, much of the novel is based on fact.

John was lucky enough to meet Paul McCart­ney in 1968 when he made a se­cret visit to The Cav­ern Club.

“It was to­wards the end of Oc­to­ber, in the midafter­noon, when a fig­ure wear­ing a full-length, dark coat wan­dered into The Cav­ern Club in Mathew Street.

“His face was partly hid­den by a hat with a wide, floppy brim.

“At the time I was com­bin­ing my univer­sity stud­ies with writ­ing pop songs, and I was sit­ting at a pi­ano in the club with my cowriter.

“The hat was re­moved and the fig­ure in­tro­duced him­self to us as Paul McCart­ney, be­fore go­ing to fetch his new girl­friend, Linda, who was wait­ing out­side in the car.

“He told us he was show­ing Linda round his old haunts in Liver­pool and that the press mustn’t find out.

“Linda asked Paul to play Hey Jude, which had just been re­leased as a sin­gle, so he sat down at our pi­ano and did ex­actly that.

“Back in 1968 it was like meet­ing God!

“I did men­tion it to a cou­ple of friends some days later but they wouldn’t be­lieve me. So I gave up talk­ing about it.

“I even started to think I must have imag­ined the whole thing.”

The story of Paul’s unan­nounced visit to The Cav­ern that Oc­to­ber af­ter­noon re­mained un­told for a long time.

It is now in­cluded in the book.

And for any­body doubt­ing that the visit took place, there are a cou­ple of black and pho­to­graphs from 1968 just by the bar in the re­opened Cav­ern Club.

They show Paul and Linda in the club, and Paul playing the drums with a Liver­pool band called Cu­rios­ity Shop who were re­hears­ing on stage that af­ter­noon.

John said: “Through my song-writ­ing I got to know quite a few of the mu­si­cians and poets who were putting the city on the map.

“Faith Brown recorded a cou­ple of my songs when she was still per­form­ing as a singer with her two broth­ers.

“As did David Hamil­ton, the Ra­dio One DJ.”

Blame It On The Bea­tles... And Bill Shankly de­scribes the teenage years of Tony and his friends, who watch as mu­sic and foot­ball trans­form the city.

In just a few short years The Bea­tles be­come four of the most fa­mous peo­ple on the planet, and Liver­pool FC emerged from the Sec­ond Divi­sion to hold their own with the best in Europe.

“As far as I’m con­cerned,” John said, “Bill Shankly was a ge­nius who in­spired play­ers and fans alike, and turned Liver­pool into cham­pi­ons.

“To me it feels very much the same with Jur­gen Klopp right now.”

The back­ground to the story is the vi­brant and ex­cit­ing Liver­pool of the ’60s.

Less well-known places like The Cas­bah in West Derby and The Jive Hive in Crosby, as well as the small record­ing stu­dio that Percy Phillips ran from his ter­raced house at 38 Kens­ing­ton, fea­ture in the book, along­side fa­mous sites such as The Cav­ern and The Kop, Penny Lane and Straw­berry Field.

“Many books have been writ­ten about The Bea­tles,” John said. “But I don’t think very much has been said about the ef­fect of all this sud­den fame upon the city, and upon the or­di­nary peo­ple who were just try­ing to get on with their lives.

“It was an amaz­ing time to be young and liv­ing in Liver­pool.

“But as can of­ten be the case with sud­den and un­ex­pected fame, the ef­fects were com­pli­cated.

“Mostly they were pos­i­tive. But not al­ways.

“That’s what in­ter­ested me, and why I de­cided to make the char­ac­ters fic­tional. It al­lowed me to show what they were feel­ing about what was go­ing on in the city and in the wider world.

“And it wasn’t just The Bea­tles. There was Bill Shankly and Liver­pool FC, and all the other Liver­pool bands.

“And Liver­pool poets such as Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Pat­ten, along with acts like The Scaf­fold with Paul McCart­ney’s brother, Mike.

“It was a tidal wave of popular cul­ture which had a mas­sive ef­fect upon the city and its peo­ple.

“And half a cen­tury on the ef­fects still re­ver­ber­ate.”

For those who weren’t lucky enough to have been there, Blame It On The Bea­tles.. And Bill Shankly tells you what it was like to be a teenager, liv­ing in Liver­pool, at that time.

It is avail­able now from book­shops and on­line. RRP £8.99.

John Win­ter with his new novel, also in­set right

Paul McCart­ney at the Cav­ern in 1968 with Deb­bie Green­berg, whose dad, Alf Geoghe­gan, owned the club

Bill Shankly was an in­spi­ra­tional ge­nius who helped make the city great, says John Win­ter

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