In 1207 Liverpool became a borough. In 1962 it became a legend. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it took four mop-headed lads – brandishing guitars and a set of drums – warbling “Love me do”. We did. We still do.
Dashing through a downpour I duck into Mathew Street, past a bronze Beatle lounging against the brickwork, and left through a doorway under The Cavern neon sign.
Unbidden, I recall Ringo Starr being asked, “So, how did you find America?”
“Turned left at Greenland,” he grinned. Didn’t miss a beat.
That was just days after screaming fans thundered past my Air Canada desk at London’s Heathrow airport frantically jockeying for glimpses of the Fab Four. They were bound for The Ed Sullivan Show.
Hey, Jude! Was it really 50 years ago? Seems like…yesterday.
[A ‘Beatles’ collage at The Cavern – Ursula Maxwell-Lewis photo]
Descending into the psychedelic glow of The Cavern, I abandon my brolly and browse the Beatles history decorating the walls of the famous club.
Childhood snaps of John and Paul in Liverpool intermingle with later ones of George, Ringo, wives, children, famous faces, and famous places on a sort of frieze along one wall. Scribbled felt pen notes from visitors show the love – and sadness. I add mine, for the record. Why not.
Outsized plaster casts of the lads work for photo ops surrounding some memorabilia. There’s the inevitable gift shop, and, more importantly, there’s live music. I’m reminded that Elton John, Eric Clapton and others also headlined here. I grab a beer, lounge over a pedestal table and listen to three guys jam. Maybe, just maybe, new fame will follow the old. Maybe today…
Alan Sytner, The Cavern Club creator, aimed to replicate Paris jazz clubs he’d seen in converted West Bank caves. Impressed with the atmosphere and acoustics, Sytner returned to Liverpool with a mission.
The Mathew Street cellars, once WWII air raid shelters, were judged to be perfect. And, the rest is history.
My Insight Vacations bus tour only offers a brief introduction to a city I’d previously thought little about. Listening to Blue Badge Guide, Sylvia McMurtry, a born and bred local who shared school years with John and Paul, I regret not having time to explore more of the area.
A last glance at the ferries crossing the Mersey from my Thistle Hotel room window. I recall that RMS Titanic and RMS Carpathia both have direct Liverpool links, and reflect on Sylvia’s undiminished pride in The Beatles.
Beatlemania has waned, but the Merseybeat goes on – even when you’re 64, or more.
– Ursula Maxwell-Lewis is a British Columbia travel journalist and photographer.