Posts Tagged ‘John Lennon’

Written by a future Booker Prize winner. Sort of.

Last week, I went to Liverpool to visit friends and family and thought I’d follow one of Rambler5319’s walks as the recent one, around Woolton, looked really interesting.

I set out in the morning, the threatening drizzle making me worry slightly but I kept going, hopeful despite the obvious. By the time I reached John Lennon’s house, my view through the car window was this….

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Still I continued to Woolton and thankfully, by the time I wanted a photograph of me at the highest point in Liverpool, the rain had stopped….

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I then got out and visited the church graveyard where two gravestones bear the names which gave inspiration to the Beatles song, Eleanor Rigby.

Over the road from here was, what looked like, a community centre which was part of the church and I realised in a flash, I came to Weight Watchers here when I was 17! I had been a teenager with some extra ‘puppy fat’, I would like to call it. And my friend Nicki and I came to Weight Watchers together. We would drive into the car park and in front of it was the entrance to the Weight Watchers group while behind it was the hall where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met! And I’d had no idea all that time. I was big into The Beatles as well. That is a fact I would have liked to know.

There is so much interesting history at your fingertips in Woolton. For example, just the little hall where I went to Weight Watchers had been there for almost two hundred years…

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(I don’t know if you can see but it was built in 1823.)

There was also, at the furthest point on this walk, a little school which was build in 1610….

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I also realised, with fond memories, that as I walked along a small path with two quarries falling away either side of it, I had walked this way many times before when my brother and my Dad and I used to walk to my Nanna’s house every Sunday for lunch. I remembered my brother and I having nettle stings and finding some really good dock leaves at the end of the path to rub on the stings to stop the pain.

As an aside, I checked in the window of a small shop which had been on Rambler5319’s walk and, sure enough, they’re still looking for a paper boy/girl, if anyone’s interested.

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I walked back to my starting point through Woolton Woods, from where there is a fantastically clear view over Liverpool, (it’s hard to see it on a photograph though).

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On my way back from this walk, I stopped off at 192 Booker Avenue, where the Liverpudlian writer of a book I’m currently reading grew up.

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Her name is Linda Grant and her novel, The Clothes On Their Backs was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. And no, it not just a coincidence that the name of Booker is the road where she grew up and the prize – it’s the same man! He was a business man based in the area who, among many things, had spent time in Demerara in the West Indies and was responsible for bringing Demerara sugar to England.

I grew up in a little cul-de-sac off Booker Avenue and spent eight years of my life attending Booker Avenue Infants and Junior school. I think that means, by default, that I will have a Booker Prize-winning novel out soon?

P.S. Due to my slight telling off by a fellow blogger, for not having any Christmas decorations up, I asked my favourite 5 year old to make me a Christmas tree, which is now in living room. See?

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A walk in Woolton

It’s Rambler5319 today with a really interesting walk around Liverpool. Enjoy!

I decided to do a walk in the Woolton area of Liverpool. There turned out to be far more of interest than I expected so will split and do a part 2 next week. It is probably one of the oldest areas of Liverpool. Some believe the name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Wulf’s “Tun” (Tun can mean farmstead) although the earliest written records date from the Domesday Book (1086). The area had a quarry and the sandstone from it was used to build a number of local mansions. However the most famous building for which it supplied the stone is Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral located near the city centre.
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There are a number of interesting things to see in Woolton. However we’ll start the walk with somewhere we’ve been before (invisible blog 4.7.12): a house at 20 Forthlin Road.

And here’s the sign outside. Yes it’s where Paul McCartney grew up.
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From here it’s about a mile and a half (30 mins walk) into the Woolton area and our first stop is 251 Menlove Avenue. The house is called “Mendips” and some of you will know why it’s famous. For those that don’t here’s the pic with the info.
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The house itself is here.
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Due to the bright sunlight the blue plaque is only just about visible above the middle window of the 3 in the downstairs bay. The wording says: John Lennon 1940-1980, Musician & Songwriter, lived here 1945-63. (John was born in 1940 and moved to his aunt’s house in 1945.)

Next stop is just 5 mins away, round the corner and up the hill (Beaconsfield Rd) a bit. And here it is:
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Some of you will recognise the name on the gate posts. The original gates were taken away in May 2011 by the Salvation Army and put into storage and just inside the current red ones is this sign:
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The manufacturers of the replacement replica gates donated them to the Salvation Army but also advise on the sign that they can make you a set to order to fit your own driveway/garden. The original stone posts as you can see have been well and truly graffitied over many times. Although it has a history dating back to the 1870s, Strawberry Field didn’t open as a Salvation Army Children’s Home until 1936. The annual garden party which took place in the grounds was eagerly attended by the young John Lennon. Its name was made famous when Lennon wrote the song Strawberry Fields Forever in 1967. The song formed half of a Double A-Side Beatles’ single with Penny Lane. The record reached No.2 in the UK charts, being kept off the no.1 spot by Engelbert Humperdinck’s ballady type song Please Release Me!

From here we go further up the hill to the first turning on the right. This is Quarry Street.
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You might also remember in blog 4.7.12 I mentioned John Lennon’s School being Quarry Bank so with Quarry St and the quarry in Woolton it is not hard to see how one of the pre-Beatles groups he formed was called The Quarrymen; McCartney joined in 1957 & Harrison in 1958. Incidentally, since 1998, after reforming in 1997 for a 40th anniversary performance, there are still 3 members of the original Quarrymen line-up performing under that name.

A bit further down Quarry Street we pass a hairdresser’s shop. I mentioned in blog 8.8.12 that I like the way hairdressers “pun-ify” their names and this one in Woolton was very good. Here’s the pic:
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Do you see what they did there? Mane-iacs! I liked it anyway.

Just a few yards further on and there was another old sandstone building, this one erected in 1873:
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Next to it in the same stone was another door with “Police Office” above the entrance. Definitely harking back to a bygone era.

A bit further down and I came to the rock face which was clearly the perimeter of the old quarry. The sandstone wall had been unstable at some time and has been strengthened by having rods driven into the cliff face with a flat plate bolted on the end to try and prevent it giving way. I’m not sure I’d like to live at the bottom of it. Here’s a close up of one of the strengthening rods:
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Just beyond the wall are some steps leading right up to a path running across the top of the cliffs.

Because of the high walls on the path it was difficult to get a pic of the houses actually inside the old quarry but here is my attempt. You can see the vertical walls going down and the roofs of the houses below.
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The path is actually named as Mill Stile and used to lead to Woolton Mills. In 1863 the Corn Merchant and Millers partnership using the site was dissolved and I’m not sure what became of the buildings after that. Residential accommodation now occupies the area but obviously the street namers decided to look back in history for something to reflect its historical usage. Well done them!
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Here’s the sign:
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After coming to the end of the path we turn right along Church Road. A little way along we will come to St Peter’s Church but I’ll leave that till Part 2, next week, when we’ll finish the walk with some more pics of interesting stuff around the village.

Nothing to get excited about? Yes there is!

I’m handing over to my regular guest blogger again today… Enjoy!
Well, I suppose it had to happen – an art exhibition about “invisibility”. I couldn’t see the point really but at the moment there is a gallery in London which has an exhibition on called – Invisible: Art about the Unseen 1957 – 2012. (£8 entry fee!)
One of our national newspapers, the Daily Telegraph, reported that the gallery “will gather together 50 ”invisible” works by leading figures such as Andy Warhol, Yves Klein and Yoko Ono for its display of works you cannot actually see.” Now just read those last 7 words again. Yep that’s right you can’t actually see them. It is thought to be the first such exhibition staged at a major institution in the UK. At this point I’m struggling with the concept of “display”. The gallery director says that “….art is not about material objects but about setting our imaginations alight…..” Oh well that’s ok then. As well as empty plinth on which Andy Warhol once stood, Yoko Ono will be contributing a series of typed instructions encouraging visitors “to conjure up an artwork in their minds”. Are you getting the idea now?
Check out the picture below and ask yourself can you believe this? Someone who has paid £8 to look at nothing!


A woman at the gallery looks at Tom Friedman’s ‘Untitled (A Curse)’, 1992
The Daily Telegraph also conducted a survey using the following question:
Can an empty plinth and a blank piece of paper be classed as art? The two possible answers were:
1. Yes – art is about the concept or
2. No – there is nothing there.
The results are surprising – “No” has got 2,714 votes (86.3%) & “Yes” has got 431 (13.7%). Now it’s not surprising that the “No” vote is winning but it is surprising that 431 people thought looking at nothing could be classed as art.
Some of the comments about the gallery & the exhibits are quite interesting:
Dbarry said this: “Tried to pay the entrance fee with invisible money. Needless to say it didn’t work.

Maria Sol said, “Am I studying History of Art for this kind of nonsense?? I’d rather be unemployed, than an advocate for this snobbish “idea” of what art is. JMW Turner, please, COME BACK!!!!”

Ajikan said, “Since it’s all in the mind, there can be no point in going to the trouble of making the trip to the Hayward Gallery and forking out the admission charge to ‘see’ a load of formless ideas. Since there’s nothing to see in the first place, why not just publish the catalogue of exhibits and be done with it? After all, the logical conclusion of all this is an exhibition that doesn’t happen at all and occurs only in the mind.”

Don’t know about you but I can’t disagree with any of those.

But hang on a mo’. It’s given me an idea – what about having my own exhibition? Here are the first three exhibits. On a recent visit to a couple of memorable sites in Liverpool I was able to get the following pics.

See No.1 below. What – nothing on the pavement? Of course there is! All I want you to do is imagine you can see Paul McCartney, stepping on these two old paving slabs and then walking in through the front gate of his home at 20 Forthlin Rd in Liverpool. These are the two actual paving stones he would have walked on to get to his house. (The newer white ones, to the left of the picture, would not have been there when he was there.) I’ve added a view of the front door and the sign in the hedge outside just in case you thought I’d taken a picture of just any old paving stones. Now you’ve got it haven’t you?

1. Paul McCartney – “Coming Home”

Front Door of 20 Forthlin Road

National Trust Sign outside the house

The second site was the school John Lennon attended (1952-57). Nothing on that piece of ground? Of course there is! All I want you to do is imagine you can see John Lennon walking across that piece of ground into the school. (I included the bottom of the gates in the pic so you could see, in the second pic, that they are they actual gates to Quarry Bank School -its name was changed to Calderstones some years ago following a tri-school merger.

2. John Lennon “Going To School”

Front Gates to Quarry Bank School


Now for the third exhibit. I don’t normally allow people to see my private art collection but in the context of today’s blog I think it would be helpful. Here, on the lounge wall, is my picture – Polar Bear in a Snowstorm (by the artist Ian V. Zeeble). It’s unique – the artist told me there are no copies or prints so it may well accumulate value in the years to come! It’s there just to the left of the plant. Can you see it?

3. Polar Bear in a Snowstorm

A friend was visiting a couple of days ago and suggested it really needed framing. (He has a similar picture called: 3 Skiers Buried By An Avalanche by the same artist.) I hunted round and eventually decided I would buy a wood finish picture frame. Here’s the result of the framing:

I’m not sure about you but I feel this does not really add to the aesthetics and in fact may prove a distraction to people as they look at the main picture. Think I’ll probably leave it unframed but I’m definitely getting into this invisible art thing. Wow factor? Off the scale!

So there you have it. Probably a new experience for you but quite exciting eh? At least it should have “set your imaginations alight” as the director of that gallery said. Well it has, hasn’t it?

In the spirit of the blog, I was going to paint my reaction to the exhibition in London but I think Edvard Munch has done a rather better job than I could do. Here’s his effort (sold in May 2012 for $119.2 million!)

Nothing to get excited about? There sure is.