On one occasion our ‘life model’ Mary Antoinette Birtwhistle, who posed at our school in the buff, decided to abandon her raincoat in sub zero temperatures. Being completely naked underneath the coat, and without the benefit of warm clothing, the students in John’s crowd gleefully pelted her with rotten eggs. This caused a great deal of friction from ‘our side’ and after a heated exchange, we dutifully gathered up Mary, grabbed her raincoat, and shoved her on the next train home.
Another of our students, a pianist called Samuel and a talented musician was engrossed in banging out jazz on an old Salvation Army piano whilst our float moved slowly down the cobbled streets of Liverpool. Suddenly several pounds of flour and rotten eggs descended upon him from an abandoned building, absolutely ruining his loaned piano, not to mention his bronchial tubes!
Needless to say, these wild and reckless rag days were coming to an abrupt and hasty conclusion.
The inevitable decision to terminate future rag days was made, much to the regret of all involved.
John Lennon lived with his in-laws during this time. The Powells lived across the road from my brother’s home in Hoylake.
My brother was newly married, and also resided with his in-laws who were also named Powell. Therefore it wasn’t surprising that confusion within the postal system constantly occurred.
My brother’s first born son Mark, was often the recipient of many of John’s fan mail, especially when Julian Lennon was born.
The cards and gifts were inadvertently sent to my family’s home by mistake.
Art schools first year offered freedom and challenges. My friend Diane and I often skipped classes on many a rainy afternoon for a frolic in Liverpool. My mother had decided to return to the island of Jersey with her husband and I was living with Diane and her parents. I was 16 at this time and when we were able to afford a night out we went to the Tower or to a night club with no admission fees in New Brighton. Mostly we missed the last bus and walked five miles, or so it seemed, back ‘home.’ Complete with high heel shoes!
Occasionally, we girls got together to starch our evening dresses by immersing them in white sugar until they stiffened! At fifteen, before Mum left for good, I worked in Lord Street in Liverpool before accepting my scholarship to art school.
We didn’t think of Merseyside as special in those days, and didn’t really appreciate the emerging talents of the Beatles, we were just too busy getting on with our lives, I suppose. Actually, the London groups playing in the Cavern were much more appealing, and had super accents!! I was visiting one at the Cavern one night when the Beatles passed by in their break. The room was only 10 feet by 10 feet, so they graciously moved me aside while they had a ciggie on their break.
I was dating a disc jockey, Clem Crabtree of the Iron Door Club, which was located next to the Cavern. This was where we met one grey rainy day, for coffee. Alone, we envisioned a peaceful and romantic interlude in the tiny, empty ballroom. However within five minutes we were rudely interrupted by four belligerent lads, complete with sets of drums, wires and microphones they set up their ‘gear’ amid exaggerated noise and laughter.
Clem loudly shouted as we departed, "give them a job and they get big headed!" The Beatles were unfazed.
Another incident at the club, involved a loud pounding at the door one evening, Clem as night manager excused himself, in order to investigate. Upon returning, he explained that a lad named Ringo was frantically trying to gain entry in order to join his ‘band,’ but obviously was in the wrong club. He raced next door to the Cavern, albeit late for his ‘gig!’ Clem just shook his head in disbelief.
No doubt poor Ringo was his usual disoriented self that night. Smiling, I understood.