John Lennon should have Married me
One Stockton Resident looks back to a 60s childhood in Stockton and the events around the Beatles playing at the Globe in 1963.
‘John Lennon should have married me’. That’s all I could think of in 1962. The Beatles were FAB and I used to drive my poor mam to distraction with my obsession with everything Beatles and in particular my hero John Lennon.
We were a poor family back then, we still are! My dad was on the sick a lot after burning his foot with molten metal in the foundry where he worked. He never really recovered and couldn’t get a job after that. I remember him saying that once you put a claim in for compensation to your employer no one will take you on in case you do the same to them, though getting your foot burned nearly to the bone is no joke and certainly not a petty claim like some today.
The highlight of our home was the television. Ours was the ‘pay as you go ‘ type and you had to put money into the meter, it was the only way we could have one. My parents couldn’t afford to buy one and in our house the ‘never never’ was not an option.
The ‘telly’ was where I got my first glimpse of the Beatles. I watched an interview and John Lennon was described as the ‘ Funny One’. Being a bit cheeky myself I loved his attitude and the way he asked the audience at The Royal Variety Performance to clap but the posh ones in the front could rattle their jewellery. It was love at first sight for me and I knew that if he could only see me, he would want to marry me as much as I wanted to marry him. Even though I was only 13 years old and 4 feet ten inches tall… I would grow some day.
One Monday morning at school I was making coffee for the teachers – it was great being tea monitor as we got to have a cup of coffee or tea and stay in the domestic science room during break time. I never had coffee at home as my mam bought that horrible cheap camp coffee: it was liquid coffee and had chicory in it which made it sweet, but at school I got real coffee made with boiled milk – it was heaven.
On this particular morning all my mates could talk about was ‘my’ Beatles (with my future husband) coming to the Globe in Stockton on the 23rd November 1963. The tickets would be 17 shillings and sixpence, 11 shillings and sixpence and the cheaper tickets were six shillings and sixpence.
We had a great time that day planning how we could get the money just to see the Beatles. Not important enough to take out of the tight family budget but so life threateningly important to us girls. Our hearts would break if we didn’t see them.
Then for me an angel of opportunity came. I lived next door to a woman who organised potato picking gangs and as it was nearly 1/2 term she gave me a job. I can’t remember how much we earnt but I soon learnt it was the physically hardest, most back-breaking painful thing I had ever done in my life and a titchy, skinny 13 year old should never try it, ever.
I got the money but then had the daunting task of convincing my mam and dad I would be ok if I stayed out all night to get the ticket. In the end I was allowed and my mate, another Marion, accompanied me even though she didn’t have the money to buy a ticket. I don’t remember the inconvenience, the cold or hunger that night, all I remember is singing Beatles’ songs and jumping the queue every time someone fell asleep. It was a fab experience but even so I could only get a six shilling ticket which I thought was a bit of a rip off as I was near the front of the queue.
I walked home in ecstasy knowing I would see my beloved Beatles and also have a chance to let John see me- the next step in my marriage plan! I was the envy of my school mates and felt very important. I couldn’t wait for the 23rd November 1963. As the date finally approached I was planning what I would wear and practiced my screaming skills. It would be great.
On the way from school the night before the concert I was asked to babysit the next door neighbour. I apologised and explained that I was going to see the Beatles. She looked at me with a strange expression on her face which I thought was jealousy. At home I went to my room and took the box from under my bed to look at the ticket but it was gone. I thought my sister Beryl was playing a trick on me as I had been showing the ticket off at every opportunity. The truth was my mother had sold it to a local shopkeeper when she was skint the week before – she had sold it for six shillings and sixpence to buy food. I wanted to die. I would not see my beloved Beatles and I would not get the opportunity to let John see me. The next night I was so overwhelmingly sad nothing could cheer me up. I couldn’t even find it in me to be sad for Mr Kennedy who had been assassinated on that day, my sadness was all for me.