When we were not in the Midlands, more often than not, you'd find us London. We would stay at a friends flat in the City of Westminster; roughly 5-10 minutes walk from the Abbey. Some days we'd have a nice fish and chip from the corner 'chippie' on Strutton Ground then walk over and spend a nice afternoon in St. James' Park. Others would find us at the National Gallery or listening to classical quartets in Covent Garden.
Then there were occasions when we'd take the train and visit Stratford-upon-Avon for a few days relaxation and take in a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. There were trips to Oxford or further out, to the West Country to my wife's favorite seaside village of Port Isaac.
But as I mentioned a few weeks ago, The Beatles have been a part of life for lo these many years. I visited Abbey Road and hastily made my way across the road. But, if Abbey Road was the end, then there was a beginning and I needed to experience that as well. One weekend we visited a friend living just outside of Liverpool and being this close begged for a drive into the city and a visit to Mathew Street.
Located at No. 10 Mathew Street is the Cavern Club. The Cavern opened on January 16, 1957. A little over four years later, on February 9, 1961, The Beatles played their first lunchtime gig on the cramped stage of the club. The band went on to play 292 shows in the cellar with the last one being on August 3, 1963 shortly following the recording of She Loves You. By this time the group had become too popular for the already overly crowded club. The group made a promise to return, but this never happened while they were together. The promise was fulfilled in part on December 14, 1999 when Paul McCartney played his last show of the old millennium in the club.
Also found along the street is a statue of John Lennon, a la the 1975 Rock 'n' Roll album, leaning against the wall. A little further along, at No. 31, is The Beatle Shop. It is a great little basement shop selling all manner of Beatles music, art and other items. Not too far away is the Adelphi Hotel. Gerrie and I stopped for tea here, but anyone watching the Free As A Bird video from The Anthology, may recall the lobby. A lovely place.
I have not been one for completions in all that I do. The work stuff, yes, but not everything. It is my way of combating my tendencies towards perfectionism. Concerning Liverpool, my pilgrimage is not complete. Someday I hope to return to visit the barber selling photographs on Penny Lane or to find out if anything is real in Strawberry Fields. But until that day, I have the memory of standing on the stage at the Cavern. Of sitting there, leaning against the wall, enjoying a pint and thinking about all the great music that came out of this cellar.