We all think we know The Beatles. Like most, I always knew that there had been one or two other members of The Beatles, apart the ‘Fab Four’, before they broke through to fame and dominance of world media in the early 1960s. The story of who they were, and how the band came up from small beginnings in Liverpool, unable even to afford to buy a guitar, is far more extraordinary than I knew. Hearing the story told from the point of view of Stuart Sutcliffe, and his far too short tragic life, gives a penetrating look into how the group came up from nothing, working step by step, and what an extraordinary person Stuart Sutcliffe was. This is a far more moving story than I expected it to be, and one that stays with you once you know it.
Stuart Sutcliffe with girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr, who first designed the famous haircut
If the Beatles became a Tavistock project once they took off, they were certainly nothing of the kind as they struggled in their early years. There are lessons here, not least the incompetence of the doctors involved, who could have, and should have been able to diagnose what was wrong with Stuart, but they all failed to do so. It seems strange that, even after so many years of thinking I knew all about The Beatles I really didn’t at all.
This has been an interesting area for me over the holidays, watching a number of videos, starting with The Concert For George from 2003, watching it for the first time, after it was recommended by a friend. After that I just kept clicking, listening and watching and picking up the story.
It’s back to work tomorrow. But over the holidays it’s been an absorbing and moving trip down memory lane.
Another moving thing is that it’s my younger son’s fourth birthday today. His birth and our struggles to get my wife a visa so we could return to the UK were well covered in this blog at the time. We’ve settled back in the UK now. My wife has just secured her British citizenship. It’s been a long struggle, but that part of our story is now concluded. He’s just opened up all his presents, helped by his elder brother, and is playing away happy as larry.
Here’s a reminder of how he looked four years ago. We were unable to travel to the UK through lack of a visa, and were stuck soaking up the sun in the Philippines, trying to get back to run the business in Britain. The business somehow coped throughout this long absence, and has since recovered, no thanks to the UK Border Agency. We first tried to get over to the UK in 2009, but were continually refused until 2012. It’s been a long struggle but with citizenship now secured, all should be plain sailing from hereon.