Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

I am the egg man…..I am the walrus goo goo g’joob!
July 10, 2010

I had been tempted to use: “I am the egg man…..” to head yesterday’s ‘Prezza’ posting but saved it for today: the 3rd annual Beatles Day.

This year it’s going global with cities around the world joining Liverpool in celebrating the legacy of the Beatles. Simultaneous events will be taking place in Hamburg, New York, Shanghai, Sydney and Moscow.    

The 10th July was chosen as it was the date of the group’s triumphant return to Liverpool from the States and the premiere of their Hard Day’s Night film in 1964. The Liverpool hotel of the same name will be staging a balcony concert with tribute band the Backbeat Beatles re-enacting the famous rooftop concert at the Abbey Road studios in 1969.  

All proceeds from today’s events go to the Beatles Day Foundation. Last year 20,000 mop-tops were worn and cheques amounting to £45,000 presented to the Imagine Appeal for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Liverpool Unites, by charity patron Ricky Tomlinson aka Jim Royle.

I count myself fortunate to have been a child of the 50’s and a teen of the 60’s, a period of huge social and cultural change.

The ‘four frenzied Little Lord Fauntleroys who are earning £5,000 per week’ (Donald Zec in the Daily Mirror September 10th 1963) were central to the popular music revolution of that time and arguably the most influential band of all time.

In 1963, as a 10-year-old at Hucknall, Spring Street Juniors, I was bowled over by the fab four and saved pocket money to buy my first ever piece of 12 inch vinyl, ‘Please Please Me’, in mono. It’s still up in the loft – a collector’s item!

Like Rob, the main character and owner of the Championship Vinyl  shop in Nick Hornby’s Hi-Fidelity, I’m a sucker for Top 5 lists of any description. Of course every Beatles fan will have their own favourite albums, album tracks and single releases, and committing myself in writing may prove not only contentious but embarrassing .       

Having spent a while thinking this through, it’s an almost impossible task because the Beatles’ back catalogue surpasses anything ever produced by any other artists, embracing a range of genres and jammed pack  full of ground breaking classics and more under stated hidden gems.  Anyway, without further pre-amble or any attempt to justify my selections – here goes:

Top 5 Albums:

  1. Abbey Road(1969)
  2. Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
  3. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
  4. Rubber Soul (1965)
  5. Revolver (1966)

Top 5 Singles:

  1. Get Back (1969)
  2. Strawberry Fields Forever (1967)
  3. Hey Jude (1968)
  4. Lady Madonna (1968)
  5. All You Need is Love (1967)

 Top 5 Album tracks (not released as singles):

1. Here Comes the Sun (Abbey Road)

2. I am the Walrus (Magical Mystery Tour)

3. Penny Lane (Magical Mystery Tour)

4. Revolution (The Beatles – White Album)

5. Norwegian Wood (Rubber Soul)




‘The Trout’ & ‘The Eagle’ – Following in the footsteps of Lewis, Lewis & Lewis
July 4, 2010

Nicci has just moved into a ‘new’ flat in Oxford and yesterday we were invited over to see it. Very nice it is too!  Gem had also come up from London for a viewing and so we were all able to go out for lunch together.

As it was another summer scorcher (how long can it last?), we drove out to one of our favourite riverside pubs, The Trout Inn at Lower Wolvercote. It enjoys a beautiful location, on the Thames, beneath the medieval Godstow Bridge and weir. There’s also a restored timber bridge, connecting the pub terrace  to a small island,  across which peacocks regularly parade and display for the paying customers.    

The pub and its immediate environs enjoy an interesting mix of literary connections:

It was back in 1862 that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), a lecturer in mathematics at Christchurch College, took Alice Liddell and her sisters for boat trips along the river to Godstow. Whilst picnicking on the riverbank he entertained them with imaginative tales that would later be published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.      

Oxford don JRR Tolkien (1892-1973), creator of the epic middle earth trilogy Lord of the Rings, the hobbits Bilbo & Frodo Baggins and Gandalf the wizard, is buried at Wolvercote Cemetery.

In more recent times The Trout has featured as a TV location for Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse detective series. In the Wolvercote Tongue episode, in which a Saxon artefact of the same name disappears, Morse and his sidekick, Sergeant Lewis, are filmed on Godstow Bridge gazing down at the floodlit pub.        

Another ‘family favourite’ Oxford pub of ours (sadly not enough time to visit yesterday), is the splendid Eagle & Child on St Giles’. This was a regular haunt of ‘the inklings’  literary group, who fondly referred to it as the Bird & Baby. Prominent amongst the group were JRR and CS Lewis (1898-1963).  It was here that CSL shared early drafts of his Narnia fantasy The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe with his contemporaries.    

Colin Dexter is a modern-day regular and the pub is featured in the Morse Book, the Secret of Annexe 3. In one scene, the long-suffering Inspector Lewis on accompanying  Morse to the Eagle & Child, is intrigued by a plaque on the wall referring to his literary namesake!