“Yeah yeah, it’s all very well, Paul,” muttered John. “Just because your Dad played in some old time music hall in the thirties doesn’t mean we should go on stage wearing white coats. People will think we’re a bunch of fairies.”
“Wait a minute, John, I’m burning the toast.” Paul, clattering about in the kitchen, seemed oblivious to John’s emphatic statement. He then came out of the kitchen with a pile of buttered toast on a large plate for the ravenous horde waiting.
“What did you say? I couldn’t hear you properly; oh, the white coats, is that what you’re on about? What’s your problem with that? Look John, it’s about time we started smartening up our image because we can’t go on looking like a gang of ruffians just dragged off the streets,” retorted Paul. “We must look professional – we’re on the stage, in the public eye, and appearances are important. If we start looking the part then perhaps you may even be able to get your chords right.”
Paul said this last point in a jovial manner, not wishing to rouse John’s temper, as he knew even after short acquaintance with John that he could soon ‘fly off the handle’ if provoked. John seemed unperturbed by the insinuation that Paul was making about his professionalism (or lack of it).
There was a silence for a couple of minutes as we all munched on our buttered toast.
“Yeah okay – but white coats? I can’t see myself in one of those. Anyway, where would we get them from?”
“Never mind that – Nigel will sort that out. Look, it will be you and me up front from now on as main guitarists and vocalists so it’ll look good, the both of us wearing the same gear. It will be white coats, white shirts and black bow ties – the rest of the group can wear white shirts and black bow ties.”
John still seemed undecided and looked to me for support. “What do you think, Len?” he asked.
“I think the answer lies in the soil,” I said, trying to bring a bit of humour into what seemed to me a contest building up between two strong personalities, each having been used to getting their own way. Continuing in a none-too-serious vein, “But then again I think that you two don’t need us anymore, we’re has-beens.”
“Come on, Len, be serious for a minute. What do you think?” repeated John, who was by this time desperate for support.
“I honestly think it’s worth a try and it will probably improve our image,” I said half-heartedly.
Suddenly John resorted to his lighter mode. “Ooh, eh! We will look smart. Why don’t we hire a limousine and dress up as undertakers instead?” he quipped.
“Don’t be thick, John, we’d all have to wear black for that,” Eric Griffiths suddenly interjected.
“Okay, we’ll all be in white then – it’s agreed,” said Paul. John then started up with a song that had recently been popularised: “A white sport coat and a pink carnation, I’m getting dressed up for a dance.” With that John did a little dance around the room. The Quarrymen Committee had arrived at another major decision without too much rancour.
Len Garry, John, Paul and Me: Before The Beatles. (1997) [Note: Listen to Marty Robbins’ ‘A White Sport Coat’ here.]
We’ve been blessed with much prayer support and his cancer never caused him any pain. We felt comforted that he died with all of us with him, on St. Joseph’s feast day with rosary in his hand of relic of St. Brother Andre, blessed by St. John Paul II. The staff at the hospice were so kind and helped us every step of the way.
Please pray for the repose of his soul and for us to be able to cope with life without him. Thanks.