how accurate was the john-meeting-paul scene in nowhere boy?
Beside the place where they meet, the hall of St Peter’s church, the scene, as the whole movie, is poorly written, with very few scenes faithful to reality.
It upsets me how most of Beatles fans loved it. Not that they can’t enjoy it, but if you ever read a book about John’s or Paul’s life you’ll understand how many lies there are in the movie. In reality, when Paul met John, Paul wore a white jacket with silver flecks, and a pair of black drainpipe trousers, not that pathetic jacket with a flower and those large trousers. And this is important, cause that was the very first impression John got of Paul, that’s why he said that he “dug him cause he looked like Elvis”. When they meet, there wasn’t all the mockery, like in the movie, Paul showed John how to tune a guitar because the instruments owned by John and Griffiths were in G banjo tuning. Paul then sang Eddie Cochran’s Twenty Flight Rock (like in the movie) and Gene Vincent’s Be-Bop-A-Lula, along with a medley of songs by Little Richard. John didn’t look careless, like in the movie, acting like he was unimpressed by Paul’s performance. In the movie he’s impressed but wants to look like he’s not, but it wasn’t like that. Paul, then, also performed at the piano, then John got closer to him and when he leaned an arm on Paul’s shoulder, he realised John was drunk. After the Quarrymen’s show the group, along with Ivan Vaughan and Paul, went to a Woolton pub where they lied about their ages to get served.
McCartney used to see a boy on the bus – a typical 50’s ted: “greasy hair, long
sideburns, shuffling around like he was Mr Hard”, as he described him.
McCartney would come across this boy on the top deck of the bus often. He also
says he saw in the queue at a chip shop this same boy once.
According to Mark Lewhison, Paul sometimes reveals that he also has seen this
boy during the time he was a paperboy; he even talked to him outside the
newsagent’s shop – McCartney worked as a paperboy after his family moved to
Forthlin Road, in summer 1956.
This boy who Paul used to come across by chance through the city was John
Lennon; he attended Quarry Bank Grammar School, and in the summer of 1956, he
and his friends formed a skiffle group called The Quarrymen.
The Quarrymen’s initial formation was John Lennon, Pete Shotton, Eric Griffiths
and Rod Davis. Ivan Vaughan, who was neighbour and friend of Lennon and
Shotton, introduced them to his school-mate from Liverpool Institute, Len
Garry. Then the drummer came, Colin Hanton, who was Eric Griffiths’ neighbour
attended Liverpool Institute and Ivan Vaughan was his best mate. Ivan knew that
his friends from Quarry Bank would perform at St Peter’s Church’s festival in
Woolton Village, on the afternoon of 6th July, 1957, so he invited
Paul to go along with him to try to pick up some girls.
On the sunny Saturday afternoon of 6th July, the 15 years old Paul
McCartney arrived in the fete riding his bike to meet Ivan. He saw some of the
sideshows when he heard the music filling the air coming from a little Tannoy
system. There was a guy with a slightly curly hair and checked shirt playing on
a platform. It was John and the band; however, apparently Paul seemed has just
noticed Lennon presence, as himself recalled, “He was the only outstanding
member, all the rest kind of slipped away”. John sang a Doo-Wop song called Come
Go With Me, by The Del Vikings, which Paul loved. Lennon just had heard it on
radio, he really didn’t know all the words; so in a humorous way, he put in
some stuff about penitentiaries, and McCartney thought it was interesting and
intelligent. Ironically, it really was sort of an invitation to Paul to come
and go with him, and they would never apart.
the first Quarrymen’s performance in that day finished, Ivan took Paul along to
meet the band. The boys were sitting around a table when they came in.
McCartney was dressed in a white jacket with silver details and black drainpipes
trousers. As Pete Shotton recalled, “Right off, I could see John was checking
this kid out. Paul came on as very attractive, very loose, very easy, very
confident – wildly confident”.
Ivan introduced Paul to his friends – Len Garry he already knew, they were from
the same school – but McCartney’s particular interest was John. Paul played
Twenty Flight Rock by Eddie Cochran with the right chords and words, sort of
humiliating these boys who earlier were literally improvising on ‘Come Go With
Me’. “I could see John was very impressed”, said Pete Shotton. McCartney also
realized John looked impressed, and he actually was: “I was very impressed by
Paul playing ‘Twenty Flight Rock”, said John. McCartney joked it was probably
because he did know the words.
chatting some, Paul went to piano that there was in the parish hall. He
remembers that “it’s when John leaned over my shoulders, contributing a deft
right hand in the upper octaves and surprising me with his beery breath”.
McCartney still remembers this particular detail, as he own has said, and every
time he gets the opportunity of emphasising about “John’s beery breath”, he does, like on the message he sent to St
“I still remember John’s beery old breath in
the day I met him for the first time. Soon I came to love his beery old breath,
and I loved John”.
learned to love John Lennon’s beery breath, even because they would hang out
together, write songs together, share a microphone together, occasionally sleep
together, and, thereafter, live their lives together.
“The most important
day in his life was the day he met me.” –Paul McCartney
“When I first looked at John I’d thought, Yuck, not my type. With his teddy-boy look–DA (duck’s arse) haircut, narrow drainpipe trousers and a battered old coat that was too big for him–he was very different from the clean-cut boys I was used to. His outspoken comments and caustic wit were alarming, I was terrified he might turn on me, and he soon did, calling me ‘Miss Prim’ or ‘Miss Powell’ and taking the mickey out of my smart clothes and posh accent.
The first time he did it I rushed out of the room, red-faced, at the end of the class, wishing he’d disappear. But as the weeks went by I began to look forward to seeing him. We never met anywhere but the lettering class, but I found myself hurrying to it, looking out for him. He made me laugh and his manner fascinated me. I had always been in awe of authority, anxious to please and do well, but John was the opposite; he was aggressive, sarcastic and rebellious. He didn’t seem to be afraid of anyone, and I envied the way he could laugh about everything and everyone.”
John, Paul, and Jim McCartney: “—and in the end he chose me.” (a supplemental timeline)
[Paul] liked it with daddy and the brother… and obviously missed his mother. And his dad was the whole thing. Just simple things: he wouldn’t go against his dad and wear drainpipe trousers. And his dad was always trying to get me out of the group behind me back, I found out later. He’d say to George: “Why don’t you get rid of John, he’s just a lot of trouble. Cut your hair nice and wear baggy trousers,” like I was the bad influence because I was the eldest, so I had all the gear first usually.
So Paul was always like that. And I was always saying, “Face up to your dad, tell him to fuck off. He can’t hit you. You can kill him [laughs], he’s an old man.” I used to say, “Don’t take that shit off him.” Because I was always brought up by a woman, so maybe it was different. But I wouldn’t let the old man treat me like that. He treated Paul like a child all the time, cut his hair and telling him what to wear, at seventeen, eighteen.
But Paul would always give in to his dad. His dad told him to get a job, he fucking dropped the group and started working on the fucking lorries, saying, “I need a steady career.” We couldn’t believe it. So I said to him—my Aunt Mimi reminded me of this the other night—he rang up and said he’d got this job and couldn’t come to the group. So I told him on the phone, “Either come or you’re out.” So he had to make a decision between me and his dad then, and in the end he chose me. But it was a long trip.
— John Lennon, interview w/ Peter McCabe and Robert Schonfeld. (September, 1971)
(Note: I originally posted this on Livejournal some months ago, and figured it would be of reasonable interest and relevance here. The circumstances leading up to John’s implicit “Jim or me” ultimatum are as they have been presented in Mark Lewisohn’s The Beatles: All These Years – Tune In (2013), and I have included supplemental quotes from the same. The arguably fannish editorial focus and general contextual embroidery is mine.)
Disclaimer: I do not own The Beatles and this (sadly) is fiction.
The sun was setting and rain was falling down from the sky when two friends walked into a cheap, scruffy hotel in the centre of Paris. They were dripping wet from the rain and the younger one sneezed as he put their bags down at the feet. The other man shook his head like a dog, trying to dry himself a little. He didn’t care much for the people who were staring at them.
‘John, I’m cold. Can we check in already.’ The younger lad asked as he removed his bowler hat and brushed some hair out of his face. John nodded and squeezed Paul shoulder as he told him to wait right there for him. Paul nodded and sat down on a nearby couch and lit a ciggy as he waited for his friend to come back.
We went up to Montmartre because of all the artists, and the Folies Bergeres, and we saw guys walking around in short leather jackets and very wide pantaloons. Talk about fashion! This was going to kill them when we got back. This was totally happening. They were tight to the knee and then they flared out; they must have been fifty inches around the bottom and our drainpipe trousers were something like fifteen or sixteen inches. (Fifteen were the best, but you couldn’t really get your foot through at fifteen, so sixteen was acceptable.) We saw these trousers and said, ’Excusez-moi, Monsieur, where did you get them?’ It was a cheap little rack down the street so we bought a pair each, went back to the hotel, put them on, went out on the street – and we couldn’t handle it: ‘Do your feet feel like they are flapping? Feel more comfortable in me drainies, don’t you?’ So it was back to the hotel at a run, needle and cotton out and we took them in to a nice sixteen with which we were quite happy. And then we met Jurgen Vollmer on the street. He was still taking pictures.
Paul McCartney about the trip to Paris with John in 1961 (Anthology, 1995)