The jazz professor was horrified when I told him that Dad Pony had sent me to Liverpool with the assignment to go stand at Sacred Beatles Sites. "We are ethnomusicologists," he said. "We Do Not Do . . . tourism." Oh, well. He should have told that to the BFE conference organizers, who organized an entire Beatles bus tour for us:
We went to Penny Lane, and saw the Sacred Street Sign:
Here are a bunch of ethnomusicologists busily proving the jazz professor to be on the wrong side of history:
We drove by the Dingle, where Ringo was born. The neighborhood is kind of grungy and due to be demolished, and there wasn't a good angle for a photo. The next stop was at George Harrison's old house. This is the only one of the Four Childhood Homes that's privately owned. The owners, as our guide told us while the group of fifty of us were gathered around snapping pictures, are the Most Patient Couple In Great Britain.
I took this photo from the bus, so it's a little dark. It's of an ordinary graveyard next to an ordinary church that held an ordinary picnic where two ordinary teenagers were introduced to each other -- where John Lennon met Paul McCartney and decided he was a nice kid, but nothing special. It's also the graveyard where Eleanor Rigby is buried along with her name. Her grave is in the second row from the front.
This is the gate of the original Strawberry Fields, which was an orphanage during the time that John Lennon was a kid. I think the Salvation Army owns the building now.
This is John Lennon's childhood home, where he lived with his aunt and uncle. It's owned by the National Trust.
This is Paul McCartney's childhood home, not too far away. It's been redecorated inside to look just like it did when Sir Paul was a kid, though we didn't get to go inside and see for ourselves. It's also owned by the National Trust, even though it doesn't have the blue plaque. You only get one of those on your childhood home after you've been dead twenty years, and our guide ventured the opinion that Sir Paul is probably quite happy not to have a blue plaque on his house. . .
The tour ended up, as all such tours must, in the Cavern Quarter. There are actually two watering holes with that name. The Cavern Pub has a Wall of Fame, listing lots of famous musicians who have played in Liverpool:
But the Cavern Club is the one that most people are after. We all went in and had a drink, and lo and behold! a Beatles cover band was playing, to the surprise of absolutely no one. The original entrance is a few feet down the road, but it was bricked up during some renovations. Across the street, up on a wall, you can see how the denizens of Mathew Street really feel about their four boys.
After all that fun, what are ethnomusicologists to do but party? The conference banquet was held at the Adelphi Hotel. The Adelphi is the kind of hotel that none of us could even dream of ever being able to afford to stay in; it was the kind of place that the first-class passengers on the Titanic would have stayed in before leaving. It used to be that the rooms were even decorated to look like shipboard staterooms! We also heard that one of the ballrooms (not the one we had our banquet in) is decorated to look like the ballroom on the Titanic. I kind of hope that someone might have painted a teeny little iceberg on one of the windowpanes in that one . . .
Anyway, the banquet was lovely. All the food was very good, although kind of randomly chosen and assembled, in the way of a country that has not historically been known for its cuisine figuring out how to do gourmet food, and just having a blast with it. After dinner, a Balkan dance band called Paprika Balkanikus took the stage. As one might expect at any large party, the women were out dancing on their own for about twenty minutes before the men got brave enough to join them. But once we got the guys up and dancing, the party totally rocked!
Alas, that's the end of the photos! As you can see, it was a fantastic weekend. I made lots of new friends, herd some neat papers, and my paper went over well -- all my technology worked, and I got some good questions at the end. I think I like BFE. Next year's conference is in Oxford, and I definitely want to go! We lived there when I was three, in 1979, when Dad Pony was on a sabbatical. I could skip the business meeting again and go find our old home, on Marsten Lane, just off of Crotch Crescent (really!)