Now this is a Blog close to my heart. Guest Bloggers Joe and Joyce Brazino from Philadelphia were introduced to me by a mutual friend a few years ago on one of their regular trips to Beatle Week. Little did I know, that over the years, they would become very special friends and that we’d meet up many times both here and in the US. Joyce is an established wordsmith and wanted to share her love of Liverpool with the Cavern Blog…..
In August of 2001, my husband and I made plans for our first-ever trip to London. “Look,” said Joe pointing to a map, “If we fly from Philadelphia directly into Manchester, it will be a lot cheaper – and from there, it’s only a three-hour train ride to London.”, which in America, is considered a hop, skip and a jump.
I eyed the location of Manchester, and noticed that it was really close to Liverpool – that magical, mystical, most wondrous place – a dream destination ever since the Beatles burst through my transistor radio at the age of 9.
“I have an idea,” I said, “Why don’t we go from Manchester to Liverpool and stay overnight?” Thus our first trip to Liverpool, the first of eight to be exact, was born.
At 6 a.m. GMT, we stumbled off the plane in Manchester and boarded a train to Liverpool. I had my walkman (these were pre-Ipod days) cued so that, with the press of a button, I could hear the opening chord of a Hard Day’s Night just as we pulled into Lime Street station. (Geeky, I know … but it just had to be done!)
Imagine my joy getting into a cool black cab where the driver sounded like Lennon and addressed me as “Luv”, it was almost too much to take! When we pulled into the now-defunct Moat House Hotel, the ear candy continued with a cheeky, incredibly funny and most conversational Bellhop. I was practically dizzy with delight.
Of course, our room wasn’t ready, and although it was only 8am, we dropped our bags and hit the streets. To me, this was like a visit to the Holy City. The entire place vibrated with a Beatley aura that, combined with the jet lag and a few lunch-hour pints, had me on the edge of delirium. When we walked along Mathew Street, I swore I could “feel” the presence of John, Paul, George and Ringo as my feet touched every stone in the pavement. The Cavern, although a replica of the original, was a moving sight, since I had only imagined it for so many years. Even though it was empty except for the two of us, it was easy to envision the boys onstage. The day was literally a childhood dream come true. But it was about to get even better.
That evening, we sat in the Grapes in Mathew Street, trying to take in the fact that the boys had frequented this very place. Upon exiting, we heard live Beatle music coming from a bar down the street. (For those who know Liverpool, the bar was Baty’s, now the site of the Hard Day’s Night Hotel.) We followed it and were greeted by a most amazing sight – the Blue Meanies: four young Liverpudlians in boots and suits, The Beatles’ music, note for note. A frenetic, appreciative crowd danced to every song. To hear that music, in that place, and sung by young lads who bore an eerie resemblance to the Beatles without wigs or makeup, was truly the experience of a lifetime. Joe noted that the best people to watch were the local women of a “certain age” (that would be my age), who were actually there when it all began. Their continuing love of the music was beyond anything I’d experienced before.
We soon discovered that we had hit upon Liverpool at the start of the annual Beatle Week festival. And indeed, on our way back to the hotel, several Beatley young men were being deposited out of cabs along with their gear. That very night, I exacted a promise from Joe – we must come back next year, and we must stay for several days. And we did.
Our experiences in Liverpool have introduced us to people from around the world, several of whom are now treasured friends. These are people we would never have met otherwise. We’ve also heard innumerable live performances by incredibly talented musicians from around the world. They recreate The Beatles’ and music from the 60s – sometimes note for note and sometimes with their own twist. Many of them also produce amazing original material. We often say it’s been the most fun and enriching ten years of our lives!
Although we were so sad to leave Liverpool after just one day in 2001, we knew we’d return. But we couldn’t have imagined how many amazing times were in store for us there, and how much the people we’d meet would come to mean to us. Thank you John, George, Paul and Ringo for making it all happen.