Lennon and McCartney - the 60th anniversary

A brace of Beatles

It's 60 years since John Lennon and Paul McCartney met each other. On July 6th 1957, at St Peter's church fete in Liverpool, the 15 year-old McCartney watched the 16 year-old Lennon play with his band The Quarrymen. He soon joined the group himself, and nothing was ever the same again. Here are eight facts about the pair's relationship:

Lennon and McCartney - the 60th anniversary

1. Lennon impressed McCartney at the fete by changing the song lyrics to include references to the vicar.

2. Boys at the Liverpool Institute (attended by McCartney) weren't allowed to visit the next door art college, where Lennon was a student - so Macca attached his blazer badge only with pins, allowing him to remove and reattach it when he entered and left the college.

3. They had a rule in their early songwriting days that if they couldn't remember a song the next day, it wasn't good enough. If they could, they wrote it in a notebook. Macca still owns the book.

4. The pair once visited the restaurant Elaine's in New York. The normally-fierce Elaine was so charmed that, as they couldn't find anything on the menu they liked, she let them call out for pizza.     

5. Lennon used to get annoyed whenever he walked into the Palm Court at New York's Plaza Hotel, as the string quartet would strike up ‘Yesterday' - which was entirely McCartney's work.

6. Similarly Macca got annoyed when lack of space on his iPad screen meant the display read: ‘Hey Jude by John Lennon and ...' It's another song written solely by him.

7. The last time the two saw each other was on April 25th 1976. The previous night they'd watched TV at Lennon's New York apartment, seeing ‘Saturday Night Live' host Lorne Michaels offer $3000 for the Beatles to reform. They thought about getting a cab to the studio as a joke - but decided they were too tired.

8. The day after Lennon's murder, McCartney insisted on carrying on with his work at a London recording studio. Staring out of the window at one point, he saw a van drive past. On its side was written ‘Lennon's Furnishings'.







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Big Ben

On a visit to Big Ben, I was told that if you stand at the bottom of the tower with a portable radio and listen to the chimes on Radio 4 (they still transmit them live), you hear them on the radio before you hear them ‘for real’. I couldn’t believe it – but was intrigued enough to try it for myself. And you know what? It’s absolutely true. The bongs come out of the radio a fraction of a second before they reach your ears from the top of the tower. It’s something so silly, so counter-intuitive, that you have to tell people. (Well, I did.) Researching the explanation, I found that it’s because radio waves travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) rather than the 700 or so miles per hour at which sound waves travel. The signal travelling down the wire from the microphone to the BBC goes at the speed of light too. Hence the radio version overtaking the real one.

I realised that this would be the perfect way to teach the principle in school physics lessons. Instead of a boring teacher droning on that ‘radio waves travel at the speed of light’, illustrate it with this beautiful and quirky little fact. The kids will remember it then. I certainly would have done if my physics teacher had taken this approach. As it was I had to wait until I heard a piece of so-called ‘trivia’ in my thirties.