Tuesday, July 08, 2008

My Meetles with the Beatles

Here is Valerie and the other competition winners at that memorable meeting with the Beatles at the Gaumont, Wolverhampton, on Tuesday, November 19th, 1963. Valerie is on Ringo's left.by Valerie Lloyd

If anyone ever asked me what was the most thrilling day of my life, I would say, without a doubt, Tuesday, November 19, 1963. Why? Because that is the day I met the Beatles.

I was lucky enough to be one of the winners of a competition run by a musical paper. The prize was two tickets to see the Beatles' show in Wolverhampton, and to meet them beforehand, in their dressing-room.

The winners' names were printed on the Thursday, and I was thumbing through at the tea-table, when suddenly I caught sight of my name at the top of the list.

"Mum!" I screamed through a mouthful of cream cake, "I've won!" . . . My mother picked herself up from the floor, and went straight to phone my father (who was still at work) and my brother (who lives near Wolverhampton), and just about anyone else she could think of!

I tried to keep sane over the weekend, but I was such a mixture of excitement, apprehension and sheer shock, that I don't know how I survived till Tuesday.

Tuesday Came

Well, Tuesday came. I didn't go to school; I would never have been able to concentrate on lessons, anyway.

My parents took me down to Wolverhampton by car, and I met my brother (who was coming with me) and the other two winners and their companions, in the theatre.

After what seemed an eternity we were taken to meet The Beatles. Their dressing-room was so small that we had to go in three at a time. My brother and I, and another boy, went last.

The first thing I saw was an orange face (stage make-up) almost completely veiled by a floppy mop of hair. This was George. I shook hands with him and the rest of The Beatles, and Ringo, because he's rather small, got up on a chair and started shaking hands with everyone (including John, Paul and George) all over again! Paul said, "It's still him, only he's grown a bit!"

Oh, yes, and Paul, with the sexiest of voices, said "How ya doin' luv?" Well! What would you do? I couldn't think of anything to say, and just turned a muted shade of puce!

Paul was doing a "Caruso" act, and someone said, "I thought John was the singer", and John, with shattering gusto, bellowed out some unintelligible tune (and by no stretch of the imagination could it have been the latest Lennon-McCartney composition!). George handed round a tin of humbugs "as eaten by Ma-somebody-or-other (I think it was Cooper) in the eighteenth century".

Questions from Paul

Paul asked me what relation Christopher (my brother) and I were, and where we came from.

When I told him "Shrewsbury" he said. "That's a long way, isn't it? How did you come?" I said that Dad had brought me, and he replied, "Oh, very posh, got a car!" I laughed and he repeated, in pure Liverpudlian, "A CA-A-A-AR!"

What struck me about the Beatles was the way they put people at ease. They made us feel really welcome, and seemed really interested in us. There was nothing "uppity" about them. They were a normal, ordinary, down-to-earth bunch.

I gave them a drawing I'd done of all four of them, and Paul said it was the best he'd seen. My head's never been quite the same size ever since!


By the way, Beatles, do you remember all this? I suppose it's a bit much to ask, but I've heard that you've got good memories. What became of the drawing? Have you still got it? I remember when I gave it to you George said "Yoo've woon anoother 'oom-boog!" That made me laugh!

Anyway, soon it was time to go, and after collecting their autographs (John put "The balancing dog" next to his--I never did know what that meant!)--we had our photos taken on the steps outside the dressing-room. That's one of them you see here. I'm on Ringo's right, and my brother is on his left.

Oh, yes, and before we went George said "Try and keep 'em (the kids) quiet". He must have been joking!

We said goodbye and went to our seats in the front row. The Kestrels, the Vernons Girls, and the Brook Brothers were on the bill. You can guess that when the Beatles came on, and throughout their act, there was continual screaming; so loud that you had a job to hear what The Beatles were singing. And we were in the front row!

When the show was over my head was spinning like a top, but in spite of that it was a wonderful evening, one that I shan't forget for a long, long time.

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