What do the British call a bathroom

Magical History Tour to the Beatles Bathroom

Paul McCartney turned 70 in June. He comes to his hometown Liverpool regularly. Visitors can always be close to him here - on a tour of his house, his church or through Penny Lane.

Two up, two down ”, that's how the British call narrow houses like number 20 in Liverpool's Forthlin Road. Two rooms upstairs, two downstairs, red bricks, white windows. Paul McCartney lived here when he was a teenager, playing skiffle and rock'n'roll between a lamp post and brown couch chairs. Often with John Lennon, who fled here from the strict regiment of his aunt Mimi, with whom he grew up. "The guitar is a nice hobby, John, but you will never earn a living with it," Mimi kept telling him.

“John and Paul especially enjoyed composing in McCartney's bathroom, because their guitar sound was richer,” says Phil Hughes. This is where the sound of "Love Me Do" originated, he suspects - the first Beatles single, released on October 5th, 1962. Hughes is one of the most knowledgeable about Liverpool and Beatles history. "Come on, we have to get to the Liverpool Cathedral quickly," he says in almost perfect German. Because she is the largest evangelical in the world? Or because Beatles t-shirts are sold inside? No, it's self-defense, grins Phil: “We don't have any church tax.” It leads into the huge, wine-red, magnificent building because Paul McCartney failed here in the 1950s when he auditioned for the church choir. Then in 1991 Paul's revenge: the world premiere of the “Liverpool Oratorio”, his first classic and semi-autobiographical work in this very cathedral. The cantor, who once rejected the not-yet-Beatle as a choirboy, is said to have holed up in the church tower during the oratorio.


The little bank on Penny Lane

We continue through green, meticulously fenced suburbs to Penny Lane, probably the most famous street in pop history. The Penny Lane street signs, which are very popular with fans, have long since become "real estate", locked in a metal frame to prevent theft. The unspectacular, brick-lined lane is named after James Penny, a captain who, like so many in Liverpool, got rich with the slave trade. Years ago they wanted to rename the street, but the lovely Beatles song was stronger. The street name stayed, as did the places mentioned in the lyrics and the Beatles stories around it: The little bank is still on Penny Lane, the hairdresser and the (shabby) bus shelter in the middle of the roundabout.

From there, as students, John and Paul took bus number five into the city, often with guitars and “Love Me Do” in their luggage. George Harrison is said to have auditioned on the top deck of a 5er and passed his Beatles entrance exam.

Beaconsfield Road is a narrow, overgrown street, dark and mysterious. The only splash of color: a bright red, wrought-iron gate with an overgrown garden behind it. “Strawberry Fields” stands between graffiti and felt-tip pen memories that Beatles fans have scribbled on. John Lennon often came here as a boy, but mostly not through the gate, but over the wall. The garden of his aunt Mimi's house bordered on “Strawberry Fields” - the orphanage area was suspicious to the strict aunt, John shouldn't wander around there. But here, too, he prevailed with the sentence: “Nothing happens there that you are hanged for” - later a line in the song: “There's nothing to get hung about”.


The real first performance club

The Beatles' first stage in Liverpool? The Cavern Club. “Everyone says that,” says Phil, but it's not true. “Yes, they performed 292 times in the Cavern,” he tells the story of this ex-warehouse for fruit and vegetables in fast motion: “It was so damp that their guitars kept getting feedback. In the 1970s, the Cavern Club was demolished - in favor of an exhaust air shaft for a subway line. This was not needed after all, so the Cavern Club was rebuilt, with the original bricks, a few meters further. ”Opposite, also immortalized in bricks, the Wall of Fame with the names of all the artists who performed in the Cavern, guarded by a casual at the House wall leaning cast iron lennon. Today the Cavern is more of a “cover club” because cover bands here reproduce the work of the Beatles more or less faithfully on a daily basis.

The Beatles' first venue in Liverpool, on the other hand, offers real originals: In the Casbah Coffee Club, a basement ceiling hand-painted by Paul McCartney shines in rainbow colors. John's name is carved into the wood. Both had been contracted to renovate by Mona Best, the feisty mother of the Beatles drummer at the time, Pete Best. She had previously allegedly sold her jewelry, bet the proceeds of the horse race on the most blatant outsider and with the profit bought a large house in the West Derby district, where she set up a rock and roll club in the basement. This is how Rory Best, Pete's brother, tells the adventurous story to the visitors today. Microphones from yesteryear, suitcase amplifiers and cute, hand-painted Beatles posters are still there. When it opened on August 29, 1959, 800 people came. The Beatles played - back then as "Quarrymen" - and shortly before their first record was released here again and again. Anyone who had to go to the toilet in the “Casbah” was passed through the crowd under the almost two meter high ceiling to the exit - an early variant of crowd surfing.


Paul plays the school principal

With Phil it goes back to the city of Liverpool, which still has streets with boarded-up windows and doors, remnants of the urban decline until the 1990s. Above all, however, there are many monumental commemorative facades from the time as the most important passenger port of the 19th century. One of them: the town hall, a magnificent building with massive Corinthian columns, a dome and a representative balcony. This was the goal of the Beatles on July 10, 1964, a special day for the band: their third LP "A Hard Days Night" had been in stores for a few hours, the accompanying film premiered in the Odeon cinema in Liverpool that evening, and after America, the Fab Four had just conquered Australia. Their return to Liverpool - a triumphal procession: 200,000 people cheered them on the way from the airport to the town hall and then at their winking appearance on the balcony. Only one person did not wave: John stretched his arm in greeting to Hitler because the crowd had reminded him of the Nuremberg Nazi party rallies, as he later said.

Paul McCartney comes to Liverpool about twice a year, says Phil, while he leads through the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts founded by the ex-Beatle in his ex-school. Here Paul plays the school director in the summer and distributes certificates. On New Year's Eve, Paul is often incognito in town and occasionally visits his parents' house. Once he was said to have been sitting around the corner on the side of the road in an inconspicuous car when a girl knocked on the window: "Hey, Mister, for five pounds I'll show you Paul, this Beatle's house!"

Liverpool - in the footsteps of the Beatles

It wasn't until years after the death of John Lennon that the city of Liverpool really woke up and now offers many Beatles tours and an exhibition.

Magical Mystery Tour - the classic. Tour in the iconic 1960s coach to Penny Lane, the Beatles' homes, first venues and the Cavern Club as the end of the line. Funny moderation, loads of Beatles songs to sing along to, detailed brochure. Daily at 2.30 p.m. from Albert Dock, additional tours on Saturdays at 12.30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Converted around 18 €. Tel .: + 44 / (0) 151/236 90 91, www.beatlestour.org.

Phil Hughes Tour - specially tailored to the needs of the guests, garnished with plenty of music, anecdotes and information. On request in German and with an individual meeting point. By arrangement, up to five people approx. 70 €, each additional person 15 €. Tel .: + 44 / (0) 151/228 45 65 or +44/7961 / 511 223 (mobile), www.tourliverpool.co.uk

Tour of the homes of Paul McCartney and John Lennon: Only possible through the National Trust, which manages both. The two-hour “Woolton Tour” starts Wednesday to Sunday at 10am and 10.50am in front of the Jurys Inn Hotel, and in the afternoons at 2.30pm and 3.20pm from Speke Hall. 15 euros per person, children up to 16 years 3 euros. Tel .: + 44 / (0) 151/427 72 31 or at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/beatles

Casbah Coffee Club Tour with one of Pete Best's brothers. Mon and Thu to Sat 11 am–5pm. Approx. 15 euros per person, children free. Booking under + 44 / (0) 151/280 35 19 or [email protected] www.casbahcoffeeclub.com

Fab cab tours - In a taxi to the Beatles' locations, a newer sightseeing alternative. Up to five participants and three hours approx. 55 euros. + 44 / (0) 151/909 19 64, [email protected], www.fabcabsofliverpool.com.

Beatles story - Exactly compiled exhibition, in which you can walk through the career of the Beatles - including through a replica of the Cavern Club and Beatles manager Brian Epstein's record store. Monday to Sunday 9 am–7pm. 12.50 euros, children (5–16 years) 6.40 euros. Albert Docks, + 44 / (0) 151/709 196 32 20

Getting there: From Vienna to London, further a.o. with Flybe via Isle of Man to John Lennon Airport Liverpool (slogan: "Above us only sky" from the Lennon title "Imagine"). www.flybe.co.uk

Stay. A must for Beatles fans: The Hard Days Night Hotel right on Mathew Street, which is also where the Cavern Club is located. The Beatles-themed hotel not only has a Paul and a John suite, but also Beatles bars in the basement, loads of memorabilia, photos and the sheet music of many Beatles titles that dangle above the reception desk. Prices from around 110 euros upwards. North John Street, Tel: + 44 / (0) 151/236 19 64

Middle class and very individual: Indigo Hotel in the former cotton trading quarter. Double from 78 euros. 10 Chapel Street, + 44 / (0) 151/559 01 11

Inexpensive and in the middle of Liverpool's party zone: The Base2Stay in the brick warehouse, perfectly renovated, but without a breakfast room. Muesli, milk and bread come to the room in paper bags. Double room from 67 euros. 29 Seel Street, + 44 / (0) 151/705 26 26, www.base2stayliverpool.com
All hotels have maximum prices on weekends when Liverpool FC is playing at home.

Eat. The pubs “The Grapes” and “White Star Pub” on Mathew Street and Rainford Gardens offer plenty of Beatles memories. The Beatles stopped here regularly for a few beers because the Cavern Club didn't have that.
[Photo: S. Brünjes]

("Die Presse", print edition, July 28, 2012)