Sunday, April 8, 2012

Beatles are wanted

Letter written to photographer, Robert Freeman from Linda Burrowes on January 1, 1989.

The three girls in your photograph are myself, my sister, Norma, and our friend Ruth.  I've spoken to my sister to refresh the memories for your Beatles book because it's very hard to put into words what we remember from the period as fans.  So here they are!
First the sweaters.  The essential thing was that they had to be dark and crew-necked-as like the Beatles' own gear as possible.  Since we were penniless schoolgirls this called for some ingenuity.  Mine was a white sweater belonging to my father, dyed black, a very messy procedure achieved when my mother was out of the house.  Norma's sweater also belonged to my father and was his words issue sweater.  The WANTED-BEATLES slogan was embroidered on, based loosely on Western movie "wanted" designs.  We like to think they were the first slogan sweaters of their kind.  Unfortunately they don't exist any more.  Norma had ot have the design unpicked and the sweater given back to Dad to wear to work.  When you consider we wore those hot, hair sweaters for a whole week sitting outside the Palace Court Hotel, Bournemouth, in the August sunshine, it says much for our devotion.

I suppose that week in August is something we'll always remember.  We'd been fans since hearing "Love me Do", had seen the Beatles with Roy Orbison at the Gaumont, Southampton in February 1963, and in the Spring had seen them at Salisbury City Hall.  This was a small place where we'd been able to stand right at the front of the stage.  Incidentally, we'd arrived and queued at 3'oclock in the afternoon - the only fans to get there so early.  We were questioned by a policewoman who couldn't understand why we were hanging around so early!

when we found out that they were appearing for a week in Bournemouth in the summer holidays we were thrilled.  We could only afford to see the show once, but we had front row seats and we planned, with the help of a British Rail cheapie weekly ticket, to spend the week in Bournemouth, looking for them during the day.  We lived near Southampton, twenty miles away, and traveled to Bournemouth every day.    I think we imagined we might bump into them on the beach.  In fact we discovered they were staying at the hotel right next to the theatre and so consequently spent the whole week patiently waiting on a park bench opposite the hotel.  Our reward, apart from being photographed by you, were several sightings of the Beatles when they wandered out onto their balconies, a conversation with Paul when he left the hotel with his father, I think, and obtaining autographs of all but John when they set off for their appearance on local television.  They only thing to hand was the box which contained our small transistor radio. I still have it, though the autographs are becoming fainter.
 I find it hard to put into words our devotion to them at that time and the intensity of our fan worship.  In fact if my children behaved like we did!  Perversely, by the end of the year, when Beatlemania had overtaken the whole teenage population, we were much cooler.  I think the thrill was that we were a gorup of the earliest, keenest fans.


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