It’s Sunday morning in Liverpool and we have a big exciting day planned, starting with a lovely run along the river Mersey which will end at the Liverpool Cathedral.
When the service ends we head immediately to the tower climb and are the first ones up to enjoy the view all by ourselves.
Liverpool Cathedral is the youngest cathedral we have been in as it was built from 1904-1978. At 207 yards of external length, it is the longest cathedral in the world.
After a great morning run and a visit to another stunning cathedral we prepare for our much anticipated visits to the childhood homes of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Since the meeting point is seven miles away we have to fire up the MINI for this Sunday afternoon adventure. Upon arrival we are directed to a large van and find that there is only one other couple on the tour. We make introductions and find that they are from Dallas Texas and, like us, have been traveling the world for the past 1 ½ years. They have sold their home and cars, but different from us is that they are younger and he continues to work as a mortgage banker. While we swap stories of our travels, the van driver pipes in and tells us that he retired at 46 and did the same thing but felt guilty, feeling his life wasn’t real and he was on a permanent vacation. After hearing us talk he felt as though he had made a mistake. He drops us off at 20 Forthlin Road, the house in which Paul McCartney lived for several years with his parents and brother Mike.
Our tour guide greets us outside the door and gives us some background history of the home and the family before bringing us into the living room where we sit down as she tells us some amusing stories and recounts the songs that originated here. It is thought that more than 100 Beatles songs were composed here including: Love me do, I saw her standing there and When I’m 64. The latter song Paul McCartney wrote for his father and was released on his dad’s 64th birthday. It was an absolutely goose bump inducing time with just five of us sitting in Paul McCartney’s living room talking about his life experiences here. We were able to wander the whole house and back yard but no pictures were allowed. Jim played Für Elise on the piano in the living room which was not the original, but a lot of famous people touring the house have played it.
When our driver Joe returned to pick us up he announced that he had called his wife and she agreed that he should retire again. He had already booked a place in Menorca for two weeks in October. He told us he would never take any bloody Americans on tour again. “They just get me in trouble.” We had a great laugh over this. Strange how even brief connections with strangers can change the course of both lives.
Our next tour was the childhood home of John Lennon at 251 Menlove street. The house name is Mendips. The blue English Heritage Plaque outside the house was put there 20 years after John Lennon’s death. There are only two ways to get this prestigious plaque. Either you are dead for 20 years and still famous or you are 100 years old and still famous. Paul McCartney’s home does not yet qualify.
The 1930’s semi-detached property belonged to John’s aunt Mimi and Uncle George Smith. John moved there at the age of five. He lived there because his mother Julia was living with her boyfriend and her sister reported her to child services getting custody of John. He remained here until he was 22. Unlike the other Beatles, John’s home is in a much higher class neighborhood. John’s mother would come here to visit and on one of her walks home she was hit by a car and killed. The driver was an off duty policeman who was never charged. Her death left John scarred and may have contributed to his anti-authority leanings. He wrote several songs about her and felt that he lost his mother twice, once at the age of five and again at the age of seventeen. His mother supported his music, unlike his aunt who tried to discourage it. Part of the bond between John and Paul was that they both lost their mum’s prematurely. In 2002, Yoko Ono purchased Mendips and donated it to the National Trust for preservation. It was restored to it’s 1950 appearance and opened to the public in 2003. The tour through this house was much less warm and fuzzy but still very enjoyable. We really loved Liverpool and would recommend it as a 2-3 day stop on any tour of the UK. There is so much music history here other than The Beatles and the city is so alive and vibrant.