Over the gate...

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

2 Strathearn Place: the Dental Experience.

There has probably been too much LSD-related shenanigans on these pages of late (Greek chorus: "You think?"). But one thing leads to another...so here's a bit more: The London flat of cosmetic dentist John Riley, as pictured circa 1963, two years before he invited John & George round for dinner/conversation/spiked coffee.
The full story of what happened here has been told many times, but for those seeking an eye-witness account, and a picture of Riley himself, Steve Turner's excellent tome The Gospel According To The Beatles has the details; it includes an interview with Riley's then girlfriend, who was also present that night.
Incidentally, in addition to supplying John, George and spouses with their first acid, Riley also provided the "nosferati" in Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Killers with their teeth, though possibly not on the same evening:

Thanks to Julian Carr for finding the vintage pic of Strathearn Place, and to the City of London, London Metropolitan Archives for permission to use it.


  1. Over the years, I've had a major fascination with this night. I think it would be fun to trace the route back from this flat back to Esher. So far we know about the Pickwick Club, the Ad-Lib, but I am curious to ascertain the exact route. I recall John's comments about seeing Rugby poles along the way. Given that it's likely the little mini would have traversed along the A3, there are numerous of these at the junction of the Kingston bypass at Robin Hood Way. But perhaps I have been thinking about this too much! What's more fascinating is how they actually made their way back in one piece!

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  3. It is a curious detail that it is the same four - John, Cyn, George and Pattie - who leg it pronto from the consciousness altering influence of the Maharishi and Rishikesh in 1968, as scarper on this particular mind-bending night with the Dentist.

    The route to the relative safety of Klaus and friends at the Pickwick Club on Great Newport Street - at the start of their physical journey - presents a myriad of possibilities even when taken sober.

    However, the cheapest cab-fare, one might speculate, would be to leave Strathearn Place for Bayswater Road, via either Brook Street or Clarendon Place, head directly east along Oxford Street (crossing Marble Arch and Oxford Circus) and turn right onto Charing Cross Road, before parking up outside their destination at 15-18 Great Newport Street a few conversation-filled minutes later.

    From here it is only a very short walk across Leicester Square to Leicester Place, the Ad-Lib Club and Ringo, so maybe the Mini was left on Great Newport Street for the rest of the evening.

    Remembering exactly where they had left it a few hours later might have presented a few problems though. But by then it was a submarine anyway.

    Or was that Kinfauns? I get confused.

  4. In George's account of the evening in the Anthology, he states that the car was left outside the Pickwick Club when they left for the Ad-Lib.

    Their route between the two venues must surely then have been to cross Charing Cross Road,turn right into Little Newport Street which leads into Lisle Street and a sharp left into Leicester Place.

    Both George and John recall Pattie (jokingly) suggest smashing a shop window on this part of the adventure.

    On the subject of their journey from Strathearn Place to Great Newport Street, I think, upon reflection, that I prefer to imagine they turned right from Oxford Street at Oxford Circus onto the great sweep of Regent Street, crossing Piccadilly Circus for Coventry Street, then via Leicester Square and Cranbourn Street onto Charing Cross Road close to the turning into Great Newport Street.

    In the same account George does recall being in a hurry to leave 2 Strathearn Place in time to catch 'Paddy, Klaus and Gibson' perform at the Pickwick Club, so this must have a bearing on the journey taken.