Over the gate...

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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Penny Lane: then unt now.

I've long had it in mind to do an "appreciation" of the Penny Lane promo film, but the more I went into it, the longer it became, and the longer it became, the less sense it made, even to me. Thusly and thankfully, instead here are a few sundry bits and pieces on a theme of drivel about Penny Lane.
The film opens with a shot of John walking on the King's Road in Chelsea, at Markham Square; here's the same spot now:

He walks up and down what is a short length of pavement, probably in an attempt to convey John "on the street" (or in this case "Lane" though in fact it's a "Road" next to a "Square")(see what I "mean"?) observing the various "items" detailed in the lyric. Why John and not Paul? I don't know. Why this particular short stretch of the King's Road? Again I don't know, but Mary Quant's shop Bazaar was on the corner, as was the restaurant Alexander's, both frequented by the Beatles, so maybe it had something to do with that; somewhere John could hide between takes, possibly.
Here he is walking in the other direction, and again, ein now:

There's some messing about with horses etc, which has been covered on this blog at revolting length elsewhere, but here's something I've never seen explained: The naughtiest line in the song is, of course, the one about fish and finger pie. (I recently saw a Liverpool guide to Beatles sites attempting to pass this off as a reference to the local chip shop. Which in a sense it probably was. And in another sense, most definitely wasn't, as some of you may even have experienced.)
Ver thing is, at ver equivalent point in ver film, there are close ups of ver lads, three of whom are clearly saying something into ver camera, and judging by ver expressions on ver faces of ver lads, it may well be something related. I can say no more that that. Except, to say more than that, cutting film in the pre-digital age was a painstaking process; that bit of film is there at that point for a reason.
Right, Johnny?:

Riiight. A "potential" alternative to the above, given that related shots of various locales around Penny Lane itself feature prominently in the film, might have been the terraced house at 73 Lidderdale Road, in the Penny Lane area:

Any of you who have read Pete Shotton's amusing and informative tome will recall the scenes of youthful sexual misadventure involving John, Pete and their then girlfriends, which occurred in the then front room at this very address, the then home of Shotton's then girlfriend (then later wife) Beth. There may well have been fish (and then chips).
Moving on, the shelter in the middle of a roundabout was a common hangout for John and cronies during his yoot. It was later turned into a "bistro" (whatever that is - something to do with the 1970's, I gather):

Here's how it looks now (ie derelict):

There is movement, however; the day I was there the inside was being cleared:

The Barber showing etc etc etc, still there too, though no longer Bioletti:

Finally, finally, something of more interest: The Old Dutch Cafe; Pete Shotton worked (or possibly "worked" but let's give him the benefit of any doubt) here, and it was a regular stopping off point for the Beatles on their way home from gigs at the Cavern and elsewhere, mainly because it stayed open late and Pete would, I daresay, have given them stuff for free. The cafe was within grogging (later "grooving", then back to grogging, followed by mugging and now stabbing) distance of central Penny Lane, and, although long gone, somewhat remarkably, the sign remains:

Now go about yer business.


  1. beautiful. poetic. germanic.

  2. thank you for making me laugh - you are too much!

  3. The road you see in the Penny lane promo - the policeman on horseback, is Kenyon road. Just off Church Road and just behind the old bus depot (shelter in the middle of the roundabout at Smithdown Place/Road) ..Don't worry- you are very unlikely to get 'stabbed' around there!!