Over the gate...

Designed in 1913 by Victorian/Edwardian/other architect Theophilus A Allen; John Lennon's house between 1964 and 1968; sunroom, attic and prisco stripe hibernice; Mellotron and caravan; Babidji and Mimi; mortar and pestle; Wubbleyoo Dubbleyoo; curios and curiosity; remnants and residue; testimonials and traces; (Cavendish Avenue, Sunny Heights and Kinfauns); Montagu Square; mock Tudor: Brown House: *KENWOOD*.

(Also available as a blog.)

Legal Blah: This blog is for historical research only, and is strictly non-commercial. All visual and audio material remains the property of the respective copyright owner, and no implication of ownership by me is intended or should be inferred. Any copyright owner who wants something removed should contact me and I will do so immediately. Alternatively, I would be delighted to provide a credit. The writing is by me, such as it is, unless otherwise stated, and this is the only Beatles related blog I am responsible for.

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Correspond via: kenwoodlennon@googlemail.com

Friday, 13 January 2012

Bangor: Paolo Ammassari interview.


In the summer of 2011, a fascinating bit of home movie footage appeared on YouTube. It shows the Beatles in the kitchen/dining room of their accomodation at Bangor, during the August Bank Holiday weekend in 1967 which, o' course, culminated in the news of Brian Epstein's demise.
As both the film and the above still reveal, Paolo Ammassari, from Italy, was there too, witness to a key moment in the story. T'internet being what it is, our paths crossed the other day, and Paolo was kind enough to answer a few questions...

KENWOODLENNON: Please introduce yourself! What's your background?

PAOLO AMMASSARI: Long story. Degree in Engineering. Once CEO in one of the Costa Smeralda Companies (the most important touristic European development). Town Planner & Architectural Engineering. At that time (1967) I was 29.

KL: Why were you in Bangor that August weekend in 1967?

PA: I came from Denmark, driving a German car, with other two friends: Ulla and Fabio Posada, with the purpose to join Maharishi in Bangor for a course in meditation. I started TM in 1964 and in these times I followed Him in all His steps in Europe.

KL: I believe you were designated driver for Maharishi in Bangor. How did you get the “job”?

PA: I knew Him since 1964 when I started Meditation. Because of the joy of His lectures and the happiness He was radiating I followed Him all summers He spent in Europe. So I think I earned some trust from Him.

KL: Various photos/film show you as very much part of the "inner sanctum" that weekend (ie with the Beatles in the kitchen that they used as a base of operations, in the Maharishi's room etc). How did you meet them, and how did you gain such access to them?

PA: It was really by chance, not programmed. I drove the Maharishi's car, as I told you, and I don’t remember if on the same day (as the film), or the day before, I drove the car with Maharishi (on my right hand – the car was German, I suppose) and the Four all in the back. Fantastic ! I hoped some picture was taken of that car with all those folk inside but I didn’t find any. There was also one other occasion when I drove Maharishi. Once He arrived by airplane to Rome after midnight. I went to pick Him up at the Fiumicino airport, with my sports car, and I brought Him to the hotel, where He gave some lectures and press interviews. It was strange to see a sports car with open roof with a white dressed Maharishi’s long hair and beard in the wind, in a night of June !


KL: Can you remember any specific conversations with any of them from that time?

PA: During the meeting in the small dining room of the college, with John we spoke about two points: Nazca land drawings (strange isn’t it), and about the possibility of some degree of spirituality not linked to religions. Some years later I heard “Imagine” !!!!

KL: How did the other people there for the Maharishi's talks regard the presence of the Beatles?

PA: One word - enthusiasm. Maybe too much, and I was a little worried about it. During the lecture (there are pictures of it in b&w) the hall was crowded and a few people (I remember, among others, a young man with very sincere eyes) had some questions to forward in a very sympathetic, respectful and, I can say, in an unexpected sweet way. Maharishi spoke about the way in which Transcendental Meditation drives the familiarity of the meditator to states of Transcendental Consciousness and, with the regular practice of it, to an establishment of deep Cosmic Consciousness. The audience was absolutely fascinated by the Maharishi's speech.

KL: You've no doubt seen the footage of the lecture you're talking about:



The Beatles were, fairly obviously, on the stage. What part did they play in the lecture? Did they speak at any point? Were any questions directed towards them, and if so, what?

PA: Yes I saw that film. I was there but in the back row on the right side of Maharishi, and not found in the pictures. The Beatles didn't speak, they were just listening with pleasure and attention. The audience was focused on Maharishi's speech, but the presence of the Four was giving an exceptional atmosphere of charm and joy.

KL: Do you recall anything about the news of Brian's death?

PA: Yes, they were deeply concerned at the news. They went to Maharishi and the farewell was quiet and sad.

KL: Did you subsequently keep in contact with any of them?

PA: No.

KL: Do you have any photos relating to any of the above?

PA: Unfortunately not. As I told you, many pictures were taken during the short drive from the lecture hall and the college, but I haven’t seen any. I would be pleased if you are able to find some.

KL: Many thanks to Paolo, and if anyone has, or comes across, any pictures of those car journeys with Paolo in the driver's seat, then please get in touch.

Dartmoor: Newbridge.


A while back, I was asked if I knew the location of the bridge that brought MMT to a halt. God, does it not, loves a visual metaphor, and thus the bus, together with attendant retinue, was famously stymied by a narrow crossway, with the whole shebang forced to reverse half a mile and try another route. (The stars in the above illustration represent expletives from les Fabs, who failed to see the funny side.)
Anyway, I was pleased to reply that I did not know the location, as to have that level of trivia at one's fingertips would represent a tragic waste of a life.
Appallingly, however, having since been unable to resist a rummage for the locale, the tragedy rumbles on: it turns out the offending arches belong to Newbridge on the edge of Dartmoor, a 15th century listed structure which is locally famous, being the subject of postcards and the like, as in this detail from one circa 1930s:


It even has its own Wikipedia entry, and though you'll find no mention of MMT, there is a link to the Coach Drivers' Handbook For The Dartmoor Area, which offers warnings of dire consequences to anyone in charge of a large (possibly multi-coloured) charabanc who doesn't carefully plan their route to avoid narrow medieval bridges.
(Readahs can now relive this episode in Beatles history from the comfort of their own hovels, via the medium of finding the bridge on Google Street view, then repeatedly pressing the reverse button whilst hurling profanity and fulmination at the screen.)

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Kenwood: film number 9.


This is the ninth bit of film to emerge from Kenwood, by my reckoning (and lumping John's home movies in as one). The preamble outlines its origins. Obligatory "thens" have been inserted (somewhat roughly, but there we are). Much of it will be familiar to regulah readahs, though there are a few hitherto unseen nooks, not to mention crannies. All sounds are authentically Kenwood, too. I can say no more.
(Except: Happy New Year. Should be an interesting one for Beatling, as the first volume of Mark Lewisohn's enormous 3-part tome will appear; plus Lizzie Bravo's remarkable book of photos; and I remain hopeful that the 3D sunroom sees the light o' day sometime soon. One or two other things possibly on the horizon, and doubtless other "stuffs" will turn up through the year. In the meantime, enjoy this.)