When I was in my early teens, my mum gave me one of the best gifts she’s ever bestowed on me (save for the woollen jumper she is currently knitting and will send to me in time for British winter). In my early teens, my mum gave me her entire collection of authentic, 1960s Beatles memorabilia. This amazing collection included magazines, records, John Lennon’s book ‘In His Own Write’, her ticket stub from their concert at Festival Hall in June 1964, and so much more. The gift marked the midway point of my blossoming obsession with the Fab Four. An obsession that my mum understood, approved of and encouraged.
|The Beatles - an obsession all mums approve of|
At this point, you may be wondering what The Beatles have to do with my declaration that I wanted to spend my next weekend doing something completely different. Something I could never do in Melbourne. Well, wait for it…
You don’t get much more uniquely British than trains, train journeys, train stations, girls on trains (ha, sorry got a little carried away there – but don’t get me started on why they decided to move the book’s story to American and not keep it in England). A train journey, therefore, seemed the perfect way to spend my next weekend and an opportunity arose for me to do just that.
For those of you familiar with London’s larger railway stations (and not just from the Monopoly board) like Euston, Paddington, Waterloo, King’s Cross St. Pancras, you’ll know that in around two hours, you can find yourself in places like Oxford, York, Cambridge, Bath, Brighton, Paris, Brussels and so on goes the list. If you’ve been in Australia’s equivalent, you know that you can travel for two hours and still be in the same state you reside. Not quite as fun. When I first encountered the departures board at Paddington station, my entire body tingled with the thrill of opportunity. I loved being surrounded by the excited bustle of people waiting to board trains to their next adventure destination. I imagined them visiting old ruins, traversing the rambling moors of the countryside, drinking in pubs that had been in existence since the 1600s, taking the waters at Bath’s famed spa. Granted, most of these people were harassed commuters just trying to get home, but I preferred my romantic notion of their lives.
And so on my weekend mini break, I found myself at Euston station. I was about to board a train that would deposit me, two and a bit hours later, in Liverpool, aka the home of The Beatles. That, my friends, is something you can’t do in Melbourne.
Now, if you’re lucky, a train trip can be the most pleasant of journeys. I love nothing more than to stare out a train window and watch as the vibrant green of the English countryside goes by. The sun seems to always stream through the window during the journeys I’ve taken, and this creates a cocoon of warmth that is partnered perfectly with a beverage (before noon, tea, after noon, booze).
This, however, was not my experience going to Liverpool.
There we were, in carriage E, surrounded by lads all headed to Liverpool for some football match or other. Their only luggage? Loud voices and copious six packs of larger. (Fosters. ‘Nuff said.) The window we had to look out of was non-existent (I didn’t even know you could get seats without windows) and I was sipping on orange juice because I thought I was getting a cold. After an hour, one of the lads started vaping (the cool of cigarette smoking didn’t really translate to using these vape things did it? Everyone just looks like the Pied Piper) and I thought that the train journey could very well morph into a psychological triller like ‘The Girl on the Train’ but probably more like ‘Murder on the Orient Express’.
Thankfully, the trip got exponentially better once we disembarked at Liverpool Lime Street railway station. For the next two days I walked in the footsteps of John, Paul, George and Ringo right to the entrance of the Cavern Club. I also visited The Beatles Story, an amazing museum dedicated to the mop-haired foursome, and discovered fan offerings that littered the city such as a statue of Eleanor Rigby, created by Tommy Steele in the 80s and dedicated to ‘all the lonely people’.
But I didn’t feel lonely. I felt part of history.
I thought back to my teenaged self, when I could be found, hour upon hour, writing out the lyrics to every song the Beatles wrote, only to discover my mum had done the exact same thing thirty years earlier. And now, here I was, in the city where it all began. My only regret was that my mum wasn’t there with us. But thankfully, in this age of social media, I could tweet about my adventure, my mum could read along, and it was as if she was there is spirit.
And that’s what I call doing something completely different, something I could never have done in Melbourne. And I just know there will be many, many more such adventures in my future yeah, yeah, yeah.
|John, Paul, George and Ringo 4eva|