A delegation of key partners from Liverpool’s culture and tourism sectors recently came to Japan to promote the city of Liverpool and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ visit in 1966. There was an intimate event which featured Cavern Club guitarist John Keates, Diane Glover, Marketing Director of The Beatles Story and Julia Baird – John Lennon’s half-sister – who fielded three questions from members of the audience.
Q: There are a lot of films and books on The Beatles, memories and John’s youth. Do you have something that you want to say that is wrong or not true?
JB: Very little of it is true. There is always a thread of truth but as an example I’ll give you the film Nowhere Boy: it’s a travesty, an absolute travesty. It’s fantasy, just made up. Even Paul has said that and said to Sam Taylor-Wood (the director) ‘Sam, nothing was like that’ and she said ‘Well who knows?’ So of course you don’t know that over here (Japan) and I disassociated myself completely from that film in the UK but I know from the internet that they have been going around saying it was based on my book – it isn’t. My publisher wanted me to go and see it so I did and I cried nearly all the way through because it was so untruthful. I left and said I was having nothing to do with it. They say it’s based on my book but it isn’t and there’s nothing I can do. I try not to see those films because how can they possibly know? The world is full of experts, experts who never met John. Experts who have never even been to Liverpool, experts who know nothing but they have the money and they make the film. There’s nothing that we can do.
Q: I’d like to ask without getting too personal, would you describe you last correspondence between yourself and John?
JB: We talked a lot in the 1970s and it was correspondence. We wrote and talked a lot on the phone because when he went to The States in ’69, he didn’t leave to come back to Britain at all so none of his first family saw him after he was twenty-six which is desperately sad. He didn’t have the Green Card and when he got the Green Card they came to Japan for six months – understandably – and he was just coming home so we didn’t see him but we had lots of correspondence with him, just about life and family.
Q: In The Beatles, John was always laughing and joking: was he the mood-maker?
JB: He had a brilliant sense of humour – very dry. My Mother was very witty and dry and I can take you to outside our house, every person in Liverpool and we all have a dry sense of humour, we really do. Dry, a bit cutting, quick and we say what we think and we have to remember ‘Oh…I’m not in Liverpool now’ because if you say something in Liverpool, you just get it back; it’s a repartee. Outside Liverpool you think ‘Oh, I shouldn’t have said that’ but in Liverpool, it’s a dry, sarcastic wit amongst most people but you all know John had that because you heard it.