Boys & Girls...
DREAMS CAN COME TRUE (EVEN WHEN YOU'RE 39)
As far as my memory serves me,
I first saw the Beatles on the cover of Help!
I had a brother who was ten years to the day older
than me. I can then remember the classic 'Sgt. Pepper'
album standing like a greeting card on the family
gramophone. I don't recall actually hearing any
of the music, at this stage it was more a visual
By the early 70's I had progressed to getting the
vinyl out of the sleeve and fell in love with the
Beatle sound (varied as it was).
With my brother only owning two albums I had decided
to collect the entire fab four catalogue. Audiocassette
was the latest craze, they couldn't be scratched
or warp like their black plastic cousins.
By 1974 I had the lot!
I had books too, and I knew that nearly all the
bands records were made at Abbey Road, I knew it
was in London somewhere, but never exactly.
On various trips to the capital I offend wondered,
'how far are we from Abbey Road?'
In January 2001 my brother in law gave me a C.D
ROM for my computer, a Microsoft AutoRoute 2000.
It was a clever little beast. If you typed in a
street it would pin point it. The first location
I gave it was Abbey Road, London.
It came back with a list of about seven streets
with that name.
I consulted the album with the Beatles walking across
the zebra crossing.
It said NW8.
I tried this and bingo!
As an entertainer I sometimes have bookings in London,
and on the 12th April I had to do a show in Edgware.
I checked my AutoRoute and found that Edgware was
only 7 Miles from Abbey Road, this was my big chance!
I travelled down the A1 with my daughter Amy, we
found the Edgware British Legion and I did my performance.
I was doing my Beatles songs in the second half
of the act, and asked the audience, 'Does anyone
know where Abbey Road is?'
Several arms were raised. 'Can you tell me how to
get there?' Was my next hopeful question. It was
received positively, I thought this is looking promising.
My act ended at 11PM sharp. I quickly packed my
equipment up. Peter the chap who booked me came
over to pay me, he had said he would write down
directions. I gave him a pen and paper and he announced
that he'd forgotten where it was, he was slightly
inebriated. But this was bad! Especially as the
venue was by now nearly empty.
I couldn't really contemplate finding a secluded
back street without a smidgen of more detail. I
didn't even have an A-Z.
My chance was slipping by once more. My car was
now fully loaded up, and I was ready to leave, I
decided to go to the loo. As I walked past a table
of four of the last people in the hall a chap said,
'Do you really want to go to Abbey Road?' 'Yes',
I replied excitedly, my tail now on the way up!
'Well I'm a taxi-driver' he retorted. I really had
The friendly cabby went through the route with immense
precision. It was complicated and I would never
have found it just using my auto-route.
There were about 15 key instructions, from crossing
Appex corner, going over several round-a-bouts,
forking right at the point where the A1 branches
left, passing six main pedestrian crossings and
finally turning right at the seventh. I also had
to find a large Esso garage on the corner of the
7th turn, to confirm it was the correct one.
When I was on the final leg, I had to pass a pub
called the Nell Gwen.
Amy would navigate, I was worried. The words needle,
haystack and finding were jumbled up in my mind.
We set off with the interior light glaring. At several
points on the journey I thought we'd gone wrong,
missed a junction or a landmark. But remarkably
we found a major crossroads with a large Esso garage
on the corner. The buzz of adrenaline increased
as I saw that we were indeed on Park road, this
would lead us to the Holy Grail!
We couldn't locate the Nell Gwen Pub, the cabby
said we would definitely pass it. The traffic was
horrendous, it was getting on for midnight but it
was like Ely at peak rush hour, cars everywhere.
We got to another set of lights; Amy wound down
her window and asked a friendly looking West Indian
for directions. He said he knew where it was, but
just then the lights changed to green. About twenty
cars swept across the junction and we are taking
directions at 30 mph surrounded by traffic. I managed
to catch the words 'bear right and find Finchley
But by now I was like a bear sitting on a log on
a fast flowing river, I got swept away to the right,
but then didn't know where I was.
'I think we'll have to give up', I said to Amy.
I'd been beaten again.
I drove down a side street to collect my thoughts;
there was a group of about five people walking towards
us. They looked like a family, a mid-50's couple
and their three children. Amy asked, 'Does anyone
know Abbey Road?' I could see the look on the Mothers
face, she immediately thought we were some kind
of Pop act. Where we in the Pet shop Boys? The beautiful
south? Or S club 7? My car was filled with musical
equipment, guitars and the like so you could understand
A boy in his late teens came forward, 'you're about
two minutes away from it'. This was music to my
ears! Is he sure? I wondered.
He gestured with his hands for us to head the other
way, look out for a large block of flats on your
left and the street starts there.
I quickly hauled the vehicle round, drove for about
200 yards, and there it was as promised, Abbey Road
The studio was a fair way down the suburban North
West London Road.
I drove down looking left and right, and after going
over a level crossing I caught glimpse of the familiar
white washed walls of the world famous EMI Recording
studio. I stopped the car on very nearly the same
place where the Voltsvagen Beetle was parked on
the LP cover. We got out, this was the birthplace
of 90% of all Beatles output over nearly ten years,
and this was where Pink Floyd recorded 'Dark side
of the Moon'.
A fluorescent light shone from out of a large window
that fronted the building, and over the archway
leading to the main entrance an Abbey Road sign
lit up the cold night air. This was the archway
I'd seen on a T.V news clip, John Lennon was being
interviewed right there in that archway about the
groups current recording sessions, the sessions
which turned out, 'Penny Lane', 'Strawberry Fields',
'I am the walrus' and 'Sgt Pepper'. What a few months
that must have been!
Just a few inauspicious cars were parked in the
small yard, the gates were open. I said to Amy,
'lets see how far we get'.
We actually got right up to the front door, where
a stern looking security man sat behind a desk and
looked at us as if to say, 'and what do you want?'
We turned and made our way down the steps, back
through the gates.
The white walls that surrounded the place were covered
in graffiti, of course it was all Beatle related,
names, song titles, from fans the world over.
We got back into the car and drove
away. I should have got on the A1 to Borehamwood,
but by mistake got on to the M1 and ended up at
Luton! Home at 2.40am.
Was it worth it?
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!