What do those British kids know that I don't know?
Ah, look at all the lonely people.
I got the answer from Paul Garland of El Paso, Texas, who sent me this photograph he had taken of a gravestone in the churchyard of St Peter's Parish Church in Woolton, Liverpool.
This was the church where John Lennon met Paul McCartney on the 6th of July 1957 (great photo's of this earth-shattering event here). 17-year-old John Lennon was fronting his skiffle group, The Quarrymen, at the church fete (see the programme below). Between the afternoon show in St Peter's garden and their evening slot in the church hall, the then 15-year old Paul McCartney showed John what he could do with a guitar. John later admitted he was gobsmacked. They must have talked, and walked, in the churchyard. Soon after, Paul joined The Quarrymen. And pop culture would never be the same again.
Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name. Nobody came
Father Mckenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved
But the Beatles were wrong. Somebody came.
And left a gravestone to prove it.
This got me thinking.
Is the Eleanor Rigby of worldwide pop fame now a real person, or is she still fictional? Remember, 47% of British teenagers think she is real; are they right or wrong?
Top of the reality pops was "King Arthur": 65% of teens thought he had been a real king of Britain. Wouldn't they be surprised to know that fusty old antiquarians have been trying to pinpoint the real King Arthur since at least the 9th century?
What about the others on the list? Dick Turpin? 34% of British teens think he's real, too. I was asked about Turpin on Archaeoporn, and had to admit that the legendary highwayman had something "true" about him; at least, someone of that that name was hanged for his misdeeds on 7 April 1739 at York. Ballads, Beatles, and other tall tales may preserve such kernels of history.
That's history for you.
A gravestone, the church programme, a hit song. Thank you, Paul Garland, for pulling this all together. That's how history works.
And it reminds me (yet again)that the story of Queen Zenobia would be dismissed as tripe fiction if it weren't for a handful of coins....