I never liked the Beatles. I thought their tunes thin and whiny and their lyrics mawkish and sentimental. 'Hey, Jude', 'Love, love me do' and 'Mull of Kintyre' are down there in my Ten Worst Records of All Time along with Frank Sinatra's 'My Way' and any school choir. I suspected that they pretended to be squeaky clean with their choir boy haircuts and silly suits but were really messing about with drugs. Whereas the Rolling Stones, who looked drugged up to their eye-balls and very dirty (both of which recommended them to me at the time), were living the rock and roll lifestyle while laying down fine wine in their cellars. Above all, the Stones looked like they were having a great time while The Beatles seemed the personification of misery. The Stones never explained themselves while the Beatles were full of pomposity and lecturing. Or so it seemed then. Because, beneath it all, the rivalry of their respective fans was based on a north/south divide and a snobbishness on the part of us southerners. For a start we more sophisticated and richer Kentish girls (I was a neighbour of young Jagger) would never like to be called 'fans'. We thought ourselves independent and politicized. Our very proximity to London made us, in our minds anyway, close to the centre of the universe and therefore part of it.
Time to re-visit, methinks. At the invitation of the Wet Paint Gallery in Cirencester, we have just had lunch with Sir Peter Blake, the artist, most popularly known for his pop-art cover of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Over a meal at Calcot Manor he talked about the sixties. Friends then and now with some of the great names of the sixties he retains his easy, comfortable friendliness and, while he claims to have 'retired from greed, avarice and ambition', he is as busy as ever and as contemporary now as when he was introducing Liverpudlian musicians to the delights of London clubs. London may consider itself the centre of the world but sit still long enough in the Cotswolds and the whole world visits us. So, having played all the Beatles tapes, I can say my view of their music remains the same and in the unlikely event that Ronnie Woods of the Stones, himself a wonderful painter, comes to my door you may never hear from me again. That's rock and roll.