Sgt Popper’s Gullible Suckers’ Emporium

Juan, Baal*, Beige and Pingu (names may have been changed to protect the guilty). A four-piece band commonly known as the ‘Fab Four’ but less commonly know is that the acronym ‘FAB’, for that is what it is, stands for ‘Frigging Annoying Bastards’.

I am not a fan (in fact I could be seen as an anti-fan) of the Mop Tops despite the fact many say they were the most influential band of all time and musical geniuses of the highest order. With such songs in their back catalogue as, ‘She Loves You’, ‘Love Me Do’, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ and ‘All You Need Is Love’, it’s ironic I find little, verging on nothing, to love. Once they were coupled with Ricky Martin (a comedy record producer at the time, which must mean something) the quartet was destined to conquer the world, throwing it into a mania that still echoes to this day; especially in many nooks and crannies of this, their home city. Even I am willing to admit that is some going considering the band haven’t played a note together since 1970 (or 1969, like many of the facts around this group it’s disputed) which is almost 50 sodding years…enough already, surely? Luckily this hasn’t stopped copious amounts of money being made from a plethora of releases including previously unseen/unheard material being released…again…and again…and again, like an endless helter-skelter.

Liverpool is dotted with sites of adulation for the Scouse Songbirds’ fans to visit: museums, shops, houses, gates to fruit named tracts of land and even some mobile tours one of which is magical and mysterious in nature…apparently. The industrial tree that grew up from those early roots in ‘The Cavern’ and Hamburg is alive, thriving and still filling the coffers of this fine port which I am not going to lie about not being grateful for. Any day you can pass any of the sites of pilgrimage and witness groups of people happily snapping away, quite likely creating memories to take back to foreign shores and share with like-minded fans. If you’re really lucky you can get stuck behind an old yellow/blue coach for twenty minutes as it blocks one half of a small road on the route to Asda. And why not, getting your photo taken next to an old, vandalised sandstone pillar gateway is on everyone’s bucket list, isn’t it? I for one would never let impatience get the better of me and deny them that privilege by sounding my horn repeatedly and shouting “Get a fucking life and get out of my way, you tossers!”

For many years I was indifferent to this musical history, my ears were tuned into a different melodic spectrum; one that was far more…good.** I was happy in my ignorance, I had no need of a ticket to ride or to get back and why would I want to travel down such a tortuous long and winding road. Recently, however, all that has changed in my life and I have caved in and been made to twist and shout in enforced exposure to the whole gambit of everything that is Four and/or Fabulous (citation needed). I have been to old residences, museums, art installations and many retail outlets all of which I did in respectful silence whilst grinding my teeth to a fine enamel powder. I was occasionally smart-arsey but nearly always out of earshot of any adoring fans…unless the situation really called for it. Duress was in abundance during all of these jaunts but I must admit seeing the homes of Juan and Baal restored back to their 1950’s décor was very interesting and the sparseness did go a long way to explaining why they branched off into music to alleviate the boredom, an alleviation they eventually spread to the rest of the known world. (Neither of the homes had a computer let alone internet access, which begs the question: What was it they wanking over?).

But, and there’s always a but, I started to grow weary (and that’s bad considering I started off from a point of pretty disinterested) of all that is musical insect and I began to start seeing cracks form in the venerating veneer of some of the exhibits laid before my eyes in the many temples of reverence. Truth appeared to be having its arm twisted up its back and being told to be economic with itself. Doubt first started to worm its way into my thinking when I found myself looking at ‘Aqua lung worn by Juan Lemming during the filming of Yellow Submarine’ and muttering: “What a load of bollocks.” With this insight in sight more of the factoids displayed began saying, “Psst, cop a load of this,” and winking at me in a conspiratorial manner. ‘Guitar strings Baal McTwonky once thought about buying…but didn’t in the end’; ‘Front door key to a house Beige Danielsan may have walked past on his way to school’; ‘Pingu’s first drum sticks…or possibly wooden spoons we’re still awaiting the test results’; ‘Juan’s right hand and Baal’s left hand, the ones used in the Wankgate scandal’. All manner of things were beginning to look less genuine and more, “I wonder what else we can get away with?”

At first I was seething, parting with cash to have not merely the wool but the whole feckin’ sheep pulled over my eyes until I realised no one was out to fool me personally; after all this world of the Liverpudlian lyricists wasn’t my natural domain, I was merely collateral damage. The fans were more than happy to accept that the tangle of roof insulation in the glass case was indeed ‘Pingu’s moustache worn for the Sgt Popper’s album cover’ and to be this close to something from their heroes’ lives was an orgasmic experience. Fair play to them, where’s the harm in that? Seeing more wide eyes of adoration than in an anime movie all around the temples of everything Mersey melodists gave me an idea that will change my life…and possibly yours depending on your personal obsessions.

I intend to buy/rent/illegally occupy a tower block and each floor will be a shrine to a group, or personality, or lifestyle choice all filled to the brim with absolutely, totally and certified genuine artefacts appertaining to it. I will obtain and display, ‘The actual prism from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album cover’ and also have a room filled with the dark side of the moon for those who wish to walk around bumping into other Floyd-heads. ‘The wind off Ali’s left hook’ will blow across the faces of paying fans of pugilism. There will be half a floor dedicated to ‘The Tour de France’ where cycle-nuts can get the full experience of the race and the remainder of the same floor will be a follow-up, and highly recommended, rehab clinic. Other bona fide exhibits will include (yes, I’m going to make a comedy list of utter bollocks here): ‘Every politician’s, merchant banker’s and psychic medium’s combined integrity massively expanded to fill the inside of a table tennis ball’, ‘The Loch Ness monster’s Tinder profile’, the…the…I’ll think of more before the doors open but you get the spirit of the endeavour. You pay cash, I show you priceless gems; you get happy, I get rich. Sorted.

There are two important things you should take away with you from this, slightly shorter than usual, rant. Firstly, never start a list of imaginary items when you’re going to run out after two ideas, it reflects badly on you; and secondly don’t begin a rant then take a few days off thinking you can come back to reignite the indignant fire that was in your belly at the outset, you can’t and the treatise will end with a damp squib…like this one has.

I suppose I could conclude with a confession and admit to having had a better time doing something I didn’t expect to enjoy, but I would never do that because if I did I know I would be in dire need of Help!

*That demonic play on McCartney’s moniker will be fully understood by the hard core of Beatles nerds well versed in the lore but will require some research regarding the year 1966 and the cover of the ‘Abbey Road’ album for others who are less anoraked..

**If you disagree with me, which is always foolish, I ask you this, has there ever been a song with opening line: ‘The Beatles are better than AC/DC’? I think not. But I can point you in the direction of Heavy Metal Outlaw’s song ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’ from their ‘The Sixties Meant Nothing’ EP; I think that proves my point.