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• British Badfinger Fans Gathering (30-Aug-08) •

Story and Photos provided by: Keith James

This is the first Badƒinger fans meet-up since the Badƒinger Convention of 2006. We had made various plans to meet as friends after the Convention, but somehow it never materialised. In the Summer of 2008, I make the decision to pencil-in a date in Liverpool at the tail-end of August and sent out various emails, letters and text-messages informing people that we’d be meeting for the day. Around twenty five people showed an interest, but only thirteen were available for the day.

The liaison point is the Coffee shop in Albert Dock, Liverpool. Twelve sharp. The Beatles had a photo session here in the earliest part of their career and the area has been seen variously on British TV on shows such as "Boys from the Blackstuff." Granada TV has their studios here and until recently broadcast "This Morning" from Albert Docks. The map of the British Isles used so energetically by Fred the Weatherman is still floating in the waters of Albert Dock.

Ruth and I are the first to arrive along with Cynthia Harding from Stoke who has travelled with us. Cynthia has been a Badƒinger fan since the very beginning and soon her two mates, Shirley Halstead and Hilary Hudson from Yorkshire, are also consuming coffee and chatting. Shirley and Hilary have been fans of the lads since the days of The Iveys, and their names are actually mentioned in some of the earliest Newsletters of the Badƒinger Fan Club. Laurence Haynes arrives from sunny Swansea and then the only non-British attendee, Bo Lindvall from Sweden, but living in Germany. Then Tez and Maxine, accompanied by Lee and Kaz arrive from Staffordshire. The last to come is Paul and Bernie Almond who have made the brief jaunt from Haydock. That makes thirteen of us in all.

The main purpose of the day is some Badƒinger fellowship, but to add a framework to proceedings (so we are not just eating or drinking). We have two main events: a stroll around the refurbished "Beatles Story" exhibition and a trip out to Liverpool for the two-hour Magical Mystery Coach Tour. Some of us had been on the tour last time we met up but it had rained badly and the bus roof was even leaking...mostly over hapless Tez!

This isn’t going to happen today because the weather is fantastic!

As we consume coffees at Albert Dock, everyone catches up with everyone else. The most animated is Shirley who tells everyone what a sacrifice it is to be missing watching her beloved Leeds United play. I consol her by telling her they’d be probably lose anyway. Although most of the attendees have met each other before, some are meeting for the first time. Only Bernie (Paul’s wife) and Bo were missing from the convention, but they know some of the people here on a social footing.

The first event is a one-hour walk around the "Beatles Story" complex, which has had something a facelift in recent times and now has new exhibits. Tez has always been a massive Beatles fan and a collector and soon relieves the museum shop of some of its merchandise on his way out. I’m not certain if Bernie, or Kaz and Lee are especially big Beatles fans, or especially big Badƒinger fans for that matter. But they’ve come for the day with their mates Tez and Maxine and really contribute to a lovely day.

Next its lunch and the restaurant have to find us a table for thirteen people – we didn’t book in advance. In the end, we actually get not only a table for ourselves, but also a room! I have brought photos of the convention and the convention guestbook for people to look at. Hilary tells us of the time she was having her Sunday dinner at the Reading home of Badƒinger Fan Club Head, Sylvia Collins. As Hilary arrived at Sylvia’s house, her hostess casually remarked that there would be some other guests arriving soon – namely Pete, Ron, Tommy and Mike! Hilary told us it was the most nervous she had ever been in her life!

Next the Baker’s Dozen of 'Finger fans strolled down for our pick-up point for the two-hour trip around Liverpool. Tez is paranoid after last time’s experience. He has brought a golfing umbrella, a pac-a-mac and a rubber duck. But the sun shine’s gloriously through the two hours! The tour bus is packed so I am so glad we made the decision to book in advance. Cynthia and I are disappointed that we are the only ones singing happily along to The Beatles tunes played on the coach’s intercom system. Just like me, Cynthia knows every word...

The tour is a fantastic laugh for us all and the Badƒinger troupe become something of the Court Jesters of the day for the other passengers. Everyone looks on in amazement as we get total strangers to photo the gathering around the "Penny Lane" sign...

   ( L to R )
  Cynthia,  Shirley,  Maxine,  Hilary,  Bernie,  Ruth,  and  Kaz
( L to R )
Paul,  Laurence,  Tez,  Lee,  Keith,  and  Bo

The coach drops everyone off at the top of Matthew Street – the same location of course, as The Cavern and The Grapes pub. These days both these venues are joined by The Beatles Shop and The Cavern Walks entrance which has statues of The Beatles.

Soon we find a quiet pub for a late afternoon drink. Well, it was quiet when we first arrived there – but soon they are pumping out loud contemporary music and as a result, we can barely hear what each other are saying. Today is Cynthia’s birthday, so we all club together to buy her a large class of wine...

Then as the evening shadows fall, we stroll down to Albert Dock once more to try and find an Eatery. In the end, we all decide on a Posh Pizza restaurant and as we chat, Tez, Lee and I try to decide where the next destination for a Badƒinger meet up will be:

  • Tez: "Well we’ve had Swansea, Golders Green and Liverpool. Where next?"
  • Keith: "It has to be a place with a Badƒinger connection."
  • Lee: "Paris"
  • Keith: "Paris???"
  • Lee: "Well I’ve always wanted to go there. Isn’t there a Badƒinger link to Paris?"
  • Keith: "Can’t think of one."
  • Tez: "Okay – well between now and our next meet-up, let’s find a tenuous Badƒinger connection to Paris!"

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