• Dave Dutton

Imagine. John Lennon and Me!

In 1965, when I was a young reporter aged 17, I covered a very tense manslaughter trial at Liverpool Crown Court. At that time it was situated within St Georges Hall. A few years ago, an actor who I knew met up with me at an audition and said that he had been filming in the erstwhile Crown Court and had seen my name carved on the press bench all those years ago. “You bloody vandal“ he said. Then he added that John Lennon‘s name was carved almost next to mine. I’d forgotten all about this misdemeanour and didn’t know about the Lennon connection. If you can call it that. I mentioned this in my autobiography but something kept nagging at me to have a look at it. A couple of days ago I sent an email to St George’s Hall and was surprised to receive an invitation from them offering to show me my graffiti and give me a personally escorted visit to what is now a restricted part of that glorious building. So I went along yesterday with my wife and met up with James O Keefe from the Heritage Centre who led me to the place where I had been all those years ago. In the meantime, he had managed to locate my signature and was able to take me almost directly to it, although we still had to search with our torches amongst all the other graffiti written by reporters going back many decades even to the 1920s. For some reason I had put 1965 A.D. as if there was any doubt about the era. He said that he had been unable to find Lennon’s signature though and didn’t know anything about it. After we found my graffiti and I meditated on the passing of the years and told him about the intensity of the court case I covered, we were just about to leave when, amazingly, I spotted that I had done another signature a few feet away. It was hardly visible but I think somehow I was meant to see it. As I glanced to the right of it, guess what? There was John Lennon‘s signature it said John Lennon Merseybeat. This was the magazine started by a school pal of his and John must have had a brief spell of working on it. It was amazing to think that he had sat on that same bench that I had occupied all those years ago. We then had a fascinating conversation about some of the famous cases that had been held in that very room and he also showed me where the famous barrister Rex Makin, who defended Ken Dodd at his notorious VAT case, had also scrawled his signature when he was younger. James told me that the judge had spotted Makin doing it and ordered him to leave the court room! I said to James “thanks for not turning me in to the police.“ He said “I wouldn’t do that but there is a bill for the damage downstairs.” Thankfully he was joking.


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