Lucy on the floor with rubbish

During the making of `Sergeant Pepper', I often picked up scraps of songs at the end of the night

ON SATURDAY, I went to look at an exhibition called "Off the Wall" at Tullie House Museum in sunny Carlisle. The Wall is, of course, Hadrian's Wall, which runs through the city on its way across the neck of Britain, from Tyneside to the Solway. Fascinating exhibition, jolly well done, I thought, coming away and mingling with the bank holiday crowds in the pretty, pedestrianised, cobbled centre of the city.

When I was a boy in Carlisle in the 1950s, the city was decidedly unpretty; we were taken by the school to look at places like Houseteads Fort and I thought boring, boring, it's just a load of old stones. Later, at Durham, I spent a year studying Roman British History, under Eric Birley, then the greatest expert on the Wall. I thought boring, boring, it's just a load of old inscriptions, but at least it will be a soft way to get a degree.

And so I went on into life, moved away from Carlisle. In the 1970s, I woke up one day and thought I know, I'll spend a whole year walking the Wall. For a book of course, but mainly for my own interest. I'd realised it was a Living Wall - back then full of people, not just boring inscriptions, and today, with a perfect cross-section of modern life.

As I approached Carlisle on my walk, I felt excited at going back to my roots, heading for the primary school I had attended. At the time, I had never realised it was on the actual site of a Roman fort. It had taken me 20 years to realise where I had come from.

In the 1960s, when I was doing a book about the Beatles, the hardest part was getting them to talk about the Beatles. The past bored them, where they had come from was a haze, they were only interested in here and now. I knew that Hamburg was huge in their lives, but they couldn't even remember how many times they had been there. Paul thought three, George thought four, and John had no idea, but then he had been stoned most of the time.

When I was in Abbey Road, during the making of Sergeant Pepper, I often picked up scraps of songs from the floor at the end of the night. Take them all, they said, they'll just be burned by the cleaners, which was what happened to 99 per cent of these scraps. They themselves had no interest whatsoever in such stuff.

They were aide-memoires when writing the book, showing different versions of their lyrics. I'd done the same when writing about Hadrian's Wall, keeping all the scraps, such as fort tickets and leaflets. They are as worthless now as they were then, except to me, but my Beatles scraps grew to be more valuable than the house I live in. Which is why they are now on show in British Library and will stay there, after my death.

The remaining Beatles are today fascinated by the Beatles, where they came from, how they got there, and collect anything about themselves they can. One of the reasons Beatles memorabilia fetches such a high price at places like Sotheby's is that people know, or suspect, that a representative of the Beatles will probably be there, waiting to bid.

At this moment I am writing a biography of Dwight Yorke. Aged 27, something rather amazing has just happened to him. Winning three medals in 10 days will probably never happen to him again. Or anyone else. Getting him to sit still and think back to his childhood when he is in the middle of all this is bloody hard. As it was with the Beatles.

Any childhood snaps, Dwight? Nope. School reports? Nothing. When he arrived from Tobago aged 17, he brought nothing of himself. Well then, your first game for Villa, you must have kept the programme? He just smiled, then his friend Brian Lara rang and he was on the phone for hours.

Tomorrow, when I see him, I'm going to try awfully hard to squeeze every last word, every trivial thought out of him about Barcelona. It will be a struggle, but I like to feel in 20 years' time, if I do get it all out of him, he'll be grateful to me. By then he'll be more aware of his roots, wanting to look back to where he's come from, remembering what he did in 1999.

In the end, we all become interested in our personal history. Some of us also become interested in our tribal history, even when it stretches back 2,000 years. In the end, history is all we have.

Arts and Entertainment
Keith from The Office ten years on

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams prepares to enter the House of Black and White as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones season five

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Albert Hammond Junior of The Strokes performs at the Natural History Museum on July 6, 2006 in London, England.

music
Arts and Entertainment
Howard Mollison, as played by Michael Gambon
tv review
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech

The best TV shows and films coming to the service

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn