Street of Fame 2: Penny Lane
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Saturday 11 December 1999
You know the names, of course: Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman, the soccer players who honed their skills at the Liverpool Schools' Football Association ground that runs alongside the street.
For the ears and eyes of an earlier generation, Penny Lane is the construction of Paul McCartney. To be honest, it's not the best song he ever wrote. The twee little tune and simple rhymes match the tidy suburbia upon which the sun sometimes shines. But it does give a haunting sense of a long- lost England, where the banker's motorcar is worthy of note, when men still called at the barber for a shave, and hourglasses and portraits of the Queen were conventional possessions.
Today, the street would be buried in anonymity, were it not for the Beatles. But thanks to the Fab Four, three times each day a coach disgorges its passengers at the northern end for ritual snapshots of the road sign.
Twenty-two years ago this week, Magical Mystery Tour was released. These days, the tape plays constantly on the Magical Mystery Tour bus (it's a clean machine) as it progresses through to the far end of Penny Lane. Here you realise that most of the song's action - the shelter in the middle of the roundabout, the bank - takes place across the main road, just as in the song most of the energy stems from the brass section across the studio. The Sergeant Pepper Bistro in the middle of the roundabout is a more recent imposter, a curious combo of Greek taverna and theme restaurant.
"Penny Lane" was the first significant Beatles single to fail to go straight to the top of the charts, kept off the Number One spot in March 1967 by Englebert Humperdinck's "Please Release Me". But, as John Lennon sings on the other side of the single, there's nothing to get hung about. And I bet you now hum "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields" forever - or at least for the rest of the day.
Liverpool Merseyside Tourist Information 0151-709 3631
Life & Style blogs
Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
Boxing Day sales: From Asos to Harrods, the best fashion deals
Healthy living could have prevented half a million cancer cases over last five years
The food fad that's starving Bolivia
Christmas 2014: Jesus was not born in a stable, says theologian
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...
£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...