A couple of years ago I wrote a 30 minute radio play called Hello, Goodbye. It was a work of fiction based on a real event - the last meeting of John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1976.
THE DATE IS 24 APRIL 1976, THE LOCATION IS THE INSIDE OF AN APARTMENT (THE DAKOTA BUILDING, NEW YORK CITY).
FX- NYC RADIO STATION PLAYING IN BACKGROUND WITH REFERENCE TO DATE AND TIME.
FX- AN INTERCOM SOUNDS AND IS ANSWERED BY THE ROOM’S SOLE OCCUPANT.
INTERCOM: It’s the concierge here Mr Lennon. Sorry to disturb you
sir, but you’ve got a visitor.
JOHN LENNON (J): Who is it Sam?
SAM (S): Says his name’s Paul, sir.
(J): Paul who?
(S): Fella won’t give me his last name sir. I must say he looks familiar;
just says he’s an old friend of yours.
(J): Whoever he is, tell him I’m not in.
(S): Yes sir.
FX: THE SOUND OF MUFFLED VOICES AND THEN…
(S): I’m afraid he’s adamant sir; says he won’t leave without seeing
(J): (sighs deeply) Put him on Sam.
Paul (P): John? It’s me John…Macca.
FX- CUE ‘HELLO GOODBYE’ BY THE BEATLES (10 SECONDS ONLY AND FADE).
(J): What the hell are you doing here?
(P): Any chance of a cup of tea and a jam-butty?
V/O: WE PRESENT HELLO, GOODBYE WRITTEN BY JOHN MEDD, WITH ………as JOHN LENNON AND………….as PAUL MCCARTNEY
FX- KNOCK ON THE DOOR, THOUGH IT’S MORE LIKE A DRUM-ROLL
(J): (shouts) Come In!
(P): Alright man?
(J): How did you get here?
(P): I caught the One After 909! Sorry, I couldn’t resist that. Me and
Linda were in Manhattan and, I know what you said last time I rang, but
hey, I couldn’t not come and see you…it’s been too long, man.
(J): I think you’ve wasted your time Paul.
(J): Come on John. Meet me half way here. This isn’t easy for me
either you know.
(J): Look Paulie. Nobody made you come here. I’ve got myself sorted
at last. I don’t need you or anyone else coming here and dredging up the
(P): (genuinely hurt) Don’t ‘look Paulie’ me. Whether you like it or not John
you can’t hide who you were: you were a Beatle. So was I. Just because
we called it a day seven years ago, or whenever it was, isn’t going to
change the fact. Look John, what’s gone is gone but let’s move on. I’m
not asking you to marry me here, I just want to be your friend. Yeah?
(J): You said some crass things when we were breaking up man.
God, when my first wife divorced me she wasn’t that nasty.
(P): As you once said yourself: The past is a different place…they do
things differently there. And anyway, if Cynthia hadn’t divorced you,
you’d not be with Yoko. How is she by the way? Is she not around?
(J): Lucky for you she’s in the Park doing her Tai Chi. (John goes into the
kitchen at this point, next line ‘off mic’) Do you wanna coffee?
(P): Her Tai what?
(J): Tai Chi. It’s a meditation technique. You know like all that shit we
did in India.
(P): That was all George’s idea wasn’t it? (laughs) I don’t think me and
you needed much convincing but do you remember when he was
persuading Ringo to come?
(J): He said he’d only come if he could take his own baked beans!
(P): Bless him. I saw him last Christmas you know. He hasn’t
(J): You know what? We might have come up with the songs, but he
kept it all together. He kept us together. (off mic): Milk and sugar?
(P): Black no sugar. I’ll go along with that. There were times when I
wanted you to see some lyrics I’d written but I knew you’d slag them off
if I gave you them, so-
(J): - So you’d use Ringo as a go between? Was I really that bad?
(P): I could lie to you. Near the end, no, what am I saying? From about
’68 onwards you were hard work. What had started out as the best job
ever, writing songs with my mucker, turned into a drag.
(J): I still let you put your name to my songs.
(P): That works both ways John. Remember ‘Yesterday?’ I don’t
remember you giving me a dig out with that.
(J): (Angrily) Hold On! Hold On! This is precisely the reason we aren’t
‘muckers’ anymore. You’re right I was a Beatle. Was. Not now and not
ever again. And for that reason I don’t give a toss about whose name
appears on the songwriting credits; yours, mine, it makes no difference
to me. Can’t you see that?
JOHN RETURNS WITH COFFEES
(P): You’re right. Of course you’re right. I just thought we had a few
more songs left, that’s all. I guess it just ended so suddenly. One minute
it’s like ‘all for one and one for all’, next minute we’re all at each other’s
throats with the lawyers doing all the talking.
(J): Don’t beat yourself up. What happened, happened. We’re grown
men now. Don’t forget we were just boys when we started. You can’t be
in a gang forever. That’s all we were…a gang. That’s what my therapist
told me anyway.
(J): Oh yeah, it’s all the rage over here: got problems with drugs? Get
therapy. Got problems with drink? Get therapy. Got-
(P): -Got problems with your past, get therapy. How does that work?
(J): I don’t know that it does in all honesty. All I know is that for an
hour a week I sound off in her office on the East Side and when I come
out I feel like my head’s had all the crap taken out.
(P): But it keeps filling up again?
(J): Some days it fills up quicker than others.
(P): I’m sorry to hear that. So much for the American dream.
(J): If I had to choose between Manhattan and Mull, Manhattan wins
every time. What made you move to the middle of nowhere for God’s
(P): Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it: for one, I can walk out of my
front door and not be door stepped by The Daily Mirror. Or young girls.
Two, I can be on the beach in less than a minute and, three, what your
therapist takes an hour to do, the sea air does in five minutes flat. I bet
you can’t go anywhere in this town without being mobbed.
(J): You’d be surprised. I put my flat cap and overcoat on and I just
blend in. New York’s got so many weirdoes that if anyone suspects I’m
John Lennon they just walk on by thinking ‘it can’t be.’
(P): Don’t you miss Lime Street? You don’t need a Green Card in
(J): I can’t go home now Paul; it’s been too long. America isn’t
perfect, God knows, but I’ll take my chances here. Everyone I meet has
got a half full glass. The few times I’ve been back you see the
desperation in people’s eyes. Over here even the kids lying in the gutter
are looking at the stars.
(P): At least when you had a British passport you weren’t talking in
(J): That’s rich coming from the man who wrote ‘Mary Had A Little
(P): That hurts. You may have a point, but it still hurts. But when we
were writing together I knew that if either of us wrote anything tacky the
other one would flag it up: I remember with ‘A Day In The Life’ (sings)
‘Woke up, fell out of bed’-
(J): -Found my socks and pulled a thread! It wouldn’t have been the
same if you’d left that in!
(P): That’s what I’m saying to you John: we were tight then. We
needed each other. You were a mate and a big brother all rolled into one.
I valued that. Take when we went to Hamburg; I was only 18, George was
only sixteen, Christ, they wouldn’t allow that now would they? But we
looked up to you. You’d been round the block a few times already.
(J): Is that you thought? I was shitting myself just as much as you. I
only pretended to be tough. It was just a front. If one of us hadn’t we’d
have been eaten alive.
(P): It was a convincing act.
(J): It had to be Paul. We were in the middle of the Reeperbahn.
Playing for twelve hours a day with drunken Germans throwing God
knows what at us and then sleeping on rat infested mattresses. We did
well to get out of there in one piece didn’t we?
(P): There were times when I wanted to rag it all in and come home, I
(J): Well, there wasn’t a lot waiting for me at home. Not after mother
(P): I remember you calling a band meeting and persuading us all to
give it a chance.
(J): I figured if we could make it at The Star Club we’d be prepared for
anything. And I wasn’t wrong was I?
(P): It made coming back to The Cavern a walk in the park. And, I
don’t quite know how it happened, but when we came back to Liverpool
we were treated like prodigal sons!
(J): It was the first time we had girls down the front screaming at us!
That was weird. I know it got a whole lot weirder, but those first few
nights back in the ‘Pool will live with me forever.
(P): So what do you do when you’re not in therapy? How do you fill
(J): I look after Sean. The little feller’s only eight months old so he
keeps me on my toes. I watch a bit of TV and I make bread.
(P): You? (Incredulously) You make bread? Are you serious?
(J): Totally. You wanna try it sometime. It’s, how can I say this…?
(J): You got it. My therapist tells me I’ve got inner demons. I tell her
she’d have inner demons too if she’d walked a mile in these shoes but,
and you won’t find this in any self-help book, when I’m kneading that
dough man, I don’t have a care in the bloody world.
(P): Fancy showing me how?
(J): You better roll your sleeves up then.
FX: THE PAIR WALK TO THE KITCHEN
(P): I never had you down as a househusband, man. What happened?
(J): Sean happened. When he was born I promised myself that I’d be
here for him when he was growing up. Not like Julian – I never saw that
kid for years. Pass that bag of flour. No, when Jules was growing up I
was just this voice on the end of the ‘phone calling lost distance. I must
have really messed with his head. So I vowed I’d do it differently this
time. Right, watch and learn.
(P): Aren’t you meant to weigh out the ingredients?
(J): I could. But doing it by eye means that it’s slightly different every
time. Always good, but never the same; I like that. Right, mix in the yeast
and salt, add the water and then do what I do. That’s it, work it you’re
your hands and feel it thicken up. Come on, punch that dough with your
fists. Go on: really work it.
(P): I see what you mean. It’s quite a work out, isn’t it?
(J): If I’ve had a snotty letter from the Taxman I tend to make better
(P): I must admit, I body swerve those letters and give them straight
to my accountant. Is this the right consistency, yeah? He tells me that if
I wanna keep on living in England then I’ve gotta be prepared to pay
crippling taxes. To be honest, that’s why I’m still touring. Right what do
I do with this.
(J): Right, fashion IT into the shape of a football…yeah, that’s it. Now we
cover it up with a tea towel.
(P): Then what?
(J): We leave it for an hour. Fancy a walk?
(J): Put this hat on!
(BACK AT THE APARTMENT, AN HOUR OR SO LATER)
off mic: THE SOUND OF LAUGHING FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR AND THE KEY IS TURNED.
(P): You were right! It’s like they think they know who you are and
then they walk right on by.
(J): I told you. We couldn’t do what we did just now in Liverpool,
London, wherever. But over here, even when they clock me in a
restaurant – they wait politely ‘til I’ve finished my meal and then they
come over; I tell you, an American John Lennon autograph would be
worth ten times an English one ‘cos there aren’t that many!
(P): I was with George a couple of years back. He took me to the
Formula 1 at Silverstone. Anyway, we’ve got these really nice seats
above the pit lane and this young lad spots us. He taps up George first
and as this kid hands over his pen George gives me a wink and signs
the bit of paper. Half expecting the kid to pass me the pen, George and
the kid laugh and they show me the piece of paper. George has only
gone and signed not only his name but yours, mine and Ringo’s: perfect
(J): (Laughs) He’s been doing them for years! Didn’t you know? Never
give him your chequebook! Right, lets have a look at this dough.
(P): Bloody hell! It’s alive!
(J): Well it is. That’s yeast for you. Now we just bang it in this oven
for a bit and Bob’s yer Uncle. More coffee?
(P): Yeah, go on. How often do you play this? (picks up a guitar and plays a couple
of chords) Looks a bit dusty (laughs)
(J): You cheeky sod, I wrote ‘Give Peace A Chance’ on that. That’s the
guitar Elvis gave me. Check out the back.
(P): Someone’s carved ‘T C B.’
(J): Don’t you remember when we went to see him up in the
Hollywood Hills? That was his constant catch phrase: ‘Taking care of
business.’ He had a ring the size of your fist with TCB engraved on it. I’ll
never forget it. What a fella.
(P): I think me and George had popped something before we went: I
don’t remember much about that night. I certainly don’t remember ‘T B
(J): ‘T C B.’ Here, pass it over…(quickly tunes the guitar and launches into…) ‘Ever
since my baby left, I’ve found a new place to dwell, it’s down at the end
of Lonely Street, at Heartbreak Hotel (plays the first verse and chorus
and then…) That’s where it all began Paulie. If it wasn’t for Elvis there’d
have been no Quarrymen and no Beatles. He kick-started me; within
hours of hearing that on Radio Luxembourg I pleaded with Aunt Mimi to
buy me a guitar. Bless her, I must have caught her on a good day cos we
went straight into town and into Hessy’s on Matthew Street. £7 it cost
and you got a free lesson! That’s how I learned my first three chords!
(plays 3 chords to demonstrate).
(P): And I showed you a fourth, B Minor. Remember?
(J): How could I forget? With B Minor (plays B Minor chord) I could play Little
Richard, Buddy Holly and Elvis!
(P): Don’t forget Eddie Cochrane. It was because I was the only kid in
Liverpool who could play ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ that you let me join The
(J): Here (passes guitar back) – See if you can still remember it.
(P): Right. (coughs) - ‘Ooh, well I got a girl with a record machine, when
it comes to rockin' she's the queen, We love to dance on a Saturday
(J): -Hang on! Hang On! Let me go and get another guitar.
(JOHN COMES BACK WITH ANOTHER GUITAR AND A TAPE MACHINE).
(J): Do you know what? You and me never recorded together. It was
always the band or solo; never just the two of us. Let’s just hit the
record button and see what happens…
(P): That’s cool with me, man.
FX- THEY CONTINUE WITH ‘TWENTY FLIGHT ROCK’ AND THEN FOLLOW IT WITH SEVERAL MORE ROCK AND ROLL STANDARDS. THE NEXT 60-90 SECONDS OF THE PLAY DIPS IN AND OUT OF THIR JAM WHICH, MIDWAY THROUGH ‘TUTTI FRUTTI,’ IS PUNCTUATED BY THE TIMER ON JOHN’S OVEN.
(J): That’ll be the bread! Come on, let’s go and look at your first loaf!
FX- JOHN OPENS OVEN DOOR
(P): That’s amazing! And it smells amazing!
(J): Let’s leave it to cool down for a few minutes and then you can
FX- TELEPHONE RINGS
(J): Oh hello love. You’ll never guess who’s here… Paulie…I know I
what I said, but he was very persuasive…making bread and playing
rock and roll!...OK, I’ll tell him. See you later love. Yoko says hi but she’s
working on an installation in Greenwich Village; said she’ll be late.
(P): Tai Chi, Installations. She’s a busy woman. Tell her I was sorry to
miss her; I used to like chewing the fat with her.
(J): You used to wind her up something chronic.
(P): That’s because I blamed her for breaking up the band.
(J): Breaking up the band?! She kept the band together! It was Yoko
who kept pushing me out the door to go to all the recording sessions, to
meet the press, to write new songs. Without Yoko there’d have been no
White Album, no Abbey Road, no Let It Be. Paul, there’d have been no
rooftop gig without Yoko. Get Back wouldn’t have seen the light of day.
(P): You couldn’t be persuaded to go back on tour after ’66. Getting
up on that rooftop was the nearest we got to playing live again.
(J): And then the bizzies moved us on! (laughs)
(P): One of those coppers tried to unplug George’s guitar – Ringo
threw a drumstick at him! (laughs)
(J): That was a good day – I enjoyed it.
(P): What about today? Are you enjoying today?
(J): I’ve always enjoyed your company Paul. Even when you used to
get all heavy on me. We drifted apart that’s all. It’s quite common. Most
marriages end up the same way – we were no different.
(P): You’re probably right. If we’d done the rooftop gig 6 months later
you’d have probably chucked me over the edge – they’d have been
scraping me off Saville Row! That would really have given the ‘Paul Is
Dead’ conspiracy theorists something to work with.
(J): I’d forgotten all about that; you crossed the Abbey Road zebra
barefoot and half the world thinks it’s a sign that Paul’s dead and it’s not
you but a body double crossing the road?!
(P): (laughs) It was a baking hot day, so I just kicked off my shoes!
(J): I remember the photographer setting up his step ladders to get
that shot – he pissed off a few bus drivers in the process. Beatles or no
Beatles, they’d got timetables to keep and we were putting a real crimp
in their day!
(P): I had a dream the other night that we all got back together and
recreated the zebra crossing photo. Only there was a marksman hiding
behind the Volkswagen Beetle taking pop shots at us. I woke up
(J): Marksman! You must have been at the cheese, man! Who went
(P): You don’t wanna know. Anyway, never mind about the cheese,
where’s my bread? It’ll be ready now won’t it?
(J): In a minute (sounding concerned). This shooter took a pop at me? What about the rest of
us? Don’t tell me I was the only casualty.
(P): It was only a dream. And anyway, George bought it as well. Ringo
ran away and I just finished walking over the zebra. Then I woke up.
(J): Bloody hell, that’s how it’s going to be isn’t it? I go first, George
next and you and Ringo live happily ever after.
(P): John, it was only a dream. You can’t read anything into them you
(J): What if I told you I’ve had similar dreams. Always a gunman.
Always after me.
(P): (eating) Fantastic bread, man. I can’t wait to make this at home for
(J): It’s not bad is it? Your first loaf of bread…It’s better than anything
you can buy at the deli.
(P): Deli? We’ve only just got self-serve supermarkets back home!
(J): That’s one of the things about New York – you can eat food from,
all over the world – but at he end of the day you can’t beat home made
(P): Put the telly on man. I love American TV.
(J): Really? Even their crazy adverts…sorry, ‘messages? (switches TV
on and to demonstrate his point a stereotypical wash powder/or some
such ad comes on)
(P): Especially the messages (he then parodies a US ad in mock American accent).
(J): Hey (John finishes flicking through the channels), this should be good –
Saturday Night Live – Raquel Welch is meant to be on.
FX- CUTS TO TV: ‘LIVE FROM NBC STUDIOS IN NEW YORK CITY, IT’S ‘SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.’
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I’m Lorne Michaels (LM) and we’ve
got a packed show for you tonight: John Sebastian from The Lovin’
Spoonful is dropping in and (drum roll)……Raquel Welch! But
first…remember this bunch of boys from Liverpool, England?
(Cue The Beatles playing on the Ed Sullivan Show from the mid-60s).
(J): Bloody Hell! To this day I don’t know how I played the guitar
without me glasses on!
(LM): That’s right ladies and gentlemen, The Monkees! No, of course
not; that was the one and only Beatles. And, you may be wondering why
I’ve opened up tonight’s show with an old clip of The Beatles. Well, join
me on the other side of these messages and all will become clear.
(P): What do you think that’s all about? Do you know that Lorne
(J): He’s a comedian. You heard that Monkees gag! He’s probably got
Ringo waiting in the wings. Here we go, ad break’s over.
(LM): I’m Lorne Michaels, welcome back. Right now we’re being seen
by approximately 22 million viewers. But, please allow me, if I may, to
address myself to four very special people - John, Paul, George and
Ringo – The Beatles. Lately there’s been a lot of speculation about you
guys getting back together – that would be great. In my book The
Beatles are the best thing that ever happened to music. It goes deeper
than that, you’re not just a musical group, you’re a part of us, we grew
up with you. It’s for this reason that I’m inviting you to come on our
show (oohs and aahs from the studio audience). Now, we’ve heard and
read a lot about personal and legal conflicts that might prevent you guys
from re-uniting, that’s none of my business. You guys will have to
handle that. But it’s also been said that no one has yet come up with
enough money to satisfy you. Well, if it’s money you want, there’s no
problem here (more delight from the audience). Which is why The
National Broadcasting Company authorises me to give you a cheque for
$3,000. That’s right, three thousand dollars (unrestrained laughter now
from the studio). As you can see, verifiably, a cheque made out to
you…The Beatles for $3,000. All you have to do is sing three Beatles
tunes. ‘She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’, that’s a $1000 right there (the
audience by this time are uncontrollable). You know the words…it’ll be
easy. Like I said, the cheque is made out to The Beatles. You divide it
anyway you want – if you want to give Ringo less, that’s up to you. I’d
rather not get involved. I’m sincere about this. If it helps you to reach a
decision to reunite, well, it’s a worthwhile investment. You all have
agents, you know where I can be reached. Just think about it, OK?
(J): Bloody Hell!
(P): Bloody Hell!
(J): I’ll give him one thing.
(P): What’s that?
(J): He knows how to get a laugh. You know if he’d have said ten
dollars or even ten million dollars, it wouldn’t have been funny: but three
(P): You told me he was a comedian. But the thing is, what are we
(J): What do you mean, ‘what are we gonna do?’ The guy’s just having
a laugh. I told you, he’s a joker – he’s doing this sort of stuff all the time.
You weren’t seriously thinking about calling him back were you?!
(P): Better than that – we can get in a cab and go down to NBC’s
(J): I think you’re the one who needs therapy! And just what would we
do when we got down there? Play the spoons? Tell a few jokes?
(P): We’d play some rock’n’roll – that’s what we’d do; like we’ve been
playing this afternoon – like we’ve been playing for the last twenty
years! Come on, John…what do you say?
(J): I say you’re mad, that’s what I say! I’m not saying we shouldn’t do
it…but it’s still mad! You’ve not thought it through though, have you?
It’s all well and good turning up like two kids at Liverpool Empire, but
once we get through the doors we won’t be able to move for the press –
it’ll be like Shea Stadium all over again. Flashguns, microphones,
screaming – it’d be Hard Days Night 2!
(P): You’re probably right. It would have been fun though, wouldn’t it?
Maybe another time?
P): Paul picks up the guitar and plays the opening chords to Buddy Holly’s Maybe Baby ‘Maybe
Baby, I’ll have you, maybe baby you’ll be true, maybe baby I’ll have you
I better be going now John. It’s been a blast.
(J): Same here. Let’s not leave it so long next time: ‘Don’t Be A
Stranger’ as Aunt Mimi used to say to me.
(P): I won’t. You take care now.
(J): Here, before you go. Sound of cassette being ejected from machine.
You best take this tape. If anything happens to me, make a copy for
Yoko and then decide between you what to do with it.
(P): What if I go first?
(J): It’ll be me. Mark my word.
FX- ‘HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN’ (CLIP) BY THE BEATLES
FLASHBACK/FX-ECHO-(J): What If I told you I’ve had similar dreams?
Always a gunman. Always after me.
IT IS NOW …. DECEMBER 1980. FX-THE SOUND OF A RADIO
Good morning and welcome to the Today programme. It’s 7 0’clock on the 8th of December 1980. The news is read by Peter Donaldson (PD)
(PD): News is just coming in that John Lennon, the former Beatle,
was shot dead last night outside his New York City apartment building..
Police have arrested a twenty five year old man. Eye witnesses say the
accused had asked Lennon for his autograph.
FX- SOUND OF RADIO BEING SCANNED FOR OTHER STATIONS AND ALL HAVING THE SAME NEWS, THEN RADIO TURNED OFF
(P): Oh My God!
FX- TELEPHONE RINGING
(Caller): Is that Mr McCartney?
(P): (angrily) Who is this? What do you want?
(Caller): I’m calling from The Sun newspaper, Mr McCartney. You’ve
obviously heard the news coming out of New York this morning. Have
you got anything to say? Any messages for our readers struggling to
come to terms with John’s untimely death? How long had it been since
you two met?
(P): (faltering voice) Although we would speak on the ‘phone from time to
time, I’d not seen John since 1976. He was a bit cagey at first as I’d just
landed on his doorstep unannounced. But after a few minutes it was just
like the old days when we’d write songs in his Aunt Mimi’s front room.
John showed me how to make bread and we talked about the old days;
we played some rock’n’roll on our guitars and we laughed: it was a
perfect way to spend a day. Good food, good music, good company.