Dear Reader: Meeting The Beatles' first manager + trust in politics

A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Friday, 6th January 2017, 3:03 pm
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 11:40 am
The young Beatles back stage at Harrogate's Royal Hall in 1963. (Picture by Bob Mason).

The veteran news broadcaster Kate Adie once told me I was very observant during a visit to The Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival in Harrogate a couple of years ago.I mention this, by the way, not in any effort to blow my own trumpet.Puffing hard on that particular brass instrument might cause walls to come tumbling down in theory but in real life it’s usually followed by embarrassment or worse.So at the risk of asking for trouble, I’d like to say Kate was, indeed, right.I mention this after hearing news of the death of Allan Williams this week.This 86-year-old Liverpudlian was The Beatles first manager and, nearly 25 years ago, I had the pleasure of chatting to him for fully half an hour at Leningrad airport after a trip to the Soviet Union.I spotted him across the terminal standing on his own, a flash of recognition triggered by my memory of a black and white photo of Williams in the early 1960s I’d seen in a book 15 years earlier.In the flesh this quietly important figure was slightly crumpled but charming and jovial, an instantly likable ball of dishevelled energy.One other thing about him is worth mentioning, something which The Beatles would have needed in their early days as a struggling young band.Surrounded by sackloads of gifts given to him by Russian Beatles fans, it was clear Allan Williams was also a bit of a chancer.

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You never know what you might come across on a short walk.Cyclists, runners, mothers with buggies, Knaresborough’s first Green mayor and his partner, some long-horned cattle.I bumped into all of the above on Monday in the hour or so it took to make the trek along Bilton Hall Lane in Starbeck, across the fields to Conyngham Hall, along the Waterside in Knaresborough to the Low Bridge, up through the fields near Forest Moor, across the railway line to the path by the side of Harrogate Golf Club and back home.For most of the time, it’s easy to forget there’s a main road just out of view.It proved difficult for me, however, to leave behind all the worries of our modern world.Firstly I noticed Bilton Hall Lane’s rough track had been replaced by fresh, smooth tarmac.Was this an indication that a bypass was going to be built there?Then I spotted a man removing wooden posts marking the course of a major cyclo cross event which had been held in the mud and the grass near Conyngham Hall on New Year’s Day.Forget the fact it had attracted nearly 450 competitors and more than 1,500 spectators.All I thought about was the damage the mountain bikes had done to the grass!Once I calmed down I started to wonder whether politicians really are the problem in the 21st century or if it’s our own suspicious natures?