Forty years ago today, I was in Liverpool. I was on an art foundation course at the Hugh Baird college in Bootle, on the outskirts of the city. The art department had the whole of the seventh floor of the building. I remember the lift was working that morning. I remember the hydraulic whoosh as the lift doors opened and the whoof of music that blasted out of the PA system.
In studio 2, a half-dozen students were gathered round the tall metal cupboard where the record player was housed. They were passing round a stack of LPs, heads down, glum.
‘What’s going on?
‘John Lennon’s dead.’
All day long we played Beatles and Lennon records, sadness oozed about the place. No work was done. We felt a collective numbness and bewilderment that the man responsible for perhaps the best of the soundtrack of our lives should be snatched, gone, cruelly, bizarrely shot by a crackpot, and the world was robbed of a unique light.
That night we were all out in the city. It was the night of our Christmas do – fancy dress at a club called Chaucer’s. We started there, and then moved on. There was no Christmas spirit, but a determination to party, to celebrate a life. Lennon may have been living in New York when he was shot – who wouldn’t move to New York given the chance – but he was still a Liverpool lad, a scouser, he was ours. We drank, we danced, we sang. We’re still singing.