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Monday, July 04, 2011

Things I Learned In Research

I'm doing research on the year 1964, specifically the visit of the Beatles to Melbourne in June of that year, for a potential story. I have been invited to submit something and was asked for historical fiction. I've already had a look on-line and downloaded some personal reminiscences and had a quick look at the Beatles interview and clips from the concert.

There isn't more than the slight beginnings of a tale as yet and who knows, maybe it won't work out, but I decided to immerse myself in 1964 anyway, and hoped to find a human interest story or two that might help. So I took advantage of term break to visit the State Library today, using the wonderful microfilm collection.

Here are some things I learned from the Sun, June 1964:

Women weren't allowed to serve on juries in Victoria. They also didn't get equal pay in teaching. Probably my nice old teacher that year, Mrs Jamieson, didn't care particularly; she was already in her 70s at the time. Most of my other teachers in those days were male anyway.

The movies playing in Melbourne cinemas included Lawrence of Arabia, 40 Pounds of Trouble and Cleopatra.

Big stage musicals starting that month: Carousel at the Princess, Camelot at Her Majesty's. Star of that one was Paul Daneman, who'd played the lead in London - and if you're a Blake's Seven fan you may remember him in an episode of that show.

There was a new opera singer called Robert Allman - I remember him in his later years, singing for Opera Australia, as Rigoletto and other baritone roles. A wonderful singer, and here he was in his youth, just starting out.

If you put in more than 30 shillings worth of orders at Spotless Dry Cleaners you got a free Beatles beaker (suitable for hot drinks!)

The Vietnam War was hovering. Oh, we weren't involved yet, except for a few military advisers over there, but it was coming. There were several chilling articles about it - chilling if, like me, you knew what was going to happen! I printed out some of those articles.

Human interest stories; a teenage schoolgirl called Susette Belle, President of the local fan club who desperately wanted to meet the Beatles and was granted her wish. A slightly older girl, Carol, who wanted to come to their concert, but lived in Tasmania and couldn't afford the trip over. After writing a 70,000 word letter to the Beatles - 814 pages! - she too got her wish, courtesy of the Sun. Cripes, 70,000 words! The length of a novel!

There was a lot of detail about the crowds outside the hotel. I have had a chat with my brother-in-law Gary, who was there. He didn't get to the concert - the tickets were sold out. He did remember standing in that crowd of 10,000 outside the Southern Cross and outside Festival Hall.

Another thing I learned was that you can save these pages on to a USB stick, so tomorrow I'm going back and take one with me!

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