The Last Public Execution28/09/2018
The Road to Mukdahan10/10/2018
By Liam McDermott
“You might say I’m a dreamer” but I’ve always wanted to be the fifth member of the Beatles. More realistically I wanted to be a musician.
When I was a kid I went to piano lessons and worked my way up through the grades. My teacher was a dotty but very likeable old lady called Miss Hamilton who passed away many years ago. I always remember she had arthritis in her bony little fingers and yet they flowed as graceful as a swan across the piano keys. No matter how much I practised or how well I played it was always quite a humbling experience to listen to her virtuosity here. It goes to show that the only barriers to success are the ones you put up yourself. Sitting in her front room I learned to play Chopin and Beethoven. I loved classical music but it wasn’t quite rock’-n’-roll so eventually I gave up the piano and picked up the guitar instead.
I was twelve at the time and had a paper round. I saved up all my money and bought myself a second hand Aria acoustic guitar which I still have today. There was no internet or YouTube back then so I had to learn from a book I borrowed from the library. The first song I mastered was ‘Crazy little thing called love’. I quickly became a legend in my own bedroom under the watchful gaze of John Lennon wearing his ‘New York City’ t-shirt on the back of my bedroom door. This was the start of something special, or so I thought.
My best friend had recently acquired a Hohner bass guitar and he knew another person who had a drum kit in their garage. Every Saturday we jammed. We were gonna be rich and famous. We were gonna play Wembley Stadium and conquer the world. Just like U2 only better. Youthful exuberance ran wild but all our hopes and dreams eventually ended on the scrap heap of reality when we realised how bad we sounded.
Fast forward thirty years…
One night in Bangkok I wandered into an Irish bar with a couple of friends where, to my delight, the Bangkok Beatles were playing. They were excellent and thanks to some Dutch courage I spoke with them during the intermission and asked if I could play alongside them on stage. They were surprisingly open to the idea and loaned me a Rickenbacker guitar just like the one John Lennon used. For five minutes I became the fifth member of the Beatles as together we belted out ‘Yellow Submarine.’
I guess dreams can come true.
So if you’re ever wandering through Sala Daeng on a Saturday night go check out the Bangkok Beatles. Like Sergeant Peppers “They’re guaranteed to raise a smile.”