Tuesday 5 July 2022


Paul McCartney said George Harrison‘s dad became a school hero after he punched a teacher. The two future Beatles’ teachers often caned them simply because they looked like Teddy Boys. However, Harold Harrison had some opinions about how they hit his son. 

In his 1980 memoir, I Me Mine, George wrote about his experiences with his school. When he got to grammar school, “the darkness” began.
“The whole idea of it was so serious,” George wrote. “You can’t smile and you are not allowed to do this or that. Be here, stand there, shut up, sit down, and always you need those exams, those eleven-plus exams, or scholarships or GCE. That’s when the darkness came in.

“I didn’t like school. I think it was awful; the worst time in your life… The Big School, Liverpool Institute, was a real pain in the neck. The teachers were either old war veterans or fresh out of college so they didn’t know much anyway and if you see the picture of them you will see what I’m saying. I knew then they were not the type of people to teach but then I was unqualified to say so.

“However now, after all the years, I can tell they were not. The way they sent you out into the world was miserable. In my case, the testimonial to help me to get a job for the rest of my life, said: ‘I cannot tell you what his work is like because he has not done any.'”

Eventually, school frightened George. “There was a rot which set in,” he said. “They say that children will learn something if it is exciting, but when the rot sets in, you stop learning and being open to everything. That’s what you have to watch.”

He would’ve learned Chinese and Sanskrit faster than algebra. “I always knew there was something I was not going to get from school,” George wrote. “I knew school wasn’t the be all and end all of life’s opportunities.

“That’s why it didn’t bother me too much. There was always that side of me in school which thought, ‘Well, if that’s what it is, then I don’t want it.’ I knew there was something. I was fortunate enough to feel there was an alternative.”

The future Beatle still had to deal with his teachers’ canings, though. However, George’s dad eventually ended that.
In 1984, Paul told Russell Harty that George’s dad became a school hero after he punched a teacher. George’s teacher had caned him wrong and hurt him badly.

“I remember this time George got caned, George Harrison, ’cause we were mates at school, and I mean we never really did anything wrong but we might have like tight trousers and ted hairdos, so that pointed you out as somebody who is a trouble-maker,” Paul explained.

“So George got done once, and the teacher missed him and got him here [on the wrist] — whack — so he had a couple of big weals here, you know, those rash things. And he went home, and he’s having his tea with his dad, and they were all chatting about how it went at school.

“And his dad said, ‘What’s that?’ when he saw these things, you know, and George said, you know, ‘Teacher did it.’ So the next day, they were in class, and somebody poked their head round the door, ‘Ah, Mr.,’ whoever the teacher was who caned George, ‘come out for a moment please.’

“He came out, and it was George’s dad there. And he said ‘Did you do that to my son?’ and he goes ‘Yes, I did,’ and he goes — whack! [makes punching movement] (laughter) Oh! Right there. Oh, he was a hero. He was just the school hero then, George’s dad. That was it.

“I used to tell my dad, ‘You know, I got caned, dad.’ He said, ‘Well, you probably did something wrong.'”
When George was 10, his mother, Louise, allowed him to buy a beginner’s guitar from a boy at school for three pounds, 10 shillings. George’s mother wasn’t the only one who supported his love of music. George’s dad arranged his son’s first lessons.

However, Harold became less enthusiastic about his son’s guitar playing. He wanted his son to get a decent job, not become a musician.

Harold was a very hard worker. He scheduled every bus in Liverpool, which involved 6,000 buses and 80 different routes. Harold wanted his children to be great workers and “productive members of their community.”

However, George’s career choice started to concern him.

“If all else failed, Harold reasoned, maybe George could become an electrician and open a repair shop with his brothers,” Joshua M. Greene wrote in Here Comes The Sun: The Spiritual And Musical Journey Of George Harrison.

“His Christmas gifts to 12-year-old George included a set of electrical tools. The war had taken its toll, and screwdrivers were what a sane man gave his youngest son, something dependable.”

George’s dad couldn’t steer his son in any direction away from music. Later, all Harold could do was support his son in every way. 


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