Instagram was a bit of a time machine for me today. I follow a great printmaker called Stephen Jeffrey (@stephenjeffrey_art). A first draft for one of his super planes came onscreen. I nearly dropped my Ginger Biscuit!

British Eagle artwork

An early working of a design by Stephen Jeffrey

Stephen has a nostalgic love of British Eagle Airlines and had flown with them many times. We messaged each other to share the connection as my step-father was their Sales Director in 1960s. The airline’s demise was long ago now. OK but what of the time machine you ask?

Gary aged 12.

Me. 12 years old

At that age The Beatles were everything to me. The music, the fun, the energy, their friendship, the hair (*cough). My whole world. Ron, my parent since I was 4 years old as my Mum remarried, had arranged for The Beatles to fly with British Eagle for the publicity. He asked me to paint ‘Beatles on’ above the printed branding on their flight bag. My first commission! And for The Beatles! I was so excited. Now I willingly admit I hardly made a perfect job of it (it’s a mess. That kerning *ugh!) but it took me closer to my idols and that was all that mattered. Now I put this gently as Ron passed away last year but he was, to say the least, a very difficult man. He would not take me to the airport to see and maybe even meet them. It broke my heart. I am sure I’ll soon get over it if I get enough counselling. What I did get was a B/W photograph. All Ron’s airline memorabilia went to auction this year, I lost my copy and I was never to see the photograph again. But Stephen’s research for his artwork produced this. And it’s in colour too!

The Fabs with my bag.

I got to Googling and found another photo and a splash in The Daily Mail here. It’s mostly about the flight attendant’s memorabilia sale but there is the bag as never seen since. And the Mail in its hyperbolic manner refer to it as a ‘Special commission’. I guess it was. My first and, of course, a freebie! I wish I could have seen the boys with it.

Beatles on British Airways

Later , with arrival of Revolver the music yet again thrilled me so much I didn’t know where to put myself but the sleeve design by Klaus Voorman was the visual signal/trigger that something I loved was just possibly in reach of my limited abilities if I only dropped my best subjects and went to Art School . . .

Design by Klaus Voorman