It's the time of year when I start planning my annual pilgrimage to Liverpool, birthplace of the Beatles, and my very own Mecca (or should that be Macca?).
I've been going to the annual Beatles Convention held over the English bank holiday weekend (it's not a holiday in Scotland unfortunately) in August, almost every year since 1997. I actually went for the very first time in 1988 with my best friend from school and my dad, and lord knows why it took me so long to get back (forgive the pun) but it was probably due to being a skint teenager then student, then young homeowner. But suffice to say once I returned as an adult it has been one of the most important yearly events in my life since then.
Liverpool can be disconcerting for a Beatles fan as it is worlds away from the city in which the lads grew up in the 40s, 50s, and early 60s, and yet when you arrive for the first time you almost expect to see beehived girls and bequiffed boys roaming the city centre, clutching their latest 45-inch single purchased from Brian Epstein's NEMS record store before making their way up narrow Mathew Street to catch a beat-stomping lunchtime gig in the dark, dank cellar club known as the Cavern.
Unfortunately, modern Liverpool is nothing like this! However, there is something that is exactly how you dreamed it would be, and that is the spirit of the people. No matter how many times I have visited over the past few decades, and the various economic and environmental changes which have taken, and are still taking, place, Liverpudlians remain a breed apart with their good humour (it's completely true about the scouse quick wit) and lust for life (they don't do anything by half measures, including drinking!) which the Beatles so perfectly embodied.
Not that you have the chance to encounter that many Liverpudlians, or see much of the city, while at the Convention (or Beatle Week as it's now called). Mixing with thousands of other fans from all ends of the earth for four or five days doesn't leave much time for meeting the natives of Liverpool, and while you are watching bands from noon to the early hours in various venues across the city, daylight and the outside world become increasingly elusive.
However it's that cocoon of all things beatle and being amongst people full of love for the boys and their music that continues to rejuvenate me every year. The Beatles flew to India for their spiritual regeneration, I get the train to Liverpool for mine.
PS the photo at the top of this post is from the Casbah Club, where there will be a special party at this year's Beatle Week, and I can't wait to set foot in this hallowed place once again.