1968-16 The Revolutionary Mrs. Robinson

So how did you city boys like working out here in the fields?


We’d fought mud, wind and rain for our evening meals. There wasn’t much that was festive about this harvest. Baggy was in his element though. With his load-bearing hips he looked more of the gemutlickeit German Burgher than even his rosy red-cheeked Dad, who had a lighter, blond debonair look to match his easy-going manner.

Baggy might be crap at sports but he was a Trojan in the fields and a Beefeater when he got home. Bunch and I were wimps in comparison. We looked at each other and knew that we hadn’t really earned our food. I hadn’t a clue how to load cut wheat onto a cart, which was what I had been trying to do for most of that damp, soggy day. Each load collapsed in my pitchfork just as readily as the previous one, and I spent most of the time making sure I wasn’t causing the loss of any ears of wheat, which is what we were there to harvest.

But Baggy’s Mum, Barbara, was serving a steaming beef stew onto our plates and we weren’t going to say no to a warming belly fill after the travails of our miserable day.

Bunch got in first;

It was cold and wet sir! I enjoyed it much more last year, that was a sunny Autumn.

Yes, don’t I know that! Well we’re unlucky, good crop, poor harvest. I’ll need you all out early tomorrow to get this finished, so tuck in now and get to bed early. You’re probably aching all over I should think?


So we have some hot water ready if you want baths. You’ll sleep quickly after that I can assure you.

Yes please, we chorused

Now Fred, Graham tells me that you think all this Pop Music is revolutionary.

You say you want a Revolution

well you know

Peter, Baggy’s Dad, had been in the Communist Party in Berlin before the second world war. He’d managed to get out of Germany and, eventually, he become a farmer in Yorkshire. He wasn’t allowed to work on anything sensitive during the war, but he wasn’t interned for long either. Despite being an intellectual he had learnt how to run a farm, as that was the one freedom offered to him. Now he owned two of them.

We all want to change the world

So can you tell me how all this Pop Music is revolutionary then young Fred?

Well, Mr. Gross,


Well Peter, I wouldn’t say all Pop Music is revolutionary exactly but some of it really is heading in that direction.

you tell me that it’s evolution

well you know

we all want to change the world

And what do you mean by revolutionary?

Well, The Beatles have just released a song called Revolution.

You think that the Beatles are revolutionary then?

Well they have released it on their own record label, Apple

Their own record label you say, well that’s very interesting! So would you say that they are trying to own their means of production?

But when you talk about destruction

Don’t you know that you can count me out

I think they are Peter. They have issued a manifesto in the papers saying that any artist, well anyone with an interesting idea in fact, any artist who can’t get a bank loan for their creative work can come to them and pitch their ideas; to The Beatles!  If they like the idea they will give you the money to get on with it, isn’t that amazing?

Don’t you know that it’s gonna be

All right

So you think the Beatles are setting up a Revolutionary Bank?

Yes! That’s a very good way of putting it. A Revolutionary Bank! And they have Magic Alex who invents all sort of new Electronics. They think Apple Electronics will change the world.

All right

And they released Yellow Submarine this summer where they showed how to defeat the Blue Meanies, who were stopping music being played and making everyone very miserable.

The Blue Meanies? They defeated the Blue Meanies?

Yeah, the Blue Meanies who are stopping music being played.

Ah! like the Pirate radio stations being stopped? However I think they’d have more chance in a Red Submarine if they are revolutionaries, don’t you think? Isn’t Yellow the colour of cowardice in most countries?

All right

Yeah, but Ringo makes everything all right again. Anyway the Beatles are doing loads of revolutionary things, apart from releasing revolutionary films; and their records of course.

Really? They are, are they? Well this all sounds very interesting, and it might have real potential if they really are doing something about the means of production. However personally I’m not sure if I’d define it as revolutionary, it sounds a bit hit and miss to me, somewhat like the Weimar Republic. Where are they based these revolutionary Beatles of yours?

You say you got a real solution

we’d all love to see the plan

Apple is in London, it’s in Saville Row, Peter.

Saville Row? Saville Row is the centre of your English Revolution?

Yes, Peter, that’s what we are hoping. Either that or a cottage in the country, if Traffic ever get it together. I looked at Bunch and we rolled our eyes at the thought.

So you have two strongholds for your revolution lined up, and one is in London and the other one… where is the cottage?

Berkshire, near the Poppies.

you ask me for a contribution

Well Fred it sounds like you are very well informed on the revolutionary tendency in Pop Music, and its various strategies and tactics. Are you going to join them?

Well Peter, Bunch and I are going to visit Apple just as soon as we can get down to London.

Really! So you have a revolutionary idea that you need money from The Beatles for?

No Peter, we’re not that revolutionary, we’re school boys locked up at Archies most of the time.

Except when I get you a weekend exeat for you to come and farm with me I think?

Oh Yes! We’d like to thank you again for talking to the headmaster, and getting us out here, this is just what we needed, a real break from school.

Well you know,

we’re all doing what we can

So why are you going to Apple then, if you aren’t revolutionaries?

Not revolutionaries yet Peter! We have to graduate from school first and then we can become Hippies! And revolutionaries as well of course…

Of course, said Peter with a wry smile, hippy revolutionaries; of course!

Peter had to leave University in Germany without a degree because of the Nazis so he had some sympathy with our desire to finish our education before becoming revolutionaries.

So why exactly are you going to visit Apple then Fred?

Well Apple have the coolest clothes in England at the Apple Boutique. It’s a nightmare trying to get hippy clothes in York, there’s just that opportunist Arthur and his little upstairs shop above the market. We know better tailors than he does, which is ridiculous!

And Ian can find better material than Arthur can, added Bunch.

Yeah, isn’t that just completely ridiculous? And so can Ann. She know all sorts of trendy cutting and sewing techniques as well. Arthur just buys some colorful furniture covering and hope’s for the best. And York tailor’s don’t know any of the right techniques yet, except for making suits. I mean how hippy is that?

Well it is if it’s a Regency Cut like your green suit, Fred.

Yeah OK, true! But Arthur is so hopeless, I bet he’ll go bust!

I hope not, that would be even worse than not having him around; he should employ Ann as his designer.

But if you want money for people with minds that hate

Don’t you know brother

You’ll have to wait

So the reason that we are going to Apple, Peter, is that their Boutique is the most amazing one in England.

I looked at Bunch and we smiled at each other.

Probably the best boutique in the World as it’s the Beatles?

And The Fool…

Oh Yeah! The Beatles and The Fool; isn’t Marieke gorgeous?

Anyway we’ll finally be able to buy some decent gear without tripping all over York trying to get it made by tailors who only know how to cut suits.

Don’t you know it’s gonna be

So you don’t have any revolutionary ideas for The Beatle then?

Well Peter, not yet, but I am writing a revolutionary play!

You are! Good boy, that sounds more like it! What’s it called?

All right!

Well I was going to call it Whiskey Golf Hotel Echo, but your son thinks the idea is clichéd, says someone called Brecht has done it all before.

Oh yes Bertholt, so you have some alienation devices in your mise en scene then?

Err, yes, of course I do! But I am going to call it “Hackneyed; According to Gandalf”

Irony, that’s a good alienation device.

All right!

Phew! Finally slipped one past Peter! Arguing with him was really tough. He’d been hunted by the Nazis and interrogated by the British Establishment, and survived both. And he’d been in the same revolutionary Communist Party cell as Wilhelm Reich. Worst of all when you quoted people at him it turned out he’d known them personally. What a nightmare!

I decided I really wanted Peter to think that I was a real revolutionary, and that all my favourite bands were as well. At last I was getting somewhere.

All right!

So do you think the Beatles are revolutionary then Peter?

Well I don’t think these Beatles boys are so revolutionary in their songs, but I approve of them owning the means of production. Personally I prefer Simon and Garfunkel.

What! Simon and Garfunkel?

Yes, they have interesting lyrics and they care about the characters they write about.

Well I agree that Bookends is a great album, it’s the one I’ve been waiting for them to write since I first saw them live on Dutch TV three years ago.

Oh, so you like them too then?

Yes Peter, I have three of their albums, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, Homeward Bound…

Ah, yes, Barbara likes that one a well. She is the Rock around here after all!

And Bookends of course.

Ah Bookends, Peter smiled in approval. So what’s your favourite song on Bookends then Fred?


You don’t like Mrs. Robinson?

A nation turns its lonely eyes to you?

Exactly. To be more precise, Simon and Garfunkel create spaces in their songs where you can think and reflect, and that’s what you need to do, Fred. Reflect; and think a bit more about what you do as well. You should read the Mass Psychology of Fascism by Reich, if you want to understand politics and become a real revolutionary.

Oh! OK Peter, just Wilhelm Reich or is there anyone else I should be reading as well then?

I think George Grosz and Karl Krauss will come back into favour, and your own Orwell of course, as well as Reich. And he knew how to burst clouds too. That would have been really helpful for our own Harvest this year.

Fakin it?

Dit De De De Dit De, De De Dit De, De De De… Dut Do Do Do Dut Do, Do Do Do…

Well, here’s to you… (Peter Gross)



  1. September 13, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    […] the best selling single of the year globally and remains much loved; much criticised at the time Revolution sounds like it’s reflections on 1968 were…well you know, we all want to change the […]

  2. November 17, 2009 at 11:30 am

    […] worlds top band, offered to provide the support network that they never had in their early days to any artist who showed up at Apple. Even so their own reaction to May 68 was to meet at George’s house and compile a 27 song […]

  3. December 16, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    […] the meantime you can read my story about hearing the White Album in November 1968 (although I think Revolution is funnier). Or listen to my current end-of-year post My Beatles/2009 Mashup on A Beatles YouTube […]

  4. January 10, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    […] The future is not “the same as the past only more intense”. “You say you want a Revolution well; YOU […]

  5. October 5, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Complex text… but interesting.
    I need to digest what I’ve just read…
    I’ll come back later

  6. Tony Hall said,

    November 16, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    I’m reminded of a blog post I did in 2007, about ‘The Bowling Instructor’
    We can work it out - 1511
    I’m also thinking about Dougald’s ‘How-To’s’
    and the School Unplugged meetup
    Zen and the art of How To.
    … with a little help from my friends.

  7. fred6368 said,

    November 16, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Just reread it, starting to like it at last! Pretty much a true story, but compressed into one conversation. I still think Mass Psychology of Fascism is a great book. And Reich inspired The Crazy World of Arthur Brown; FIre!

    I could write a How To Write a Play
    But not How To Harvest Hay

  8. November 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    […] The Beatles Creativity (5) ‘you say you want a Revolution!’ […]

  9. July 25, 2012 at 8:28 am

    […] self-organising, making friends and peer-learning) (about being creative) Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInDiggLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  10. July 25, 2012 at 8:30 am

    […] self-organising, making friends and peer-learning) (about being creative) Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

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