From Penny Lane to Fraserburgh

THE POPULAR former Head of Modern Studies at Fraserburgh Academy is launching a book in the Broch this weekend, telling his story of growing up in the now famous Penny Lane area of Liverpool, alongside former Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison.

Stan Williams, will launch the 400 page paperback called "Penny Lane is in My Ears and in My Eyes" at Broch booksellers, John Trail's in Mid Street, on Saturday. Stan will be in the shop between 2pm and 4pm, when folk will have the chance to go along and buy the book and perhaps have it signed by its author.

The book has been inspired by Stan's guardian, his Uncle Stan, who brought him up and to whom the book is dedicated.

Stan told 'The Herald': "My Uncle Stan rose from the pre-war poverty of the inner city slums in Liverpool to go to Oxford University and save his family from poverty and distress, as well as rescue a precious childhood.

"Penny Lane is where I grew up, where my childhood was spent. It is where I spent my teenage years and where I went to school, at the Penny Lane School.

"This was at the same time as the likes of John Lennon, George Harrison, Jimmy Tarbuck and Peter Sissons, who I sat beside at school. Later of course, Lennon became a feature of the teenage landscape of the book."

The book is not about the Beatles, but rather Stan's own story of growing up in Liverpool, and features his own memories of family life and of growing up in the city in the 1940's and 1950's.

It also includes a whole host of Stan's family photographs of the time.

As a result, the book provides a wonderful social history of the period, which should strike a chord, not only for those who grew up in Liverpool, but for everyone who grew up anywhere in Britain at that time: "There's a family theme threading through the book, but eight of the chapters relate to John Lennon being part of my life."

Stan is thrilled at seeing his first book in print and has paid tribute to Cambridge-based publishers, Pegasus, Elliot, MacKenzie, who have "done a wonderful job". He is particularly delighted with their choice of front cover, a very evocative picture of Stan and four of his friends sitting on a wall in 1950's Liverpool. "It's like looking back in time," he said.

A happy coincidence of the book's publication, is the fact that Liverpool has the distinction of being City of Culture in 2008, and the interest in Stan's story has been clearly helped by the City's elevated status this year.

And this week, Stan is back in his native Liverpool to promote the book, both on radio and in the newspapers. He is also meeting with the curator of the Beatles Museum to discuss participating in further events following the book's launch, as well as to do a couple of book signings in the city.

And next month, Stan will be on stage doing readings from his book at a special theatrical show in Elgin based on Stan's book and the Beatles connection entitled "An Audience with Stan Williams!.

The young people of the Red Shoes Theatre Company in South College Street, Elgin, will staging the show, featuring the music of the Beatles, together with dancing, drama and readings at 7.30pm on Friday, November 7.

For more details see the RedShoes Theatre website: www.redshoestheatre.com or to book tickets contact the box office, 4-6 South College Street, on 01343 548614.

The following morning, Stan will be doing a book signing at Waterstones in Elgin.

Incidentally, the venue, the former Two Red Shoes Ballroom, is where the Beatles performed a gig to local audiences in January 1963, during an early tour of Britain. Elgin is also the place where Stan first lived and taught for five years after graduating from University.

"Penny Lane is in My Ears and in my Eyes" is priced at 13.99 and will also be on sale at Waterstones bookshops throughout Britain, including Aberdeen.