Is it a shrine, a museum or an obsessive’s playroom? David Young isn’t afraid to square up to how his collection might seem to someone at first glance.
David Young with some of his memorabiliaAsked if he’s got an illness he shrugs: “Aye, probably.
“It’s not an interest, no, no, it’s a passion,” he says thoughtfully and deliberately.
This passion is housed in a fair-sized room off the kitchen of the neatly-kept home in north Carlisle.
It just happens to be stuffed with books, pictures, files, Toby mugs, glasses, trade cards, clocks, jigsaws, a dress, shopping bags, dolls, puppets, toys, guitars, posters, videos, cassettes... oh and records.
All of it featuring John, Paul, George and Ringo.
In amongst it all, there’s a filing cabinet, a glass display cabinet, a sinister-looking portmanteau chest, shelves, a desk with drawers and a music centre.
David also has copies of John Lennon’s Rickenbacker guitar and Paul McCartney’s Hofner bass.
All together, it is probably worth thousands of pounds, though that isn’t why he has spent all his life amassing it all.
David, 50, works for a glass company, he’s not rich, just comfortable, but he has been collecting since he was five.
Though he was too young to appreciate the full effect the Fab Four were having on music, fashion, society and teenagers across the land, he can remember his parents playing The Beatles’ 45s at home and the first piece of his collection.
“We were on a family holiday in Blackpool and my dad won a promotional photograph of the four Beatles in a darts competition.
“I liked the group because of the music my mum and dad were playing so I asked if I could have the picture.
“I collected the vinyl through the years and I thought this other stuff, the collectable stuff, is good so I collected that as well.
“When I got married 25 years ago, we got our first house in Denton Holme and there was a spare bedroom and I put my collection in there and it became a bit more serious.”
David’s favourite Beatles track is I’ll Get You, the B-side of She Loves You from 1963. “It is a track you never hear of, but it’s really brilliant with really good harmonies.”
Their best album, he reckons, is Revolver. He estimates he has more than 1,000 Beatles or Beatles-related records.
David only collects discs that have been pressed in the UK. Too many different versions were pressed in the US for him to hope to keep up.
Despite restricting himself, he still has to collect every version of the same record that has been produced.
So he will buy the stereo and mono version of a record, one that has a different sleeve, or if the label is different – even if it is marked: ‘Factory sample, not for resale’.
“It is like having the same photo, but taken from a different angle,” he explains.
He hands me two 45s of Strawberry Fields Forever and challenges me to notice the difference. After seven minutes of scanning, squinting and holding up to the light, I make a wild guess that the difference is the centre of the record.
“Yes!” says David, “some have a solid centre, some have a push-out centre!”
He has visited Liverpool to go on the Beatles tour, visit the museum, the Cavern, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields... though he has never met one of his heroes.
“I’ve been to see Paul McCartney in concert twice, in Birmingham and Glasgow, but I was too young to actually see them in concert.”
Although he loves the thrill of finding something out of the blue in a shop or at a collectors fair or car boot sale, David also dips into eBay to buy.
Although the one-stop-shop can make things easier, it spoils the fun of finding something unexpected, out of the blue – the sheer serendipity.
“Part of the joy of collecting is going out and finding something by chance. It does not have to be something that is worth megabucks, I get a thrill just finding something that I like.
“I can go six months without buying anything, it is just a question of being in the right place at the right time.
“The stuff is there, it is just affording it.
“EBay makes it easier, but it is easier for more people, so the prices go higher.”
All new vinyl (he loves vinyl) has to be played, graded for condition and filed.
Discs include the labels Parlophone, EMI and Apple as well as Ringo’s own record company Ring O and George Harrison’s Dark Horse.
He’s been collecting seriously for 30 years or so. As the years go by, the items become more valuable and David admits he couldn’t possibly afford such a collection if he was to start from scratch now.
Asked for his most valuable item and David points to the wall at the framed 1965 gold disc awarded for a million sales of the classic single We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper.
It was recently valued at £3,000.
Valuable, but not his most valued item – that honour goes to a frame which contains autographs, bill posters and ticket stubs from the two occasions time the Fab Four have appeared in Carlisle.
He appreciates the local connection – so much that the frame even includes a letter of thanks from the Chief Constable at the time to PC 111 who helped control the crowds during the second visit of The Beatles in 1964.
The collection veers off into the bizarre, with a lightbulb that includes a guitar and John Lennon’s name as its filament, a ‘genuine Beatle wig’ (who’s hair is it then – John Paul, George or Ringo’s?) and a Beatles blanket.
There’s a display box of foil-wrapped, unopened trading cards with bubble gum, the sort you might see on the counter of a newsagents.
David couldn’t be sure of getting all the cards in the collection by buying a handful, dozen, or a score of the packs, so he bought the lot... “I’m a completist, I don’t just need a pack, I have to get them all.
“I hardly ever play their music,” he admits.
“But when I want a fix, I will play the first album, then play them all, all the way through.”
His collection includes a big flat videodisc from 1982 – remember them?
It is an illness. It’s called Beatlemania.
David’s quest for something new and different hasn’t diminished over the years.
As I leave, he points out that there’s a collectors fair being staged in a village hall the following day.
“I’ll wander over and have a look around...”
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