‘A Hard Day’s Month’ – Film/TV Treatment
Based on the novel ‘A Hard Days Month’ (Published by New Haven May 2017) by Ian Snowball and Mark Baxter
© Snowball & Baxter 2016
‘The story of two teenage girls, one last summer of innocence and The Beatles…’
Suggestion for the roles of the two main characters, when middle aged, are Jane Horrocks (52)– Cynthia and Katy Burke (52) – Sandra
It is November 29th 2001 and Cynthia’s life has just collapsed all around her. Her beloved George Harrison, HER Beatle of choice has died aged 58 of cancer in California. Upon hearing the news, Cynthia can hardly breathe.
My George dead? He can’t be. She is in shock.
Home… she must get home!
Home is Wimbledon, London, it’s where Cynthia was born and spent her growing up years; it’s also the setting for the story, which although the majority is spent in July 1964, there are occasional flash forwards to 2001. The story is aimed to capture the feel and essence of both Wimbledon and the West End of London, then and now
Still trying to digest and process the shocking news about George and having rushed home, she takes an old biscuit tin of memories from under her bed, in which she has kept her treasure of Beatles memorabilia. There are dozens of Beatles related items that she collected enthusiastically and lovingly back from the days when the Fabs ruled Britannia and beyond.
As Cynthia looks through it all –newspaper cuttings, pin badges, creased photographs and magazine articles – her mind can’t help but flash back to July 1964 – the month A Hard Day’s Night album, single and film was released
That wonderful, glorious and inspiring time when her life was all in front of her.
Sadly, life for Cynthia in 2001 is all so different. Life is dull, with one failed marriage and a string of useless relationships behind her, she is lonely and she is at ‘that’ difficult age.
But, in 1964 Cynthia and her bestie Sandra, were simply teenagers and madly in love with The Beatles. No that’s wrong…
THEY WERE TOTALLY IN LOVE WITH THE BEATLES!
In 1964 both suburban girls, born and bred beneath the chimney pots of Wimbledon listened to and read up ANYTHING that was Beatle related. Cynthia
loves George more than anything, though love isn’t a strong enough word. Sandra is equally as passionate about her Ringo, HER Ringo mind. And throughout the story there are many demonstrations relating to this. This element is intended to capture the innocence and swooning of teenage girls.
‘A Hard Day’s Night’ by Snowball and Baxter follows these two young girls, as they not only chase The Beatles all over the UK, but as they also slowly leave their innocent world of Fabdom behind and begin to discover their own immediate world of boys, drink, drugs, family bereavement and the ‘normal’ life which seems mapped out for them. It’s a funny, exciting and heartwarming story with The Beatles music as the soundtrack. A
Somehow, they know this is their last summer to be truly themselves, before they have to grow up. They want to make it count…
1. It’s November 29th 2001 and Cynthia gets a phone call from her best and oldest friend Sandra. It’s Sandra who breaks the news to Cynthia that George Harrison, HER Beatle, has died. In an emotional state Cynthia rushes home (a terrace house in Wimbledon, London) and drags out her Quality Street tin of Beatles related memorabilia from under her bed. The tin contains her collection of items that remind her of her Beatlemania years and especially the events of one special month-July 1964-the year of A Hard Day’s Night, the single, the film and the album and how she and Sandra went on an adventure, a mission even, to get all four members of The Beatles to autograph their copies of A Hard Day’s Night and for Cynthia and Sandra in many ways it was a hard day’s month indeed!
2. The story then goes back in time to the beginning of July 1964. Cynthia and Sandra swing by their local café and number place for the local kids of Wimbledon to hang out -The Moka. The Moka has a juke box that is constantly spilling out the latest pop records. In this chapter, Danny, one of the local boys, tricks the gullible Sandra. He entices out to a quite spot behind the café, saying he is in the possession of a tie that belonged to Ringo. He knows Ringo is HER Beatle. He says she can have the tie in return for a (mild) sexual favour. For Sandra this is too much of an opportunity to resist and she shamefully, innocently, agrees.
3. 1964. Cynthia’s American pen-pal and another ‘Beatle Person’, Patricia, is introduced. Throughout the story Cynthia often writes letters to Patricia. Cynthia’s scooter riding Mod brother is also introduced in this chapter and we get a flavour of her loving and caring family life, which is the complete opposite to Sandra’s.
4. 1964. Back in The Moka we meet Kenny. He is another local lad and he secretly harbours feelings for Cynthia. After their espressos the two girls head off into town so that Cynthia can get her hair cut just like the Patti
Boyd has been recently sporting in posters for the forthcoming Beatle film A Hard Day’s Night.
5. 1964. The girls spend a day out in the West End. They skip around the streets of Soho visiting places like the 2i’s Coffee Bar and Carnaby Street. They also drop into HMV in Oxford Street. They end up in the Shakespeare Head pub on Carnaby Street where they get chatted up by two mod boys. Once back home, Cynthia is found alone in her bedroom sticking Beatles stuff into her treasured scrapbook.
6. Time shift to 2001. Sandra is working in a café in the West End, which she owns. She runs it with her boyfriend/husband – Kenny who meet in chapter 4. Cynthia walks in clutching her Quality Street tin. She wants to show Sandra the contents. They sit at a table, fags on the go and cups of tea; they look at what’s inside the Quality Street tin. They start to talk about George Harrison in between moaning about their lives as they are.
7. 1964. Here Cynthia’s granddad – Nobby – is introduced. Their wonderful, loving, relationship is explored often throughout the story as Cynthia works in her granddads hardware store that overlooks the Wimbledon Common. Later Cynthia and Sandra have their date with the two mod lads they met in the Shakespeare’s Head in chapter 5, a date which ends up with them joining the thousands of other ‘Beatle People’ outside the London Pavilion, where they know the Fabs are due to be appearing on the opening night of the film A Hard Day’s Night.
8. 1964. Cynthia and Sandra and Kenny go to Lyric Hammersmith Cinema to watch A Hard Day’s Night. It’ mayhem. It’s full of over excited fans. After the film they go, with others, to a local bowling alley. Danny – the boy with Ringo’s tie – is there with his mates. A bunch of rockers show up and one confronts Danny accusing him of pulling the same Ringo stunt on his sister. A fight breaks out.
9. 1964. Cynthia is working in her granddads shop and details the daily life in Wimbledon and the characters that frequent the shop. Later Cynthia’s copy of the Beatle’s Monthly arrives in the post. She rushes home to pour over every word on every page.
10. 1964. Having now seen footage of The Beatles in the Scala Theatre in the ‘Hard Days Night’ film, Cynthia and Sandra decide to go and visit it. They knock the main front doors, but there is no answer. Not wanting to give up, they discover an unlocked fire exit and sneak inside. They dance on the stage where the Fabs had performed and generally explore the theatre and then the caretaker arrives. He plays a trick on them that includes getting some money out of them so that they can see the dressing room where the Fabs used during the filming of their performance. It turns out to be nothing more than a trick and the girls find themselves tossed out into the street and a few quid lighter. A strange encounter also occurs outside The Scala. The girls briefly meet a man wearing a flat cap
and overalls, but there’s something familiar about him. Throughout the story there are three other such encounters (They are revealed later to be various members of The Beatles dressed in disguises). The girls never realise how close they come to their heroes, but do suspect something.
11. 2001. Sandra and Cynthia leave the café and walk deeper into the West End. They go to the London Pavilion, the scene of the ‘Hard Days Night ‘ premiere’ All the time they are talking about the state of their lives and pick out key points from the past thirty seven years – i.e. Cynthia’s failed relationships and John Lennon’s shocking death in 1980 and the impact that had on them. Cynthia opens the Quality Street tin and picks out an object that trigger further memories and they head for a pub to talk further
12. 1964. The day when the A Hard Day’s Night LP is released. Cynthia and Sandra go and collect their pre-ordered copies from the local Woolworths store and rush back to Cynthia’s to listen to it again and again and again. So obsessed are they of the film, they have already decided to visit other Beatles related locations including Thornbury Fields. It’s whilst there that Cynthia presents the idea of going on an adventure, the aim of which is to get their copies of their A Hard Day’s Night LP’s autographed by all four Beatles. Sandra agrees and they plan where to go with Liverpool very much on the agenda.
13. 1964. The girls are growing up and fast. They are feeling the need to explore. They decide to go to a dance at the Wimbledon Palais and Cynthia decides to steal some ‘French Blues’ from her brother. She takes them at the Palais. The place is full of great music; sharp looking mods and fab dancers. But for Cynthia, the night is a bit of a disaster. She becomes very un-well as a result of the drug taking. When Sandra finds out that Cynthia has experimented with the Blues they have a falling out.
14. 1964. It’s the day after the Palais dance and Cynthia and Sandra, now having patched things up somewhat, get a lift to Brighton where they have tickets to see The Beatles live at The Hippodrome. The day is spent exploring Brighton, taking in the Lanes, sea front and the pier. All the time the girls are clutching their copies of A Hard Day’s Night, and searching for the The Fab Four to sign them. Ultimately, no joy with that, but they have a fantastic, exhilarating and very exciting time at the concert.
15. 1964. Cynthia is working in her granddads shop. He is taken ill and takes the day off. This is the beginning of the slide on her granddads health and its effect on Cynthia. The scene includes nostalgic memories of her childhood days spent with her younger granddad.
16. 1964. Still intent on getting their LP’s signed Cynthia and Sandra head off to the EMI Studios at Abbey Road, where The Beatles record. They encounter other ‘Beatle People’ hanging around outside the studios, also hoping for a meet and greet with a Beatle. With a stroke of luck Cynthia
and Sandra manage to get an invite inside the studios and a tour. At the end they are handed tickets to see the Fab in concert in Blackpool.
17. 2001. Sandra and Cynthia settle in a pub. The Quality Street tin is opened again and more items pulled out; with each one firing up a memory or a story from way back when. Sandra looks back on her years since 1964. She talks about how she ended up dating Kenny and marrying him, settling down, having kids, and how content she is, if a little bored
18. 1964. More of Sandra’s family story and life is unveiled. Cynthia’s granddad’s health is getting worse and whilst now running the shop she meets a delivery boy called James. Romance stirs.
19. 1964. The girls take in Liverpool whilst up north for the Blackpool concert and stay in a dingy B&B. On their first night they visit the famous Cavern club, where it all began for their boys. Returning back to the B&B that night they find themselves locked out. They have a run in with an angry landlady, which is resolved by a local ‘bobby’ on the beat
20. 1964. Next day, Cynthia and Sandra, LP’s to hand spend the day travelling around Liverpool. They visit the homes of the Fabs, hoping and praying they might catch a Beatle at home. No such luck though, but Sandra does get to have a wee in the Harrisons outdoor toilet, so there is a consolation prize!
21. 1964. The girls travel on to Blackpool and another B&B. They spend the day exploring the town and then going to watch The Beatles in concert. The LP’s remain unsigned and they leave the concert, emotionally and physically drained and a little deaf from all the screaming around them.
22. 2001. Now somewhat drunk, Cynthia and Sandra walk back to Sandra’s café. They remember fondly their failed trips to Liverpool and Blackpool. A mixture of emotions are stirred and they compare life experiences since their 1964 adventure. They even talk about their trips to both locations since – romantic weekends away with partners – but agree they weren’t a patch on the first time. Just before they reach the café Cynthia opens the Quality Street tin one last time and pulls out an object that makes them both smile. They reach Sandra’s café and part company having agreed that Sandra will visit Cynthia later that evening.
23. 1964. Cynthia and Sandra still haven’t got their LP’s signed and in truth, have all but given up. They go and join the army of ‘Beatle People’ outside The London Palladium. The Beatles are included in the ‘Night of a 100 Stars’ show that night. Cynthia, in desperation, attempts a stunt that involves faking a faint. She hopes by doing so, to grab the attention of the Fabs as they exit their car towards the theatre. But the stunt is a dismal failure and is all but the final nail in the coffin of their mission.
24. 1964. Cynthia’s family holiday to Butlins. Granddad was due to go to but has been too ill. Cynthia spends the short time she has at the camp exploring the wonders that a 1960’s Butlins camp has to offer. However, the following morning a telegram arrives from the family GP urging the family to return home a.s.a.p.
25. 1964. Granddad dies. Cynthia and her family are by his side. On the day of the funeral all thoughts about the mission to get their LP’s signed are well and truly gone. Kenny, however, tries to encourage them not to give up. He then tells them that The Beatles are due to land at London Airport that very afternoon. In a moment of ‘last minute madness’ Cynthia and Sandra decide to try one last time to get the autographs. Kenny drives them to the airport. And finally, FINALLY in a bizarre twist of fate, Cynthia and Sandra get to meet the Fabs and get their LP’s signed.
26. 2001 and Cynthia awakes from her trip down memory lane, A Hard Day’s Night is on the record player and Sandra is knocking on the front door. They two women sit around playing the record again, wine glasses in hand as the wine flows and they rifle through the Quality Street tin again.
July 1964 really was the year of Beatlemania and our two characters represent everything that a Beatles loving teenage girl felt during that time.
Cynthia was always the good looking of the two and she and everybody else expected great things for he later life, but that all turned to a heap of disappointment. Sandra’s home was horrible back in 1964, so all she wanted to do was settle down early, with a good solid man and she found that in Kenny. It was never too exciting with Kenny, but it was safe and she took that all day long. Funny how life turns out
27. Next morning.
A hung over Cynthia walks into her lounge and finds Sandra curled up on her sofa, lying under a couple of coats, still wearing the clothes she had arrived in. Three empty bottles of Vino Blanc now lay on the floor, near the record player. A Hard Day’s Night had long since finished playing on it, but the album was still on the turntable after being played at least 20 times in a row the previous night.
The two old friends, and they knew they would be friends to the end, had drunk and then talked about all the big events that had hit their lives in the intervening years since the halcyon days of The Fabs, their Fabs…
Cynthia had relived getting married at 18 to James and they being blissfully happy for 18 months or so, before the cracks started to appear. It was doomed from then on. They were simply too young, far too young. Just has her mum had told her. Had she listened? No. Was she now, still being reminded of it on a weekly basis by her mum.
Yes she was…since then she had failed miserably to find the right bloke and somehow always picked out a wrong ‘un. If there was a bloke to avoid, she’d end up going out with him. It was like she had wonky radar,
which never failed to find a good target. She said she somehow knew it would all be downhill from her George.
But, in truth, despite all the heartache, and the pain, which it brought their way, last night they had mostly laughed. They had delighted in reliving their days of chasing four blokes around parts of London and the rest of the UK for that one month in the summer of 64, in one last flush of youth, before life got serious and in some ways, frightening.
And they had never forgotten that day when they finally met their heroes and got those flipping albums signed.
As she now continued to tidy up, Cynthia picked up the A Hard Day’s Night record sleeve along with a couple of empty wine glasses, the clinking of which now finally woke up Sandra.
She rubbed her eyes and then farted.
Sandra tried to style it out. She then glanced at Nobby’s old clock on the wall of his granddaughters rented flat and groaned.
‘Blimey…is… that the time…? Piss it, I’ll have to throw a sickie Cyn, I’ll never get to the cafe, not in this state anyway…Kenny will go mad, well ish’
‘You do that Sand mate. You tell him…’ Cynthia said as she looked at the face of George Harrison smiling back at her from the second line of that iconic album cover.
‘…You tell him, we’ve had a death in the family…