Saturday 13 February 2021

Thinking of Linking

Gaumont Cinema
Allerton Road
Liverpool 18


We come along on Saturday morning
greeting everybody with a smile
we come along on Saturday morning
knowing that it's all worth while
As members of the G.B. club,[1]
We all intend to be,
Good citizens when we grow up,
And champions of the free,
We come along on Saturday morning,
Greeting everybody with a smile, smile, smile,
Greeting everybody with a smile.

In the pre-television era a trip to the cinema on a Saturday morning was the highlight of the week for many children growing up in post-war Britain.

In the late 1920s each of the UK’s major film circuits established their own Saturday morning clubs for children. It was hoped that membership would help develop the habit of going to the pictures from a young age. The children would receive a badge and come up onto the stage when it was their birthday to receive a free ice cream or tickets to the following week’s matinee.

By the 1950’s it was estimated that the average weekly attendance at children’s Saturday cinema matinees was over 1,016,000 across 1735 cinemas.

Each matinee performance would start with the audience singing along to their club’s theme song before the curtains opened and the morning’s entertainment began. 

The morning programmes consisted of cartoons, regular films and a serial which ran for several weeks, each episode ending on a cliff hanger – the hero left in peril – would he be captured by the evil villain? Would he survive falling off that cliff? 

To be continued....

The aim of course was to encourage the children to come back the following week with their friends to find out what had happened to the star.

Flash Gordon

At the end of the matinee the children would emerge from the darkness and with their imaginations fired they’d re-enact their favourite scenes. The streets around the cinema afterwards would be full of miniature cowboys and Indians, aliens and super-heroes, swashbuckling swordsmen and distressed damsels.

Paul McCartney would later recall happy memories as a child ‘coming out of Flash Gordon, or Superman with me mackintosh around me neck. That’s such a magic feeling....until you get on the bus and you’re asked for the fare and the illusion crumbles....[2]

I found similar memories on line, like this one from "Raymann" on the Yo! Liverpool site: 

Get out of the pics and walk back to Perriam Rd stopping to play cowboys on the building site opposite Forthlin Rd then going into Haswells by Heath Road spending the last of the pocket money on Blackjacks and Fruit Salads....[3]

We come along on Saturday morning
Greeting everybody with a smile

Sang by John Lennon at the start of his 1980 interview with Andy Peebles (click to hear it here).

Although John Lennon was known to frequent the Abbey Cinema in Wavertree, and the Woolton Picture House ('the bughouse') on his doorstep, his obvious familiarity with the Gaumont’s theme song may indicate that at some point he was a member of their Saturday morning club.[4]

The theme for the Gaumont cinema’s Junior Club was written by Con Docherty in the 1940s and was first published in 1948. It was also adapted for use by Odeon cinemas, with changed lyrics. The song is also known as the ‘Boys And Girls Song’.

It was sung by the Liverpool born, wartime comedian Tommy Handley[5], star of the immensely popular BBC radio comedy show It’s That Man Again[6] and a favourite of both John Lennon and Paul McCartney. They included his image on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Another one of Handley’s songs familiar to anyone tuning in to 1940s radio went:

Down in the jungle living in a tent, 

Better than a pre-fab no rent...

It must have lodged in Paul McCartney’s brain because in 1973 his ‘Band On The Run’ album included the song ‘Mrs. Vandebilt” which starts:

Down in the jungle living in a tent

You don't use money you don't pay rent
You don't even know the time
But you don't mind [7]

The Allerton Gaumont originally opened as the Plaza cinema on Saturday 31 March 1928 with Adolph Menjou in ‘Sorrows of Satan’.

Designed by A.E. Shennan the cinema stood on the corner of Allerton Road near the junction with Green Lane. Initially only showing silent movies, it had a capacity of 1,432 with seating provided in stalls and circle levels. In August 1928 a Wurlitzer organ originating from the London Palladium was installed. Unusually for this period, it had a large car park.

It’s remembered as a classy establishment, not least because there was a large fishpool in the foyer containing a fountain and real goldfish. That’s posh for you. 

The amalgamation of the Gaumont and Odeon circuits led to the renaming of many individually named cinemas and the Plaza was re-named Gaumont on 11th September 1950.  CinemaScope was installed in December 1954 and “The Black Shield of Falworth” starring Tony Curtis became the first film in that ratio to be screened here. 

The advent of television led to a serious decline in cinema audiences but for many years in the 1950s the Gaumont was among the better attended suburban cinemas in Liverpool. They must have really liked the goldfish. 

When Paul and Michael McCartney moved to Allerton in April 1956 the Gaumont became their local cinema, a big attraction within walking distance of their house in Forthlin Road but more easily reached by catching the bus on Mather Avenue to the Penny Lane terminus and then walking the short distance back.  

Are You Thinking of Linking?

Paul would sometimes go with George Harrison.  At this stage George had not joined Paul in the Quarrymen, they were just mates hanging out together and having a laugh. They were inspired by anything they found funny.

There were millions of things. Information we’d had from very early childhood and from teenagehood, when you’re going down the cinema, seeing something funny and making a song out of it [8]

They were at the Gaumont one evening in 1957 when an advert shown during the interval (the ice-cream break) gave Paul the idea for a new song that both Beatles would still recall years later.

George: I remember once sitting with Paul in the cinema on the corner of Rose Lane[9], not far from where he lived, near Penny Lane. They showed an ad for Link Furniture: “Are you thinking of linking?”’ Paul said, “Oh, that would make a good song”, and he wrote one that went, ‘Thinking of linking my life with you’.[10]

Asked about the song in 1988, Paul said Thinking of Linking’ was terrible! I thought it up in the pictures, someone in a film mentioned it [imitates an actor in a film] “we're thinking of linking” and I came out of there thinking “That should be a song. Thinking of linking, people are gonna get married, gotta write that!” But I could never really get past [singing]


Thinking of linking dah dah

Thinking of linking dah dah

Thinking of linking dah dah

Can only be done by two

Pretty corny stuff!

In 2013 his recollection was more consistent with Harrison’s: George and I really loved cinema adverts,which we used to take the **** out of. There was one for furniture called Link, showing this couple eyeing stuff up, where the catchphrase was, ‘(Are you) thinking of Linking?’ And me and George were saying to each other, ‘You know what? That’s a good title’

So one of my earliest songs went [singing]


'Thinking of linking my love with you,

Thinking and linking can only be done by two’.


 Terrible! [12]

‘Thinking And Linking’ never made it onto a Beatles’ record. Like ‘Just Fun’, ‘Too Bad About Sorrows’, and a couple of other early Lennon McCartney songs which never got past the first verse this is one of a few early songs which briefly resurfaced during the 1969 ‘Let It Be’ sessions. A brief snippet appears on the tapes from 3 January. Reminiscing about those early songs George remarks ‘this was a good one’ before playing the introductory bars and singing the first line. Paul laughs in recognition and attempts to sing along but can barely remember the tune or lyrics correctly. Based on Paul’s hazy recollection of the lyrics this excerpt was bootlegged in the early 1980s as ‘Thinking That You Love Me’ or ‘I’ve Been Thinking That You Love Me’ with nobody making the connection.

A slightly better version was captured on 29 January, this time with John singing. Warming up with a rendition of Buddy Holly’s ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’ he noticed the similarity of chords and switched to ‘Thinking Of Linking’ remembering slightly more than Paul, but not that much before veering off into his own improvised lyrics. The fact that John recalled the song 12 years after Paul wrote it suggests they must have worked on it together at some point before giving it up as a lost cause.

A compilation of these January 1969 ‘Thinking of Linking’ performances appears on YouTube. In between some aimless guitar noodling and George trying to remember how to play the solo for ‘Crying Waiting Hoping’ you can hear: 

0m:53s John’s version (29 January)

2m:52s Paul singing (29 January)  

3m:28s George and Paul singing (3 January)

As mentioned above, Paul sketched out a few of the song’s words to Mark Lewisohn in a 1988 interview, but still it remained obscure. It was not until 23 June 1994 during the jam session by the ‘Threetles’ at George’s Friar Park home that it was properly heard in full, short though it still was (even now after all those years....).

It's a rare moment of unguarded affection between Paul and George (at least in the footage that we’ve been allowed to view). Echoing the brief version from 3 January 1969 Harrison launches into a rendition of the song, quickly joined by a clearly thrilled McCartney. They duet on a complete version of the first verse, quickly picked up by Ringo on brushes.[13] It’s smiles all around as somebody off camera asks Paul if that’s one of their early songs. He replies, ‘It was about one of the first ones. There was a commercial on the cinema for Link Furniture called Thinking Of Linking, we went to the pictures.’

George starts the song again and comments ‘good intro’, seemingly seeking praise or acknowledgement from Paul who echoes ‘good intro’. The fact that Harrison has demonstrated a fondness for playing the song on several occasions over the years is perhaps an indication that the intro was his idea. Perhaps, like ‘In Spite of All the Danger’ it was always thought of as a McCartney and Harrison creation, rather than a Lennon/McCartney composition, and as such, is both a song and a shared childhood memory that George would habitually exhume whenever he needed to re-bond with Paul.     

This performance appeared in the extras on the bonus disc when the Anthology was released on DVD and can be viewed here.

Eighteen years after the Friar Park session Paul was asked about the song again.

“We never did anything with it, of course. I saw it on a list of songs the other day, funnily enough. I might bring it back into my set for a laugh.’’ [14]


On 25th November 1962 the Gaumont was re-named Odeon by the Rank Organisation. It was one of many Rank cinemas taken over by the Classic Cinemas chain in December 1967. This saw another name change to the Classic which it remained until closure on 10th April 1971 with Peter Sellers in “A Shot in the Dark” and “The Hills Ran Red”. 

The cinema was demolished to make way for a new shopping centre at ground level and a luxury single screen cinema on the first floor[15]. Tesco's was built on the site (now a Yate's Wine Lodge) whilst shops were built on the car park. The replacement cinema – another Classic - opened on 11 August 1973 complete with a bar, air conditioning and 493 seats. In April 1986 it was taken over by Cannon. During the late eighties this was my local cinema. It was handy to be able to get the bus here and not have to worry about parking (plus we could have a drink).

Ten years later, the Cannon, like most of the traditional cinemas was acquired by Richard Branson's Virgin cinemas. In 1996 A national circuit of 90 cinemas was formed under the re-instated name ABC.  2001 brought about another name change, reverting to the Odeon and it was in this guise that it operated until it its closure on 26 February 2009, by which time the people of South Liverpool had enjoyed watching films on the site for over 70 years.

Today there’s a Yates's wine lodge on the site of the old cinema and a row of shops which were built on the old cinema's car park. The new cinema which was built over the shops is now a gym.

[1] Gaumont British

[2] Source unknown.

[3] Memories of walking home from the Gaumont by raymann, Yo! Liverpool website.

[4] In common with Paul McCartney, the Gaumont cinema nearest to his home in Woolton was this one on Allerton Road, Allerton.


[6] One of the best loved characters was Frisby Dyke, a scouser played by Derek Guyler  Handley took the name from a draper’s shop in Bold Street, Liverpool called  Frisby, Dyke & Co which was parodied by John Lennon as Frisk y Dyke in his poem ‘Deaf Ted, Danoota, (and me) published in 1964 in his book  In His Own Write.     

[7] Mrs Vandebilt, written by Paul and Linda McCartney (1973).

[8] Paul McCartney interview in Q Magazine

[9] The cinema was actually on Allerton Road at the point where it converges with Mather Avenue and  facing Green Lane, so George's memory was slightly out, but only by a few metres. The junction is just past the Fire Station mentioned in the song "Penny Lane".

[10] George Harrison in The Beatles Anthology book, 2000

[11] Paul McCartney interview in Q Magazine

[12] Daily Express, 2 April 2013 

[13] Paul admits ‘there’s no second verse’ so the song as we hear it is the complete version.

[14] Sunday Express, 2 April 2013

[15] No word on what happened to the goldfish.

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