Today Joe Orton had scheduled a meeting with Brian Epstein and Paul McCartney to discuss the progress of the script he was writing for the next Beatles movie. In retrospect, it seems quite obvious that this movie would never be made; Orton’s sensibility was too subversive and too gay for the mainstream culture of the day, and to his credit he seems to have been unwilling to dilute it for a paycheck (although he made out nicely anyway). But for awhile everyone pretended otherwise.

Orton, an avid diarist, seemingly recorded everything he did in great detail, though who knows how reliable a narrator he was. His diary entry for today — quoted at length in The Beatles Bible — sounds very much like a dream. Orton describes being shown into Epstein’s house by the butler, then left to wander alone. He explores for a while, then finds the butler again, and is ushered into a room where Paul is listening to the new Beatles single. Paul and Orton go down to dinner, they talk of theatre, drugs, and tattoos. Later,

Dinner ended and we went upstairs again. We watched a programme on TV. It had phrases in it like “the in-crowd” and “swinging London.”

There was a scratching at the door. I thought it was the old retainer, but someone got up to open the door and about five very young and pretty boys trooped in. I rather hoped this was the evening’s entertainments. It wasn’t, though. It was a pop group called The Easybeats.

The Easybeats were an Australian band best known for their hit “Friday on My Mind,” one of the Sixties nuggets covered by David Bowie on Pinups. Two of their members were Harry Vanda and George Young, music industry lifers who later recorded as Flash and the Pan and produced six albums for the band formed by Young’s younger brothers Malcolm and Angus. You may have heard of it.

Anyway, according to Orton’s diary, a French photographer soon turned up to show Paul some pictures he’d taken of The Beatles. “The four Beatles look different with their moustaches,” he says. “Like anarchists in the early years of the century.” Orton tried unsuccessfully to hit on “the leading Easybeat,” which I guess would be singer Stevie Wright, then got tired and went home. Just another day in the life.

Brian Epstein apparently never made an appearance, or at least is never mentioned in Orton’s diary. The whole thing is very strange and yet entirely believable. In some parallel universe, it ends up as a scene in the next Beatles movie.

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