The tension between Paul McCartney and George Harrison at the end of The Beatles was bitter and palpable. The two songwriters had been at loggerheads for much of the band’s final moments, only really settle their differences decades down the line. Much of that tension came from McCartney’s drive for musical perfection clashing with Harrison’s more laidback approach. But we think we may have dug up another reason the two weren’t the closest members of the Fab Four.
Of course, whenever George Harrison spoke you had to take his words with a pinch of salt. The ‘Quiet Beatle’ always had a penchant for sarcasm which meant, at times, it was difficult to know whether he was being serious or deciding to amuse himself by toeing the line a little. One specific example of Harrison almost certainly having a joke came when he replied to a fan letter by instructing them to a seven-step plan to destroying Paul McCartney’s car in 1962—a perfect demonstration of the guitarist’s jovial instincts in full flow.
The Beatles guitarist would regularly respond to fan mail, even later on in The Fab Four’s career when they had become the face of global popular culture—a testament to the sort of person he was and, more importantly, how maintaining a strong relationship with his fanbase was something that helped him maintain close relationships.
One young Beatles superfan, Susan Houghton, had written to the band to wish them a Merry Christmas and also gifted Harrison’s mother flowers and a box of chocolates. Harrison, eternally grateful for the gesture, replied to the fan who also somewhat bizarrely asked for advice on how to clean a car.
Harrison, being the meticulous artist that was, replied with a thorough step-by-step guide on how to get the job done such as: “2. When car is [though it may take a lot of water]- clean, leave to dry off for about 20 minutes. [You can have a cup of tea now].” A kind instructor if ever we saw one.
Harrison concludes the letter by providing the fan with details of where she would find Macca’s Ford Classic and instructing Houghton to destroy the car on his behalf, writing: “Now proceed to 20 Forthlin RD. with about 6 buckets full of dirty muddy greasey water, where a shiney Ford Classic will be seen. Spread contents of the buckets evenly, so as to leave a nice film of muck over the car. You can now return home knowing you have done your deed for the day. Thank you!!!”
Naturally, the letter was written with a joke in mind — we think — and it shows off the playful side of the Quiet Beatle. Read his lovingly written tongue-in-cheek letter in full, below.
“I hope you had a good chrimbo, and have a happy nuclear ☮ too. Thank you for giving my mum flowers and chocs. [It was you wasn’t it??] Thanks also for the card, in fact THANKS A HEAP SUSAN. “Your too kind” John Lennon
“Instructions for washing car:-
“1. Use plenty of soapy clean water, preferably warm.
2. When car is [though it may take a lot of water]- clean, leave to dry off for about 20 minutes. [You can have a cup of tea now].
3. Now ask mother to find some dusters, [2 each] and with the polish, apply with no.1 duster over an area of about 1 sq foot at a time, in a circular motion. Don’t leave it too long before polishing off. This should be carried out until the car is spotless, and gleaming clean. [Don’t forget the wheels!]
4. Take 1 brush or vacuum cleaner, and have a bash at the carpets. They too can be made to look like new.
5. The windows [interior] should be polished now, after which you can retire for another tea.
6. Before returning home, I suggest you look over the car again, for any parts you may have missed out, on finding, they should be cleaned accordingly.
7. Now proceed to 20 Forthlin RD. with about 6 buckets full of dirty muddy greasey water, where a shiney Ford Classic will be seen. Spread contents of the buckets evenly, so as to leave a nice film of muck over the car. You can now return home knowing you have done your deed for the day. Thank you!!!
“Proceedings should be carried out about the 8th of January.
“Thanks again for the cheerio for now don’t forget Ban the Bog.
“Love from George [Harrison] xxxxxx”