When The Beatles were educated in Liverpool during the post-war years, it was an incomparable experience to today. Health and safety measures were none existent, and the wellbeing of the students appeared to be nothing more than an afterthought.
Teachers were free to rule the roost without any fear of consequences from their superiors. They could punish children however they wished without facing repercussions, even though they were putting students at harm.
While George Harrison’s teachers didn’t have to sweat over their bosses potentially punishing them for their actions, what they didn’t consider was his father, Harold, and his willingness to intervene. When teachers unleashed the cane on George due to his mischievous behaviour, his father became the hero of Liverpool Institute High School for Boys.
It’s worth noting that Harrison’s future bandmate, Paul McCartney, was no stranger to the whip either. During a chat show appearance in the 1980s, he remembered how he’d often get “six of the best” from the authority who took a dislike to him because of his appearance.
However, it was the first time that George was disciplined that stuck with him the most and gave him a newfound appreciation for Harold Harrison. “George got done once, and the teacher missed him and got him here (the wrist),” McCartney recalled. “So he had a couple of big wheels, you know those rash things, and he went home, and he is having his tea with his dad, and they’re all chatting about how it went at school, and he says ‘What’s that?’, they saw these things, and George told him, you know ‘teacher did it'”.
McCartney continued with his story, adding: “So the next day we were in class, and somebody pops the head around the door and said ‘mister’, you know, whoever the teacher was and said ‘George, come out for a moment please’. He came out, and it was George’s dad there, he said, ‘Did you do that to my son?’ and the said said ‘Yes’, and he goes ‘Whack’.”
From that point on, Harrison Sr. could walk on water as far as McCartney was concerned, and it filled him with envy that his father didn’t follow suit after his altercations with the devilish cane. “Oh, he was a hero,” he continued. “It was just the school hero then, George’s dad. I used to tell my dad, ‘I’ve got caned,’ and he said, ‘Well, you probably did something wrong.'”
Following Harold’s violent interference, the teacher in question likely learnt his lesson, and Harrison could parade around school with impunity. Whatever he did, there would be no repercussions unless anybody was brave enough to face the wrath of his boisterous father.