This earlier piece, about my childhood enthusiasm for London Transport, could have been written anytime in the last 20 years. It recounted a week that I spent with a schoolmate, just before my 11th birthday, travelling the length and breadth of the London Underground. What prompted me to finalize and publish it was hearing the Beatles song “You’ve got to hide your love away” last Monday (12 March). Ricky Gervais chose it in the “Tracks of my years” slot on Ken Bruce’s BBC Radio 2 show. Follow this link (26 days left to listen) to hear it, at 2:10:55.
It’s one of the less well-known Beatles numbers, an album track (from “Help!”) rather than a single. The first time I heard the song in any form was on that week travelling to the outer reaches of London’s public transport network just before my 11th birthday. We had gone as far as you can go on the District Line, to Upminster station itself, and stayed on the train while it changed drivers before heading back west. We had the carriage to ourselves. My schoolmate started singing, to nobody in particular, at normal volume. He went through the whole of the first verse. “Here I stand / head in hand / turn my face to the wall … ” And then he started the chorus, loud enough to make me jump: “HEY! You’ve got to hide your love away / HEY! You’ve got to hide your love away…” I didn’t know it was coming.
Within 18 months I had bought my own vinyl copy of the album and could play the song whenever I wanted. When I did, that memory of hearing it for the first time, on a District Line train at Upminster station, would always come to mind, and it was the same on Monday. But now I know what’s coming when the chorus begins.