Picture, if you can, the cover of the Beatles album “Help!” The Fab Four are standing with their arms in a variety of positions, spelling out letters in semaphore. I had always assumed that they were spelling the letters H-E-L-P, but according to a Christmas edition of “Only Connect” late last year they are spelling N-U-J-V. Victoria Coren Mitchell informed us that the band started out spelling the letters correctly, but the photographer didn’t like how it looked, so he arranged their arms differently.
Even at the time, people worked out that the boys were spelling NUJV, and conspiracy theories developed. NUJV had to stand for something. “New Unknown John Vocalist” was suggested. Maybe John had been replaced and this was their oblique way of telling the world.
I have noted before that this Blog has started to act as my Exobrain, a place to put things that might not come to mind when I want them to. By creating this brief piece, I can now use the Blog’s Search option (typing “beatles help” for example) and be reminded of the word “NUJV”. I do not have a record of exactly which episode of “Only Connect” taught me about the word and about the conspiracy theory that followed it. I have tried a few web searches but have been unable to find any pages or video clips from the original programme to direct you to. There are plenty of Beatles fan sites that will take you further with this one, but “Only Connect” gave me all the information I wanted. I do not feel that I need any further nujv, sorry, help.