In honor of yesterday’s National Sibling Day, we travel back to 1970s today and visit two young brothers growing up in London!
Abbey Road, London. It is special. It is special firstly because it houses the famous zebra crossing that the Beatles walk on the cover of their fantastic album, titled, of course, Abbey Road.
Can you imagine, how many fans, from England and all around the world, speaking all different languages, but sharing the same love for the Beatles, have crossed the street posing like one of the Fab Four?
And, secondly, Abbey Road is special because Damian Lewis actually grew up there and not far from the zebra crossing!
Damian tells on Times Talks London:
So how was growing up on Abbey Road with his younger brother Gareth? Damian has some stories to tell. Here is a sweet one from an interview with Patricia Sheridan of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“I don’t know. When we were smaller, my brother and I had a pretty expansive fantasy life. We had two bikes, very ’70s bikes, at least in London, called Grifters. We invented two characters for ourselves called Bob and Charlie, and we’d go up and down the street and all around the neighborhood solving crimes. That’s what we did. We also had a couple of other alter egos called Pete and Dave. We were called Damian and Gareth. I think we were looking for just very plain names.”
And here are the little detectives Bob and Charlie for you 🙂 Cute!
It is hilarious that inventing characters and solving crimes were exactly what I did, too, with neighborhood kids in Izmir, Turkey – thousands of miles away from London, England. It’s just that I didn’t have a Grifter but had a Chopper instead, another ’70s bike! And that my friends and I were very much inspired by Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven 😀
And I wonder if today’s children are like that at all, or it was just us that rode the bikes, wrote the crime stories and solved them?
Now let’s give the floor to Gareth for a second to have his say about his older brother:
“…we were great mates, with a tendency to violence. We used to ride round on our Grifter bikes, solving mysteries. We adopted these personae – we were Poncherello and Baker from the California Highway Patrol, or we were Bob and Charlie, or Pete and Dave, depending on how we felt. Ultimately he had the final say, by virtue of the fact that he could punch me up if I didn’t do what he said. We had some pretty ferocious fights. Like most boys, there were no boundaries, we really used to go for it. At that point I was the actor – I knew how to get him into trouble. He’d give me a nudge, I’d fall to the ground screaming, and Mum would come racing out saying: “What have you done to your little brother?”
Damian shares a story with Sunday Times:
“I was so confrontational as a child, my mother took me to the family doctor and said: “It’s either him or me. One of us has got to go.” I just remember feeling fretful – she found me impossible. If I was challenged, I felt I was being backed into a corner, metaphorically and sometimes physically. Gareth was a far cleverer child than I was. Less emotionally direct. He was much better at nodding, saying yes, then sliding off in his own direction. I remember one fight – I was about 10 and he was eight – when I had been particularly pedantic and annoying. Suddenly he started pummelling me with his fists, so I whacked him and he went down like a sack of potatoes, screaming his head off. Mum appeared and saw little Gareth, crumpled in a heap, wailing, but with one eye open, as always, to see what the reaction would be. She gave me this almighty clout around my head, the only time she ever hit me, and I ran down Abbey Road, saying I was never coming back. Afterwards I expected her to take me in her arms and say she was sorry. Instead she sat me down and gave me a right talking to. She’d had enough, I suppose.”
Remember Damian recently shared on Rapid Fire Challenge that his childhood nickname was, well, Damage! 🙂 But, hey, can you imagine a little boy running down Abbey Road and telling his mom he is never coming back? Awwww.
In an interview about their collaborative project The Baker with The Western Mail in 2006, the brothers talk about plays they used to stage at home for their parents and their friends. “We have been doing this since we were tiny kids making up characters and putting on plays” says Damian. And they remember staging their very original The Chewing Gum play, with a young boy called Masdaq as its central character. It turns out the play was about this young boy and a piece of chewing gum which went all around the room.
And the plays did not stop there. Damian talks about the special closet in their house with Daily Mail:
“My parents had a fancy dress cupboard when I was little with a plastic gun and a wand and some outfits — my brother was always Spiderman and I was Batman.”
And it is not surprising that this kid with good imagination dreamt of being on a chat show on TV. When asked in an interview with The Telegraph whether it is true that he used to stand in front of his bedroom mirror pretending he was a guest on Wogan and answering imaginary questions in an American accent, Damian responds promptly:
“It’s all true! I’ve always been a narcissist.”
But, hey, you have a 10 year old with some vision here! Damian guested on Wogan’s radio show in 2012 — only 30 years after rehearsing in front of his bedroom mirror 😀
Talking about Abbey Road makes a bit of talk about the band that put Abbey Road on the map inevitable. Right? Right!
So Damian becomes a Beatles Fan at a young age as he is introduced to their music at school. We learn from a Classic FM news report that, when he makes an appearance at the Music For Youth Schools Prom 2013 to celebrate inspirational teachers, Damian tells kids:
“When I was roughly your age, 11 or 12, I sang in a chamber choir and had an inspirational teacher, Mr Woodgate, who rearranged Beatles tunes. And so, as an 11 year old I was able to sing Eleanor Rigby, And I Love Her and other Beatles tunes in four-part harmony, and it’s a memory I treasure to this day.”
And, being a Beatles fan, he says in an interview with US Weekly in 2001:
“I used to take my shoes off to cross the street so I’d look like Paul on the record.”
Who would YOU try to look like?
My personal favorite Beatle is George. I admit though I tried to look like Paul in my last visit to London! 😀 Notice the bare feet, please!
In closing, let us pay tribute to Abbey Road with a song from The Abbey Road album.
Here comes Here Comes The Sun as a tribute to the sun of this universe that we call Damian Lewis fandom 😀