A few weeks ago Terry Clarke from Bootle in Merseyside decided it was time he cleared out his loft – one of those jobs Terry had been putting off for years.
But Terry, an unemployed carpet fitter from Bootle was to have the shock of his life. There, amongst the dog-eared snapshots, autograph albums and saucy postcards...scrawled on the back of an old Lennon & McCartney lyric sheet - was an original Government health warning alerting smokers to the dangers of cigarettes.
Terry, a huge fan of the cigarette since first trying them during a night out at The Cavern Club back in the early 60’s was stunned....’I saw the lyrics to this unrecorded Lennon & McCartney song scrawled on the back of a dusty old lyric sheet - and was about to throw it in the bin when quite by chance I noticed a picture of what looked like a malignant tumour infecting a disease ridden lung.
I was speechless for a while but I knew exactly what it was straight away
I’ve bought a copy of every cigarette the tobacco companies have ever released - and I’ve been coughing up my guts ever since. I know a diseased ridden lung when I see one.
I realised before I finished reading it that it was one of those early Government health warnings.
I’ve no idea how it got there but I remember our Doreen was a big friend of George’s sister back then.
The short warning, which reads ‘hey mate, smoking fags can seriously damage your health’ is thought to be the earliest surviving attempt by the Government to help smokers kick the habit. Although the words may now be regarded as juvenile and lack the subtlety of their later work, there are tantalising glimpses of how the Government would later go on to influence the minds of future generations of cigarette smokers.
The old lyric sheet is to be sold at auction later this month and despite the fragile condition outlined in the condition report, experts believe the document could fetch between £3-4m
An expert from Sotheby’s health memorabilia department was upbeat about the prospects...’although the picture of the dying man hooked up to the life support machine has been partially obliterated by the two songwriters signatures we still think the manuscript will appeal to collectors
Sadly, Terry’s condition is even more fragile than the lyric sheet and his condition report even worse...experts give him 3-4 months to live.
At least I think that’s what he said....he couldn’t stop coughing.
Note: A spokesperson for World Health Organisation has confirmed the picture illustrated in the health warning is indeed that of a heavily tarred male lung, probably dating from early 1965...just months before cigarette health warnings displayed at New York’s Shea Stadium took the US by storm.
(A57 Inner Ring-Road Revisited)