LONDON (Reuters) - Records from John Lennon’s school days suggest there may be more than a grain of autobiographical truth in “Getting Better”, the Beatles song that includes the line “I used to get mad at my school, the teachers that taught me weren’t cool”.
Auction house Sotheby’s said on Wednesday it would be offering a lined sheet, torn from a 1950s school notebook, listing the 15-year-old Lennon’s detentions for such transgressions as “impertinence” and “not wearing school cap”.
Sotheby’s said the sheet, listing 29 detentions imposed on Lennon between September 1955 and July 1956 at Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool, was rescued from a bonfire of old school records by an eagle-eyed member of staff in the 1970s.
“The frequent entries on this sheet from six different teachers reveal that John Lennon’s rebellious nature and irreverence were well established traits of his character even at the age of 15,” Sotheby’s said in a news release.
On one day, Sept. 12, 1955, Lennon received five detentions from two teachers for a range of offences from “no hwk” (homework) to “talk after two warnings” and “further talk”.
That is perhaps no surprise from a man whose provocative quips would later make world headlines, such as the furor caused in 1966 by his remark that the Beatles were now more popular than Jesus Christ.
While the school detention sheet does not record what impertinent things Lennon said to his teachers, it leaves no doubt that the future Beatle was a handful in the classroom.
Other listed misbehavior includes “silly conduct”, “groaning at me”, “foolish remarks”, “very late” and “nuisance in class”, mentioned four times.
The document will be on public exhibition at Sotheby’s in London from Sept. 24-28 and will be offered for sale on Sept. 29, with a price estimate of 2,000-3,000 pounds ($3,060-4,590), as part of a “rock and pop” sale. The vendor is anonymous.
Two similar documents also listing Lennon’s school detentions for “shoving”, “fighting”, “sabotage” and showing “just no interest whatsoever” were sold for about $15,000 each in an online auction in 2013.
Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison