Who was 'Mean Mr Mustard?

 John Lennon was later embarrassed about the source of one of his contributions to the Abbey Road medley. It was based on a newspaper story he read early in 1967.

Who was Mr Mustard?

Mark Lewisohn has done extensive research into Mr John Mustard, 'an exceptionally mean man' according to the court report. He has tracked down his former address and delved into the history of his relationship with his wife Freda

John Lennon only had the details provided about the  former civil servant in the Daily Mail story.  This linked Mr Mustard's extreme frugality to the fact that he 'came from north of the border (Scotland) where carefulness was part of his upbringing'.

The national stereotype of alleged Scottish frugality was one Lennon enjoyed. He would often exchange jokes with his Scottish cousins playing on this theme.

An alternative theory about Mean Mr Mustard's origin is provide by Beatles publicist,  Tony Barrow. He suggested that the song was inspired by 'an old ‘bag lady’ who used to hang around the Knightsbridge end of Hyde Park, London,' This seems implausible given that the song focuses on meanness rather than vagrancy


In one of his last interviews Lennon describes Mean Mr Mustard as 'garbage'. Earlier he had referred to it as 'just a piece of crap I wrote in India.' This perhaps reflected a change in social attitudes -  the 'Scottish meanness'  theme was sat more  uncomfortably in 1980.

The song also had a difficult gestation. It would be two years before it was completed and found a home in the medley on Abbey Road. To do this Lennon built in a link with Polythene Pam by changing the name of John Mustard's sister. This again became off brand after he condemned McCartney's 'story songs' for their supposed inauthenticity

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