Thomas Dixie Elliot wonders:
Did a Paul McCartney song inspire Bobby Sands' famous story Jet?
I'm now absolutely convinced that it did...
Earlier today I decided to search the internet, yet again, and see that if such a book had existed a copy might be on sale somewhere, even though it could well be out of print. I tried all sorts of keywords like, 'Jet novel 1970s' etc but to no avail.
So I typed in 'Jet Bobby Sands' and three down I came across an article with 'Paul McCartney, Bobby Sands, Jet' included in the description. I then knew what an archaeologist felt like when, having spent hours scraping away at the earth with his trowel, he sees something shining.
I clicked on the link and found that it was a review of a book about murals by the Belfast mural artist Danny Devenny. Danny wrote about the time he shared a hut with Bobby in the cages back in 1975.
... Among the LPs sent in was a replacement copy of Wings’ Band on the Run. Next door to mine and Dee’s ‘cell’ was that of Tomboy (Loudon), Roon (Gerard Rooney) and Bobby’s. And it was there, guitar in hand, that Bobby proceeded to play in a loop the entire album, determined as he was to learn every track off by heart!...
The Band on the Run LP included the song 'Jet'.
… That was Bobby – a perfectionist. Mike was intrigued by this story. He said it was his favourite track too, and said he wanted to learn more about Bobby and the hunger strike. Interestingly, for all you McCartney fans – what was the name of one of the best-loved night time stories among the blanket men that Bobby would tell, out through the narrow crack in his H-Block cell door, and which features in the film 66 Days?
You got it – Jet! from Band on the Run …
I searched for the lyrics of Jet by Paul McCartney and Wings... that was it!
'Jet, Jet, Jet, was your father as bold as the sergeant major?'
Bobby's Jet was a conscientious objector who had faked his own death in Vietnam. His father was a general in the American army.
Then this line absolutely nailed it for me …
With the wind in your hair of a thousand laces, climb on the back and we'll go for a ride in the sky'
Jet took to the freeways of America on his motorbike after escaping from the horrors of the Vietnam War.
What else could have possibly inspired Bobby's much loved story than a song he had been determined to learn to play off by heart on his guitar back in the cages?
Thomas Dixie Elliot is a Derry artist and a former H Block Blanketman.
Follow Dixie Elliot on Twitter @IsMise_Dixie