John: We tried our holiday in the sun on the Isle of Jersey, and that didn’t work. Being in London at the no feelings sex pistols live on tv made us feel like we were trapped in a prison camp environment. There was hatred and constant threat of violence.
The best thing we could do was to go set up in a prison camp somewhere else. Berlin and its decadence was a good idea. The song came about from that. Berlin, by the wall, where it was raining and depressing.
We had to escape from London at the time, the song pretty well sums up the trip. Paul: You had to keep your distance from Pauline. She was a mad fan who used to turn up everywhere. She was dangerous and very crazy, someone you really had to worry about. She was a pretty girl, but she had these really mad eyes. Steve: Everything, tune and lyrics inspired by the infamous Pauline from Birmingham. The girl with the crazy look who would follow us around.
The mad opening of the song still reminds me of her. John: Pauline was a girl who used to send these letters to me from some nuthouse up north in Birmingham. She turned up at my door once wearing a see-through plastic bag. She did the rounds in London and ended up at everybody’s door. There’s a line in the song about Pauline living in a tree.
She actually had a treehouse on the estate of this nuthouse. One night someone would have an idea and then everyone else would just build around it until it was done. You don’t need to be technically proficient at your so-called art to write songs. Glen: Very rock ‘n’ roll, courtesy of Steve. Knocked into the overdrive by John’s blatant vocal. This was probably the only fast song we had.
Steve: This came together so easy. I came in, going mad on guitar, John went mad on vocals and that was it easy. Paul: We never used to believe anybody then. Liar’ was one of the earliest songs that John and Glen worked on together. It was the friction in the band that made it work well.
Glen: At a gig inside Chelmsford Maximum Security Prison, John announced this as being about then Prime Minister Harold Wilson. I was pretty relieved as I thought he was having a poke at me. Paul: It started with Glen’s bass riff. Steve got hold of it, then I started playing. Suddenly John came up with ‘God Save The Queen. It wasn’t written specifically for the Queen’s Jubilee.