The song was originally introduced during The White Album sessions; a demo from the Esher Sessions can be found on Anthology 3. Lennon would describe this song, along with "Mean Mr. Mustard", in The Beatles Anthology as "a bit of crap I wrote in India".
The name 'Polythene Pam' came from the nickname of an early Beatles' fan from the Cavern Club days, named Pat Hodgett (now Dawson), who would often eat polythene. She became known as 'Polythene Pat'. She said in an interview, "I used to eat polythene all the time. I'd tie it in knots and then eat it. Sometimes I even used to burn it and then eat it when it got cold."
Structured as a limerick, the song is superficially about "a mythical Liverpool scrubber dressed up in her jackboots and kilt", the kind of girl who "makes the News of the World". The song is also sung in a very strong Liverpudlian "Scouse" accent. In actuality it was inspired by an evening that John spent with poet Royston Ellis and his girlfriend, Stephanie. The three wore bags made of "polythene", a common British contraction of polyethylene, and slept in the same bed out of curiosity about kinky sex. Incidentally, John would later admit in the 1980 interview with Playboy that Ellis was the first person to introduce The Beatles to drugs when he showed them how to get high from the strips inside a Benzedrine inhaler. It was in this interview that John supplied the details of this event but refused to elaborate further. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.