Friday, July 18, 2008

John At Home

It was beautiful sunny day when the Beatles Book photographer and I went to call on the fourth Beatle at his home.

John's house is situated in the same wooded stockbroker belt, near Weybridge in Surrey, as Ringo's and George's but George's home is several miles away, while Ringo's is only a couple of hundred yards down the hill.

Just as we were driving through Esher we suddenly found Pattie's bright orange Mini in front of our Jag.

Pattie was driving with George in the passenger seat. He spotted us behind, asked Pattie to stop the car and when she had done so, popped his head through the sun roof. "Going to John's" he yelled, we nodded back at him, "I'll lead you there", he said and dropped back into his seat.

After what seemed like a dozen right and left turns through the country lanes, we eventually entered the estate where John and Ringo live. George left us at the entrance to John's road. We shouted our thanks at him and Pattie gave a quick smile, slammed the gear lever home and roared off up the road.

The entrance to John's estate is marked by a pair of huge wooden gates. We drove through them and up the path which winds around to the front of his house.

Front Door

My first impression was of a large mock Tudor mansion, lots of red brick, white walls and an iron-studded, oaken door. But this door was slightly different. It had been sprayed with paint aerosols in many colours. Over the large knocker was the crest of the Lennon clan.

John opened the door himself. After a quick "Come in," he led the way into the house.

I was completely overwhelmed with the fantastic collection of instruments, pictures, furniture, antiques, flowers, stickers, models, books, which met my gaze. I can honestly say I have never seen so many different things gathered under one roof. The result is extraordinary because it all fits. I don't know whether John or Cyn is the genius, but rooms have two pianos in them, or a statue with a gorilla mask and a pipe stuck in its mouth, and still seem right.

On the ground floor there is a large, entrance hall, lined with shelves of books stretching from floor to ceiling. To the right it leads to the kitchen, which is situated in the centre of the house, and to the left to two rooms, one very large, one small. As soon as we entered the house Julian appeared. He is a fascinating boy now, solemn-faced with sharp brown eyes, very like his father's, which follow your every movement. It's no good trying to get Julian to do anything he doesn't want to. He has got a mind of his own, again like John. He obviously gets on tremendously well with Dad who lets him work out his own small problems in his own way, and after studying us for a minute or two he very quickly made up his mind that, if his father was going to be photographed that day, then so would he.

Two Pianos

The smaller room contained two pianos, one Broadwood, one Bechstein. The mahogany case of the Bechstein, however, was fast disappearing under a psychedelic design, which was being painted on by two Dutch artists, Simon and Marijke. Simon had shoulder-length hair and a white sweatshirt covered with different coloured paints, on which was emblazoned "Jesus Saves". Marijke had on a long, rugby-sweater type dress, made up of green and orange rings, well daubed with paint. The right-hand wall was covered with a bookcase. In the middle of the room was a television set covered with stickers. John loves these coloured stickers, with upside-down phrases on them, like "Quiet Please, Explosion Nearby", and "This Cemetery Welcomes Dangerous Drivers". In fact, he picked up a sheet of stamp-like slogans and stuck a few on the front of the television set while I watched Simon and Marijke at their work.

The next room was very large with three beautiful, soft sofas in it. In one corner was an extraordinary Chinese screen cutting, and next to it the brass statue with the gorilla's mask on it, and a pipe stuck in its mouth, upside down, that I mentioned before. On one side of the fireplace were three turntables. John is very fond of putting on L.P.'s of noises these days, and one played constantly while I was there, broken only by bursts of "All You Need Is Love".

On the shelves near the record player were arranged several of John's gold discs. The Beatles have collected so many awards for their record sales, that each of them has shelves full of gold discs, statuettes, and certificates.

In the centre of the fireplace was a huge colour television. John was one of the first people to buy a colour set in the country. It is reported that only two thousand had been sold when the first colour transmissions started during Wimbledon week.

Cyn's Kitchen

We went next door to the dining room, or rather the room in which the Lennon family eat. The centrepiece was a beautiful antique table surrounded by chairs. The kitchen led off the dining room. All the Beatles houses have fabulous kitchens, and Cyn's is no exception. She's obviously very proud of her home and mistress of her kitchen. There's a most unusual stove in the middle of the room which consists of a table-like surface, built of white tiles, in which are fitted the hot-plates for cooking. I offered to carry something in, but Cyn said, "Certainly not, leave it to the women." She served up a tasty tea of ham, sweet corn, french fried, which was followed by a delicious trifle--obviously Julian's favourite.

"Would you like to take some shots of me with the Rolls?" John asked. Leslie Bryce, the Beatles' photographer, could hardly ram the film into his camera fast enough, as John led the way to the massive double garage at the right-hand side of the house. The newly-painted Rolls certainly looked magnificent. The intricate designs had been painted on with great precision by a local fairground painter.

To be continued next month


Keith said...

THey are the most beautiful band with the most beautiful songs ever!

Omar said...

THe appropriate home for the greatest songwriters and band in the most recent history.

conzie said...

Even during times of fame and fortune, he did not forget to write a song for Mother Mary...