"The Merseys could be very big if they produce more records like 'Sorrow' ", said John Lennon, as he reclined on the couch, reaching into his breast pocket for his cigarette pack.
The setting was not unfamiliar--a dressing-room like any other, but it seemed strangely empty with the absence of George, Paul and Ringo and everyone else, who is part of the Beatle entourage.
The unconquerable Lennon was in a surprisingly talkative mood that evening, and seemed somewhat unusually content.
I asked John what type of music he liked.
"I don't like anything different, or unusual, just nice records."
Although the controversy of their lack of personal appearances and pre-recorded T.V. inserts had died down, John did, however, have a few brief words to say on the subject. "I can't see any difference between filming inserts for T.V. or doing it live--the viewers see exactly the same thing. I don't know what all the fuss was about."
Looking around the dressing-room, it was not difficult to notice the empty cigarette packs, coke bottles, half-empty cups of tea and pushed-aside plates of uneaten food, and four black silk suits with a red carnation in each buttonhole--which made one think that the Beatles were part of a wedding party (most unlikely)!
"Every time we arrive at London Airport, or depart from it, and whenever we appear anywhere", said John, "this girl sends us red carnations. She's been doing it for a couple of years--actually she came to see us before you arrived tonight."
Knowing that the Beatles are television fanatics, I asked John to give his personal views on pop programmes and late-night shows.
"I liked 'Whole Scene Going', it was a good programme because they introduced new people like Barry Fantoni and Wendy Varnals. Another good thing about it was that their guests weren't only pop stars, but actors, writers and other personalities."
I then asked John what he thought the limit should be to a "hot" conversation on a late night show.
"I don't think there should be any limit at all, that is why they should put late-night shows on at two o'clock in the morning, that way people wouldn't have to watch it and say how disgusting so-and-so's behaviour was. The average viewer sits glued to the box right up to the epilogue no matter what's on, so if they put these shows on very late, it will only be those who really want to watch it, who will bother to stay up so late."
Just then Mal walked in with two teas in paper cups. "Is that all they've got", asked John. "Why can't we have a proper cup of tea out of the pot--I'm sure the directors don't have their tea in paper cups. See if you can get us two more cups."
I assured John that the canteen tea was very good, probably better than if it had been poured from a pot. He went on to mutter something about being as good as the directors!
Anyway, after a very enjoyable cup of tea I asked John if he found pirate D.J.'s embarrassing in the way that they talk, and "what would you personally like to wear, however outrageous it was?"
John replied:--"To the first question, no. I think they do a very good job. And to the latter one, I wouldn't know what clothes I liked till I saw them."
I asked John whether the Beatles expected to be knocked from the top pretty soon, and if so, how would they feel about it.
"I think that within the next couple of years there will be someone very big, perhaps even bigger than us--it might be another group, or it may be a solo artiste. I don't know about the others, but I wouldn't object to sitting back and having the limelight taken away from us."
Somehow we brought the conversation round to the Stones and John said:--"I always call Bill Wyman--Charlie. He gets offended because he thinks I'm mistaking him for Charlie Watts. It's only because I think he looks like Charles II, that's why I call him Charlie."
John went on to talk about children. "I now take notice of other kids, and compare them to Julian. I think to myself 'that's clever, I don't think mine can do that' or vice versa. A lot of people like having children for their old age, I just want them because I like them."
I asked John if he had any plans for a third book or maybe an autobiography.
"Writing an autobiography has passed through my mind--but I've got a memory like a sieve. Anyway I certainly hope to be writing another book, if I can find the time."
John's reply to--'what is your most dreaded fear' was quite simply:--"Too much of certain things". And when I asked him if he'd ever been scared, he answered:--"I've never been paralysed with fear."
It has been said that when the Beatles play live together after a considerable gap, that John suffers from forgetfulness more than the others, and often can't remember chords or even the words.
To this John said:--"Yes it's true. I can't play any of 'Rubber Soul', it's been so un-rehearsed--the only time I played any of the numbers on it, was when we recorded it! I forget about songs, they're only valid for a certain time."
"What about sentimental values?", I enquired. "Do you have any?"
"I've never really thought about it. I'm as sentimental as anyone else--I'm not immuned to sentimentality."
People (usually journalists) are always talking about "Lennon the ogre" or similar words to make him sound monstrous, so I asked John whether or not he was aware that people are frightened of him, and often clam up in front of him, in case he should make them feel small.
"Yes I am aware of the fact. But it's only because people believe what they read, and no-one has ever written the truth about me. I used to get very impatient with these type of people, and I know I used to make them feel uncomfortable by being rather off-hand, but I don't bother any more--I try and be nice!"
I then asked "nice Mr. Lennon" if he trusted anybody implicitly.
"Only the other three and my wife".
Just then the strangeness of the dressing-room wore off, because in walked Paul, George and Ringo, so I wound off our interview by asking John if he'd always been vague, or only since becoming a Beatle.
"I've always been vague--my characteristics haven't changed since becoming a Beatle."
And on that vague note I left the now familiar setting--John, Paul, George and Ringo in their dressing-room plus full entourage.