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HELLO!.....Number 305.....May 21, 1994

THE ASTONISHING STORY OF HER LIFE WITH THE LEGENDARY BEATLE

CYNTHIA LENNON

IN HER OWN WORDS EXCLUSIVELY FOR HELLO

Mobbed by fans in our little London flat we buy and renovate a mansion in Weybridge. I go on the U.S. tour with John. I miss Liverpool and my old life more and more. We dabble in drugs and John begins to change. Yoko Ono appears

This was it - the mansion we fell in love with, quite a change from our usual surroundings!  I found myself with a staff of three but as I wasn't very goos at giving orders it wasn's a great situation to be in. NOTE FROM WEBMISTRESS - THIS IS NOT KENWOOD, THIS IS TITTENHURST PARK WHERE JOHN LIVED WITH YOKO BEFORE SELLING THE PROPERTY TO RINGO       The house stood on a hill at the end of a long, wooded drive. It was huge - a mansion really, in Tudor style, surrounded by acres of mature gardens. Rhododendrons bloomed along the path, daisies speckled the grass, about 140 steps led up to the back door, and inside the sun poured through big mullioned windows.
      John and I grinned at each other. We couldn't quite believe that we might really buy this place. Until now we'd only ever lived in our family semis or rented flats. We'd never even had our own garden before. But the accountants were telling us we could afford it and it was a bargain at 19,000 - cheap because it needed renovation.
      "D'you like it, Cyn?" John asked as we wandered through the empty rooms. Happily I sank onto a window seat and rubbed dust off the latticed pane. Through the diamond glass I could see a stone terrace baking in the sun.
      "I love it," I said.
      And that was it. Suddenly we'd bought our first house.
      The Beatles were now so successful it was obvious that we all needed to be based in the South, within easy reach of the studios and record offices of the capital. But our first attempt at a London home hadn't worked out.
      Bob Freeman, a photographer friend of John's, had mentioned that the maisonette above his own in Emperor's Gate, London, had become vacant. It was a good location, very comfortable and extremely reasonably priced at only 15 a week.
      Looking back, it seems ridiculous now that we were concerned about the rent but we still didn't realise how much the Beatles were worth or how long their popularity would last. We'd been brought up to be careful with money, to economise, and it hadn't yet occurred to us to change our ways.
      Anyway, we went to see the maisonette and we liked it. There was a kitchen, sitting-room and two bedrooms, all bright and clean and, best of all, Bob and his wife Sunny and their children lived downstairs, so I wouldn't be completely alone when John was away.
      We barely even noticed that there were six flights of stairs up from the front door - a killing when you're struggling with a baby, a pushchair and a couple of bags of shopping. We never gave it a thought. Impulsive and enthusiastic as ever, we took the maisonette and moved to London. It was a relief to get away from the fans to our new home in Weybridge.  Here we are having fun with some props for the first professional pictures taken after the move.  Julian looks suitably serious!
      At first it was fine. I enjoyed myself furnishing our new home in simple Sixties style from Derry and Toms - always conscious that I mustn't be extravagant because the bubble could burst at any time. But it didn't matter. We'd never had a whole place to furnish before so it was fun. We settled in happily and John pursued his ever more hectic career.
      But it wasn't long before the problems started. The stairs became a chore but, far worse than that, the fans discovered our address. It had reached the stage where John couldn't walk down the street without being stopped or chased and now he wasn't even safe at home.
      By hook or by crook the fans got into the building. They'd wait outside all day until somebody opened the front door, then they'd rush in. They'd sleep on the stairs, and whenever I went shopping I had to step over bodies and push through 15 to 20 young girls to get out. Sometimes they were very sweet and would offer to help with the baby but somehow that didn't make it any better.
      Then they took to pushing chewing-gum in the keyhole so that John couldn't get in and as he fumbled with the lock they'd grab his scarf and pester for autographs. Often late at night, when I was alone, weirdoes would come knocking on our internal front door and I'd lay there in the dark, heart racing, wondering if this time, they' might get into the flat.
      It was getting ridiculous. The last straw came when one night the air terminal nearby caught fire. It was absolutely terrifying. Police cars and fire-engines were racing past our door, flames were licking into the sky and the whole building, only 300 yards away, became a blazing torch. John, as usual, was away. I grabbed Julian from his bed and stood at the window, clutching him tight, staring out at the orange night. Any minute those roaring flames might change direction and we'd have to run.
      Fortunately, after a long struggle, the firemen got the blaze under control and we didn't have to be evacuated, but I think that finished it for me. "Enough's enough," I told John when he came home, and he agreed. he was getting fed up with the constant battle to get inside his own front door. What we needed, he said, was somewhere quiet, where the fans couldn't intrude.
      As it happened, at this point George had built a house in Esher, Surrey. It was a lovely leafy, peaceful area.
      "Why don't you look for something round here?" George suggested. And that's how we came to be looking round the run-down property in St George's Hill, Weybridge, that bright afternoon.
      We both fell in love with the place and there was no need to carry on looking. This was definitely where we wanted to live. Another one of my cartoons of our life together.  It was a great relief when we could finally stop pretending that we weren't married
      In fact the condition of the house wasn't that bad. You could have moved in straightaway but everyone was saying, "Oh, my God, you've got to do this and you'll have to change that." Until in the end we installed ourselves in the little staff quarters at the top of the house while the builders took over the rest for the following 12 months. The next thing we knew, an interior designer was coming along with swatches and colour schemes and we were having to make decisions about the whole house in one go.
      I was confused. Why is this happening, I wondered suddenly. I'm an artist, John's an artist, we can create our own colour schemes and choosing furniture's no problem if you've got the money. But the whole thing had spiralled out of control. We were both very young and ignorant and we thought this was the way it's done.
      But this was only a tiny doubt. Generally life became even more exciting. The Beatles grew more successful than we'd ever dreamed possible and by 1964 John had had enough of pretending that he wasn't married. Early in the year the group was due to tour the USA and John wanted me to go with him. He knew there would be reporters and photographers every step of the way so in effect he was saying to the world: "Look, whether you like it or not this is my wife and I have a baby."
      Sure enough, it started as soon as we arrived at the airport. The photographers were waiting and they photographed us together, then there was a press conference and afterwards they even followed us onto the plane and continued the interviews all the way across the Atlantic. I was glad I'd dressed up in my Mary Quant PVC coat, the fur hat John had bought me in Paris and my trendy boots.
      Later the boys appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and when John walked out, the announcer said, "Sorry, girls. He's married."
      I was standing at the back behind the curtains and I breathed a great sigh of relief. I thought, "Well, finally, finally, it's out in the open."
'After all the hard times and upsets this was the icing on the cake. We'd gone from egg and chips in Hamburg to caviar and pawpaws with lime in the U.S.'
      The tour was tremendous. The response to the Beatles was fantastic. Apparently the night of the Ed Sullivan Show was broadcast the crime rate plummeted because everyone was glued to their TV set. We were mobbed by photographers as soon as we arrived at the airport for the US tour.  I was glad I'd dressed up in my trendy gear.
      We went to Washington where we met Muhammad Ali and the boys staged a mock battle with him for the photographers.
      They'd been a bit worried that Ali, being such a great showman, would steal their thunder but in fact the meeting went very well. Mind you, he took the mickey out of them a bit because he'd been a star for so long and they were such newcomers. For once the boys were almost lost for quips. They didn't know quite how to handle him.
      But it was wonderful fun. Everywhere we went we were treated like royalty. The boys played the Carnegie Hall - the first time a pop group had ever played there - and it was absolutely packed.
      When we drove to our hotel we had an escort of mounted police on either side of the limousine and 2,000 screaming fans lined the streets outside. I couldn't get over it. After all the hard times and upsets this was the icing on the cake. We'd gone from egg and chips in Hamburg to caviar and pawpaws with lime in the USA.
      Yet when we got to the hotel there was one tiny moment which made me stop and think. We dashed in on a wave of euphoria and spent about an hour sorting out who was going to have which room. There was a lot of bouncing on beds and being stupid but eventually we were settled and came out to relax and have a drink.
'Each girl seemed more gorgeous than the last and the boys couldn't help but look at them. I suddenly thought, so this is how it's going to be from now on, is it?'
      Suddenly we were inundated with models, singers and famous people. These girls would come in looking absolutely stunning and just sit there gazing at John, Paul, George and Ringo. Each one seemed more gorgeous than the last and the boys couldn't help but look at them. I saw John's eyes take in the latest arrival and suddenly I thought, Uh, oh. So this is how it's going to be from now on, is it? I saw in an instant that no man worth his salt is going to be able to say no forever to temptation like this unless he's a saint. The boys staged a mock battle with Muhammad Ali in Washington.  For once, they were almost lost for quips - they didn't know quite how to handle him
      It wasn't just the boys. It was the roadies, the entourage, the lot of them. It was: "You come out with me tonight and I'll introduce you to John... or whoever..."
      I saw the whole thing in a flash and I realised there and then that I'd have to close my mind to the situation or my relationship with John would be impossible.
      Anyway, after making my decision, I refused to let it spoil the rest of the trip. I put the girls out of my mind and tried not to think of them again. We went on to Miami for a rest and somebody lent us their beachside residence complete with boat, water-skis, the lot.
      To this day I don't know who owned the place but we joked amongst ourselves that it must be the mafia. There was this big, sinister-looking man, the image of Al Capone, hanging about the house. He never spoke but he was obviously keeping an eye on things and us and we decided it would be a good idea not to upset him.
      There was much hilarity but only out of his earshot. We spent our time sun-bathing and water-skiing and larking about. It was wonderful.
      The tour rushed past and all too soon it was time for the plane back to Britain and real life again - or at least real life for me. Looking after Julian and all the day-to-day chores of running a home kept my feet on the ground but for much of the time John didn't have that familiar stability.
      We didn't have a normal marriage. Nobody pretended it was a normal marriage but for a long time we were happy with the relationship we developed.
      When he was home, John was a typical father. He couldn't stand changing nappies - I believed he got involved with that later in life - but he loved to watch bathtime. And when Julian went on the bottle, John took his turn at feeding him. he crawled about on the floor with his son and cuddled him just like any other dad. The only thing he couldn't do was take him for walks in the park, because even here, in the country, the fans found us. In the end we had to put up very high security gates at the end of the drive to stop them getting in.
      John enjoyed lazy mornings reading the paper in bed. He loved cornflakes and banana for breakfast and roast lunches on Sundays.
      At long last the alterations were finished and we were able to move downstairs into our grand house but I'm sorry to say that while half of it worked, the rest we hated. Ultra-modern furnishings and colours jarred as far as we were concerned with the old-fashioned style of the building, and the sitting room was particularly unwelcoming. There was an amazingly uncomfortable Italian-style leather suite with metal bars. Two lamps were set just so, there was a glass table in the middle and two more tables arranged at careful distances. It was probably the height of good taste but to us it looked sterile and impersonal. More like a hotel lounge than a family home.
      The kitchen was now the most enormous I'd even seen; split level with everything chosen for me right down to the pots and pans, and everywhere with this stark, masculine colour scheme, with deep shades in plain designs. It was smart but it felt as if the house belonged to someone else. Over the years, at enormous cost, we gradually changed the house to our own style. I bought lots of flowery sheets and towels and lampshades and pillows to try and introduce a more feminine element and John decided he wanted black carpet in the sitting room and comfortable seats. Eventually we chose two semi-circular settees in pale, silvery grey with lime green covers and two easy chairs also in lime green. It sounds yucky but in fact it looked lovely and it was so nice to sink down onto something soft and comfortable.
      Little by little, money was beginning to change our lives. The house was so big I needed someone to help me with the housework, and a lovely lady called Dot, who used to iron for the previous occupants, came to my rescue. Then, living in the country, we needed a car so we had to have a chauffer as well. Enter Leslie Anthony, a handsome ex-guardsman, devoted to John. Finally the extensive grounds were far too much for me to manage so there was a gardener as well. This is us arriving for the London premiere of Help.  George's wife Pattie and Ringo's wife Maureen were my closest friends.  As Beatle wives, we had a silent unwritten code between us, staying in the background, offering support and never questioning our role.
      All of a sudden, from being an ordinary housewife, I was running a staff of three. There were three sets of wages to find and three people, however nice, always in your space. Soon there were little quarrels and petty jealousies going on between them and I didn't know how to cope. I'd not been brought up to this sort of thing. Anyone in my house was treated as a friend. I found I couldn't give orders and the whole situation didn't work out very well. With all that help I should have been a lady of leisure but somehow I was always busy, dividing my time between Julian and the staff.
      That's not to say we didn't enjoy the money. We certainly did. We were broadening our horizons. Although John and I could no longer walk out together anywhere we chose, or jump on a bus as in the old days, Brian had given us a big book filled with addresses and phone numbers of all the best restaurants and clubs and places we might like to visit where we would be unmolested.
      These days we knew which knife and fork to use, which wine to drink and how to behave. Often the other boys and their wives and girlfriends would come round for the evening. We'd rent a film and sit around drinking Scotch and coke (we'd discovered Scotch by then) and smoking very expensive cigarettes from America with little black granules in the filter-tips which we thought were the height of sophistication.
      My closest friends were Patti Boyd who lived with and then quickly married George, and Ringo's wife Maureen who'd recently moved into St George's Hill. As Beatle wives we had an unwritten, silent code between us. We stayed in the background, we were supportive and we didn't question our role.
      Maureen in particular was so devoted that she used to stay up all night when Ringo went to the recording studios to cook him a roast dinner at four in the morning. And this was despite the fact that she had three children to care for during the day as well. She believed it was important that Ringo had a hot meal waiting for him when he came home from work - no matter what time that happened to be.
      And still the money rolled in. We never seemed to actually see it. John didn't have a cheque book, he didn't have a credit card, he didn't have any cash in his pocket but people were telling us we were millionaires and he grew accustomed to having whatever he wanted.
      There was a terrible amount of waste. People who'd met John would come to the house and sell him things. He was easily conned. He'd listen to their story and then say, "Isn't that fantastic. I'll have ten."
      One day an Indian salesman came to the door. "I have these rugs," he said and unrolled them on the floor. John had a zany sense of humour.  He was also very extravagant and could never just buy one of anything
      John glanced down and said, "Right, I'll have that one, that one, that one and that one."
      He could never buy just one of anything, yet until that moment the idea of wanting new rugs had never entered his head. Everything was decided on a whim.
      Soon he got into cars as well. John was a terrible driver. He didn't pass his test till quite late and he was inexperienced and erratic at the wheel but he loved the look of cars. The chauffer was also a car buff and he was always telling John about great deals that were going.
      I'd already passed my test by this time and suddenly I found myself showered with vehicles. I didn't choose them. The chauffer would suggest them to John and I'd come out one morning to find my old car gone and a different one in its place.
      At first I had a Beetle, then a white Mini, then that was swapped for a green Beetle and one memorable day out of the blue I had a Porsche. That was a lovely surprise. The only problem was that some time later it was traded in for John's Ferrari so I lost my Porsche. I was quite upset about that. John even had a Rolls-Royce repainted in extraordinary psychedelic flower-power style. It looked like something out of a fairground and I believe Rolls Royce were very annoyed about it!
      Looking back, the whole thing was lunacy. There was so much waste. But that's what happens when young people who're not accustomed to it get instant, apparently unlimited money. They don't know how to value things. They're like kids let loose in a toyshop.
      In fact, at Christmas, that's literally what happened. Harrods allowed the boys the run of the shop, after hours, to buy their Christmas presents.
      John came home with a miniature Rolls-Royce pedal car for Julian and dozens of other games and kits far too old for him. For me there were armloads of glamorous lingerie. There were negligees so exotic you'd think you were in Arabia, with long trains in orange chiffon, cleavage down to the waist and ostrich feathers which got up your nose when you were cooking the bacon and eggs in the morning. It wasn't practical but it was fun.
      Then John decided that we had to have a swimming pool. On our steeply sloping site the construction was difficult and the builders were back for another six months but, eventually, there it was. Sadly, John was hardly ever home to swim in it.
'I suddenly found myself isolated. Visits, however friendly, were by appointment only. I bought some shoes one day, and the staff were so nice I kept going back to buy more. I just wanted someone to talk to'
      And that was the problem. I was used to John's travelling by now but that didn't stop me missing him and the money didn't make up for it. In a strange way it made things worse. Although John didn't pass his driving test till quite late he was very into cars.  He even had a Rolls-Royce repainted in psychedelic colours which I believe Rolls-Royce were none too happy about.
      Suddenly I found myself more isolated than I'd ever been before. Down south there didn't seem to be the casual dropping in on friends that I'd known in the north. Visits, however friendly, were by appointment only. Even my old mates seemed to fall away as if they were embarrassed by the wealth and luxury.
      My best friend Phyl came to stay once but she didn't come back. She couldn't handle it. Besides, she was married now with her own life to lead and these days our paths lay in different directions.
      I loved my beautiful house and the beautiful gardens but often it felt like an ivory tower. When I looked out of my window I couldn't see another soul or another house. I knew that Maureen was only down the road but she could have been a million miles away. I was lonely. I took to visiting the shops in Weybridge and, one day, seeing some shoes I liked in the shoes shop, I went in to try them on. The staff were so nice to me that I kept going back. I bought so many pairs of shoes they must have thought I had some kind of fetish. If only they'd known. I just wanted someone to talk to.
      In the end I thought, "Well, if the mountain won't come to Mohammed..." and I called Leslie the chauffer and said: "Take me to Hoylake."
      It was to be the first of many such visits. Mum was now living in Trinity Road, a narrow street of terraced houses, and several hours later our Silver Cloud Rolls-Royce was cruising slowly down the pot holes, causing much twitching of net curtains on either side.
      Embarrassed, I jumped out, hauled Julian after me and grabbed our bags. "Go off and enjoy yourself," I told Leslie quickly. "Find something to do - I don't mind what - only take the car away from Trinity Road and don't bring it back till next week."
      Conscious of dozens of unseen eyes on me, I couldn't relax until I saw the huge pale car disappear round the corner. I didn't want anyone to feel that I'd changed. Inside I was still the same Cynthia but I knew they wouldn't believe that if they saw me swanning about in a chauffer-driven Rolls-Royce.
      There I was with all the accoutrements of wealth but all I wanted was fish and chips from the back street. I'd already passed my test and found myself showered with vehicles.  They kept changing, too, and I never knew quite what would meet me when I came out in the morning!
      Julian and I stayed with Mum for a week and it was bliss. We went shopping in Market Street, we dropped in on neighbours and friends. It was so comfortable and familiar it was as if the intervening years hadn't happened.
      John in his own way, despite what he might have been getting up to, missed us too. I found part of a letter the other day, written while he was thousands of miles away on tour, looking forward to the day when he would be home:
      ...I'm sure Dot and Lil... etc can understand something as simple as us wanting to be alone for a day," he wrote. "I don't mean Julian, though - I mean don't pack him off to Dot's or anywhere. I really miss him as a person now. Do you know what I mean? He's not so much "the baby" or "my baby" any more - he's a real, living part of me now... I can't wait to see him. I miss him more than I've ever done before. I think it's been a slow process, my feeling like a real father!
      "I hope all this is clear and understandable. I spend hours in dressing rooms and things thinking about the times I've wasted not being with him and playing with him. You know I keep thinking of those stupid times when I kept reading bloody newspapers while he's in the room with me and I've decided it's ALL WRONG! He doesn't see enough of me as it is and I really want him to know and love me and miss me like I seem to be missing both of you so much.
      "I'll go now, 'cause I'm bringing myself down thinking what a thoughtless bastard I seem to be and it's only sort of three o'clock in the afternoon and it seems the wrong time of day to feel so emotional. I really feel like crying. It's stupid and I'm choking up now as I'm writing. I don't know what's the matter with me. It's not the tour that's so different from other tours. I mean I'm having lots of laughs (you know the type, hee! hee!) but in between the laughs there is such a drop. I mean, there seems no in-between feelings.
      Anyway, I'm going now so that this letter doesn't get too draggy.
      I love you very much. To Cyn from John.

      The letter is accompanied by 21 painstaking hand-drawn kisses.
      Whatever he might be getting up to on the road, I couldn't doubt that John loved me and Julian after such touching, heartfelt words. John began to change as he got involved with drugs.  Yet underneath there remained some tiny part of him that was still John
      Yet gradually, as the years passed, our relationship changed. John changed and drugs had a lot to do with it.
      It was inevitable that the pressure would mount. John had no control over his career. The lawyers, the managers, the record company - they were the ones who seemed to have the real control, who knew what was going on. John had to go along with what they said. There was so much money around, yet the Beatles were so young and vulnerable.
      The stress grew and John wanted something the help him to relax.
      At first it was pot. Gradually I noticed that every party you went to, people were passing reefers round. The first time I'd come across it was in a record producer's flat. Somebody had introduced him to pot and he wanted to introduce it to everyone else.
      "It's fun," he told us. "It's relaxing."
      So we all tried it. Within minutes I realised it was a mistake. Everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves. They were giggling and happy but after just a couple of puffs I felt paranoid. Someone was playing a hideous trick on us, I decided. I didn't trust anyone.
      All around me the others seemed to have turned into idiots. Somebody would stand up and point to something, some ordinary everyday object and everyone would fall on the floor laughing. I couldn't understand it. "It's not funny," I wanted to tell them. "What's funny about a table lamp?" But it was useless. They only giggled all the more. You couldn't get through to them. They'd gone stupid.
      I'd always been keen to try new things but that night I ended up with my head down the toilet for about two hours. Pot was a big mistake.
      John, however, enjoyed it, but he confined his smoking to the studio. There it calmed him down and helped him to enjoy the music. It didn't seem such a bad thing.
      But there was much worse to come.
      One night a friend of George and Patti invited the four of us round to dinner with his wife.
      At first it was a pleasant evening. They had a lovely home in central London and the dinner was wonderful. The wife was a superb cook and we enjoyed the meal. Afterwards coffee was served and a large bowl of sugar lumps appeared beside the silver pot.
      "Have more coffee," they kept urging, "more coffee," and each time they poured, these sugar lumps were loaded into the cups. That's us again, with George, Pattie, and Pattie's sister Jenny
      They were so insistent that it began to seem a little odd but we'd drunk a lot of wine and we didn't want to offend them, so obediently we drank the coffee. How were we to know that those glistening sugar lumps were laced with LSD?
      Afterwards we moved into the drawing-room. George and Patti sat on one settee, John and I sat on the settee opposite and then simultaneously, we began to feel strange.
      "Something's happening here," said John suddenly.
      I knew just what he meant. Without warning the room had stretched to about a mile long and sort of disappeared into the distance. The host and his wife came in and when we looked at them their bodies were moving and changing, twisting and contracting in a most alarming way.
      George stood up. "We've got to go home," he said quickly.
      John and I were at his side in an instant. We knew these people had done something to us and our overwhelming instinct was to escape. The four of us hurried towards the door as fast as our drugged feet would take us. George had driven us here in his little Mini Cooper and it never occurred to us in our irrational state that it might not be a good idea to let him drive.
      "No, no, you can't go home," said George's friend, running after us. They were beginning to panic. "You must come to this club we know. You'll love it." But we didn't trust them. They'd poisoned us and we didn't feel safe. At all costs we had to get away. We dashed into the street, jumped into George's Mini and sped up the road. At the wheel, though, George began to have a few misgivings about his driving ability. We were nearing a club we knew so he suggested we stop there instead of going all the way back to Weybridge.
      "We'll be safe there," he said.
      So, we piled out again and staggered unsteadily into the club, wondering what had happened and what other unpleasant surprises might be in store. But we'd hardly sat down when the couple arrived behind us. Obviously they'd followed us to try and persuade us to go back with them. But in our drugged condition their appearance was positively supernatural, as if they were haunting us.
      We turned to look at them and each saw the hallucination. Before our eyes they turned into cadavers, then skeletons, then devils. It was absolutely terrifying.
      Horrified, we fled back to the car once more and this time we weren't stopping until we reached Weybridge.
      But the drug was tightening its hold. Halfway along the road Patti was hanging out of the window, shouting, "Look at that shop window, I want to smash it! Stop the car, George."
      She didn't know what she was saying, of course, and George took no notice. Then suddenly it was like being inside a bubble and we were flying along above the road. How we ever got home to Surrey in one piece I don't know. A combination of good luck and George's brilliant driving, I should think.
      Anyway, somehow we got into George's house and still we couldn't get back to normal. John was hitting his head against a wall and arguing with the fish in the fish tank. God only knows what George was doing and all I could think of was Julian. "I'm never going to see him again," I told myself. "I'll never see him again."
      Fighting panic, I told myself to be sensible, I'd try to be sick then I'd find one of the guest bedrooms and go to sleep. I'd be alright in the morning.
      I staggered upstairs, past one of the cats which was looking somehow different today. I peered closer and saw that all the hairs on its body had lifted and become animated. Each little hair moving independently of the others. Even more horrified I pressed on.
      I found a bedroom, sank down on the bed and closed my eyes against any visual tricks the room might try to play on me. But still sleep wouldn't come. Monstrous things were happening in my brain and I searched for some mundane thought to anchor me to sanity.
      For some reason a fragment of a long forgotten domestic science lesson floated into my mind. We'd been taught how to iron a handkerchief. Suddenly that handkerchief became vitally important. Blocking out all else I hung onto its image and in my mind I tried to iron it perfectly the way the teacher had shown us.
      Eight hours I spent mentally ironing that little white square, smoothing every crease, nosing the point of the iron down each careful fold. Over and over it I went, concentrating hard to shut out the lunacy my drugged brain was trying to produce. "When I've finished this hankie I'll be okay," I told myself. And I was right. At last, as the drug wore off I drifted into sleep, the beautifully pressed handkerchief still lying on my mental ironing-board.
      Needless to say we went home shattered and horrified by our experience. We'd been given LSD, we realised. Acid. I for one had no desire to go near it again.
      It wasn't until some weeks later that I realised John didn't feel the same way. He took to disappearing for a night and a day at a time and he'd come back with someone and they'd both taken it.
      I couldn't understand this astonishing about-turn. John tried to explain. Once the shock had worn off he realised that LSD had opened up new avenues in his mind. It was a revelation to him. As fame cut his physical freedom to roam where he chose, acid became a passport to extraordinary journeys of the mind. He could experience a mental freedom he'd never known before.
      "It's a false freedom," I tried to tell him, "It's not real," but he wouldn't listen to me.
      He'd always been a great reader and he'd read many books on artists who had liberated their minds with drugs. Now he saw the possibility of doing the same thing himself. He didn't want a normal life. He had a spark which had carried him a tremendous distance and he didn't want that spark to die. John had always been a determined person and that's what he wanted, that's where he was going and there was nothing I could do to stop him.
      He tried to persuade me to give LSD one more chance. I still loved John, I wanted to share my life with him, I wanted to understand what he was trying to tell me, so I agreed. This time I took the drug at home, surrounded by people we loved and we all took it together.
      It was just as bad as the first time. I still hated it. I still saw the same terrible visions. I still felt extremely out of control. When I came out of it, everyone was kissing each other and saying "Sister!" and "Brother!" and I thought: "I come from Hoylake. This doesn't do anything for me at all. This is not the real world and I don't want to be part of it."
      I knew then that John was taking his chosen road and I didn't want to go on that road with him. I would continue to love and support him as I always had done but for my own survival, I couldn't follow him. It was the breaking of a bond between us. The first time I clapped eyes on Yoko Ono she seemed pretty strange - she asked us for a lift after a meeting, then didn't say a word throughout the journey
      Before my eyes he began to change. The clean-cut Beatle started to melt away. His hair grew longer and longer. The moustache went on, the granny glasses went on, the clothes became more and more outrageous.
      Yet underneath it all there remained some tiny part of him that was still John.
      And then one day, as we were walking towards the car to take us home from a meeting we'd attended in London, a small Japanese woman who'd also been present rushed up to us and asked us for a lift.
      Almost before we'd had time to reply she was in the car. John and I exchanged glances. I had no idea what was going on and from the look on his face I genuinely don't think John did. He shrugged. It wouldn't hurt to drop her off, we supposed.
      The car pulled away and I studied our guest as we accelerated through the London streets. Squashed silently in the corner, she was very tiny, her face was half hidden be a tremendous cloud of long dark hair and she was dressed entirely in black. She said not a word throughout the journey.
      John raised his eyebrows and I smiled back, silently imploring him to say nothing rude. We thought she was strange.
      Her name was Yoko Ono.
NEXT WEEK: We go to India
with the Maharishi to meditate.
John recieves letters from Yoko.
Brian Epstein dies. I find John
and Yoko together when we
return home and we break up.

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