Make your own free website on Tripod.com

HELLO!.....Number 307.....June 4, 1994

THE ASTONISHING STORY OF HER LIFE WITH THE LEGENDARY BEATLE

CYNTHIA LENNON

IN HER OWN WORDS EXCLUSIVELY FOR HELLO

FINAL PART Divorce proceedings begin. I read about John's bizarre exploits with Yoko in the newspapers. The Beatles split up and I remarry, twice, unsuccessfully. Julian and I go to America where I see John for the last time

At first the full impact of John's leaving me for Yoko passed by Julian - it was only later that he became more bewildered.  Inspired by our plight, Paul McCartney wrote Hey Jude, about Julian, after he dropped in one day to offer his commiserations       I wasn't supposed to talk to John. I knew that. The lawyers had made it quite clear. In a divorce case such as ours, direct communication between the opposing parties would be a "collusion" they said. It was not allowed.
      But I was deeply unhappy. The nightmare was getting worse with every day that passed. The lawyers were trying to persuade me to go for millions and protests fell on deaf ears.
      Although John wasted money on whims without a second thought, he could also be quite careful when he realized how much something was going to cost him personally. If we backed him into a corner with some outrageous demand, I knew he'd come out fighting and the battle would be long and bloody. I couldn't bear it. It would be so much better to sort it out between ourselves.
'Suddenly the office, the secretaries, the managers, the roadies - everyone who used to be so helpful clammed up. Overnight I was persona non grata'
      So I phoned him. This proved quite difficult. Suddenly, the office, the secretaries, the managers, the roadies - everyone who used to be so helpful - clammed up. Overnight, I was persona non grata. They made it quite clear that regretfully, I was on my own from now on. Nevertheless, I finally tracked John down to a London flat and eventually, he came to the phone.
      "Look," I said, "This is terrible. The whole thing is being blown out of all proportion and that lawyers are trying to get me to get all this money out of you."
      There was a wary silence on the other end. I could sense John wondering where this was all leading.
      I ploughed on : "The situation is I'll settle for 100,000. Enough to buy a home for Julian and me with some left to live on."
      There was a long pause. Then John spoke. "75,000," he said. "After all - it's not as if you've won the pools, is it?"
'I ploughed on: "The situation is I'll settle for 100,000. Enough to buy a home for Julian and me with some left over to live on." There was a long pause. Then John spoke. "75,000," he said. "After all, it's not as if you've won the pools, is it?" '
      My memories of this dreadful period are quite hazy. A terrible numbness had come over me. I went through the motions of life like a zombie. I couldn't seem to feel anything except this dull, underlying pain. Even hunger had disappeared and it was difficult to remember to eat. Food had no taste at all. I lost a lot of weight and if it hadn't been for Julian I probably wouldn't have bothered to get up in the morning.
      Worst of all was the fact that the whole humiliating drama had to be played out in front of the watchful eyes of the press. Instinctively I wanted to hide my pain from strangers, but if I forced a strained smile onto my face it was: "Look! She doesn't give a damn." If I forgot, and hurried down the street all sad and drawn it was: "See. She's going to pieces!"
      How I envied other couples who could get the whole nasty business over in private.
      At least John's ludicrous claim of my adultery had been dropped. He'd tried to say that while in Italy I'd had an affair with Roberto Bassilini, the son of the couple who owned the hotel. Since my mother, my son and my auntie and uncle also accompanied me on that holiday and since I was ill the whole time with tonsillitis, this crazy claim couldn't be proved.
      In the end, in November 1968, we were divorced on the grounds of John's adultery.
      For a while, while things were being sorted out, mum and I went back to Weybridge. It was a very sad homecoming. The house was still beautiful but now it was just a shell. We'd had all the fun and excitement of building it up, of choosing everything but now the main event was over and the house without the marriage was meaningless. Everywhere I looked I saw reminders of happiness that was gone for good.
      Mum was devastated too. She and John had had a great rapport. John would come home and say: "Come on Lil. Go to the sales and see what you can get me," and she'd go off with a wad of pound notes in her pocket and no worries about the cost. This was heaven to mum. She'd go back to her old haunts in the North where she knew there were bargains to be had and she scoured the salerooms for the old clocks, second-hand books and unusual objects that John loved. She came back proudly bearing her treasure and John was like a boy at Christmas, delving down into the boxes, never knowing what plum he might pull out next.
      As for Julian, the full impact passed by him at first. He was confused because he could sense the unhappiness and turmoil around him, even though we tried to be cheerful in his presence, but he was so used to his daddy being away for long periods that John's absence didn't seem any different. The beatles had six years of intense success.  Although they were now part of my past, it was hard not to feel a sadness when they split up
      It was only later that he became more bewildered. John and Yoko set up home for a while in a mansion in Ascot. This was the house where John had his white piano and where he wrote Imagine. Anyway, Julian would go and visit them for the weekend and come back utterly bewildered. At this point John and Yoko were both wearing big black hats and weird clothes and John's face was half hidden behind a massive beard. Julian couldn't make out what was going on.
      Neither could I. I read of John's exploits with growing disbelief. He made an album with Yoko in which they both appeared on the cover, naked. He was giving exhibitions from inside a bag. I was embarrassed for him. I saw a young man I'd lived with who, if he could have seen into the future, would have had a fit. The young man John used to be would have had hysterics over behaviour like that. He would have teased the "artists" unmercifully.
      But then John didn't look like John any more and he didn't behave like him either. He became aggressive in interviews, his sense of humour seems to have deserted him and in his heart I believe he knew he was making a fool of himself, but he couldn't help it. The sad thing was that John always wanted to be loved. He always wanted the love of an audience, the love of his friends, the love of sycophants. And now he was losing it. Instead of the love he craved, he was getting criticism, insults and injury to his ego. When I looked at the endless newspaper pictures of him I could see the horror and the pain of it in his face. But his pride was so strong he couldn't turn back now.
      That's how I got my news of the Beatles these days. From the papers. I'd known them for years but once John and I broke up, contact ceased. I'm not surprised really. It was very embarrassing for them.
      I had just one last visit, from Paul.
      Soon after the split I was cooking something for Julian in the vast Weybridge kitchen, when without warning Paul's car swung into the drive. A few minutes later he walked in. He was carrying a rose.
      "I'm really sorry, Cyn," he said awkwardly. "It's awful."
      And he handed me the rose. I was so touched, in my emotional state that tears sprang instantly into my eyes. Ironically it was Roberto Bassilini, the man John accused me of having an affair with, who got in touch after I moved and became my second husband
      Paul gave me a hug. "Now wouldn't we just fool the world if we suddenly announced that we were going to get married," he joked, trying to coax a smile out of me.
      I managed a weak grin and fumbled for the kettle. The least I could do was make him a cup of tea.
      But that kind visit was to produce something of lasting value. As he'd driven to the house, the words of a song, inspired by our plight, came into his head. Hey Jude was written that afternoon, about Julian. To this day it remains very precious to me. Every time I hear it I'm moved.
      For a while, I continued at the house. It was strange. There I was surrounded by every possible luxury, but emotionally, I had nothing. Inside, I was empty.
      I was 28 and for the last ten years John had been my life. Instead of completing my studies and starting a career, I'd dedicated myself to John and our family. Not because I was forced to but because I loved to do it. Family life and John's career had absorbed me totally. And then suddenly, it was taken away and I didn't know what to do or which way to turn. My confidence drained away.
      All I could think was that I must find somewhere to live, away from these painful memories. In any case, the house wasn't mine and would have to be sold. I'd receive my 100,000 settlement in the end but there was no home to go along with it.
      Eventually I bought a new house in Kensington, settled Julian in a local school and tried to start afresh. And ironically who should phone me but the man with whom John accused me of having an affair, Roberto Bassilini. Roberto was now in London and was a family friend. He visited my mother on behalf of his parents and then he turned his attentions to me. He was warm and kind and funny and he was just what I needed right then.
      I suddenly realized that it was a long time since I'd had any simple fun. India, the drugs, the divorce... The whole period had been so intense and serious. So much worry and unhappiness. Now here was Roberto and he made me laugh. He took me out to dinner, he took me out to clubs. He was wonderful with Julian and as our relationship grew we holidayed together and took skiing trips. Suddenly I was doing all the things that had seemed impossible before because of the press. It was freedom, pure freedom and I loved it.
      Childlike, happy Roberto was a wonderful friend but I really shouldn't have married him. He proposed one day in a taxi in front of my mother. He said: "Lillian, I want to marry your daughter."
      "Don't be stupid, Roberto," said Mum.
      But after a while I found myself thinking, why not? John and Yoko got married, and though, like Roberto and me, later split up, eventually got back together
      We married one glorious summer day in 1970 and for a while, Roberto was just what I needed.
      Around this time I was aware of the rumours that the Beatles were splitting up but I tried not to think about it. I was determined to get on with my new life and not dwell on the past. But that December the legal proceedings were started to dissolve the group. I saw their farewell concert on the roof of Savile Row, on TV and when their faces came into close-up they looked so drawn, so sad and so tired I thought, well that's definitely it. They'd had six years of such intense fame and excitement and success. Nothing lasts forever. I think maybe as far back as our trip to India, they sensed a parting and were trying to find something else.
      Anyway as I watched them play for the last time I couldn't help feeling sad. It had been so wonderful and I was there at the beginning. I'd helped nurture the seed. Now it was very sad to see the plant die.
      But once again, I tried to put the Beatles out of my mind. They were nothing to do with me now and I had enough problems dealing with the present.
      Dear Roberto was a child in many ways and he wanted to play all the time. We went out to lunch, we went out to dinner, we moved on to the clubs and we danced half the night. Roberto knew everyone it seemed. He was acquainted with far more celebrities than I and he was so gregarious he had friends all over the world. Whenever they passed through London Roberto insisted that they came to stay and soon the house was like a hotel. They ate every scrap of food in the kitchen, our phone bills to South America and God knows where were astronomical and I never knew who I was going to find at the door from one day to the next.
      Kensington is just too convenient for the London clubs, I thought, so in an attempt to slow things down I moved us to Wimbledon instead. It made no difference. Now we just had huge taxi bills added to the family budget.
      And as much as I'd enjoyed the fun at first, I began to tire. After all, I had responsibilities. I had to get Julian up and run him to school. I had to hurry back after lunch to collect him, then help him with his homework. And you can't manage that on just two or three hours' sleep night after night.
      In the end I couldn't cope with it any more. After three years, I said to Roberto, "I think we'd better split up."
      He was very upset. He tried to persuade me to change my mind. he took me out and gave me a red rose. But it made no difference. I hated to hurt him but I could see that Roberto wouldn't change and his way of life could never be mine.
      Soon after the Beatles parted John and Yoko moved to New York and Julian's visits to his father petered out. Contact was difficult. John and Yoko had come to an arrangement whereby any matters relating to her daughter Kyoko from a previous marriage were dealt with through John and anything to do with Julian was handled by Yoko. Julian inherited John's musical ability.  He looks and sounds incredibly like him, too
      Maybe it was wrong of me but I refused to talk to Yoko about Julian and in the end Julian managed occasional phone calls to John himself. But it wasn't a satisfactory state of affairs. I wanted Julian to grow up knowing his dad. At the moment the only time he ever saw him was on the television. My relationship with John had failed, I accepted that, but Julian would always be his son and I wanted them to be close.
      Then in 1973 I saw a chance to bring them together. I read in the papers that John and Yoko had split up and John was now living with a young Chinese girl called May Pang. So I wrote to him and asked if I could bring Julian for a visit.
      I found out later that John wasn't keen. He was fraught and nervous at this time and terrified of seeing me. He didn't want to be reminded of the past. But he did want to see Julian and May Pang helped tip the scales. She came from a close-knit Chinese family and she couldn't understand why John had not set eyes on his son for four years.
      So Julian and I went to New York. By now I was back in contact with Patti and Maureen and Patti's sister Jenny had by this time moved to New YOrk. The arrangement was that I would check into a hotel, John would collect Julian and take him off for a fortnight's holiday and I would go and stay with Jenny.
      Unfortunately though, to my embarrassment, the plans fell apart. Jenny was not at home when I phoned and I couldn't reach Patti back in England.
      John and May Pang arrived. John was very nervous and twitchy with me and he was quite thin but overall he was looking better than in his last pictures. He'd shaven off the beard and his hair was short which made him look much younger. He was civil but it was very awkward.
      But Julian was delighted to see his dad. He ran to him and gave him a big hug and once John's wariness had faded he was over the moon to see his son. There was a lot of hugging and kissing.
      As for me, it was very strange. Just being in the same room with John stirred up so many memories. I still cared for him, I couldn't stop caring for him but the old sparkle was gone. The physical attraction was missing. He'd changed so much he wasn't the same in my eyes anymore. As well as being my son, Julian has been a wonderful friend
      "Look, I'm terribly sorry," I said after a few minutes, "but I'm in a mess. I'm supposed to be staying with Jenny, it was organized by Patti, but Jenny doesn't seem to be there. I don't know what I'm going to do."
      I felt terrible. I'm sure he thinks I've engineered it, I thought. But John was sympathetic.
      "It's okay," he said, "We're taking Julian to Los Angeles. You can come with us, I'll put you up in a hotel and I can come and take Julian to Disneyland and everywhere."
      So that's what we did but it remained a difficult situation. Like children everywhere Julian wanted his parents to be together and one morning when John arrived to take him to Disneyland he got very distressed.
      "I want mummy to come," he insisted. He wanted to go but he didn't want to leave me. He clung to me and sobbed and it was very awkward. In the end I went too but it was awful. I felt I was muscling in and the atmosphere was polite and strained. Julian fortunately was blissfully unaware of the grown-ups' hang-ups and had a ball. And May Pang was wonderful. She was extremely kind and sensitive and I liked her very much.
      Just before we left though, John and I did at last talk naturally. One of the roadies we used to know in Britain had moved to LA and invited us to a party at his home. John asked me to come and during the evening he talked to me pleasantly. He asked about Roberto and I explained what went wrong. John seemed genuinely sorry that it hadn't worked out. At last, when no one was watching, the guards came down and he allowed himself to care. That was the closest we came.
      I never saw him again. My third husband was John Twist.  We got on like a house on fire and John and Yoko even sent us a telegram wishing us happiness
      Back in England I moved to the North and in 1976 I married John Twist, a sensible, down-to-earth engineer. He was gentle, polite and quite handsome and we got on like a house on fire. Oddly enough, John and Yoko, now reunited, even sent us a telegram to our wedding wishing us happiness.
      Unfortunately, once again, life was complicated. John Twist was made redundant and we cast about for some form of income. Eventually towards the end of 1979 we opened a restaurant in North Wales. We called it Oliver's, as in Oliver Twist, and Mike McCartney's ex-wife Angie, who was a great cook, came to work with us. It was bistro food and we took it in turns to make our specialties. Angie would do Navarin of Lamb, John did Chicken Paprika which he was very good at and I did Spaghetti Milanaise - a legacy of the Italian cooking I'd learned from my Italian mother-in-law.
      The three of us did everything. We cooked, we waited on tables, we worked and worked. It nearly killed us. But the business grew. Sadly, as the business flourished, my third marriage began to disintegrate.
      The stress and strain of working so hard took its toll and maybe caused underlying problems to surface. I think it was difficult for John to be married to the ex-wife of a Beatle. I was always being introduced as Cynthia Lennon as if my new husband didn't exist. Roberto hadn't minded this, he was so easy-going he couldn't care less. But John Twist was a proud man and I think he did care.
      Anyway as Christmas 1980 approached, the marriage was falling apart but John, Angie and I were still slaving away in the restaurant. One afternoon we put up the Christmas tree and Angie and I light-heartedly pulled a cracker. Instantly, a small plastic gun fell out into my hand. I tossed it away in distaste.
      A week or so later I had to visit London and I went to stay with Maureen - now ex-wife of Ringo. We had dinner with some friends, then, since I had to be up promptly next morning for my train back to Wales, I went to bed early.
      I had no sense of foreboding. No premonition. I fell asleep easily. Then suddenly in the middle of the night there was a terrible shriek and a scream. I heard all this running up the stairs and a blood-curdling howling and screaming... Terrified, I jumped out of bed and ran onto the landing. There was Maureen in her nightie, tears streaming down her face.
      "Ritchie's just been on the phone," she sobbed, "John's been shot! He's dead." When John died I felt as if part of my life had been wiped out
      My legs nearly collapsed under me. Oh Jesus Christ, I thought. I can't cope with this. And then I thought, Julian! He's in Wales and I'm here. How am I going to get to him? I can't tell him this over the phone.
      "Don't worry Cyn," said Maureen. "I'll drive you back."
      There seem to have been so many terrible shocks in my life. So many tragedies. Throughout the long drive I struggled to come to terms with what had happened. It was as if part of my life had been wiped out. Part of me. The worst horror was that it was murder. If it had been an accident, a plane crash or a car smash somehow that would have been easier, but murder... it was just too awful.
      Over and over again on the news they described what had happened. How the killer had approached John on the pavement outside his New York apartment. Every time I closed my eyes I could visualise it. I could almost feel the impact of those bullets as if it had happened to me. Even though we hadn't been together physically for so long there was obviously still a spiritual bond between us that I hadn't realised until now. The murder struck me right to my soul.
      For months afterwards I couldn't watch anything on TV that involved a gun. Every time I saw a gun, my mind threw up an instant replay of the murder. I couldn't bear it. This picture actually shows John signing an autograph for M___ C______, the man who killed him
      When we arrived in Wales the street was full of reporters and photographers and the curtains of the house were drawn. It was nave of me to think that Julian wouldn't find out until I arrived. But then I was in shock. I hadn't been thinking clearly.
      As it turned out John Twist had broken the news and Julian had immediately gone out with his friends for comfort. There was nothing to be done but sit and wait for him to come back.
      Eventually the door opened and there he was. He was 17 now, a tall, slim boy, very like his dad. Someone had given him a drink but he was white, completely ashen and he was in tears. He didn't say anything. He came straight over and sat on my knee and we wept together and I rocked him just like I did when he was a little boy.
      Then, after a while the phone rang. It was Yoko. She wanted Julian to come over for the funeral. I realised that much as I would have liked to pay my respects it wouldn't be appropriate for me to attend too. Yoko was the widow, not me, and we didn't want to turn a solemn event into a circus. But Julian wanted to go and though I worried about the harrowing experience he would have to face I knew I must let him. That same day I drove him to the airport and put him on a plane for New York.
      But the dramas weren't quite over. Late that night, as I sat staring bleakly into the fire an incredible storm blew up out of nowhere. The wind howled in a way that was quite unearthly and then there was a tremendous crash that shook the house. The noise and the impact were so enormous I thought a bomb had gone off. The fans' tributes poured in
      Terrified, I rushed out into the street in the pouring rain and as I stood there, looking up and down the road, trying to make out what had happened something made me look up. My mouth dropped open. There was a gaping hole in our roof. The big stone chimney that had stood there through storms and rain for hundreds of years had crashed right through the roof into the room where Julian would have been sleeping had he not left for America.
      It absolutely freaked me out. It was so bizarre. That this should have happened on the night John was killed struck me as downright spooky.
      Despite it all, life had to go on as it always does. I decided the only way to cope was to try to be as normal as possible and resume my duties in the restaurant.
      Sympathetic cards and letters flowed in and I kept reading them and reading them in an effort to make myself believe it had really happened. I was still in a daze. I went about my work like a robot.
      Everybody was kind and John Twist was supportive but we both knew that our marriage was over. We sold the restaurant as soon as we could and went our separate ways.
      It took me a long time to come to terms with John's death. Looking back, I realised that he always felt there was something violent around him, almost as if he'd sensed what was going to happen. Maybe that's why he was always in such a hurry. And in a way I think he'd been dying a little for some time. It was almost as if once he'd reached the peak of his mental and creative ability, he started to deteriorate. It took me a long time to come to terms with John's death.  here we are, the survivors - Yoko, Julian, John and Yoko's son Sean, and myself - in a picture taken in 1990
      I realized too that I'd never properly come to terms with the break-up of our marriage. At the time family and friends thought I sailed through it but that was only because I was treading water and trying not to drown. Years later I was still groggy and stupid with the after-effects.
      Your first love really is very special. It makes an impact that lasts your whole life. You're so vulnerable when you're young. You're fresh andoptimistic and it's beautiful and romantic and hopeful. But when that love folds, when life has kicked you around a bit and you've learned to be cynical it's very hard to recapture that first innocence. Much as I've loved people since, it's different.
      But I'm a survivor and I've been lucky. Now I have a new man in my life, Jim Christie, an old family friend, and we're living together very happily on the Isle of Man. These days I've got no plans to remarry. After three failed attempts I think I'm better off as I am.
      And of course I still have Julian, a wonderful friend as well as a son who has been caught up in the story almost from the beginning.
      Julian is incredible. He was interested in music so I bought him a piano and instantly he could pick up any tune. He was obviously artistic and musical rather than academic but even so I didn't realise how like his father he was until one day, after John's death, I came downstairs and saw him seated at the piano and got a tremendous shock. He was singing a song he'd written himself and he looked and sounded so much like the young John I remembered from my youth that shivers shot up and down my spine. Now I'm very happy living in the Isle Of Man with the new man in my life, Jim (an old family friend)
      Later, in 1984, I was standing in the kitchen peeling onions for dinner when a familiar voice came on the radio. It was Julian singing his first record Too Late for Goodbyes. And I just fell apart. I was so choked and so proud to think he'd achieved this all by himself. It was a good thing I was peeling onions. I had an excuse for my tears.
      And so now here I am, still in the Isle of Man, something of a record for me after all my attempts to settle down. I think I've had a wonderful life. It hasn't been plain sailing. There have been tragedies and dramas but there has been so much joy as well. I have the benefit of a son who has been with me through thick and thin. I have a very fulfilling relationship with my partner and I have dear friends who know me better than anyone else in the world. I don't think you can ask for anything more in life than that.

**** **** **** **** **** **** ****
back to CYNTHIA back to IT'S ONLY LOVE