HELLO!.....Number 17.....September 10, 1988
ĎJohn has gone now, and he doesnít have to fight for his reputation. He canít. The rest of us caní
Angered by recent publicity, the Beatlesí ex-wife speaks from her Isle of Man home
The American Albert Goldman claims to have spoken to 1,200 people to research his sensational book The Lives of John Lennon. Did you assist him?
"No, I didnít, and I donít know anyone close to him who did. I was pursued for four years when we were living in Cumbria and Iíd get phone calls from one of his researchers saying that he wanted an interview and I said that no way would I help him. I read the book that he did on Elvis Presley and I was so shocked at that that I wasnít going to help him with a book about John; there was no way I was going to be involved in it.
"The man is such a character assassin. The researcher even threatened to camp out opposite. He really harassed me for four years and even followed me here to the Isle of Man. He went on about how honourable this book was and what an intelligent and qualified man Albert Goldman was. How heíd interviewd all the family - I know that he did interview a cousin in Scotland. I thought Iíd heard all this before. John has gone now and he doesnít have to defend himself, he doesnít have to fight for his reputation. He canít. The rest of us can. Itís our uty to respond - even if it does help to sell his book.
"What Iíve seen so far is negative, so fabricated. Itís the most negative piece of work I have ever seen. Itís almost as if he has taken a half truth and twisted it, as far as Iím concerned, to the point of no recognition. Heís taken things from a book that I wrote called A Twist Of Lennon and heís even twisted that. Heís taken a lot from other books, Ray Colemanís book and Philip Normanís book Shout! on the Beatles, and elaborated on it and twisted it. Iíd like him to be portrayed as a real man, not this shadow of a man. I havenít read John Lennon - My Brother, but it sounds okay."
When did you meet John Lennon?
"We met at art school in Liverpool. I was 18 and he was 17. He'd just lost his mother. I'd had a boyfriend when I was 17, he was a lot older than me, about 25. And John went out with a girl called Barbara for a couple of years before he met me. So we'd both been through the first flush of romance. I was a bit apprehensive of him. I thought he was very funny, but in a rather cruel sort of way. He was fighting the world. I'd just become a Hiltone blonde and lived in a little room with a bathroom next door where you put a shilling in for a bath. Paul's girlfriend Dorothy had the one next door.
Was it many years before the money for the Beatles' hits started coming in?
"When I was about 23, 24. Just about the time that Julian was born, they took me off. We never ever saw any of the money anyway at that point, as it all went into the coffers and was looked after by accountants and people. When we moved to Weybridge I had £50 a week to spend on housekeeping, but I never spent it on housekeeping because all the bills went off to be paid. John did not carry money around with him. He very rarely signed a cheque. It was all done for him. The money men, the accountants. We were children in a world of a lot of money. But John was very good. Those were the days when shops like Asprey's and Harrods would open specially for them. John would buy me dresses, negligees, gold jewellery and a watch, things like that. I've still got them. There's no mention of all that in this book."
Moving south, what was that like?
"It was beautiful. We moved from Liverpool, actually Hoylake where I was staying with Mum. John had just started touring, we moved to a maisonette near Cromwell Road and I had Julian. There wasn't a lift and we had to go up and down stairs. Eventually there were always crowds of people outside when we went out so we both agreed we ought to do the proper thing and go and buy a mansion in Weybridge. That was in 1964 and the mansion cost £19,000."
When did you split up with John?
"It was in '68, after we all went on the trip to India. I became caught up in the whole thing at the beginning. It was my first time away from Julian, my mother was looking after him. I was a suppressed artist and I had the time to actually be creative. I gave up meditation - I did a little bit - and after a while got stuck into poetry and painting, which was much more relaxing for me. John got very heavily involved and so did George, but nobody else did."
You have survived two more marriages since John and you seem a very calm, collected person. What would you give as the secret of your survival?
"I don't know. I must have a guardian angel somewhere. I guess it's my boring, down-to-earth attitude that probably sent John running and was the end of the marriage. I see things in black and white rather than grey or colours. It's just my upbringing. I'm a realist.
Do you have any benefit from John Lennon's estate now?
"No I don't. I recieved £100,000 in 1968, out of that I bought a house worth £25,000 in Kensington and for Julian I recieved "2,500 a year, And there was £100,000 for Julian, which was divided in half when Sean was born - it was to be divided between any children, and that was invested and from that I paid for Julian's school fees. That was it. I've made more money from property than anything else. I sold the house in Kensington for a wacking great profit, moved north and then there was a bit of a grey area.
What is your relationship with Yoko Ono?
"It doesn't exist really. I don't hold any bad feelings towards her. If it hadn't been her, it would have been somebody else. It was something that happened. For the film about John we had tea at the Russian Tea Rooms in New York. There was Yoko and Sean, Julian and his girlfriend of the time, Jim and me. It was a bit strained, but we don't really have anything in common. All that time isn't really part of my life now. I still keep up with Maureen (Starr, first wife of Ringo) and Patti (Harrison first wife of George), occasionally. But I don't see the others."
How did you meet Jim Christie?
"Jim was a neighbour and was interested in motorbikes. He taught Julain to ride the little motorbike that John had bought him. It was about 1974, I was married to Mr Twist at the time and he wasn't really interested in Julian. We didn't get together for a long time, not until 1982. We're not married and we're not planning to get married. I think the reason is that I'm a serious person. I would never have affairs. After John and I broke up, as Julian was growing up, I wanted him to have a father and so I married the men in my life. Now Jim and I are partners, we live together, we work together and we have a stronger relationship than any marriage. The situation is accepted by everyone; Julian accepts it and we've reached a time in our lives when we don't need to get married. We feel right as we are."
What brought you to live on the Isle of Man?
"We came here from Cumbria to escape from being at the end of a phone. When anything was on about the Beatles or Julian, I was always being pursued and harassed. I was getting really fed up with it because I was trying to do my textile designs.
"Everything I was trying to do was being coloured by the legend. At least we've stepped away from it since we've been on the island. We've got involved in more businesses and more projects. On the mainland I was designing textiles for a company called Wilshire, which was taken over, and I did some designer napkins for Deeko, and that too was taken over.
"For the last six months we've had the restaurant. It was fate that we got it. When we first came to the island we stayed at a bed-and-breakfast place with a lady called Mrs Jennings. Within walking distance was this restaurant called Bunter's; we fell in love with the atmosphere, but didn't have any ideas about running a restaurant, none whatsoever. We got very friendly with the owner, who was 60 at the time. he decided he had had enough of it and said we were the people he would love to buy it off him. So we started thinking about it.
"We'd only come here for a sabbatical, to take a year off and that's what we were doing before we got started to get bored stiff and this came along. Now we are there every evening. I tried running a bistro before in 1978, but it didn't really work, and my marriage to John Twist had broken up. Then it was time to change direction. It led to my first exhibition of cartoons and drawings in America and led me more into the artistic side of life. But as Jim's parents had run restaurants, we decided to give it a go and we're really doing okay with it."
How did you become involved in your other local business - your own perfume range?
"The actual island is a very small place and you get to know people very quickly. I went to the Ellan Vannin factory to choose some perfume, then we got to know the people socially. The idea came about that we should all get involved, bringing out my artwork for the design and the packaging. It all happened gradually over a period of about six months. The factory is 10 minutes away from where we live. Now we have gone into partnership with two other people and we are going to launch a range in the autumn with the perfume Woman, named after John's song. We're working on a range of skin creams and body treatments and a man's aftershave.
"I am achieving a dream now, even though I missed out during the Beatle years. I just wish I had as much energy now as I did then!"
IINTERVIEW BY TIM SATCHELL|
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRIAN MOODY
Detail from the picture of Cynthia sat at her piano.
Detail from the picture of Cynthia sat on the floor of her home studio.
Detail from the picture of Cynthia sat on the floor of her home studio.