Over the gate...

Designed in 1913 by Victorian/Edwardian/other architect Theophilus A Allen; John Lennon's house between 1964 and 1968; sunroom, attic and prisco stripe hibernice; Mellotron and caravan; Babidji and Mimi; mortar and pestle; Wubbleyoo Dubbleyoo; curios and curiosity; remnants and residue; testimonials and traces; (Cavendish Avenue, Sunny Heights and Kinfauns); Montagu Square; mock Tudor: Brown House: *KENWOOD*.

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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Kenwood visit: spring 1968 - part 2.



We left Richard Hall (who took the above pic) and wife Maureen standing outside the open front door of Kenwood; here's what happened next...

At this point the elation and expectation previously experienced began to wain as I visualised the housekeeper returning to tell us "Mr Lennon is in Australia/Canada/London/Bangkok (BUT WE SAW HIM UPSTAIRS SHAVING!!!) Then - the door was opened - no housekeeper - no maid - through that door and into our presence walked John Lennon and right behind him was Julian. He shook our hands and said hello and what was very noticeable about him was the manner in which he maintained his presence, his body, between us and Julian. He was obviously nervous and anxious that no harm should come to his son - that is really one of the points that has stayed with myself and Maureen all this time. After about five minutes when it became obvious that we offered no threat to Julian or to himself - it was like a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders and he totally relaxed and invited us to walk around the garden with him and Julian. One of the questions he asked me was "Were The Beatles really as popular, really as good as the press said?" I assured him that they were. We only hear what our press guys tell us, he said - and sometimes you can't believe a word they say. At this time I had an 8 X 10 Black and white photo of John that I had taken when we gatecrashed a press conference at the Gruge Hall in Essen in 1965 and I asked him to sign it for me. Just as he was about to sign the photo I said to him - Just sign it LENNON - no John, - No To, No From - Just LENNON. "So" he said - "you're the little sh** who calls me Lennon". (I had written to him many times (never got a reply) and in all my letters I never said Dear John or in the middle of a letter I never said John - I always referred to him as Lennon - example - I would say now listen Lennon - drop me a line - get someone to write it for you - You know Lennon - you are loved and admired by so many people - take care of yourself ~Lennon - many people love you - things like that I would put in my letters - but I would never refer to him as John - Always Lennon. "So" I said - "you get the letters then". Oh yes he replied but there are so many - far too many sometimes to reply to but I do remember a few that always called me Lennon - they were obviously from you. The ball point pen refused to write on the glossy photo and so he leaned extra hard and actually etched his signature on to the photo. A lady at Christie's told us that this 'etching' was actually better than a signature as it will never fade. In order to see the signature you must hold the photo at an angle and let the light glance on the etching and then you can see - nothing but the word - Lennon. What is great about it is -I took the photo - no one else has a copy of it - signed or unsigned. After he had signed the photo and I had returned it to its folder John showed us the Gypsy Caravan belonging to Julian which was psychedelically painted by the person who had painted his Rolls Royce I admired his garden - Not down to me he replied - I know nothing about gardens - speak to George - he's the garden expert. At one point I introduced Maureen and Renate - Maureen was O.K. - she shook hands and said hello and told him he was very generous to spend this time with us. As for Renate - Renate naturally spoke fluent German and she also spoke fluent Oxford Class English but on this day - she could speak neither. The poor young girl was simply gob-smacked being so near to one of her idols. She just spluttered and splattered and could not utter one word - neither in English or German. We had been with him now for more than half an hour and at this point Maureen said to him "Would it be possible for me to have a souvenir of our visit please?". O.K. he said as he turned and went back into the house. I said to Maureen - You must be joking - The man has given us his time - what more could you want to remind you of this day? I won't forget today for as long as I live. You know, said Maureen - he might give me an ash tray, a tea cup, a saucer, an empty flower vase - something small just to remember him by. The Mind boggles was all I could say. John returned from the house holding a small bronze statuette which he gave to Maureen, saying 'Would you like this? As Maureen took the statuette from him I could clearly see the word
V E L L O inscribed around the base. Maureen let me hold the statue and I saw that the base had the inscription A N I V O R N O V E L L O A W A R D inscribed around it. There was a small metal plate with the inscription 'John Lennon' She's Leaving Home 1967' I held the statue out to him and said - Lennon - you can't give her this - you won this for your music - it's yours - you should keep it. He took the statue from me and gave it back to Maureen - 'Look, he said - it's only gathering dust inside the house and if she would like it - let her keep it" Maureen clasped the statue to her and there was no way she was going to part with it - it was hers. Thank you, Thank you John she said. I then took a photo of Maureen and John together with him handing the statue to Maureen. I took another photo of Renate and John together (That photo was later published in the Bravo magazine - a sort of German NME.) John, as you can see is wearing a white kaftan and Maureen has always commented on the crease in his slacks - me being in the Army - a crease in your slacks is noticed. Maureen took a photo of me and John but her hands shook so bad that it didn't come out. The photos were taken on a Rolleiflex 120 camera - which I still have though I have moved on to a NIKON Digital now. After leaving Kenwood we drove down to Ringo's house - about 200 yards away - Ringo was home but he wouldn't come out - he did sign Maureen's passport though (the currency exchange page) with "To Maureen with Love---Ringo Starr". It was a great day - one I will remember all my life.

Amazing stuff, I'm sure you'll agree. Once again, a great deal of gratitude goes to Richard for being so generous with his memories, not to mention setting it all down in such touching fashion. Cheers Richard.

4 comments:

  1. Wow!! What a great story. Thank you SO MUCH Richard for sharing it with us. I LOVE hearing stories of when someone has met a Beatle (obviously....since I have a blog devoted to the subject lol). And I have always wondered what the story was behind the woman and John with the trophy. I always thought the lady in the photo was giving John a trophy. I never would have guessed it was the other way around! Thanks again!

    Sara

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  2. Incredible! John seemed so down-to-Earth and generous. Only wish I could've met the man... It's a shame that Richard's picture with John didn't come up right! I mean he drove the car...and he asked if John was home...and oh well I guess you can't complain, he met the man! Thanks for sharing, Richard!

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