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, 28 June 2011

Kenwood: in Wonderland.


Jonathan Miller's Alice in Wonderland was broadcast by the BBC on December 28th, 1966. It's a safe bet that John was watching, given his love of the source material, and a cast filled with people he knew, such as Peter Cook, Leo McKern and Wilfred Brambell (not to mention the score by Ravi Shankar).
His opinion of it, however, I know not.


The film emphasises the absurd, chimerical qualities of Lewis Carroll's narrative, and presents a disturbed child's eye view of bewildering "adult" mores.


Alice wanders around in a literal dream, questioning both her own identity, and the house of cards qualities evident in the society she encounters. John, as ye must know, was at the height of his acid gobbling phase around this period, and the enervated, dark, funny if disturbing imagery must have struck a note in him.


It's perhaps of interest that Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was written soon after. Also possibly noteworthy that John spent a great deal of money in 1964 and early '65 paying for Ken Partridge's interior design at Kenwood, only to rip most of it out at some later point, for some later reason.


Not that I'm suggesting anything, like.

Mendips: back garden, 1979 & now.


You can, of course, now visit Mendips, and note for yourself the notably mock-Tudor view from John's old bedroom. One bit that remains off-limits (at least as far as an unaccompanied "shufti" goes), however, is the back garden. Above, a photo from circa 1979, showing the big tree there, upon which John once did squat, apparently.
From a slightly different angle, the same location these days:


The garden doesn't look much like it did back in the Mimi-era apparently (again), though there are currently attempts to put that right. I hope that a proper stroll round it is incorporated into the tour once that has been completed. Incidentally, a trip to the auld hoose is highly recommended, if you haven't already done so (and even if you have).
The tour, though a little on the short side, is excellent, and, best of all, you are given a few minutes at the end to wander round the house at will; John would, apparently (yet again), be very careful when going up the stairs at night, generally having come in a bit the worse for wear, not to wake Mimi by treading on those floorboards of a squeaky disposition: noting which these are, or humming a few bars of Slayer in the front porch provide considerable amusement.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Penny Lane: then unt now.


I've long had it in mind to do an "appreciation" of the Penny Lane promo film, but the more I went into it, the longer it became, and the longer it became, the less sense it made, even to me. Thusly and thankfully, instead here are a few sundry bits and pieces on a theme of drivel about Penny Lane.
The film opens with a shot of John walking on the King's Road in Chelsea, at Markham Square; here's the same spot now:


He walks up and down what is a short length of pavement, probably in an attempt to convey John "on the street" (or in this case "Lane" though in fact it's a "Road" next to a "Square")(see what I "mean"?) observing the various "items" detailed in the lyric. Why John and not Paul? I don't know. Why this particular short stretch of the King's Road? Again I don't know, but Mary Quant's shop Bazaar was on the corner, as was the restaurant Alexander's, both frequented by the Beatles, so maybe it had something to do with that; somewhere John could hide between takes, possibly.
Here he is walking in the other direction, and again, ein now:


There's some messing about with horses etc, which has been covered on this blog at revolting length elsewhere, but here's something I've never seen explained: The naughtiest line in the song is, of course, the one about fish and finger pie. (I recently saw a Liverpool guide to Beatles sites attempting to pass this off as a reference to the local chip shop. Which in a sense it probably was. And in another sense, most definitely wasn't, as some of you may even have experienced.)
Ver thing is, at ver equivalent point in ver film, there are close ups of ver lads, three of whom are clearly saying something into ver camera, and judging by ver expressions on ver faces of ver lads, it may well be something related. I can say no more that that. Except, to say more than that, cutting film in the pre-digital age was a painstaking process; that bit of film is there at that point for a reason.
Right, Johnny?:


Riiight. A "potential" alternative to the above, given that related shots of various locales around Penny Lane itself feature prominently in the film, might have been the terraced house at 73 Lidderdale Road, in the Penny Lane area:


Any of you who have read Pete Shotton's amusing and informative tome will recall the scenes of youthful sexual misadventure involving John, Pete and their then girlfriends, which occurred in the then front room at this very address, the then home of Shotton's then girlfriend (then later wife) Beth. There may well have been fish (and then chips).
Moving on, the shelter in the middle of a roundabout was a common hangout for John and cronies during his yoot. It was later turned into a "bistro" (whatever that is - something to do with the 1970's, I gather):


Here's how it looks now (ie derelict):


There is movement, however; the day I was there the inside was being cleared:


The Barber showing etc etc etc, still there too, though no longer Bioletti:


Finally, finally, something of more interest: The Old Dutch Cafe; Pete Shotton worked (or possibly "worked" but let's give him the benefit of any doubt) here, and it was a regular stopping off point for the Beatles on their way home from gigs at the Cavern and elsewhere, mainly because it stayed open late and Pete would, I daresay, have given them stuff for free. The cafe was within grogging (later "grooving", then back to grogging, followed by mugging and now stabbing) distance of central Penny Lane, and, although long gone, somewhat remarkably, the sign remains:


Nice!
Now go about yer business.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Kenwood: more drive, 1967.


More "fannage", in the drive at Kenwood, summer, 1967. "Fannage", I tell you. "Fannage".

Kenwood: sunroom, June 29, 1967.


Yet another June 29 French seamstress pic, in the sunroom, of course. That makes five, so far, and surely not many more...

Southport Road, Scarisbrick: Water Werks.


One thing not usually included in John's list of achievements is "labourer", and yet a labourer he was, for a whole month in 1959, at the none-more-prosaic Scarisbrick Water Works. Reason for leaving, amusingly, given simply as "Unsuitable":


Indeed so, I would have thought.