Thursday, December 09, 2010

'There are places I remember...'

John Lennon died 30 years ago today, shot by Mark Chapman outside The Dakota Building in New York. He was 40 years old.

It is said that everyone who was old enough can remember the moment that they found out that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. Maybe for people of my generation Lennon's death is in a similar category, and I can certainly remember where I was...

It was a very cold morning - maybe our central heating had gone wrong? - and I was reluctantly getting ready to go to work. I'd started at the E.M.I. factory in Ruislip only a few months earlier, and had quickly realised that the world of 'conventional' work was a very real threat to my sanity. I stumbled downstairs and into our kitchen where my mum was sitting having breakfast with the radio on. (No Breakfast Television in those days!) Before I'd even said hello to her she looked at me sadly and said 'something terrible's happened - John Lennon's been shot'. 'What?' was my confused reply, before I made an exclamation along the lines of 'ARRRGGGHHH!'

My right big toe was caught in a mousetrap.

We had a mouse in the house at the time (fairly obviously!) and I was walking around with no shoes or socks on. Well we all do, don't we?

I went to work in a daze. (Actually I often did, but that's another story!) So - Lennon's dead and I feel like I've got a broken toe. Not a good start to the day. When I got there one of the women came up to me and said something along the lines of 'you like music don't you? That John Lennon bloke's been shot hasn't he? Good. Me and my husband hated him, all that peace rubbish and that weird Japanese bird. The World's a better place without him'.
I though for a second or two about how many times I'd had to listen to her bleating on about how she thought that 'Hitler was right about a lot of things' and other such right wing drivel, then gave the rather non-committal reply of 'it's a pity it wasn't you and your husband that been shot, then the World really would have been a better place' before shouting 'I'm going home' indiscriminately across the office. My boss immediately threatened me with the sack, to which I replied 'like I care'. And, at that moment, I didn't.

I walked (hopped?) back along the High Street in a different daze. I heard 'Strawberry Fields Forever' playing in Lightning Records, went in and stood there listening - what a voice, and what a song. As it ended I looked around - there were several more people just standing there, listening. One of them was crying.
I just played it again now - what a voice, and what a song. And what a man, and what a loss. I didn't think the World was a better place without him then, and I don't think it is now. Dr. Winston O'Boogie, fab forever.

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