published: 21 /
In this 1985 archival interview the late Cynthia Lennon talks to Nick Dent-Robinson about her marriage to John Lennon and the Beatles
Quietly, in a scenic corner of the North of England well away from the traditional tourist trails, lives a lady with a past more closely chronicled than that of almost anyone of her generation. The family name is famous throughout the western world but the lady and her son, who visits her whenever he can, live unpretentiously, attracting no more than friendly interest from the local Cumbrian farming community.
At 45, Cynthia Lennon has settled happily into a rambling old house known as “The Grange” – formerly the home of the local family doctor – which forms a base for her three new careers as well as a relaxing hideaway for her son Julian between hectic recording sessions and American tour dates.
Looking a very attractive and young 45, Cynthia chatted happily for almost an hour about how much she loved her new home.
“There have been some very tough times, but now I am very happy, contented and settled,” said the lady who went from a run-down art student’s apartment at £15 a month to a heady jetset lifestyle in the Beatlemania days of the Sixties.
Now she delights in the tranquility of life in her small community deep in the beautiful Cumbrian countryside and is enjoying the first summer in the grey stone house with the man she now shares her life and work with, Jim Christie.
In July they threw open their well-tended country garden for an old world English garden party to help raise funds for the local community hall. They broke all previous records.
“I’m having a great time, I’m so lucky to have come to the kind of peace of mind I have now. I didn’t expect it four years ago,” Cynthia explains.
In those years there was the grief over John’s death, the worries over Julian’s future and what to do with her own life after two further broken marriages. There was also the sorrow of seeing her ageing mother deteriorate.
“But suddenly I was free to move house and put my life together after feeling as though it was split into so many pieces.”
She admits to feeling tremendously proud of Julian’s success. And sad that John, and her mother, cannot share it. “John would have approved so much. Because – despite what some people have said and written – Julian did make his success on his own; he did much of it against my advice and without the help of friends of his father in the rock music world. John would have liked that.”
But to Cynthia the move north has brought a new life, a fresh confidence. “I’ve had marvellous friends to see me through the bad patches, and now I feel as though I’m doing something positive and using all the talent that John was always trying to make me use in the days when Julian was a baby.” Wistfully, suddenly looking away through the large window to the large back yard where Julian was digging up some of his mother’s home grown vegetables for lunch, Cynthia went on, “You know it’s strange, I still feel so close to John. For a while I went through a stage of trying to lay his ghost but now I’ve come to accept it. I shall always be grateful for having been able to share some of my life with him. His was such a powerful influence but, far more than people imagine, it was an influence for good. I know John would be pleased to see me using my artistic ability now.”
The house is packed with all the bits and pieces she has gathered over the years, from the early days in Liverpool to the world trips. Family mementoes are everywhere. “I hang on to all my memories. They go everywhere with me,” she explains as she shows me some of the crazier gifts from John and Julian. Most of Julian’s time is spent in America, and she and Jim were able to spend a week with him in Los Angeles during his tour. Cynthia was in America to keep a promise to help promote what she feels may be the most honest account yet of John Lennon’s life, 'John Winston Lennon', by British author Ray Coleman.
At last Cynthia Lennon has created a comfortable, cosy new family home, cleverly renovated on a modest budget, where she and her friend Jim can work or relax and where Julian can join them. She walks by the nearby River Eden, occasionally climbs the distant mountains and she enjoys infrequent shopping expeditions to the nearby market town of Penrith. She and Jim and Julian are already quietly accepted by the down-to-earth folk in this small country community. There is a real serenity about her now.
A happy end to a long and winding road, perhaps …
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