I’ve just returned from The Beatles Story’s White Feather: The Spirit of Lennon press launch at The Beatles Story Pier Head, where Julian Lennon gave the closest thing to an interview he’s provided in years.
Lennon and mother Cynthia were answering questions on the exhibition, created with mementos and artifacts they’ve largely collected themselves over the years.
A such it’s an intriguing and invaluable insight into a man frequently described as ‘difficult’ and ‘infuriating’ – it’s hard not to come to the conclusion having read various accounts of John Lennon that these were not simply euphemisms for ‘nasty piece of work’.
Of course, behind every nasty piece of work is often a rather vulnerable character, and the anecdotes and notes from the Lennons paint a portrait of John as a man equally difficult and easy to love.
• Image by Dave Evans
They go beyond what one might generally expect to see at an exhibition: beyond the Beatles memorabilia; beyond the obvious stories; beyond myth and legend.
I admired the fact that a lot of that extremely personal memorabilia had been thrown open to the public, and Julian claimed that nothing had been left out that was deemed of interest for those reasons.
Of particular interest to me were a picture of John holding a very young Julian looking like nothing more or less than a scal, and the origins of the White Feather Foundation – the story of which is oddly touching.
Elsewhere in the exhibition is a clip of John from That Was The Week That Was reading a poem of his; Macca’s notes for Hey Jude; and a handwritten photo album by Cynthia, the latter especially intriguing.
I felt rather sorry for Julian at the Q&A, assailed as he was by a number of questions you’d blush at asking a close friend. But he shrugged it off and gave frank, self-deprecating and amusing answers.
Perhaps the exhibition serves as a final conclusion to a difficult part of the man’s life, a coming-to-terms and a farewell to the father with whom he had such a troubled relationship.
A friend of mine was once curator at Mendips – John’s early home in Allerton – which is now kitted out in the decor and furnishings of the time. It was interesting, but rather theme park-y and vaguely pointless.
Yoko Ono bought the house and donated it to the National Trust, but had insisted on having the final say about the way things looked. This was absurd, as she had never visited the house when John was young.
As such, the White Feather exhibition is much more valuable as a document of John’s early life, and I admired Julian and Cynthia for creating it, along with their obvious bond.
• Image by Sakura