Imagine if We Did

John Lennon seems to be around at the moment. I watched him singing’ Imagine’ on George-B’s blog EuCaSia and read about him quoting his mother on happiness at onthehomefrontandbeyond.

He was never my favourite back then in Beatle-mad times. My teenage cousin who used to come and stay with me in the holidays from her boarding school, introduced  them to me.

I was bogged down with two tinies under two, no washing machine, boiling and rinsing the nappies by hand, drying them one by one in front of the fire, since they froze solid if I hung them out in the bitter cold, and was an exhausted slave to housework in the very large rented 15th  century manor house that we lived in.  My brilliantly intelligent and flighty young cousin produced Norwegian Wood, which as someone who lived and breathed Vivaldi and Bach, Beethoven and the rest, I looked on with some suspicion.

I let her use my gramophone, and bingo – their energy and zest for life kick-started me. ‘ Michelle, ma belle’ … ‘I wanna hold your haaaand’ … I could hardly bear to let her go back to school taking the record with her. I loved their exuberance, their cheekiness, their vitality – and their music. Eventually I could afford my own records, and acquired the rest as they came out. I waited longingly for Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, by then an increasingly depressed housewife in Hongkong. The Beatles and Bob Dylan brightened my life…

I could never see what people saw in Paul, apart from a cheeky charm, and amazing talent. Ringo, of course was not a heart throb – was he? John Lennon… I found him rather brash and tough, but George – now we’re talking. Tall, handsome, withdrawn and interesting, and very nice waistcoats. Above all it was his interest in the spiritual life that drew me to him.

Then along came Ono. Perhaps if none of them had married, they’d still be together, but being the men they were, both Paul and John married powerful, talented interesting women, who changed the whole dynamic of the group.

Like Linda McCartney, Ono was an artist in her own right, though I’ve never understood her art. She’s won countless prizes over the years since John’s death, the last one this year, being the Oscar Kokoschka Prize, Austria’s highest award for contemporary art. Her achievements are too numerous to name, and her awards are for her genius in merging pop art with avant garde. That may make sense to some people, but it’s double dutch to me. The one thing I do understand was her concept of the wishing tree, a beautiful idea which has now spread.

When Ono met John, she was seven years older than him, born in 1933. She had already been married twice, and had had a daughter who’d been kidnapped by her American father and who Ono never found until the daughter was grownup. Ono came from an aristocratic Japanese family, descended on her father’s side from the Emperors of Japan.  During the war when her father was separated from the family, her mother and her siblings became destitute. They survived the fire – bombing of Tokyo, and fled to the mountains where they bartered their remaining possessions for food.

After the war, when the family were re-united, Ono went to the exclusive peers school in Tokyo, and shared a classroom with Prince Akahito, now the Emperor of Japan. When the family moved to the US she attended Sarah Lawrence College. She’d already had exhibitions and performed when she and John got together.

Before their marriage and their famous lie-ins for peace, they had had a turbulent on-off relationship, and they both underwent primal therapy, which is usually a life-changing process. Ono was never going to be a star-struck wife. When she became pregnant she agreed to have the baby if John became a house husband so that she could get on with her career. He did. He gave up his music and spent five years looking after his baby son.

When I watch him singing ‘Imagine,” it’s like watching a different person to the brash young Beatle who repelled me. His face is lean and calm, chiselled by profound inner experience. Five years away from the screaming crowds, the insane  celebrity, the constant performing; five years devoted to being at home with a baby who needed him; five years in which he had lived an inner life, had given his face the purity of an early Christian ascetic.

Watching him sing’ Imagine’, with deep conviction and a commitment to the peace of the world,  is like watching someone singing a sacred song. Which it was, and is. His haunting plangent tones and inspired words go straight to the hearts of all who are open to that longing for peace on earth.

Seeing him sing, and seeing that inner light emanating from him, makes me feel that his death was not untimely, or a cutting off of his talents. In hindsight, he seemed to have reached a point where he had done what he had come to do – used his talents for mankind, and discovered inner peace for himself.

The ones who perhaps suffered the most were his children. Ono took up with an antiques dealer four months after John’s death, in a stable relationship that lasted until 2001, and has continued on her stellar path. Her commitment to peace has never wavered.  And for us –  ‘Imagine,’ is still the prayer of so many of us too.


Food for Threadbare Gourmets

Still thinking broccoli, it’s so cheap and plentiful at the moment. I use it for a light lunch, and this dish is a lovely easy one to serve to a few girls with hot rolls and a glass of wine… followed by good coffee and a nice pudding or piece of cake.

Break the broccoli into sprigs and steam. At the same time put two cups of cream into a saucepan, and break into it pieces from two of those segments of sharp blue cheese – Danish or similar. Stir all the time until the cheese is melted and amalgamated.  It’s quite nice with a few small lumps of cheese left in it. Just pour this over the fresh steamed broccoli. This is plenty for two, double the quantities for four. It’s good to have the rolls to mop up any sauce left over. It can also be re-heated. I’ve even dropped a left- over dollop into broccoli soup.

Food for Thought

This thought is dedicated to Maggie at and her devoted readers will know why:                                  Long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks it was called witchcraft. Today it’s called golf.                                                             Cherokee Indian, cowboy, entertainer, newspaper columnist, film star. Died when his plane crashed in 1935







Filed under bloggers, cookery/recipes, culture, great days, music, spiritual, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life

44 responses to “Imagine if We Did

  1. Those of us who lived through the 1960’s will always remember the moment we were introduced to John Lennon. Those amazing 1960’s! I look back and smile wistfully at the exuberance of youth: the sit-ins, the floppy hats, the music, civil rights, and women’s lib – the steady march towards the future. A couple of Halloweens ago, my husband and I went out for dinner. All the waiters were in costume. Our waiter came as a “hippy.” We still are remembered!!! Our contribution was built on the past and I know the next generation will carry on the tradition. One of my favourite quotes by John Lennon captures his purpose: “My role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.”


  2. Wow! You have just taken me down memory lane and I will be singing those wonderful songs the rest of the night, especially, “Imagine”. Those were hard, difficult years for you and this music was magic.I learned a lot that I didn’t know…thanks to your following them so closely.


  3. Ah-h-h! The 60s! What a memorable era…the one that was and never will be again! Those of us who grew up in that era are truly the fortunate ones. Sure it had its ups and downs but that’s life…there is no perfect road. Thank you for the wonderful trip down memory lane. ‘Imagine’ will always be a part of life with wishful thinking that one day…just imagine…one day things might be different.


  4. Yes, it was a magic time of hope, back then, wasn’t it. But I still think those hopes are possible, and that maybe we are approaching such a crunch point that we’ll have to change….


  5. I really love reading about your experiences, Valerie. I’ve never been a huge Beatles fan, to be honest—I was born after their heyday, just before they split up—but I definitely agree that George was the handsomest. I always liked him. Paul never did it for me, Ringo just seemed goofy, and John seemed to me to be not such a nice person. But I’ve always respected his vision of peace.


    • Madame, excuse my tardy reply, am in my usual muddle with messages… Don’t know how you keep up with all yours…
      Thank you so much for commenting….I felt just the same as you about them all, but could forgive them anything for their music!.
      I feel deep sympathy for you that you missed the sixties!!!!.


  6. I was just slightly too young to Get the Beatles. I grew up by the beach in napier and my mother played classical music all day, dad even built huge speakers into the ceiling, so we could get the full sound. i mean huge .. in those days the speakers were three or four foot square. So for us it was either the Sea or The Bumblebee.. or swan lake.. or porgy and bess.. sadly I missed the Beatles… the beatles had peaked and I had missed them.. what to do.. c


  7. of course I missed the eighties as well, i had so many bloody children that music just never happened in my house.. just the music of babies! what to do.. c


  8. Imagine “and the world will live as one”


  9. Michele Seminara

    Thanks Valerie, fascinating, I didn’t know all this about Ono!


  10. love the history you provided – very interesting, and I, like you, liked mysterious George


  11. Such a wonderful read, as always. Makes me wonder… where did the time go? Seems like Yesterday…..


  12. Amy

    John’s “Imagine” makes me teary every time I listen to the song… even when it plays round my mind. Thank you for the story of John!


  13. I love broccoli and so do my guineapigs and then it becomes expensive. I still buy it though because I always feel better for having eaten it than when I don’t.


  14. Wonderful post Valerie, as always. The world wouldn’t be the same without the fab four. They were very much a part of my life, I think I know most of the songs by heart. Perhaps you’re right that John’s death was not such a tragedy, but I can’t help but think what other things he could have given the world. I hope his killer never gets paroled.



  15. thoughtsfromanamericanwoman

    I caught the tail end of the Beatles era..but their music still lives on in all of us, especially John Lennon. Thank you for that history on Ono though, I never knew her background. My mother survived war torn Europe so it makes me see her in a new light, not only as a strong woman but a survivor. I will add I was probably one of the few that did not hold her responsible for the breakup.


    • Yes, a strong strange woman.. who I think has been vilified by people who are prejudiced and don’t know the facts – Good to hear from you…


      • thoughtsfromanamericanwoman

        It was probably her strength that prejudiced many people against her…sadly I still see it today with strong women.


      • valeriedavies

        yes, you are so right… the Australian Prime Minister has been really up against male chauvinism in the last few days – but she’s trounced them !!!

        The clip of her ” disembowelling” as they’ve called it, the leader of the opposition has been going the rounds, it’s so powerful!


  16. Congrats on your award! My mom was a huge Lennon fan. The last year I lived at home I remember her lighting a candle on his birthday and playing Beatles songs and ‘Imagine’. I guess hearing ‘Imagine’ will always make me think of her, and what she believed in as well.


  17. Your mother sounds a sweetie, Gwen, and a lovely person, – thank you for commenting, good to hear from you


  18. That was a brilliant post from which I learned about John Lennon (I didn’t know he was his son’s main carer) and, as we are from the same era, travelled down memory lane too. I like your idea that JL accomplished what he was meant to.
    ‘Imagine’ was sung by a very good friend at my Mum’s funeral and every day I wear a tiny silver nugget on which is written ‘Imagine’.
    The new recipe sounds very tasty and the quotation as always one to savour, especially as it took me to and I am now following. I love the humour that I found there! Thank you 🙂


    • What a beautiful comment Sally, I shall add ‘ Imagine’ to the very long list I’m planning to be played at my funeral, which includes the last movement of both Beethoven and Schubert’s Ninth Symphonies among other goodies!
      How lovely that you wear your little silver nugget.. beautiful habits like that add the good energy of the world I always feel.
      Yes, Maggie is delicious at somethingfat… isn’t she? Another very funny one full of very biting wit and sardonic humour, which has sometimes had me shrieking with laughter is Madame Weeblies – think I’ve got that right…


    • PS It should have been Madame Weebles at fearnoweebles. wordpress etc


  19. Love the post. “Imagine” is a sacred song.


  20. prayingforoneday

    Your thoughts on John sitting at that Piano singing in the video, at peace, at ease, in love, I share. Amazing how feelings from a song can inspire the very same feelings on people separated by countries, many miles and cultures.

    It amazes me as much as this blog did.
    just wow

    Shaun xx

    Blogging for peace.


    • Dear Shaun, what a thrill that you enjoyed the Lennon blog… it meant a lot to me writing it, and it’s really lovely that you appreciated it. I signed the Bloggers for Peace some time ago, but am so technologically incompetent that I couldn’t handle putting up the logo. I try to do my bit by writing about peace in many different ways… Peace to you, and warm wishes, Valerie


      • prayingforoneday

        I have not been here for that long, and meeting people like you is a real pleasure. Also meeting people who have the same morals and values amazes me. Other cultures, people from all over the world (No laughing now lol) I have a fear of flying started when I was a child till now in my late 30’s, so the world is a huge place for me still. I have never left mainland Britain, seldom leave Scotland. So coming here and reading about how other people live, how the write, what they say is brilliant.
        The common theme however is, although many are from foreign soil, it amazes me how like minded most of us are.

        And same warm wishes to you also.
        I think we can all do a little to help make our world a better place. One blog, one song, one saying, one comment at a time. We can do it.



  21. prayingforoneday

    I hope this is ok. This is “Playing for change” singing Imagine. People all over the planet, coming together to sing and play instruments, all with one goal. Peace! x

    Again I hope this was ok.
    I love when we can share. This group AMAZE me. They do lots of songs. Watch till the end, small surprise.

    Shaun x


    • Dear Shaun,
      Thank you so much for sending this enchanting video, I’ve played it several times, and as you say surprise at the end… it was so unexpected, and that I was caught by surprise yet again, at that incredible refinement and spirituality in John’s face – so very moving in the light of what happened.
      And so different to the brash and arrogant young man of earlier times…
      As you said in your other comment, one by one, we can make a difference – and it thrills me that so many bloggers feel the same
      Peace, Valerie


      • prayingforoneday

        Glad you enjoyed it. And yeah, one blog, one song, one speech at a time. This is our land, our home. they are slowly taking over. We need to do something.
        John tried with the peace movement. And he died in its name. I really do believe that. He was “oft” as they say in the UK…

        Thanks again.


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