"a guitar's all right John,"

John Lennon's boyhood home, a modest 1930s semi-detached just outside of Liverpool's center, has opened to the public with an English Heritage plaque on its facade. It's now a museum. Yoko Ono bought the house in 2001 and donated it to the National Trust. It's a sweet news story, but then, we expected that.

In 1945, when he was five, three years after his parents were divorced and with his father long at sea, his mother had decided her bohemian life with a new boyfriend was unsuitable for raising a child and John was put in the care of his uncle and aunt.

Uncle George died in 1955, and Aunt Mimi became the disciplinarian who tried to rein in the increasingly restive John. Ms. Ono said that one of Aunt Mimi's habits — prying into her nephew's diaries and notebooks — ended up contributing to his art. "He thought it was as if Mimi was looking over his shoulder, and so he started to write in gobbledygook, and he used to say that's how surrealism first got into his work," Ms. Ono said.

[The house] was sold in 1965, after Mr. Lennon bought a bungalow for his aunt on the English Channel coast at Poole in Dorset. For her new home, he gave her a stone tablet inscribed with a quote of hers that he wanted her never to forget.

It read, "A guitar's all right John, but you'll never earn a living by it."

More information, with more pictures, is available on the Trust's website. And on that site, Yoko describes the house, called Mendips: "This is the house where John did all his dreaming about his future, about the future of the world…and the rest is history!"

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Published on May 6, 2003 12:23 PM.

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