|You're approaching a big birthday, Cynthia. How do you feel about
"It's wonderful. Life begins at whatever age
is good for you, and 60 certainly seems as if it's going to be good
for me. Eight months ago I found myself finally on my own, which
may have been horrendous at the time, but has done me the greatest
favour. To be alone but not lonely, to be unburdened by responsibilities,
to have my own space - truly, it's the first time in my life I've
felt such freedom. It's brilliant.
I've never experienced it before because at 23,
I had a baby - Julian - to look after, and I then cared for my mother
when she had Alzheimer's disease. After that one marriage followed
another - Roberto Bassanini being the best of the three, because
the others were influenced too much by the Lennon legacy. So I never
knew how good independence could be."
How do you cope with solitude after continuously being with a
"You'd think to find yourself a lone later
on in life would be the cruelest blow. But it's probably the best
thing that's happened to me. Truly it is. All the dreams that you've
put on the back burner are suddenly there again. I feel as if all
my airwaves, brainwaves, and creativity have suddenly been opened.
"As for age, if I stop to think about it, 60
does sound awfully old. But honestly, if you have optimism, spirituality
and good health what does age matter? I haven't been to a doctor
You're still living near Cherbourg in France, in a beautiful old
"And I love it. I've made fantastic friends
to whom, thankfully, the name Lennon means nothing. To them I am
just me. But now I'm on my own, I'm thinking of moving to somewhere
smaller. I want a place that I can close up in winter so that I
can come to London for the buzz, for a bit of culture, for art classes,
salsa dancing and any other fun there is!"
Tell us something about your work as an artist.
"At last I'm painting for myself. God knows,
I haven't stopped working for the past 16 and a half years, but
I was painting not for me, but to earn a living. The Lennon name
was used beautifully so that I had contracts for textiles, paper
"Then when I went to Normandy two and half
years ago I decided that was the end of working commercially. I
was now going to paint. I've done a great deal, including a portrait
of Julian, and a Venus de Milo. At least I'm doing what I've wanted
to do forever."
In the past you were under financial pressure...
"Everybody seems to think that because you
have a name like Lennon the cash register is always ringing. But
it's never been like that for Julian or me. Thankfully now Julian
is doing well, and about time too.
"Hello! has already talked to Julia, John's
sister, who has had almost nothing from her brother's estate, and
until recently it was the same for Julian. The settlement he's now
had has made so much difference to our peace of mind."
And the big new for you is your new art exhibition. You're sharing
this show with an old Liverpool friend, Phyllis McKenszie.
"She's the classic artist and painter. I'm
an illustrator and this exhibition came up by pure chance.
"We've known each other since we were 12 and
we then went to Liverpool Art College together, where I met John.
Phyllis and I are like two peas in a pod. She was actually the one
who took me to hospital when Julian was born."
What are your memories of his birth?
"After three days on gas and air I was in a
terrible state. I remember a nurse saying with great Scouse urgency
at the very end: 'If you don't push now, gerrl, he's going to be
dead.' Not very nice, but it worked! It all seems such a lifetime
away now, but it was worth every ache, groan and anguish."
Tell us about your relationship with Julian now.
"It's just wonderful. He's the best. I get
phone calls from all over the world saying, 'Mum, can you just tell
me once again how to do your Yorkshire pudding. And tell me again
how to make Scouse (lamb stew) because I've left the recipe behind.'
"The first thing Julian wanted to do in life,
well, before he wanted to be an artist and then a musician, was
to be a chef. He'd come home and say 'Why don't you bake cakes like
my friends' mothers?' I'd say, 'Oh, Julian, go out and buy a Mary
Baker cake mix and do it yourself!'
"That started him off! By the time he was 13,
he'd disappear into the kitchen whenever we had visitors and emerge
with beautiful canapes. Now he thinks nothing of cooking for ten
or 15 people, and he does it so calmly.
"I feel I have to apologize for saying it more
than once, but my son is amazing. We have such an understanding.
It's no bullshit and I'm not being sugary or sentimental: he's just
turned out above and beyond my wildest dreams.
"When he was 17, I used to say 'Give him five
years'. Then as time went by, I'd say, 'Give him another five years.'
So you see, he's had his rough times and he's had a lot of learning
to do in life. But at 36 he's now grown into his own skin, I see
that he's happy and best of all he now has Lucy. He's arrived and
he's just, well, a gentleman!"
Yet when he was born John apparently said Julian was destined
to be a little rocker?
"That's true. Those were his first words. Some
of mine - the usual coochi-coo and sweet talk - Julian still has
on a tape we must have made when he was in his pram. It's lovely
to have that reminder of everyday happiness because ours was such
an abnormal marriage, John's and mine. Nothing was normal about
John's neglect of his firstborn son has been much documented.
Is there anything positive you can single out as a family memory?
"No really. To be perfectly honest, we were
too young. But who was to know then that The Beatles were going
to become the biggest thing since sliced bread? John was whisked
away from us so that he couldn't fulfill his father's role.
"I was proud of him, because I'd been there
right from the beginning, whilst John and the boys were still at
school and college. So it seemed wonderful what was happening to
them, but John just didn't have the time for us. It's as simple
as that. Six years' solid work and that was as long as our marriage
What were you doing throughout that time?
"I was keeping the home fires burning. I was
looking after Julian. I wanted to raise him with as much love as
possible and as much attention from his father as he could possibly
"All that mattered was for him to be a happy
little soul. Just to be a free spirit, and not to be too much influenced
by what was going on around him, like crazy parties, nightclubs
and drugs. I tried to protect him from the little bit of lunacy
that was going on at the time. Hopefully I represented the normal
in his life."
© 1999 Hello Magazine