Julian Lennon and his Mother Cynthia

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>Julian & Cynthia LennonJulian & Cynthia Lennon
Julian has come through years of doubt and reflection to make a new start. Music remains a key part of his life:
he's formed his own label and released a single, due out here later this year. He's also set up a film company
producing environmental features. And that's not the end of his creative talents: "Music might give me a couple of 
hits a year but in cooking I can get three hits a day!" he jokes. The icing on his cake is of course fiancée Lucy.

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You're approaching a big birthday, Cynthia. How do you feel about being 60?

"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 partner?

"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 for years."

You're still living near Cherbourg in France, in a beautiful old seaside cottage.

"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 products. 

"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."

Julian and Cynthia Lennon

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 it."

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 lasted."

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 get. 

"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."

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