Julian Lennon and his Mother Cynthia

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Julian and Cynthia Lennon

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You have spent quite considerable sums on buying back your father's former possessions, like his Afghan coat and velvet cape, when they've come up for sale.

"I've tried to secure some material possessions of Dad's not only to pass down to my children so they will know their history and their heritage, but also again for the rest of the family in England. I think they deserve something of him and his life."

While your dad was alive you made the occasional visit to New York. How were you received?

"It was a little cold, a little odd and tense to say the least. It was very interesting in that it was almost like a good cop, bad cop. Yoko Ono would play the good person when Dad was moody or just not in the mood. She'd try to keep things smooth but we never really got close, Dad and I. She and I chatted a lot and there were times we got on OK. But that was at a point, again, when to a certain degree I felt I had to be nice."

Since John grew up without a father of his own, is it possible that he just didn't know how to be a dad to you? 

"Quite possibly. I think it was all too much for him. And The Beatles' success was too much too soon in many respects. What happened career-wise was an explosive moment in his life. Then finding out what it meant to have a wife and kids as well...I don't think he could deal with the responsibility. He wanted to have fun, is what he would say." 

CYNTHIA: "I think it was that he didn't have the time more than wanting fun. I understood that he came home from touring shattered. I also understood that he had a son who needed his Daddy and a wife who needed her husband. But because you love a person you acquiesce to the situation."

Julian, how have you managed to get over the anger of that disappointing relationship with John?

"I still feel angered by it, but I understand to a certain degree why he was the way he was."

What can you say about your half-brother Sean, his son by Yoko Ono?

"Only that I love him dearly. I did do a bit of babysitting in the old days. After Dad's death Yoko couldn't deal with telling Sea. I flew over as soon as I heard that Dad had died. I was 17 but she was asking me, 'How do I tell him?' I gave what advice I could I was there to try to help as best as possible." 

CYNTHIA: "I met Sean once, at John's Aunt Mimi's funeral. Yoko was there with him. After the service, which was very fraught, we all went on to a hotel for a buffet. As a teenager with his cigarette and his wine, Sean was having a ball with his newfound relatives. 

"Yoko sat next to me lighting one long brown Sherman cigarette after the other, which she'd puff on and instantly put out. She said to me, 'You've done such a wonderful job with Julian. How do you do it? What am I going to do with Sean?' 

"I said, 'But, Yoko, it's all about love, it's about companionship and nurturing. It's simple.'"

Julian, does the lack of a good role model in John worry you when you think about being a father yourself?

"Not at all, because the one thing he did teach me was how not to be a father. I've learned from his mistakes, and through the years from friends and the people around me as I've grown up. I've witnessed what does and does not destroy relationships. I've made sure I understand that against the time when, one day, I may wish to have a family." 

CYNTHIA: "I think that Julian is the son who would, had John lived, have ended up teaching the father. And it's very sad that he isn't here. On the other hand, if he had still been here it may be - and this is a terrible thing to say - that John would have ended up overshadowing Julian." 

JULIAN: "I know what you mean. It would have been very weird, just knowing roughly what Dad is like in his work, and knowing his insecurities, I think he might not have liked me doing well. That was one of his problems."

What do the Beatles mean to you?

JULIAN: "I would have to say, not with bias, but from an artist's viewpoint, that they were one of the best if not the best in the world at what they did. I haven't listened to them for years because everybody else plays it a lot, you even get the elevator version of their songs. 

"It used to happen a lot in America that I'd walk into a bar or restaurant and they'd put The Beatles on expressly just to see if I was who they thought I was. I learned pretty quickly to remain stone-faced so they didn't have a clue."

It's hard to imagine just how it feels to live in such an all-eclipsing shadow of a famous father.

"Which is why the seven-year hiatus I've had has been very much a time of reshaping and rethinking my life. After I decided to quite the business - whether forever or for a while I wasn't sure at the time - I decided I wasn't a happy camper, and that I needed to sit down and resolve the many problems I had, both professional and emotional. 

"That means a lot of thinking, sifting through all my experience and recognizing what I did and did not want in my life. I had to unbottle and get a lot out of my system. It was a task I had to do almost entirely alone. A lot of my present resolve has come from writing down in black and white the positives and negatives in my life and literally striking out what I was never going to do again. It was a bit like putting your life through a sieve and letting the bad bits drop away."

And in the end, it seems you found that your name doesn't have to be your destiny?

CYNTHIA: "Not anymore it doesn't. By strange synchronicity I was going through the same processes as Julian at the very same time." 

JULIAN: "I refuse to be what other people want me to be. I've got to follow my own heart and my own destiny. I've finally made the decision to do that and be happy. I think in the end it was as simply as deciding to be so." 

CYNTHIA: "Ditto."

Julian and Cynthia Lennon

What do you think the future holds?

CYNTHIA: "The future is tomorrow, tonight, you never know what's around the corner. But I'd like to have the best of both worlds, the culture and the art and the buzz of England as well as the tranquility of France. And I would love to be painting, talking, enjoying friends - the simple life is all that's necessary now, because everything else has been so complicated. But it's taken many years to find out just how simple the good life is." 

JULIAN: "For my part, I'm going to follow through with the drama I've promised myself: the house in Italy, a stable life. Music's still incredibly important to me, but not at the expense of love, friendship and creativity. There will be a cookbook and painting and sculpture and maybe a book of photograph with poetry. But it will all be done along with enjoying the non-materialistic aspects of life, like being surrounded by friends, walking in the countryside or along a beach. 

"One of the great things is that I'm now not afraid anymore. If life is a game, then I'm playing it by my rules at last. And I'm holding the best possible cards."