Aunt Mimi Smith, Bournemouth, 1970

QUESTION: What do you really think of the Beatles?

MIMI SMITH: The boys had talent, yes, but they also had a lot of luck as well. When they first played "Love Me Do" I didn't think much of it.

QUESTION: How did you view the troubles the Beatles have been going through these last few years?

SMITH: I don't know all this business between John and Paul is about and I don't dare ask John. I did ring Paul about it, and he told me things would straighten up. The boys have been friends so long. I remember them coming home from school together on their bikes, begging biscuits. I'm sure they'll get back together soon. This uis just a phase they're passing through.

QUESTION: These days your nephew is very involved in a variety of social, political, and avant-garde causes. How do you feel about that?

SMITH: I've just quit reading the papers these days. Apple sends me his records, but I won't play them. And I've asked my friends not to tell me about them. The shameful album cover and that [erotic] art show of his. He's been naughty and the public doesn't like it, and he's sorry for it. Now he wants sympathy. That's why he's come out with all these fantastic stories about an unhappy childhood. It's true that his mother wasn't there and there was no father around, but my husband and I gave him a wonderful home. John didn't buy me these furnishings, my husband did. John, Paul, and George wrote many songs together sitting on the sofa you're sitting on now, long before you'd ever heard of the Beatles. Why, John even had a pony when he was a little boy! He certainly didn't come from a slum! None of the boys did. The Harrisons weren't as well off as the other families, perhaps, but George wasn't from a slum, either, the way the press had it. And that's why you never saw photographs of John's boyhood home. We certainly weren't imperished, the way John's talking now?

QUESTION: What do you think changed John so much from his early days as a carefree kid?

SMITH: She's responsible for all this, Yoko. She changed him, and I'm sure she and Linda are behind the split between John and Paul. Cynthia was such a nice girl. When she and John were in art college, she'd come to my house and say, "Oh, Mimi, what am I going to do about John?" She'd sit there until he came home. Cynthia really pursued him. He'd walk up the road and back until she got tired of waiting and went home. I think he was afraid of her, actually.

QUESTION: You realize, of course, that to many people John is something of a political leader with such songs as, "Power to the People," for example ...

SMITH: Don't talk to me about such things! I know that boy. He doesn't know what he's saying! It's all an act. If there were a revolution, John would be the first in the queue to run! Why, he's scared to death of things like that! That's Yoko talking, not John! Yoko is not exactly right in the head. Everytime John does something bad and gets his picture in the papers he rings up to smooth me over. See that new color television? It was a Christmas present, but he had it delivered early. A big present arrives every time he's been naughty. I usually have a huge photograph of John hanging in the lounge. When he's a good boy, it'll go back up again!