Remembering John, 1983

QUESTION: How do you remember your nephew?

MIMI SMITH: John liked to run along the sands. Sometimes I imagine I see him. Is it him? I like to think it is.

QUESTION: Why is it that you raised John instead of your sister, Julia?

SMITH: Do you believe in fate? Because I knew the moment I saw John in that hospital that I was the one to be his mother and not Julia. Does that sound awful? It isn't, really, because Julia accepted it as something perfectly natural. She used to say, "You're his real mother. All I did was give birth ..." I brought him up from a few weeks old until he was twenty-one. My husband George adored John just as though he were his own son. And like all dads he spoiled him. Sometimes when John had done something wrong, and I sent him up to his room, I'd find George creeping upstairs with the Beano, John's favorite comic, and a bar of chocolate.

QUESTION: Did John ever have it tough asa child?

SMITH: All this talk about John's hard upbringing in a Liverpool slum is a fantasy. He wasn't pampered, but he had the best of everything we could provide.

QUESTION: To what do you attribute his early interest in music?

SMITH: I couldn't understand it. He was such a nicely spoken boy, attending church three times on Sunday of his own free will in the church choir, suddenly taken to twanging a guitar. I told him it was awful and that it was distracting him from his studies as an art student. Nothing would have convinced me that John would make his fortune with that boy at the front door [Paul McCartney]. But in the end I had to concede that music was far more important to him than the career as an artist and illustrator that I mapped out for him.

QUESTION: DIdn't John's half sister Jacquie live with you for quite sometime?

SMITH: Yes, but one day she didn't turn up for work, so I looked in her room to find her clothes were gone. No note, nothing to say where she's gone. After weeks of worry she turned up onthe doorstep crying bitterly, "I'm pregnant." After that she stayed for awhile but eventually vanished again. I only heard from her when she got herself pregnant yet again and wanted more money.

QUESTION: And what do you think of Yoko?

SMITH: I have to admit Yoko was a good wife and mother and, thank goodness, I told John so long before. Sean is a darling, he's the living image of John. He has his mannerisms and his sense of adventure. We are very good friends. He tells me what he's been up to and I tell him all about his dad. He's very interested and can't discover enough. When he's twenty-five he'll be a very rich man, but for now he needs a good education. Yoko is a sensible girl and is seeing to that.

QUESTION: And your grandnephew, Julian?

SMITH: I think Julian ought to get a real job. I've heard him sing and it's not my cup of tea. Julian doesn't keep in touch, not that it worries me too much.

QUESTION: How did John and Cynthia come to be married in the first place?

SMITH: One day I came home to find John moping around with a long face - he would have been about nineteen. "It's to do with Cynthia," he said at last. "She's coming round to see you. She's got something to say." Then he went up to his room. I knew Cynthia had been keen on John ever since they studied together at college, I knew she was making a play for him, but I didn't know exactly what was going on. When she arrived I let her in and called upstairs for John. He came down crying his heart out. "Whatever is the matter, John?" I said. Then clinging to me just like he did as a child he blurted out, "Cynthia wants us to get married. Please, I don't want to get married." I asked Cynthia if it was true and she nodded. Cynthia said she'd called round to ask my permission  because John wasn't yet twenty-one. I got John on his own and asked him outright if he loved her, he shook his head saying he wasn't sure. That settled it. I went to Cynthia and looking straight into her eyes I said I would not give my consent. I said when he was twenty-one he could do what he likes, but until then  I was still responsible for him. Of course, she got him in the end, although she had to wait three years.