During the Tube strike I rediscovered the short cut from Camden Town to Marble Arch via Regents Park. I remembered Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s maid Wilson taking this route to visit her parents on her day off. Door to door ( I live near the site of the Crippens’ house in Upper Holloway) it took me just 60 minutes to Les Senteurs, stepping out briskly. Not bad. The rain held off and I saw some interesting addresses.
For instance, just north of Marble Arch (and with a wonderful enfilade view of that landmark via Cumberland Place) I happened upon Montague Square. Here at No 34 (Flat One) John Lennon and Yoko Ono resided briefly in 1968: apparently they were not fastidious housekeepers. At that time I developed a sort of joint crush on the pair and longed for their Wedding Album LP with all its enclosed paraphernalia which included, I think, a photo of the bridal cake. A grubby hoard of reviews torn from Melody Maker and NME was the nearest I got to it: the album seemed unimaginably expensive. (This was before the luxury picture book Four Fabulous Faces was published. A book which cost £20? The nation’s eyes were on stalks).
I was dotty about the Lennons’ all-white wardrobe, Yoko’s nutty hair and picture hats, her wailing rendition of “Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s only looking for a hand in the snow)” on the B side of the Ballad of John and Yoko. And then those Bed-Ins and Bagism (sic). Do you remember? With Liz Taylor and Mrs Onassis Mr + Mrs Lennon dominated the “Mail” and “Express” – one’s preferred schooldays reading.
Now I read that Yoko – suddenly and unbelievably 81 – spars with Andy Murray’s mum on Twitter. “Time! And Time hath brought me hither.” I have no idea what perfume she wears but I always associate her with gardenias – pale, interesting, intense, complex; apparently frail but essentially powerful and intense. Do you catch my drift? Come by Les Senteurs and have a smell…