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John and Paul, again

November 26th – my father’s birthday; he would have been 88. He was 65 when he died of stomach cancer, just 5 years older than I am now, but I don’t have trouble imagining him as an old man, because there are so many pictures out there of the aging Mordecai Richler. My dad was much handsomer than Richler in youth, but as Dad aged and grew more jowly and wore bi-focals, he looked a great deal like the Montreal writer.

I miss you, Dad. Wish you were here to talk to; to share my world. But you are still here, in me.

Just saw “Nowhere Boy,” the John Lennon bio-pic. It’s all right, but it doesn’t soar. Of course, it’s hard to imagine a picture involving the Beatles, at any stage, with only one single note of their music. It’s interesting to see how the filmmakers imagined the band began, and fun to watch the British upper lower middle-class, of which my mother was a part – and see Liverpool, which I visited last year. But …
First, director Sam Taylor-Wood and her much-younger star Aaron Johnson fell in love during the shooting, and they’ve been a couple ever since. Does that explain why the camera’s close-up lens almost never leaves the actor’s face? We practically live up his nose and have to fight our way through his eyelashes.
Second, does their affair also explain why all the actors playing Lennon’s mates are so plain? Johnson is handsome and charismatic, but the actor playing Paul McCartney, who was adorable from day one in photos, is a scrawny little thing with the face of a weasle. Stu Sutcliffe, John’s friend, was in life the handsomest of the lot, James Dean stunning – but not in this movie. Only Lennon is tall and vibrant and good-looking. Phooey on that, I say.
And finally – despite absolutely terrific performances from two actresses as John’s aunt and his mother, I got impatient with the poor sad John scenario. He had much love in his life, a nice place to live, was neither neglected or abused. I’ve heard a hundred sadder stories in my work. It’s tragic that his mother was killed when he was 17, no question. But as for the implication that his aunt and uncle raising him while his mother lived nearby was a life-scarring tragedy – well, he wrote a song or two about it, but I imagine would not have cared much for the film’s depiction of the wailing and bemoaning he’s supposed to have done.
While we’re on this topic, I’d like to point something out to you Lennon fans, who love to sneer at my dear Mr. McCartney. The paper recently printed a list of the top ten Beatle songs just downloaded from the Internet, now that the Beatles’ list is available on-line. One is “Twist and Shout,” not their composition; two of the rest of the ten are by George, two by John, and five by Paul.
Just sayin’.
I wish Paul Quarrington were still here, so I could argue with him. I’m reading and enjoying Paul’s “Cigar Box Banjo: Notes on music and life,” published after his recent, too-early death from lung cancer at the age of 56. But I did not enjoy reading, “Here’s my very unpopular stance. I think the Beatles, with their unprecedented popularity, did more than anyone else in their early days to deplete the music coming out of our radios of any remaining meaning or significance.”
Hah! Them’s fighting words. The chapter ends, “And now you know why some of my acquaintances refer to me as ‘Paul Quarrelsome.'”
You too are missed, Paul. Quarrelsome or no.
P.S. Too bad the colourful Danny Williams of Newfoundland is leaving politics. I have the greatest respect for a Conservative premier who understood just how destructive our Prime Minister is. “I can only say this,” Williams said in September 2008, “and I say it with all sincerity and genuine concern for our great country: a majority government for Stephen Harper would be one of the most negative political events in Canadian history.”
May I repeat that? Would you mind? A majority government for Stephen Harper would be one of the most negative political events in Canadian history.

Thanks, Danny. I’ll keep that in mind, and let’s hope the country does, too.



One response to “John and Paul, again”

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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