Monday, December 16, 2013

Imagine John Lennon in Leith


I’m not sure why I bought John Lennon’e “Imagine”. One of those impulses.

Imagine there’s no heaven...

...and I’m back in the cottage just outside St Andrews where we used to live with our friends, Susie and I, and where we first lived together.

It’s easy if you try...

A sister of one of our flatmates was in the late stages of pregnancy and she had come up to stay with us while she had her baby.

No hell below us...

She was a single mum with a somewhat chaotic lifestyle and their mum, who was a very forceful woman and a committed Christian of the most traditionalist kind, had decided that Dorothy would give her baby up for adoption.

Above us only sky...

In those days (the early 70’s) there was still a certain stigma attached to being a single mum, and maybe that was why Dorothy was prevailed upon to give up her child.

She went off to the local maternity hospital, gave birth, and then came back to stay with us. Without her child; in the deepest distress.

We’d just bought John Lennon’s Imagine and somehow she’d appropriated it, and our record player, and played it endlessly, day and night.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do...

But actually it was, impossible, because we got so sick of the music and sick of her distress that we lost all empathy for it.

I still have the LP, all worn and scratched and with the glue no longer holding together it’s cover, and those memories, and now this strange electronic presence on my telephone that I’m hearing through headphones on the bus going down to Leith.

Nothing to kill or die for....

And in my head is the news of the conflict between Christian and Muslims in the the Central African Republic, and the systematic rapes in the Congo, and the endless cruelties of the Syrian war

And no religion too

And I’m down in Leith and I’m surrounded by cheque shops and betting shops and pawn shops and money lending shops, looking for a low cost loan you can trust, APR only 281.5%

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger...

And there’s the supermarket where you can donate tins of soup to the food bank and I can’t help thinking that somehow we didn’t imagine hard enough.

A brotherhood of man...

And we dreamed of that, to be sure, but more especially the sisterhood of women, and when we moved from our cottage to our commune on the Fife coast we tried to live it. Tried to create the cracks in capitalism John Holloway now writes about or live, too, as if in the early days of a better nation.

Our beliefs were so strongly about creating a different and better world and we knew change was essential and on its way and we assumed that ours was the direction the change would take.

Thatcherism we didn’t imagine, or the cruelties and injustice it created and which the present government in London perpetuates.

The beggars on the streets: we never imagined we’d see them.

In fact, I’m not sure anything has happened as we imagined. Neither the good things or the bad.

We never imagined a future in which Scotland would be voting for independence; nor did I ever imagine that I would able to live freely as a trans woman.

Especially not that. That was completely beyond my imagination: I was far too sunk in shame.

You may think I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one....

Dorothy recovered from her anguish and went back to her home. And became pregnant again. This time she found the strength to keep the baby, and became a loving and caring mother to her child.

I hope one day you’ll join me
And the world will live as one.

We couldn’t join you, dear John Lennon, because someone shot you dead. And the world we live in now is even more ill divided than ever. 

And I think of the way the things we imagined would happen didn’t; and the way the things we couldn’t imagine would happen actually did.

And I think of the new life in Dorothy; and the new life in me.

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