I met John in the lobby of the Dakota for our tour of Central Park. John explained to me the media was constantly on his tail as an ex-Beatle. We had a choice of a few service exits and we slipped out to a bright spring day and headed into the park. John had put his hair in a ponytail, was wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap so he simply looked like any other New Yorker. We walked undisturbed from one end of Central Park to the other. The lagoon, the zoo, the promenade, the baseball fields and hot chestnuts. Those warm honey coated peanuts were fantastic. John had a chuckle about the carts selling Nathan franks saying he had been dinged badly eating a chili dog from a cart a few years ago.
John explained to me that he was happy to have met me as so many people simply wanted to bask in his aura or exploit him for some purpose. He was pursued by other celebrities and was losing his touch with the common folk. He never forgot his humble days in Liverpool with Tony Sheridan, George and Paul. But gone were the days of anonymity. The price of fame. And they were attacking Yoko Ono mercilessly in the media labelling her as the breaker upper of the Beatles. As much as New York was bad for John he was addicted by its vibes but confessed he felt a bit like a prisoner in the cell of his Dakota pad. I offered him the use of my compound in Bombay and with its grounds he and Yoko could feel less like a prison. John thanked me and said he would think about it.
John showed me the Met and the Guggenheim and suggested when I have some time that I should go there. He avoided these museums as there were so many British tourists he felt he would be “outed”. At 5th and 92 we stopped at the Jewish Museum of New York and headed downstairs to the cafeteria for some lox and bagels. John loved the cafeteria for its good food and lack of hordes of tourists.
We returned to the Dakota and John asked me to join him for some ice cream. Yoko had a strange looking woman called Yayoi Kusama dressed half like a doll and a clown. John said she was a famous Japanese artist. We had some of John’s favourite ice cream from Toronto. It was Chapman’s a brand I knew well but that name Chapman suddenly sent shivers up and down my spine. Strange. Did I sense something foreboding? I thanked John for his hospitality and asked him if I could read his tea leaves. My granny in India Sula had taught me the skill. Essentially it was a question of luck meeting the obvious. On occasion I was spot on. It was set up for high tea at my place. John said that after that he was flying to Nashville for a recording session.