WOULD my life had been different, somehow, if John had been where he said he was going to be that day?
I subscribe to the theory that ‘life’ is more than just ‘you’re born, you live for a bit and then you sort of die’. I believe it is far more complex and that all of my – and, of course, your – lives are taking place simultaneously. At any given juncture, my life might choose to split into an alternative life. Possibly a new life splits off every single second. Ergo (not sure what that means, but it sounds right) there would be an infinitesimal number of ‘me’s’ in an infinitesimal number of universes right now. And since time is an illusion, right now is all there is in any case. I do not claim to have invented the concept of the multiverse – I merely mention that my sixth, or seventh and eighth senses continually confirm to me that some version of the multiverse is so.
In retrospect, only, I can sometimes identify those moments at which my life split, and that that moment, in 1969 or thereabouts, when I and my best friend Susan Margaret Smith trepidatiously circumnavigated Rochester Cathedral, one quarter hoping and three-quarters dreading that, as announced in the local newspapers, John Lennon would be waiting there to meet his fans, and we rounded the final corner to the main entrance and discovered (sigh!) that John Lennon was not there after all, was probably one of my splitting moments. What we did find was a spaced-out girl with flowers painted on both cheeks, handing out white carnations and mumbling something or other about peace. We took our carnations and returned to Rochester railway station, unenlightened. Had it been some weird Yoko-inspired publicity stunt? Had teenage girls been circumnavigating all forty-two Anglican and however-many Roman Catholic cathedrals in the UK on that same day, whilst all the time John and Yoko in the flesh, as it were, were holding a Bed-In in Montreal, or a press conference in Vienna? Presumably the ‘me’ who did meet John Lennon is living a subtly altered version of ‘my’ life now, in a subtly altered universe? Maybe in that universe John Lennon is still alive, and seventy-five. Unimaginable.
To be honest, much as I revered the musical brilliance and fancied the bell-bottoms off John Lennon and wished that Yoko Ono had somehow never existed (as indeed in many universes she wouldn’t have) I was relieved not to come face to face with him. I suspect that, given my lumpy awkwardness, zitfestation and crippling lack of social skills at the time I would have collapsed in a sweaty heap on the tarmac, turned a blotchier shade of fuchsia or been struck dumb and had to shuffle off sideways, snuffling, like a person being edged off stage into the wings, an invisible shepherd’s crook around her neck.
My life was more of less crap before I didn’t meet John Lennon and, with the exception of a few lucky breaks and the occasional shaft of sunlight penetrating its subterranean gloom, has remained so ever since. But maybe if I had met him I would have been catapulted onto a different path and might now be… might now be…