Magazine article The Spectator

Yoko Marooned

Magazine article The Spectator

Yoko Marooned

Article excerpt

Yoko Ono's appearance on that Radio Four staple, Desert Island Discs (Sunday), was too good to miss. What revelations would emerge from that prickly avatar of the Sixties avant-garde under the genteel probing of the typical DID interview? Would we find out how she coped with being the most reviled woman in the world? Understand her better? The Radio Times obviously thought so, promising us revelations of Ono's 'vulnerable side'.

I could never understand what all the fuss was about when Yoko ensnared a Beatle, being one of those unfortunate teenagers who never really cared for the Fab Four (who, incidentally, were never in their heyday thought to be significant enough to be invited on to DID; only Paul has ever appeared on it, and that was much later in 1982). Nor did it ever make sense to me that banging a nail into a piece of white wood could be described as 'art'. It was hammering the nail that did for John. He bartered for the privilege (the charge was five shillings a go) on his first encounter with Yoko's art in 1966, which encouraged her to think that they 'were playing the same game'.

But you have to admire her guts, her refusal to be intimidated. When Kirsty Young described her on DID as 'an avantgarde artist in New York' in the 1950s, she butted in, 'It's sort of unfair to say that. My background comes from Asian culture.' Yoko grew up in Tokyo, witnessing the firebombing of the city in 1945 as a child. 'It influenced my thinking, ' she said, cryptically.

Young, whose research for these programmes is always impeccable (probably too thorough for genuinely spontaneous conversation), kept on probing. 'Were you happy when you found out you were pregnant?' (This was with her second child, Sean Lennon; her first child, a daughter born in 1963 to a previous husband, was never mentioned. ) 'Not really, ' says Yoko.

An audible drawing in of breath. Here's the sensational weakness that Young's scalpel had been seeking. 'I thought I should let John decide whether I keep it or not.' Young, ever scrupulous, persisted, 'Just to be clear. You did actually have that conversation with him.' The trouble is there's nothing left that Yoko can say or do to shock us. Now 73, she's always made it clear that she's her own woman, and cares nothing for the bourgeois aspirations of us ordinary mortals. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.