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PAM FRAMPTON: Imagining John Lennon

Detail from a painting of John Lennon, Prague. —
Detail from a painting of John Lennon, Prague. — 123RF Stock Photo

“You, you may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one.”
— John Lennon, “Imagine”

I saw John Lennon in the Halifax airport Tuesday night.

He was sitting in a little booth in the restaurant Bia Mara, where a row of men sat hunched at the bar, slump-shouldered, mesmerized by the sports show talking heads on the flat-screen TVs.

All I could hear from my table was the easy listening soundtrack of ’70s soul and ’80s pop. Lennon could clearly hear it, too. He sat, legs crossed, swinging one elegantly shod foot in time to the music.

He looked just as you would imagine: black-rimmed hippie hat, black leather jacket, black pants, black boots with a moderate heel. Long brown hair with mustache and beard, round glasses in a wire frame balanced on an aquiline nose, giving off a Zen vibe.

Think “Ballad of John and Yoko,” with John in black instead of white and you get the picture.

He was peering at what I think was an iPhone (surely an Apple would be apropos), raptly tapping on the screen with his index finger.

He looked out of place amidst the baseball hats and shiny beer taps and faux nautical décor. I fantasized that, rather than watching some frivolous YouTube video on his phone, he was arranging a peace protest or a bed-in, or texting notes to Yoko: “I am here. R U? Well, I’m not really here, I suppose. If Nietzsche had it right and God is dead, then there’s no afterlife, is there? You can’t have it both ways.”

Of course, John Lennon has been gone for nearly 39 years, and this was a doppelgänger. But the resemblance was so uncanny I couldn’t concentrate on my crossword puzzle, and kept craning my neck for surreptitious glances.

And I wondered how the real John Lennon might feel he if were to fall to Earth all these years later; what he would think of the world as it has become.

He looked just as you would imagine: black-rimmed hippie hat, black leather jacket, black pants, black boots with a moderate heel. Long brown hair with mustache and beard, round glasses in a wire frame balanced on an aquiline nose, giving off a Zen vibe.

What would he make of the many maniacal modes of terrorism that have been devised? Vans and trucks being driven into crowds of pedestrians. Participants on an island in a Workers’ Youth League summer camp being mowed down with bullets. Members of the faithful murdered as they kneeled to pray.

Planes being steered into high-rises, piercing the skyscrapers and leaving pyres of burning rubble, people screaming and scrambling from the flames, plummeting from upper windows, running down the streets of his beloved Manhattan, choking on ash.

Or mass school shootings — innocent children and unsuspecting teachers mowed down in classrooms and cafeterias and hallways in between science and social studies class. Thoughts and prayers sent to a nation and then social media hatemongers taking to their webcams and microphones to decry all the horror as a hoax.

Or the fact that girls and women are still being denied education and empowerment in some cultures, no right to choose their own destiny; press-ganged into marriage or prostitution, gang-raped, disfigured by acid or genitally mutilated.

Or homosexuals being punished with whippings, imprisonment, death by stoning for daring to love one another; ostracized, stigmatized, denied the right to adopt children or to marry.

Or hungry, frightened refugees being turned away at borders, or left in perilous conditions at sea, clinging to overcrowded boats in choppy waters, driven to their deaths by desperation.

Or the most powerful nation on Earth being run according to the whims of an infantile egomaniac, all Twitterthumbs and twaddle as he delivers his pronouncements to an increasingly troubled world, in 280 characters or less.

The “brotherhood of man” seems even more unattainable now than it was when “Imagine” was written in 1971.

After dinner, I walked the length of the airport, hoping to get one more glimpse of the Lennon lookalike. He was nowhere to be found.

And I mused that if the real Lennon were available for comment, he might refer back to the lyrics for “God,” which he wrote in 1970: “The dream is over. What can I say?”

Recent columns by this author

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PAM FRAMPTON: Muskrat Falls — any lessons learned?

Pam Frampton is The Telegram’s managing editor. Email pamela.frampton@thetelegram.com. Twitter: pam_frampton

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