'Strawberry Field ... Summer Fete'

by Kevin Austin


John Lennon's Aunt Mimi knows that as soon as John hears the brass band, there will be an irresistible tug at her elbow and he will be begging to be taken up to the fete on Strawberry Field, and she'll be going too. It's 1950 and sure enough, there they are, just as the Salvation Army evangelical band strikes up again to open the Orphanage Summer fete. Out of the side of his excited eyes, John sees a muddle of giggling kids stumbling, flopping and rolling past him in a sack race, to the joy and pride of doting parents. A crocodile of very young ladies comes into view being led into the new decade full of promise by an enthusiastic officer from the Home, all of them full of the joys of Summer and 'All we need is Love'. On the strawberry Ripple decorated stalls John sees even the shyest kids throwing at coconuts. He can't wait to thumb his way through those Eagle annuals, and the Beanos on the table next to the cakes and squash. Meanwhile, Mimi watches her world from before the war being recreated; John listens to the music and wonders what it's like to be in a band. 'Mimi', perhaps he says, 'is that the Marsellaise ?' And all the while the benevolent face of the Orphanage, huge in size and inspiration to John in those days, watches over the dawn of his post war Renaissance.