lennon for some, lenin for others

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The day the Lennon Memorial was unveiled in Liverpool

The first Lennon monument was accepted by President Nathan in Singapore, on behalf of Asia. Not by China, not Sri Lanka, not India, or Pakistan, or Afghanistan, though maybe the former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan would have accepted it with love and grace, more on account of his passion for music than to further peace—he always stubbornly went to that other shrine that prickles China.

A Lennon monument is good in Singapore, where everyone is well fed in that brave new world, and people earn leisure and rock n'roll, and wish for eternal peace, so the party may never end. HMV are always busy in Singapore; and the music shelves in Borders are assured of attention all through the long opening hours, even if those eight days happened to the week. There is much song in Singapore. I wonder, will they listen to Lennon in Kashmir? Will the Naxals in India break ranks with Marx and Lenin? For Lennon? Imagine!

But I am being nasty about a nice thing. Maybe even silly. Still, I cannot help but wonder: The songs for peace of Dylan and Baez and Lennon reach a very powerful section of humanity. But there is a large other for whom peace means nothing to give it a chance. What shall be the lyrics for the Taliban? Who shall sing to them? What is sung in the mujahideen camps in Pakistan? And what's in song for the young Kashmiris who have turned to stone?

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The Lennon Memorial, LiverpoolAfter a vegetarian breakfast I stood on a rise in Liverpool and watched the hatching of the second Lennon monument, Peace and Harmony. When the white cocoon opened at the hands of Julian and Cynthia, I turned from the creation of the nineteen year old American and looked up at the swiftly rising snow-white balloons, which hatched together with the monument, the necks of the balloons done up in broad collars, and looking well dressed, each of them. They soared swiftly, taken up upon the coastal breeze. After a time I lowered my eyes and looked back at the monument and allowed it a compliment. The piece is created after the manner in which Lennon preached peace, there is even that sixties symbol on its base, and it is a way of imagining peace and harmony for a nineteen year old which I cannot describe, for I cannot read art at any level and as for my abilities to create, I can draw some polygons, and the circle, and stretched and compacted ellipses, and cryptic doodles, and, as a child, I used to draw the sun on the sea with bowing palms at land's edge.

The Lord Mayor of Liverpool is a lady with a face as lovable as the German Chancellor's. When she rose to speak there was genuine affection in the applause, accentuated by a single piercing whistle from the heart of the crowd. The sun came out and the sky blushed blue, and the Mayor spoke for peace in Iraq and Palestine and America and the United Kingdom and various other nations that are eternally challenged for peace. She spoke of Lennon's wish. The other speakers urged for peace too, to give it a chance. The city councillor spoke of Lennon's death mournfully on this day of his birth anniversary.

Julian said only a very few words. They said in a later speech that he'd warned them beforehand that he wouldn't speak at all. Then Cynthia asked everyone to seek the kind of peace Lennon enjoyed, which was merely to have a good time. Go and have a good time, she urged. And if you can enjoy his music that is good too—if you can bring joy into your life. She was so cheerful, whereas she could have been bitter in the ceremony for the man who left her. She thanked him for Julian, the most precious seed for her, she said, from among many that Lennon planted in the world, "which has grown into a useful tree." They gave her a rousing applause.

The best in the ceremony was the singing in signs that a contingent of challenged children did, looking like angels. Their song was a moving dance.