The extraordinary details are revealed in a recently discovered letter written by Mimi Smith one month after her nephew was killed on December 8, 1980. The letter, written on January 24, 1981, is about to be auctioned off as a valuable piece of music memorabilia. Not only does it give an insight into Lennon’s life at the time, but it also strongly suggests he was about to plan a long-awaited UK tour after a decade away. It also describes just how happy and optimistic the former Beatle was about the future in his final days.
Mimi, real name Mary Elizabeth Smith, wrote the letter as a thank-you to a trusted journalist, Judith Simons from the Daily Express.
Simons has sent her condolences to the woman who had raised Lennon from infancy. Mimi was the only member of his family with whom the star maintained regular contact during his long years of self-imposed exile from home.
Lennon called her every week at the luxury bungalow he had bought her in Poole, Dorset, where she lived until her death in 1991. The pair shared a unique bond. According to Mimi’s care nurse, her final words were “hello John.”
In the letter, Mimi wrote: “Dear Judith, Thank you for your letter, kind thoughts.
“I’m trying to accept this terrible thing which has happened, but finding it very hard. He had such faith himself, I’m trying to do the same.
“He phoned the night before, witty, funny, bubbling over with excitement, coming over very soon. Couldn’t wait to see me. So I’m glad of that.
“If I’m in London, I’ll get in touch with you. Kind thoughts to you too. Mimi.”
Mimi was a notoriously strict guardian, with very rigid ideas about proper behaviour and a powerful sense of moral and social superiority. She did not regard music as a suitable or respectable pursuit and looked down on Lennon’s Beatles bandmates as being from a ‘lower class’ area of Liverpool.
Mimi famously told Lennon, “The guitar’s all right John, but you’ll never make a living out of it”.
However, friends and family also described how teh pair understood each other’s sharp and dark sense of humour and would often “roll around laughing” after exchanging insults.
Lennon was a complicated artist and man who went through intense ups and downs with loved ones, so it is telling that he still faithfully called Mimi every week through all the long years he lived outside the UK.
Judith Simons letter courtesy of Tracks Ltd, which gives free valuations of music memorabilia at we-buy-beatles.com