This is a tale of two women.
They both liked to wear fun hats.
(Although, to my surprise, the one I most associated with her hats was rarely photographed wearing one, considering that women always wore hats in her time. The other wore the most astonishing assortment of hats: men's caps, tophats.. even though no one wore hats in the late sixties and seventies).
They both were foreigners to England. Outsiders, always. And while they both had great influence on the British public, neither actually lived in England for long. And ultimately, they were, in a sense, in exile.
Neither woman could be considered beautiful by any culture or time period's standards of beauty. In fact, they were often called ugly by most of the public. And worse names than that. And yet, each had a certain.. allure.
The men they married were absolutely smitten with them.
And they kept their men entertained: according to the gossipers, in more ways than one.
But the similarities go on.. both women were only children. Both women were divorced not just once, but twice, before going on to marry the men they would be known for. Both their first marriages were brief: so brief that the public wasn't aware they existed.
Both women were.. let's face it, they were hated by the public: globally, and especially, the British public.
One thing that surprised me: I always assumed both women were much older than their husbands. But while Yoko Ono was seven years older than John Lennon, Wallis Simpson was actually born in 1896, two years after Prince Edward, the Duke of Windsor. The King who abdicated the throne for the woman he loved.
Both women out lived their husbands by many years.
And while one woman, through her marriage, altered the course of the British Monarchy - we wouldn't have the Queen, or Prince Charles, or the story of Princess Di, or Will and Kate, or Harry or anything, if it weren't for W.E., the other woman, one can argue, altered the course of British Music Royalty forever: she is credited, rightly or wrongly, with splitting up the Beatles.
I was thinking all this, a few weeks back, when on the day I didn't go to Italy, we went to see the Yoko Ono show currently on at the Serpentine (very good show, too: definitely go, if you're in town, and if the Olympic crowds don't demolish Hyde Park). I can't believe the Olympics are starting tomorrow - we never thought we'd be here for them, but we're not going on holiday til August. I'm actually getting excited about it, too.
And the reason I'm posting this today is something my father in law said, this weekend in Herefordshire, at his big annual birthday BBQ. He was talking about a woman he knew, years ago. Her husband was perfect: successful, tall, dark and handsome. He said this woman was plain as can be. But there was something, he said, about her. When she walked into a room, it was as if she glowed. Even the dogs, he told me, would stop barking and go sit by her side.
Have any of you seen Madonna's film, W.E.? I did, and I while I didn't expect to like it, I did. The film was the seed that started my compassion for these two women that I haven't met (although I did have a friend in the Dakota, years ago, and I remember seeing a package arrive addressed to Yoko, as we went up in the lift). I just can't imagine how it must feel: to be this loved by one man, and yet hated by so many. Women, especially. People they've never met, and never will.
None of these photos are by me, btw: I've only edited this together. Apart from the collage at the top. That's all mine.