Lennon's `Plastic' fantastic

One of my favourite holiday pastimes is compiling lists of people who are worse off than myself.

This is a pleasurable activity and, with a little work, it is possible to make oneself aware of the fairly excellent position one is in, relative, that is, to others.

John Lennon regularly turns up on these lists, mainly on account of his being dead and my being alive.

Lennon also had the misfortune to fall in with people who were under the mistaken impression therapy could make a difference to their life, and that is explored, in part, on Rock Royalty: John Lennon Plastic Ono Band.

In the late 1960s, apparently, Lennon and Yoko Ono received a copy of Dr Arthur Janov's book, Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis, and began therapy sessions to find the cause of their pain and neuroses.

Life, I hear you call?

Probably, but an unintended off-shoot of the therapy was the album, with Ringo Starr on drums, Klaus Voormann on bass, and Phil Spector producing.

The album was something else, really, and the documentary (on the Documentary Channel, January 20) features interviews with Janov (I had no idea he was still alive), Voormann and others (not Phil Spector, unsurprisingly).

Maybe Lennon did find some peace from therapy.

Perhaps that is the reason the Plastic Ono album is completely excellent, raw and passionate, compared with the later Double Fantasy, which is just awful.

What is art without pain?

Nothing, really.

Speaking of pain, tomorrow night, the same series profiles Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.

This album, and the band U2, are very useful markers of whether a person is cool or not.

If someone in your office likes both, they quite clearly have the most shallow of tastes, and, unless they have some other striking quality, are not worthy of any respect at all.

But back to Mr Lennon: if time travel were available, we would be able to pop back and give Mark Chapman a swift kick in the goolies before he made it to the best Beatle's apartment that fateful day.

The fact nobody has done so, not even in the future, does suggest time travel is not a goer, attractive as the idea may seem.

On Sunday, January 17, the History Channel begins a new series That's Impossible, looking at invisibility, time travel, mind control, and other fabulous things we all confidently expected were just around the corner when we were very young.

It asks whether the US navy teleported a ship, and whether a group of Buddhist monks disappeared without explanation.

The answer, I'm willing to bet, is "no".

But That's Impossible's six 60-minute episodes will have a good go at finding out, and should be entertaining.



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