Opinion Op Ed 09 Feb 2019 When Yoko Ono, now 8 ...
In his words: "I am just a professional writer, which means I don't do blogs and try and get money for whatever I write."

When Yoko Ono, now 85, sought advice for ‘us’ to heal and ‘shine’

Published Feb 9, 2019, 7:53 am IST
Updated Feb 9, 2019, 7:53 am IST
Yoko may mean that we should all work towards acquiring halos like angels. We shouldn’t steal other people’s husbands.
John Lenon and Yoko Ono (Photo: AP)
 John Lenon and Yoko Ono (Photo: AP)

“On every grain of rice
Its eater’s name is etched
But on each drop or draft of wine
No signature, not even mine
Can the hand of destiny entice
Wine to be a fatal canvas stretched.”

    From Tinder is the Night by Bachchoo

Most people give advice freely and no one takes any notice. Some follow professional advice because they’ve paid for it — but even then, it’s often said that if you don’t like your lawyer’s advice, change your lawyer.


After an operation my British consultant surgeon advised me to drink in moderation. I asked him what “in moderation” meant and he said “less than your doctor!”.

My grandfather used to say “Do everything, but do it in moderation.” I don’t think he’d thought it through. His “everything” surely didn’t extend to, for instance, sex with camels or moderate doses of heroin. His advice, if followed, might have led to certain degrees of contentment and a balanced existence — but then life’s temptations, as Adam found out. are more compelling than even God’s injunctions.  

I thought of old grandpappy (or Mamawaji as we called him in our Parsi household) when I read this week that Yoko Ono, the partner of the late John Lennon, had tweeted for some advice.

Tweets, I believe, though not being a subscriber to the service I may be wrong, can only be addressed to the number of people who access them from a particular person, the person’s “followers”. In the case of people like Donald Trump or even Yoko Ono, however, their tweets get picked up by other social media and get a great deal of attention around the world.

I was somewhat surprised by the fact of Yoko asking for advice, because I’d always thought of her as someone who dished it out freely, without a tinge of self-consciousness. Most of it is in the vein of “All You Need is Love” and other homilies and patently erroneous slogans, because apart from love I may need faith, hope, charity, sex and a good glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Kher! I am sure she means well.    

In this particular tweet she was asking her followers or the world to: “give us some advice that will make our lives heal and shine.”

I think her “us” was short for all humanity and not just, in the royal fashion, a plural for “me”.

She received a lot of varied responses, most of it good advice.

The veteran and sensible James O’Brien, a radio commentator whose radio programme I often follow, told us to put a bit of fizzy water in our Yorkshire pudding dough in order, I suppose, to guarantee that it will rise in the oven. I quote that particular culinary hint because I believe it will work for naan bread as well. A dash of fizzy water or even soda, yaaron!

There were other handy tips for Londoners or visitors to London who were instructed on how to dodge circuitous journeys at a particular underground station by ignoring the directing signs and taking unmarked shortcuts. The reports of these were accompanied by the fact that Yoko is now 85 years old!

Sheesh! How time flies. I can’t say I encountered her, but I was in the same room long years ago when, as a young freelance writer, I stood outside the London Hilton hotel with hundreds of reporters, photographers and TV crews waiting for the Beatles to turn up and go in to meet Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who awaited them there.

There was a heavy police cordon keeping us reptiles at bay as the Hilton had banned all journalists and crews. Or perhaps it was a request from the Beatles to have an unmolested darshan with their “spiritual guru”. The “reptiles” were restless and waiting for the Beatles’ limousine.

My photographer partner at the time, Andrew Whittuck, said at least we can get snaps of them as they get out of their cars and you can write about the crowds. But, gentle reader, we struck it lucky. At the time I adopted the costume of the late 1960s and was in a khadi kurta over jeans, had long black hair and a beard and a worthless necklace of beads. George Harrison, a purported devotee of all things Indian, got out of his limousine and spotting me in the differently-clad reporter-crowd, grabbed my wrist and pulled me through the police cordon. I in turn had grabbed Andrew’s wrist and the cops made way for us as part of George’s entourage. He asked us if we wanted to report on the meeting, and consequently we were the only reporters there, standing behind Yoko and John who garlanded the maharishi and talked in unmemorable platitudes about peace and love.

Yes, I wrote it up that night and reaped from the British press the harvest of exclusivity.

On reading Yoko’s request, I considered passing on my grandfather’s advice but thought better of it. It sounded too much like something she might say. My advice for Yoko would be to buy a good book on elementary English grammar and usage. When she says “give us advice that will make our lives heal and shine”, she is at best mixing metaphors and at worst, talking characteristic nonsense. Very well, she sees our lives as bodies with wounds or sicknesses and asks for ways of healing them. Then she asks in addition that the lives “shine”.

I can see bodies shining after a good oil bath, but a life is each living thing’s particular stretch of time and the acts that go into it. What advice can lead to these abstracts taking on a quality of intense light?

Yoko may mean that we should all work towards acquiring halos like angels. We shouldn’t steal other people’s husbands. We shouldn’t call our scribbles art or pretentious sounds music. And shouldn‘t read anything that Californian life-style charlatans write, taking our money to make our lives “shine”.