Your Memoirs – “Signed Off”

I often wondered what happened to John Lennon’s cousin.

The Beatles toured extensively in the 1960s and played several Scottish venues. I was 11 in 1964, and already a huge Beatles fan, when my dad brought home a new work colleague for dinner. John Lennon’s cousin, he said. Excited beyond measure, I questioned him mercilessly about the Fab Four. He said he was to visit John while he was in Scotland and promised to get me some autographs.

A few weeks later he duly presented me with a photo card and a magazine page, both with all four signatures. What excitement! I immediately stuck them (sacrilege I later learned) into my autograph book and hugged it to my chest.

As I grew up I often questioned if ‘that man’ had truly been John Lennon’s cousin or whether he and my dad, always prone to teasing, had pulled a fast one.

In 2003 I decided to verify the authenticity of the autographs and after much research in this most tricky minefield I found an American dealer who specialised solely in the Beatles. He had spent years compiling the definitive catalogue of their signatures and how they had changed over time. It was fascinating stuff.

From his examples, even I could tell that the signatures on the card were not real and I disappointingly discovered that Beatles Fan Club secretaries had in fact signed thousands of them to satisfy demand. However, of the autographs on the magazine page, John Lennon’s proved to be genuine.

But the question remained… was ‘that man’ himself genuine?

The answer came several years ago while watching an old TV documentary about the Beatles… for there he was being interviewed, and just as I remembered him… his face indelible on my memory. My heart jumped. It had all been true!

My theory is that he probably carried some ‘signed’ fan club cards anyway but that, when he had visited his famous cousin, he had him autograph the magazine and, not wanting to disappoint me, had signed the other names himself. I’ll never know for sure…

Submitted by Ann Seed, 67, Edinburgh

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