John Lennon's song Imagine was voted in 1999 as having Britain's favourite lyrics. Which is a sad thing as the lyrics are so awful.
We are invited in the song to imagine that there is no heaven; that people live only for today; that there are no countries; no religion; no possessions; and one global culture.
It is an anthem for a denatured individualism. So I was interested to read that a new book by Dominic Sandbrook has concluded that Lennon was not a peace-loving visionary but selfishly individualistic and a hypocrite.
According to Sandbrook Lennon's "driving thought was only ever: 'Me, me, me'" and that his career was marked by an "astonishing degree of self-absorption." Sandbrook notes that "Even his most admiring biographers struggle to justify his cruel streak."
And the hypocrisy is mind-boggling. Lennon dreamed of a world without possessions. Yet he chose to indulge in a millionaire lifestyle on a magnificent country estate in England. When living in New York, his partner Yoko Ono had a refrigerated room built in their luxury apartment to store her collection of fur coats. This inspired Elton John to send Lennon the following ditty:
'Imagine six apartments / It isn't hard to do / One is full of fur coats / The other's full of shoes.'
He seems to have been one of those men whom the poet Sir Walter Scott criticised as being "concentrated all in self".