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Desert Island Discs

Yoko Ono

Ono with John Lennon in 1968. Susan Wood/Getty Images

Yoko Ono’s interactive artwork Mend Piece is on display at the Whitechapel Gallery, east London. The 88-year-old Japanese artist invites viewers to reconstruct broken objects – gluing together teapots or hammering nails into walls. She made it in 1966 and met Beatles star John Lennon at a gallery preview in London. He asked if he could bash in a nail, but it was before opening night and I wanted to keep it clean, she told Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs in 2007. Ono sensed a business opportunity: “I said, you can do it for five shillings.” Lennon paused. “He said, is it all right if I hammer an imaginary nail in and I pay in imaginary money?” She was delighted. “I thought, all right, he’s playing the same game I’m playing.”

They fell in love quickly – much to people’s annoyance. After they got married, they sat in bed in the Amsterdam Hilton for a week, inviting the press to ask them about world peace. Why on earth would you let the world share your honeymoon, asks Young. “For world peace!” Ono laughs. “We were very narcissistic about it.”

The relationship had its struggles. Both Lennon and Ono took heroin for years – though they were never addicted. “Luckily, we never injected because both of us were totally scared about needles.” It also helped that their dealer laced their drugs with baby powder. “That saved us.”

🎵 Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien, Edith Piaf

🎵 Lili Marlene, Lale Andersen

🎵 Liverpool Lou, Dominic Behan

🎵 One Love/People Get Ready, Bob Marley and the Wailers

🎵 When I Grow Too Old to Dream, Gracie Fields

🎵 Beautiful Boy, John Lennon

🎵 Magic, Sean Lennon

🎵 Seoul, Amiina

📕 Saiyuki (Journey to the West), Wu Cheng’en

🎁 My life for the next 30 years

Listen to the episode here.