Her name was Maddie, and she ran a Bed and Breakfast in Hyde Park that had classic Hollywood films as it’s theme -it was called Flickers. Maddie was a cheerful redhead -Irish, like a lesser Maureen O’Hara with a touch of Tessie O’Shea, and she had placed dozens of posters on the walls; Casablanca, of course, and Gone with the Wind, and assorted shots from other 40’s films. I remember being surprised to see Ray Milland pictured in a still from The Uninvited. The accomodation was no better than usual, but what the hell, we were there, the price was right, and Maddie was glad to receive visitors who could talk the celebrity-sprinkled language she favored. “So you knew Judy Garland, did you? Well, did I tell you about my experience with John Lennon?” she inquired one night after we came home from dinner. I had the feeling she’d waited up for us specially, and had saved this story for our delectation. “No, Maddie,” I said, obligingly, “did you actually meet him?” “Well, not exactly,” she said (Anh hanh, I sighed mentally, I thought perhaps not). “But just listen: my friend Seely and I went down to the Stratford, in Philadelphia, you know? Because the Beatles had appeared in town the night before, and next morning we ran down to their hotel before they checked out, we thought maybe we could cadge an autograph or somethin’, and of course there was about a hundred policemen protecting them -all around the hotel, oh, and wasn’t it packed with teenagers, all squealin’ their guts out doncha know -well, what none of us knew was that the boys had snuck out through the kitchen entrance hours before and wasn’t no way anyone was gettin’ an autograph or anythin’ else.” “Wow,” I said, just to keep her going, though I doubt anything could have stopped her. “So I says to my friend, ‘Seely,’ I says, ‘wait here, I’m goin’ round the back’ and I snuck in the kitchen entrance and grabbed an elevator, and took it up to the tenth floor and there was the maid, vacuuming up the suite, they were just beginnin’ to clean it, and I march in with great authority and I says to her, ‘This where John Lennon stayed?’ and she says Yes, and so, –cool as you please, I march over to the rumpled bed, -she hadn’t made it up yet- and there on the night table, in an ash tray, is a cigarette, like all squashed out. So quick as a flash I open my purse and scoop in the butt. I take a quick look around to see if maybe John’s forgotten anythin’ -like possibly a bedroom slipper- but no, there wasn’t nothin’; so I scurry out and when I get downstairs, Seely’s amazed, simply amazed. I showed it to her. And when I got back, I put it in a china bowl and I have it upstairs, now, if you’d like to see it.” “Well, Maddie,” I said, “thanks for the offer, but…what are you gonna do with it? I doubt you could sell it, a used cigarette butt.” Maddie looked at me as though I’d gone insane. “Don’t you see???” she hissed at me. “How valuable it’s gonna be? That little butt? Because after a few more years, when science has made the advance, I’ll be able to clone him. John Lennon. Because I’ve got his DNA -on that cigarette butt.”
Worth the entire trip.