Monday, February 05, 2007

Yoko Ono's No Show

In the Spring of 1968 there was going to be a "happening" at the Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre, Cardiff. Avant-garde artist Yoko Ono (who had been paid 50 guineas) would be there in person to conduct the event. Whatever it might be. Nobody was really sure.

Well over a hundred tickets had been sold and at 7.30pm the mainly art student audience began trickling into the auditorium. Before them was a stage, bare except for a grand piano and a stool. They waited.

At 7.45pm a chauffeur-driven limousine pulled up outside the Theatre. Two men got out and handed an object and a piece of paper to a Mr Keith Richardson Jones who was master of ceremonies. There was no sign of Yoko herself.

Five minutes later Mr Jones appeared on stage. He placed a 2 foot by 2 foot photograph of Miss Ono on the keyboard of the piano and walked off again. The audience murmured and there was some nervous laughter.

Several minutes later Mr Jones reappeared with a typewritten notice from Yoko Ono herself. It said: "fly". The crowd wanted to know what it meant - after all they had forked out 5 shillings for a ticket.

Did it mean she would be flying in later on? Did it mean they should let their imagination fly? Did it mean they should fly off home? Remember, this was 1968. It could be interpreted in whatever way they wished, said Mr Jones. He would be staying there till midnight just in case she showed up.

A chorus of disapproval arose. This "happening" just wasn't happening. They wanted Yoko - the real one - to validate the event. Mr Jones, in a bid to quell the growing discontent offered to reimburse them their 5 shillings. Placated, the materialistic celeb-obsessed students (never trust a hippy by the way) began drifting away.

One malcontent took off his shoe and tossed it onto the stage. A cheer went up. They'd seen through the emperor's new clothes and were off. Some die-hards remained, they hoped the footwear-throwing incident was part of the show and stared intently at the shoe.

At 8pm a handful of people were left. By 8.15pm the Theatre was empty. Only the photograph of Yoko Ono remained. It was a close up of her face - she was laughing.