By Natalie Clarke
09th April 2009
Last month, filming began on a new movie charting the years when John
Lennon was an aspiring musician in Liverpool. For one woman in
particular, it will be a strange experience watching Nowhere Boy.
Up to now, Patricia Inder has said little about her relationship with
Lennon, so her role in his story has been forgotten - she was the
stunning beauty with whom Lennon was having an affair while he seeing
Cynthia Powell, who would become his first wife.
'To those who weren't there, the Beatles are these superstars, the
biggest pop group in history, but to me they were just my mates,'
says Patricia. 'We'd pick up some chips from the shop, a few
cigarettes and some cheap wine and go back to a friend's flat play
records. We all loved rock 'n' roll.
'John and I were friends before we became lovers and he was my first.
I suppose I've always loved him.
'For years I could not forget John because he was a Beatle and
constantly on the TV and in newspapers. And 50 years on, here we go again.'
Patricia still has the long hair that first entranced Lennon. Asked
her age, says she likes to call herself a 'rock angel' - though the
fact she met Lennon in 1958, when she was 15 and he was 18, means she
is now 66.
The band was then called The Silver Beetles and, as well as Lennon,
Paul McCartney and George Harrison (Ringo Starr joined a couple of
years later), included Stuart Sutcliffe, the bass guitarist who would
die in 1962 from brain haemorrhage aged just 21.
Pat recalls that after one gig, Paul came over and chatted up the girls.
'He said: "Sorry I didn't play your request." I replied: "But I
didn't make one."
He then introduced me to the band, who were sitting in the stairwell.
'They were all lovely. John had a great sense of humour and a big
personality. We all became mates.'
Patricia, the daughter of a docker and his school cook wife, had a
crush McCartney, but he had a girlfriend, Dot.
'We all just hung out together,' she says. 'Paul and John would come
back to my mate Sue's place and listen to rock roll, and they would
scribble lyrics on of paper they found.
'I'd go and see them play at the Cavern Club. There was such a buzz.
I told a friend they would be bigger than Cliff Richard: what an
Patricia and Lennon became lovers 1960, when she was 17 and he was 20.
'Until then, I hadn't really been attracted to John,' says Patricia.
'But you know what they say - it's in the kiss. After that I looked
at him differently.'
It seems Lennon had planned the seduction of the virginal Patricia.
John said they were doing a gig on a boat on the Mersey and then they
were having a party at Sue's flat, but I wasn't to invite anyone
else. So John and I got back to the flat and no one else was there.
'I said: "Where is everyone?" He replied: "Oh, I forgot to tell you:
it's a party for two, just you and me."
'He said he'd be gentle with me, which I realise sounds corny.
Afterwards, we lay wrapped in each other's arms all night long.
'He was my first lover, and I fell madly in love. He was incredibly
romantic. He'd tell me I had beautiful eyes and kiss my eyelids.
'He often had his guitar with him and one lovely memory I have is of
John and me in bed, with me strumming and him playing the chords.
John always wore his socks in bed, I don't know why. We talked about
lots of things. He told me he had lost his virginity in the graveyard
of Liverpool Cathedral when he was 13, with an older woman.
'I used to go to Nems's record shop in Liverpool, which was owned by
Brian Epstein. I told him he should go down the Cavern to see The
Beatles. One day he did, and became their manager.'
It would have been perfect, had John not had an official girlfriend,
Cynthia, a middle-class girl he'd known since art school.
'I knew about her, but she didn't know about me,' says Patricia.
'John didn't often bring her to gigs, but I do remember one time he
brought her to the Cavern. He came up to me and said he'd be over
later after he'd put Cynthia in a taxi.
'Obviously, I wasn't happy about the situation and I'd tell John I
felt I was wasting my time. His response was that one woman was never
enough for a man.
'He would say he was torn between two blondes, that he loved Cynthia,
but was in love with me.
'I have nothing against Cynthia. In fact, I'd love to meet her
because we'd have a lot to talk about.'
Despite his two-timing, Pat soon discovered John was insecure.
'He thought he was ugly and would ask me what I saw in him. When I
told him The Beatles would be big one day, he'd be surprised and say:
"Do you really think so?"'
One night, after a gig, she says Lennon asked her to marry him.
'We'd been to a restaurant, just John and I, and had a bottle of wine
or two and were a bit tipsy.
'We were in a narrow alleyway when John suddenly said: "Marry me
Pat." I was so young and could not believe it, so I just kept saying:
"Stop messing about, John." The next day it was forgotten.'
Instead, in August 1962, Lennon married Cynthia after they discovered
she was pregnant with their son, Julian.
Paul McCartney took Patricia to one side during a trip to Hamburg.
'He said to me: "Pat, I think you should know: John has got married
to Cynthia and she's pregnant.
'It was a terrible shock. I was devastated. I bumped into him at the
Cavern and he said we could carry on as before, but I didn't want to.
I was heartbroken.'
Soon afterwards, The Beatles became superstars and left Liverpool -
and Pat - behind them. In 1965, she took a job as a nanny in
Richmond, Surrey, and that year saw her first love for the final time
after wangling a backstage pass at a gig at Hammersmith Odeon.
'My friend and I had to fight our way through the crowd to the
dressing room. And there was John. He was combing his hair, but when
he saw me he dropped it and said: "It's the love of my life."
'He picked me up, swung me around and kissed me. We only had a few
minutes to talk because he had to go on stage.'
Pat hung out with The Rolling Stones and was a friend of the model
Chrissy Shrimpton. At 24, she met Lemmy, who would later front the
bands Hawkwind and Motorhead. They had a son, Paul, who is a record
producer in Hollywood.
Patricia says she raised him single-handedly after Lemmy left her
when their son was small.
She occasionally bumped into mutual friends of hers and Lennon.
'One or two people said he used to ask after me and said he'd love to
see me again,' she says.
Patricia says she had a weird dream the night Lennon was shot in 1980.
'I woke up at about 4am, which was just after he'd been killed,' she
says. 'I'd had a dream there was a big hole in the ground. Someone
was saying: "Help me!" But I couldn't see them.
'The next day I heard the news. I felt shock and disbelief, it was
terrible. He was such a lovely man.'
Patricia is single, but says she hasn't given up on meeting the man
of her dreams.
'John spoilt it for me,' she says. 'He made me think all men were as
romantic, funny and talented as him.
'John was special, he really was. Wouldn't it have been great if I
had married him after he proposed? Things may have turned out very
differently for both of us.'