Friday, June 15, 2007

Days I'll Remember all My Life

You have to hand it to Ray Davies. He has the knack of reaching into an experience and pulling out a song of incredible depth which can speak to you on so many levels, and yet which appears deceptively simple.

Days is one such song. And when he played it the other week at the Albert Hall it seemed to resonate in a way it hadn't done with me before.

I think that may be what's set me off on this nostalgia fest about my dad. I have no idea of the provenance of that song, or who it's for. Presumably it's a love song. But oh.... how powerfully it taps into the emotions I'm feeling.

Take for example the line about days when you can't see wrong from right. My dad was one of those people who have a clear moral code. He could always see wrong from right, and had a strong sense of natural justice, and a righteous anger about people who did very bad things for selfish or material gain. In that way, he reminds me slightly of David Tennant's portrayal of the Doctor, without the ruthlessness. My dad was never could never have been ruthless, but he shared that steely anger when people have really gone too far. (Maybe that's why I like David Tennant so much.)

I remember him once telling me about going for a medical check up. He was a heavy smoker but at that time had only just resumed smoking after a period of two years. As he was getting changed in the next cubicle, he heard the doctor bullying an elderly Jewish lady calling her Mother, constantly and subjecting her to a series of nasty racist jibes. This so infuriated my father, he wanted to bring the doctor down a peg or two. When it was his turn to be seen, he subjected himself to various tests, including a chest x ray. He was also asked about his general wellbeing, including the inevitable question, Do you smoke? Oh, yes, responded my father. The quack, who by now had my dad's x ray in front of him, looked rather perplexed. How many do you smoke a day? Ooh, about forty. The doctor was left scratching his head as to how my dad's lungs could possibly look so clean when he smoked that number of fags. My dad left laughing, having not admitted to having only started smoking again the day before. Don't get mad. Get even...

But more then that, this song resonates, as I'm sure it does for everyone who likes it, with that line about the days you'll remember all your life. There were so many. So very very many.

Days like the ones we had the summer before I went to university. I, two of my sisters and Father were all knocking about at home kicking our heels for a few weeks. We were getting bored of each other and getting under each other's feet. So periodically, Father would say, let's go out. And off we'd trot. We went to Woburn Abbey and laughed at the monkeys. We went to Frinton and had chips on a sea wall. Another visit with my mother took us to Poole. She had to go off on an errand for work, while we sat on the beach in the sunshine.

Days I remember as a child when he'd suddenly announce a treasure hunt and take us to our local park. Hidden among the foliage in the massive greenhouse would be toffees and other treats. Nobody else's dads did things like that.

Or very early days when he would sit patiently with me at the kitchen table helping me spell out words on a board, or taught me to play gin rummy.

Thanks to him I'm truly not frightened of the world, I do bless the light of every day he gave me. And though he's gone every day was utterly precious. And I am so grateful for each one.

Ray Davies really knows what he's taking about.

Thank you, so much, for the days.

13 comments:

Dumdad said...

I seem to remember that when you posted about the Kinks last month I commented that Days was my favourite song of theirs. (Lola runs it close). Damn, you beat me to it as I might well have used that as a title for some future post.

Again, another fascinating post. Do you ever get away from the computer? (I could ask myself that as well. Actually, I do but only because we only have one computer and my wife, son and daughter all demand their turns).

Jane Henry said...

sorry Dd... It was you poking me about Days that got me started on that thread, probably!! And titles are uncopyrighted - everyone always pinches everyone else's titles so you could use it again with impunity. I'd like to read your take on it too...

My fave Kinks song is You Really Got Me, but I do love Days, and Lola, and I'm Not Like Everybody Else and.....

There are a few I don't like, but not many.

And I probably like RD because of my dad too, because he's a wordsmith and so was my dad.

I do get away from the computer for school runs and am just about to hop out again to pick one up from cookery club and drop one at dancing...

You may notice I don't post much at the weekends... my computer time is firmly a weektime thing, my real life takes over at the weekends. Just as well as ALL the kids seem to want to be on it now...

rivergirlie said...

lovely post - lovely song - i love the kinks. ray davies is a fine poet. he used to live quite near where i did in highgate in the 70s. it was always a massive thrill to see him stalking round. sigh ...

Jane Henry said...

RG You LIVED near Ray Davies??????? I think he's a genius (perhaps you missed my ecstatic rhapsodies the other week!!)
It is a great great song.

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