On the Saturday, congregated in a hallway in Dave Davies’s house, we wait to meet the man himself, and I suspect he sabotages the orchestrated entrance by sidling in, embarrassed to be announced, and immediately hugging the group member closest to him. So that my first words to him are ‘Do we all get a hug?’ And it seems that we do, for Dave is a very tactile and demonstrative person. Maybe it’s to do with the ‘supportive and nurturing environment’ he mentions that he grew up in.
He’s endearingly ordinarily dressed but in rock-star black – black t-shirt (not without holes), trousers, socks and crocs, with a string of black beads round his neck. (Wears a bright pink v-necked sweater over black the second day.) In the main room, once seated in a plush, scarlet, throne-like chair with a yoga blanket thrown over it, for a while he puts on and pulls off a well-worn, black fleece hat in a nervous and unsure way as he talks. But then he settles down and sets it aside so he must start to feel a bit more secure.
He constantly consults Rosina, spiritual healer and reiki practitioner, on his righthand side in a slightly smaller red chair, as if seeking her reassurance, with questions like ‘Shall we do that now?’; ‘Do you want to do that?’ so that it’s very much a collaborative presentation.
On the Sunday, I like to think Dave feels a lot more comfortable about having a group of strangers in his home. I had felt instantly at home in the relaxed atmosphere from the day before but I’m not that sure about the occult aspect set to feature today. A diet of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has led me to worry that the merest hint of a pentagram could open a portal to some horrific hell dimension likely to suck us all in. Although a completely collapsed Catholic, I still take the precaution of crossing myself before we begin proceedings. But a brief introduction to the work of Israel Regardie doesn’t really ring any alarm bells. It certainly doesn’t seem sinister on first acquaintance.
Basically, it all fits in with Dave’s conviction that we should remain open to everything and try to unlock our own potential, trust in and empower ourselves. I wonder if my anxiety about magic and occultism is just a learned prejudice, underlined by our religion and culture? And if we hear voices, why shouldn’t we listen to them?
When we’re about to gather to pray for world peace in the afternoon, Dave sees me outside beforehand, looks at me kindly and says ‘You don’t have to come in if you don’t want to’ in an understanding manner.
‘Of course I do,’ I say, or, actually, knowing me, probably something much less enthused, like ‘No, I will, might as well’ (as if I’m doing him a huge favour). I must have come across as a right curmudgeonly sceptic – I mean, who wouldn’t want to pray for world peace?
Maybe it was because earlier we’d been essaying a deep meditation when Kate came in with tea for everyone. No one could refuse although the clattering of crockery and teaspoons was rather distracting, along with the quiet questions ‘Tea or coffee? Milk and sugar?’ So we were handed our beverages and immediately put them down in order to focus dutifully once more on the meditation.
When the meditation ended, however, and Dave asked what we’d been thinking about, I came out with ‘I was wondering if my tea had got cold.’
‘Is that all?’ he asked, clearly disappointed. ‘Nothing else?’ I felt like a deeply unspiritual wretch, taking refuge in flippant remarks and general irreverence. Other people thankfully have more enlightening things to say. A minute or two later, Dave takes a sip from his cup and pronounces, ‘My tea’s cold too.’ And I think he’s forgiven me …
Because although the spiritual aspect was important and everyone seemed genuinely to believe that we could make a difference, it was leavened with humour, never po-faced or pompous. I still feel fairly circumspect about it, though I was with someone eternally susceptible to anything the least bit moving. I once had to grab her hand in a happy clappy church to prevent her from accepting Jesus just because a particular song had made us both weep.
Not everything about the weekend goes to plan and I’m not sure how much this is by accident or design or perhaps necessitated by time constraints. The casual Q&As never take place, to my eternal regret, as I was bursting with inappropriate questions. And Dave didn’t get a chance to speak about UFOs though I wish he had.
Neither did he mention brother Ray Davies, at least not in general discussions. Recent interviews indicate that he’s dead-set against any Kinks reunion. And it seems somehow perversely intransigent of Dave, who’s sensibly forgiven himself all his own bad behaviour, and who seems so at peace with who he is now, not to forgive his brother his no doubt multifarious crimes against him. So many of us would give our right arms to have them play together again. Or maybe he does forgive him but can’t deal with Ray’s persistent recidivism?
In addition to the songs from the night before, we get (in response to requests so unrehearsed) some of ‘Party Line’ and ‘Last of the Steam Powered Trains’ (though I’ve only heard this about three times I think I know more lyrics than Dave does), plus ‘Sea of Heartbreak’ and ‘One Day at a Time’. Still trying to work out some of the words to songs like ‘Fortis Green’ in which I think I hear ‘Fuck some bird’ but rationalise that it must be ‘Buxom bird’. In fact it turns out to be altogether more innocent – ‘Luxembourg’. Similarly, I thought Ray was informing us in ‘Mr Pleasant’ that the wife had been ‘rutting around’ instead of the more PG-rated ‘flirting around’. And on a first listen to ‘Well-respected Man’, I misheard ‘he was dying to get at her’ as ‘he was dying to get up her’ and was quite shocked. My lyric-interpretation skills seem to linger in the vicinity of the gutter.
I am reminded at one point, right at the end of the last day, of a line from Kink, as Dave looks momentarily completely drained and frankly fed up, no doubt waiting for us all to be gone and leave him in peace: ‘Sometimes you’re left standing there feeling totally empty yet people still expect something from you.’ Because the truth is that we all do want a piece of him, like baby birds in a nest. In an instant he reverted to upbeat graciousness but I think the weekend in a way took as much out of him as it gave to the rest of us.