The title for this came to me in a flash but I didn’t know why. I was about to share a day in my own life, which might reasonably be considered entertaining by some but the lyrics to a song I haven’t heard in decades came to me. It went like this...
“Woke up. Fell out of bed.
Dragged a comb across my head.
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up, I noticed I was late...”
This was the start to my day. A day in the life of a psychotherapist. Then I realised, those lyrics belong to the title of my story, A Day in The Life. This is the final track of The Beatles 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. How synchronous. Like my story today.
Today was my first day back at work after a three week break over a quiet, peaceful Christmas period. The first appointment of the day was 8am. The one and only early bird session of the week that I can sensibly offer. I woke up from a dream, in which I was about to discover a truth, to the alarm on my phone. I stumbled but didn’t fall, out of bed, dragged my hands through my rather grown out short hair, made my way downstairs and drank a cup - of tea. Strong. Then I took a quick, as is usually the case, look on social media and was stunned by the news in Australia. I thought to myself, “I read the news today, oh boy.” A line from the Beatles song that is now the parallel for my story today.
This particular line refers to an article John Lennon was reading in The Daily Mail, at the time he wrote the lyrics to A Day in The Life, about the Guinness heir, Tara Browne, who killed himself in a car crash in 1966. The young socialite had been friends with John Lennon and Paul McCartney. He reportedly, missed a red light and crashed his Lotus Elan into a lorry, killing him instantly. He was about to inherit his fortune from the Guinness family. ”A lucky man who made the grade” but "Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords." How ironic, these lyrics and idea of this socialite being mistaken for a dignitary. Both are privileged yet hold no power. Time for work.
I realised that like the man in the Beatles song, I had been rudely awoken by the alarm and was running late. Bad hair mornings that begin on the back foot have yet to become a thing of the past. By 11am I was on a coffee break and getting ready for afternoon clinic. In the spaces between clients, I reflect on things while I attend what needs doing around the house. One of the joys of working from home. The lyrics to the song played in my head while I fed the two lop eared rabbits who live with me.
“I read the news today, oh boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall"
This verse refers to another news article John Lennon had seen while writing this song, about the number of holes in our roads. He takes us from the sublime to the ridiculous. Lennon and McCartney’s collaboration seems to bring two sides of a world view together. One cheery yet ordinary and the other mournful and melancholy but then there's a rebellious streak all the way through. I bet the man who fell out of bed would have loved to go to The Albert Hall, fight for his country, drive a Lotus or turn someone on. I check back on the story.
Five million animals dead in Australia. Burned in the bush. I thought to myself, “I just had to look.” Here, John Lennon refers to a war film he was in where "A crowd of people turned away" and in the song he doesn’t, he looks. Like the pictures of the bush fire tragedies being posted on Facebook, I just had to look, and then I thought, how interesting that an English song writer was inspired by an article about the holes in our roads and how many it would take to fill The Albert Hall. “They had to count them all,” He sang. The news today was about the fires in the Australian bush, how many it would take to cover an area the size of Europe and the five million dead creatures that had been counted. A crowd of people turned away, had to run away, from their homes.
Lennon wrote his lyrics in a way that made it possible for the auspicious, the ordinary, the bizarre and the tragic to exist in some kind of coherent narrative that McCartney arranged around an orchestral piece that had musicians behaving in unexpected ways. The orchestra was conducted by Paul McCartney and builds to a crescendo, that was supposed be like a musical orgasm, while the musicians wore false noses and all the way through there’s the line “I’d love to turn you on.”
I like that line because it was controversial at the time and it's why the BBC banned the song. This is mild by today’s standards. I prefer not to read my news feed these days because it is so unbelievable and manufactured in a way that irritates me. I don't like the way these things are designed to reel you in. I don’t know what is false or real anymore. I take another quick look.
The video footage of the animals killed in the fires was followed by a political rant about how the Australian government made no provision for the predicted bush fires and a young woman refused to shake the hand of their prime minister. In the last verse of the song, Lennon refers to the English Army having just won the war. This is a reference to a film in which a Lennon played the part of Musketeer Gripweed, a bumbling English soldier in a parody of a war film that looks like a piss take of the establishment.
“I just had to laugh.” I could hear Lennon's wistful voice singing this line and I thought to myself, that young woman made a statement much like Lennon might have done. His tone in the song is not insolent, rather it is one of sadness or pity even and "Having read the book," he knew what was going on. I watched the video of the song. Those young men look so serious. I felt as if I wanted to talk to them and see what they could see. The Beatles were a huge part of the antiestablishment counterculture of the time. Interestingly, that was also the age of Aquarius, which is here again now. It will be a time of great change but it is us who need to change. This is about our inner world not outer world.
The first verse feels like the end of the song but the sound of an alarm clock, not meant to be in the original recording and was left in because it seemed fitting, takes us to the next part, sung by Paul McCartney. It brings us back from the holes that could fill The Albert Hall into the ordinary, where a man wakes up and falls out of bed. I stumbled out of bed today as my alarm clock woke me. It interrupted me while dreamt about love and redemption. I wanted very much to go back to my dream, where everything was about to turn out right and have my day end just there. From the sublime to the tragic. Now I know how many holes it takes to fill The Albert Hall but I feel wretched about Australia.
A Day in The Life was recorded in January 1967