Make You Feel My Love – Adele
…there is nothing that I wouldn’t do…
It was Jenny who first connected this song to Delilah Rose – you couldn’t escape it in that first year of her life, on the radio, the TV, all over the place, the beautiful baby child all together in our experience. What is also extraordinary is that Make You Feel My Love was released on the day that she was born.
2 days old
My god-daughter Delilah-Rose was born on January 28th 2008 at The Royal Sussex County Hospital, just a few yards from our house in Brighton. What a precious gift. Her mother Millie was the first of our friends and family to move down to Brighton after we’d taken the plunge and left the metropolis in 1996. Like Jenny and I, she was childless. Our situation is complex and multi-layered, Millie’s was simple so she decided to do something about it and found Rupert, who also wanted children, but not a relationship. I think she was very brave, and very inspired. The resulting child, a beautiful girl, is a blessing to us all.
2 weeks old
We’d had a busy winter, as usual. I’d finished my first play since 1990 – the hilarious and biting tale of a punk band reforming to make a credit-card commercial called The Dysfunkshonalz which played at The Bush in West London. Written by Mike Packer, it re-introduced me to the joy and terror of being onstage, and the joy and terror of learning the guitar, which I had to play in the show, and I’ll write about it at a later date. Then (pre-cat days!) we went to St Lucia with half the family for Christmas. Jenny’s parents have a house there in the village of Mon Repos and some of us stayed there, some down the road in the beautiful Foxgrove Hotel. I will blog that trip later too, it was amazing.
family gathering in St Lucia early 2008
Jenny left St Lucia earlier than I since she had to start rehearsals at The Almeida : Harold Pinter‘s The Homecoming, an exciting production which had Jenny playing the first Ruth who wasn’t white (with Harold’s blessing) with Ken Cranham (mentioned here many times because of our musical connection), Neil Dudgeon, Nigel Lindsay, Tony O’Donnell and Danny Dyer completing the cast. Michael Attenborough directed.
The last week of January 2008 Jenny was in the middle of Tech Week for The Homecoming, which means work is from 10a.m. to 11p.m. and she stays in London at her parents, all back from St Lucia by now, and travels to Islington from there. I am at home, preparing for an audition with Richard Curtis.
Then came Delilah-Rose.
Millie had workmen in her house finishing the loft, so after a night on the ward to make sure everything was fine, she and her new baby girl came to ours and stayed in our bed upstairs in the bedroom of love. I think I must have been on the sofabed downstairs because of Chaz, Millie’s birth partner, sleeping in The Green Room. So Delilah-Rose’s first house aged 2 days old was our house. I was in love with her from day one, and eight years later (nearly nine!!) I still am. She is my delight. I am, of course, Uncle Ralph.
2 months old
Six months later Millie christened Delilah-Rose in her local church. The godparents pledged to nurture the child in the ways of righteousness and so on.
Christening : Me, Jen, Delilah Rose & Millie, Lawrence, Betty, Chaz
6 months old, St Luke’s Church
January 28th 2008 was also when Adele’s first album ‘19‘ was released. Adele had been at the Brit School in Croydon, (same as my sister Lucy, and Amy Winehouse), graduating in 2006 and releasing a self-penned song on MySpace (remember those days?) which earned her a record deal with XL. I bought the LP on the strength of the single Chasing Pavements but soon found this incredible song, written by Bob Dylan, which towers over the other songs in its simplicity and depth. I’m not saying that Adele isn’t a strong songwriter – she is, and her 2nd LP ‘21‘ would bear that out even more than her great debut, but Make You Feel My Love is simply an outstanding piece of songwriting. Covered by many artists, from Billy Joel to Bryan Ferry, Garth Brooks to Rebecca Ferguson, this version stands out as the best, revealing the young woman who was soon to be the most successful singer in the world, and one of the most successful of all time. Pretty astonishing.
I love Bryan Ferry‘s version too, but my relationship with Bryan is eternal and faintly obsessive. No one can sing the word “avenue” quite like Bryan. Bob Dylan’s original, on the 1997 LP Time Out Of Mind is raw and instinctively unsentimental for reasons only Bob (and his millions of fans) will understand. The greatest living songwriter perhaps, with a throwaway song that is held up and revered by so many, and spawns a thousand karaoke, Britain’s Got Talent, X-Factor covers. Which has been enough to put many people off the song. There is such a thing as over-exposure, but the best songs can deal with that. This is one of those.
In the years that followed Adele’s success became simply extraordinary with Grammys, Oscars, Golden Globes and massive sales figures which have put her in the Guinness Book Of Records. Over the same period Delilah-Rose has grown to be a simply delightful child, thoughtful, bright, helpful and affectionate, with all credit due to Millie. Delilah does have a relationship with her Dad Rupert, and his extended family, but Millie is there every day. When we lived in Brighton (and sometimes when I’m back) the phone will ring at 4pm or so and it will be Millie stuck in traffic and Uncle Ralph can you collect Delilah-Rose from school? Some mornings I’m round there at 8 to take her to school because Mills has to drive to Norfolk or Chichester or Essex for a meeting.
10 & a half months old with Mimi
The first time I spent a long time with my god-daughter was Christmas Eve 2009. I went over at 8a.m. Millie gave me house keys and rushed out, not before pointing out critical areas such as nappies, food and favourite toys. As the door closed Delilah and I looked at each other. I remember thinking : OK. I have twelve hours with this child who isn’t quite two years old. Now what ? I decided to sit on the floor with her. She immediately went to her toy box and one by one, pulled out a toy and showed it to me, naming it. This took almost two hours! After that we were firm friends. We went into town to see Father Christmas in Churchill Square but she was a little young for that. Mills eventually got home at about 9pm. I’d changed nappies, made food, comforted, played and hugged – a perfectly normal day for any parent but a pretty special one for me. I’ve had many more since then.
4 + 3/4 years old playing Snow White
you eyeballing me boy ? (last week : 8 + 1/2 yrs old)
Moving to New York in 2014 was particularly hard for Delilah and I. We saw each other every week. Suddenly I wasn’t there. I am still in her life though, and she is in my heart. Only last week I was sitting on her bed reading her a story before she went to sleep. Precious moments. But it is exactly these moments that I have sacrificed in the move to Brooklyn, chasing the pension pot, the adventure and the fantasy of never growing old. I miss my friends, my football team, my band, my family. But mainly I miss the little ones, in particular Skye, and my god-daughters Delilah-Rose and Chloe.
Skye is 2, Delilah Rose is 8
Millie bought the album “19” too, and one afternoon Jenny was round there, holding the baby girl in her arms as Milly was upstairs. She must have been three months old. This song Make You Feel My Love came on the stereo, and Jenny made a silent promise to herself and to the child, that she would keep for all of her life.