I have been a follower of the Kinks since "You Really Got Me" first burst on an unsuspecting world and I was a fourteen-year-old schoolboy. I had a school friend called Terry who was a similarly fanatical devotee. Terry and I continued our education together, through BSc and PhD in Physics at the University of London, King's College, (which overlooks Waterloo Bridge, where we could watch the dirty old river rolling into the night).
The education included spending most of our spare time in a nearby pub, the Savoy Tavern, drinking, chasing women and singing Kinks songs. The woman-chasing wasn't tremendously successful, mainly because the drinking generally got out of hand, but Terry's "chat-up" lines consisted almost entirely of Ray Davies lyrics. Unfortunately, many women seemed rather nonplussed when approached with, for example, "Baby, I feel good!", "I'm not like everybody else!" or even "I'm King Kong and I'm ten feet long!" One of his slightly more successful ploys was to claim that he was the Terry referred to in "Waterloo Sunset". Of course, Ray had never met him, let alone mentioned him in a song.
In fact, Ray did once come into the Savoy Tavern, (must have been around 1972/3) with a blonde woman. Terry and I were so utterly shocked we were dumbstruck and were unable to approach Ray. We eventually told one of the barmaids (who I was trying to pull at the time - no luck) that we would buy Ray's next round of drinks, but he and his lady friend left after just one half pint, so we didn't manage to communicate with him. As you can imagine, we felt pretty sick and had to get extremely drunk, muttering "It's a shame, such a shame, such a shame.....where have all the good times gone?....and now there's no-one left, 'cept my friends.." etc.
Sadly, Terry died, after a fall, in 1975, but I have carried on talking Kinksish (i.e. bringing up a Davies lyric appropriate to any situation), buying every Kinks record I could and spreading the word wherever I have been, which included a year as a post-doc at U. Hawaii and two years in Ottawa (where I got involved in a spying incident) as well as the various parts of the UK I have lived.
I have recently retired as Managing Director of a cryogenics company (manufacturing and installing liquid nitrogen equipment, not freezing bodies) but I am still a dedicated follower.
Much to the astonishment of my staff, I am also keyboard player in a local rock band, The Fingers, in which I insist that we play several Kinks numbers. Descriptions of my performing style range from "eccentric" to "mental". I also have 2 recording bands, The Spivs, specialising in Kinks "kovers", and Frightened Eyes performing my own songs, which are inspired by Ray Davies's "slice of life" style. A local journalist actually compared my songs to Ray's, although I wouldn't dream of being so presumptuous.
I first saw Ray doing "The Storyteller" at the Birmingham Rep early in 1997, which I greatly enjoyed. I have since seen may incarnations of his solo shows. I last saw the Kinks at Wolverhampton late in 1995. It was by far the best live performance I have ever seen from them. It's good to see that they can still pull packed houses, with audiences made up not only of ageing ravers like myself, but also young punks (singing "Fafafa fa fa fa fa fa" until Ray finally agreed to do "David Watts" in the encore) and all sorts in between.
I have read both "X-Ray" and "Kink" and enjoyed them both, although I felt that Ray was still not really letting himself go when talking about himself. Whenever I have seen or heard him being interviewed live he has always appeared very reticent and even awkward. His personality does seem to change dramatically between on- and off-stage. I guess that I can identify with that as I have a tendency to shyness except when I am performing with the band. I found "Kink", particularly the excesses and debaucheries of Dave's earlier years, rather scary.
I have been trying to ensure that I have at least one recording of every one of Ray's songs (I have most of Dave's as well) and I think I am nearly there - apart from some obscure ones which reputedly exist, but don't seem to have been recorded.
One of the highlights of my life occurred in March 1998. I attended the Arvon Foundation's Songwriting Course, tutored by Ray Davies, at Sheepwash in Devon. It was the most fun I have had with my clothes on. The Sheepwash Scrapbook web site contains lots of photos and other stuff relating to the course.
Since then I have met Ray twice - at the Virgin Megastore, where he was doing a performance and CD signing, and in a hotel bar after his 1998 gig in Santa Rosa. What a nice man!
Anyway, that's enough about me, except to say that my favourite albums (at the moment) are "Muswell Hillbillies" and "Phobia" and my favourite song is "Celluloid Heroes" (or is it "Do It Again" or "A Little Bit of Emotion" or any one of the others?)