This song holds nothing but good memories for me. My father has always been a massive Phil Collins fan (I suppose that’s what you get from being in your twenties during the 80’s) and from a young age I have grown up listening to his music myself. The link is so strong that even when my father isn’t present and I listen to Phil Collins, I can only hear the words being sung from memories in my father’s voice.
Because my parents separated when I was only a year old and my father has lived in Essex for as long as I can remember, the car journeys from home to my father’s house were always the main place where I would listen to Phil Collins with him. So, if you were wondering why such a sombre song brought only good memories for me, now you know.
Car journeys with my father – when I was a little girl anyway – were always exciting affairs for me. He would do his utmost to keep me entertained on every trip, probably so that I did not ask the dreaded ‘are we there yet?’ every two seconds, and he had many inventive ways of doing so. He was often put on the spot as my easily amused infant mind would ask him to drive a different route home every single time and somehow, much to my now-adult amazement, he always managed it. I don’t remember much of the various routes he took but I know how much I loved seeing the differences in the roads and houses compared to whichever way we had gone before. My dad always seemed to be inexplicably knowledgeable about each new area we went to and times he had been there before and as a child, I was awestruck at this seemingly endless supply of geographical information. I still can’t quite believe that he had so many variations of routes home, so many experiences to draw on, and so much patience to put up with my nagging every single time.
The other main ‘game’ we liked to play as I got older was what I know refer to as ‘the numberplate game’. The rules are simple. You look around at each of the cars driving around you (this game is particularly good on motorways), you take the last three letters of a number plate, e.g ELA, and you say it as if it were a word, ‘Ee-Lah’. Yes, I’ll admit, it doesn’t sound very fun but to a child it is surprisingly amusing. My father isn’t the most serious man on the planet, but I still appreciate how willing he was to join in my infantile enjoyments.
I would always be sad when the engine turned off and the music stopped playing, but I guess in a way, it never did. The fact that as an adult, I can put Phil Collins on and remember all the words and the good times we had, I can return to that car whenever I like.