Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hey There Delilah

Hey there Delilah / What’s it like in New York City? / I’m a thousand miles away / But girl, tonight you look so pretty / Yes you do / Times Square can’t shine as bright as you / I swear it’s true
I discovered yesterday that the song is not being sung by a guy in England to his girl in New York, as I’d initially thought. (Yes, I know you’re thinking “What kind of idiot would think that?” But I’m very clueless about distances in general). I made this important discovery when I looked up the distance between Calcutta and Mumbai, and found that it is all of 1227 miles. Hang on, I thought, so London-New York must be much greater, right? In fact, the distance between London and New York is no less than 3456 miles. So the guy’s probably somewhere in the United States as well. Which makes it all better somehow.

A thousand miles seems pretty far / But they’ve got planes and trains and cars...

All this reminded me of a story that Fenchurch relates to Arthur Dent in “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish”.
When I was a kid I had this picture hanging over the foot of my bed. It was one of those pictures that children are supposed to like, but don’t. Full of endearing little animals doing endearing things, you know? There was a raft with rabbits, and assorted rats and owls. There may even have been a reindeer. And a boy was sitting on the raft.
The picture worried me, I must say. There was an otter swimming in front of the raft, and I used to lie awake at night worrying about this otter having to pull the raft, with all these wretched animals on it who shouldn’t even be on a raft, and the otter had such a thin tail to pull it with I thought it must hurt pulling it all the time. Worried me. Not badly, but just vaguely, all the time.
Then one day - and remember I’d been looking at this picture every night for years - I suddenly noticed that the raft had a sail. Never seen it before. The otter was fine, he was just swimming along.
It was just such a sudden revelation, years of almost unnoticed worry just dropping away, like taking off heavy weights, like black and white becoming colour, like a dry stick suddenly being watered. The sudden shift of perspective that says ‘Put away your worries, the world is a good and perfect place. It is in fact very easy.’
Now I’d read the book at the cynical age of fifteen, and I’d thought, “What a stupid story! What a load of fuss about a silly imaginary otter!” And this post is a load of fuss about a silly song about an imaginary girl. But at least I know what Fenchurch meant.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

driver said...

Shrabasti said...
Heh,love the posts! I actually rather like reading people's blogs,for no particular reason:-) Which is why I didn't mind the "publicity";-)

Pratiti said...
Uh oh.Even I thought the guy was in England. But come to think of it, even without knowing about distances, we should have figured. Somwehere in the song he says he'd walk to her, and how could he possibly walk across the Atlantic?! Oh whatthe, what pointless stuff.Just trying to prove to myself that being clueless about distances is not of much consequence, I guess.