This opener to England's Dreaming Spires is, quite obviously, a song written by Mark about his mother.
"It is peculiar, but my mother, who is elderly, and thin, has always been shocked, flabbergasted, and disgusted by overweight people, especially women. A stone or two doesn't bother her, its when its a few stones or obesity, that she really becomes offended. She is also famous for drinking everyone under the table, although we have had to cut down her lagers. Anyway Just Like Nan is about what she is like in the hotel bar, where I take her once a week. She will wait until a really overweight woman is about 3 feet away and will say, in a loud voice, "there are some very peculiar females in here tonight". Note that- 'females'. The truth is my mother has always been a bit reserved, shall we say, with other 'females'. She likes men. Always did. Anyway, she will say 'I don't believe it' in a shocked voice when anyone over 15 stones appears. Which does remind me of 'Nan', Catherine Tate's character from a while back.
With 'Nan' I set out to write a working class lyric. I think 'Nan' could be anyones much loved but cantankerous elderly relative.
The song gets more melancholy as it progresses to the end. The verse melody is influenced by Neil Young, and I suppose this is where you can hear a Kinks influence coming in, in that it is acoustic rhythm guitar, bass, drums, with electric fills over the top. Thats some of my best guitar playing, yet the track is a bit shambolic. I always was impressed by the record 'Perfect' by Fairground Attraction from the 80s. Especially the guitar solo, and I wanted to write something like that and put it into a more 60s sounding context. The guitar part at the end I made up on the spot and we did ambient miking to get that sound, it was played on my new Danelectro. I don't play guitar like Dave Davies, but the fills are like his in that he would punctuate Rays lines in a similar way.''
"Ignoramuses will overplay the Kinks influence in what I do."
Mark is now off to sunny Wales for a break. The perfect place for a spot of writing.
Sir Percival Spitfire