Today’s song is ‘Have I Told You Lately’. This popular song was written by Scotty Wiseman for the 1944 musical film, ‘Sing, Neighbour, Sing and performed by ‘Lulu Belle and Scotty’. It was the greatest hit of Wiseman and his wife and was one of the first country music songs to attract major attention in the pop music field. It's repeating the fourth line is ‘Well darling, I'm telling you now.’ Although it was featured in the movie, it wasn't released by them until 1947 (and then again in 1956). The first released version of this song was by Gene Autry, the singing cowboy movie star in 1945.
There have literally been a hundred people record their cover version of this hit song over the years. Big named cover artists include: Bing Crosby: The Andrew Sisters: Elvis Presley : Ricky Nelson: Eddie Cochran: Michael Buble: Bob Hope with Bing Crosby: Billy Fury: Vera Lynn: Al Martino: Willie Nelson: Patti Page: Jim Reeves: Cliff Richard: Tex Ritter: Kenny Rogers: Sissy Spacek: Slim Whitman: Hank Williams: Porter Wagoner: Roy Rogers: Pat Boone and dozens of others.
Given that this song has been around for the past 75 years, and despite me being 77 years old, it has never registered in my mind before November 2019. It seems incredible that I haven’t heard it before a few weeks ago. I must have heard it at some time yet cannot recall. And if I did hear it, I cannot possibly believe that I wouldn’t remember, as it is such a lovely song that certainly resonates with something I have always believed in; the importance of telling someone that ‘you love them’ and the tremendous power of these spoken words.
If anyone ever asked me to tell them the most important thing my mother ever gave me, I’d have no hesitation or exhibit the slightest of doubt in what I would tell them. ‘The most important thing my mother ever gave me was the knowledge and belief that ‘she loved me’. I can never recall one day throughout my childhood when my mother did not say these precious words to me and my six siblings. She would tell us every time we left the house to go to school and every bedtime before we climbed the stairs that we were loved.
Indeed saying, ‘I love you’ is the way that I always sign off any daily text of mine to family members and whenever any family member visit, we all embrace or kiss, male and female. Knowing how important that constantly hearing these words have been to me in my life, I have always done the same with all my children in this respect as my mother did with hers. I would have to honestly state however, that my father was not an emotionally expressive man. I can count the few times he said, ’I Love You’, although I always knew he did by his actions, on those occasions he was more emotionally expressive.
My twenty-seven years working as a Probation Officer, Group Worker, Relaxation Trainer and Counsellor was to demonstrate to me how important ‘feeling loved’ and ‘hearing from others that you are loved’ is. It greatly affects a person’s long-term development and behaviour; it influences one’s overall health and it largely determines a person’s level of happiness.
So many people who never learned to emotionally express their feelings (whether good or bad), go on to develop all manner of problem behaviours and response patterns that are injurious to their overall health, immediate safety and their long-term freedom. One of the most important and most powerful of all tasks I could ever give a person was to persuade them to say, ‘I love you’ to another group member or significant other. I invariably found that it is often harder to get a person to say ‘I love you’ than to push a jelly uphill!
I will never forget providing Relaxation Training to a group of women prisoners serving life sentences and extended prison sentences in a Wakefield Prison during the 1990s (Newhall Prison). I attended a group of 15 women weekly for over a year. We held our two-hour weekly group in the prison chapel. After each relaxation session, we would discuss whatever problems the women had and how best to approach these problems. As with all long-term serving prisoners, there are no small problems. All problems are ‘big problems.’ I have known a prisoner get knifed by another inmate for simply looking at another inmate and I have heard of a number of prisoner deaths, by other inmates, because of some misspoken words that would have been better left unsaid.
As part of the prison population, most of these women selected for my group had committed the most heinous of crimes. Some had physically abused children, a few had murdered children, one had set a person’s home on fire during the night when the family was asleep which led to the death of two of the occupants and one had cut her pimp’s/boyfriend’s throat. Around half of the group had supplied drugs for their men and there were a few arsonists in the group. Stabbing with a kitchen knife, pouring boiling water over someone’s head or setting fire to, seem to be the most common of female prisoner’s methods of killing their abusive partner or another victim.
Where they were alike, however, was that almost all the female prisoners had been abused or ill-used by men all their life. The type of behaviour they had endured included sexual abuse by a father figure, close relative and family; along with physical, sexual, mental and psychological abuse by a man or partner with whom they had lived or married or pimped for.
Although the background circumstances of each prisoner varied greatly, all held one thing in common. Not one of them had ever been told by a parent ‘I love you’ and none had ever felt to have received parental love. I will never forget one December, towards the end of the group, when I received a birthday card from each woman in the prison group. These are some of the most remembered Christmas cards I ever received, and they held 'pride of place' in my home that Christmas. None of the cards had been bought, and all had been made by the woman prisoner. Towards many women I had been the first man in their life they were able to say, ‘I love you’ to, without it having any connection to or any association with sex. Every Christmas card I received said those three important words, ‘I love you’ Mr Forde. Happy Christmas. I knew that some cards would have been very hard to write as the sender was often barely literate, but still, they wrote the best they could.
Between 1990 and 2000, I held over 2000 school assemblies in Yorkshire schools. I was a popular regional children’s author at the time and would hold twice daily story-telling assemblies. There was usually between 100 and 200 pupils in these assemblies and I have been in some larger schools with over 300 pupils at assembly. I would always read from one of my books during these visits. My stories would always be moral tales which dealt with a topic that adversely affected the lives and feelings of children. Common story themes would be separation, loss, bereavement, bullying, greed, homelessness, all manner of discrimination, anger and love.
I was often accompanied by a celebrity reader of national or international fame during these assemblies (800+ famous names between 1990-2000) and whether it was the celebrity or myself reading to the assemble, we would always end with a most important message. I would ask all the children assembled, ‘Who wants to give you mum and dad the best present you could ever give them when you go to bed tonight?” Naturally, all the children’s hands went up in the air. Then, I would tell them, “ Before you say ‘goodnight’ to your mum and dad tonight or the parent you live with if mum and dad don’t live together anymore, look into their eyes and say ‘I love you, Mum’ or ‘I love you, Dad’ and watch their faces light up with the happiest smile you have ever seen. That is the best present you could ever give them. It doesn’t cost one penny, yet it is priceless! And, if you want to give them that same present many times, say these words to them every morning, every night and every time you leave the house. They are the three most important words in the world that one person can say to another.”
I know from pupils whom I later met as adults that those who did as I asked, never regretted following my advice. If you are a mum or dad, however young or old your children are or whether they are child or adult status, frequently tell them that you love them. If you are a person who finds it very hard to voice these precise words to your child, or the parent, it is never too late to say these three words, and for the child, it can never be too late to hear them.
I jointly dedicate my song today to three people who are celebrating their birthday today; my dear family friend in County Kilkenny n Ireland, Kay Brennan, our family church friend, Keith Hutchinson from Keighley, West Yorkshire and my Facebook friend, Benny Norris, from Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary in Ireland.
Have a happy birthday. May your special day be filled with much happiness, love…and…lots of cake and suitable refreshment. I love you all. Bill.
Love and peace Bill xxx