Tuesday, 8 March 2011

30 Day Music Challenge: Day Five

I was doing so well and then a weekend got in the way, a fantastic weekend but not one involving much writing... I'm suspecting that this whole thing will probably take me a bit longer than 30 days but I doubt it matters that much.

Day Five: A Song That Reminds You of Someone

Thankfully today's song was much easier to choose than last Friday's... We all associate songs with people don't we - my friend Louise used to get people calling her from clubs at 3am because they were playing "her" song (9 to 5 by Dolly Parton) but over the past couple of months there has been one person on my mind more than most.

Sadly, on Valentine's Day this year my wonderful Nana passed away at the age of 92. Despite the fact that I have spoken or written those words at least a hundred times in the past two weeks it still doesn't seem real - she was the absolute heart of our family and I don't think I can express in words just how much we will all miss her. My childhood was defined by the time I spent with her - Holt, the village in which she lived, is as much home to me as where my parents live. My love for history certainly can be traced to Nana talking to me about the Romans, the Civil War and all the other facets of the history of a tiny village right on the English-Welsh border. When I went to university she wrote to me all the way through my first term, enclosing essentials like stamps and money for chocolate along with fervent wishes that I both keep warm and have fun.

Her legacy is far more however than my childhood memories - she bequeathed to all of us the knowledge of what it means to live life to the full. She went to university and had a long career as a teacher as well as looking after a husband and three children long before modern dilemmas about women "having it all". Family, however, was a vitally important part of her life as were her many friends, some of them acquaintances of over 80 years standing. On the day of her funeral the sun shone and the church was packed with people which was a more than fitting tribute to how wonderful a person she was. She was an intelligent, warm and inspirational woman with a wickedly dry sense of humour and a deep interest in everything happening in the world right until the very end of her life. I can't tell you how proud I am to be Dorothy Leyland's granddaughter, I only know that if I'm half the woman she was I'll count myself lucky.

One of my abiding childhood memories is going to church with Nana and listening to her singing in the choir - and my mum tells me that their house was always full of music when she was growing up. The song that always makes me think of Nana however is Dance the Night Away by the Mavericks. You see, when she was in her 80s she took up line dancing - along with lace-making, German and a hundred other pastimes - we used to joke that her social life was more active than any of ours! When my brother got married in 1998 Nana refused to go to bed until she'd danced to The Mavericks and ever since I've always smiled and thought of her whenever I heard Dance the Night Away.

"Here comes my happiness again
Right back to where it should have been
'Cause now she's gone and I am free
And she can't do a thing to me

I just wanna dance the night away

With senoritas who can sway
Right now tomorrow's lookin' bright
Just like the sunny mornin' light"


  1. What a touching post Claire. So sorry to hear about your Nana; sounds as if she really did have a profound effect on your life.
    Thoroughly enjoying your blog btw. x

  2. What a wonderful tribute, you've made me cry once again! She was so proud of you and so am I. Thank you darling Mum xxx

  3. What a great piece Claire, Excellent