In memory of Pete Postlethwaite


When one of the main characters in Brassed Off was introduced as Danny I knew the band would play Danny Boy and I would cry.

They did and I did.

Danny was played by Pete Postlethwaite who died on Sunday, aged 64.

IMBD lists the films in which he starred and characters he played.

Hat Tip: Keeping Stock who has a clip of Danny’s speech from the film.

Danny Boy


Happy birthday Sir James Galway – 70 today.

There were lots of clips to choose from, but I opted for this because our son was Dan.

Top 10 songs or tunes


National Radio’s Afternoons asks listeners to come up with the best song ever written.

That’s a difficult choice to make when there are so many variables – a song or tune might be best at one time or place but beaten by another at another.

However, since we’ve had the top 10 quintessential Kiwi songs and the top 10 Beatles songs, I thought it was time for the top 10 songs from anywhere by anyone, and why:

1. The 23rd Psalm.

I remember it from Sunday school, High School. I also associate it with the big events in my life: our wedding (because me farmer like the rural connotations, at which the minister suggested we could sing We Plough the Fields and Scatter . . . ); the funerals of my mother in law, father, and both our sons and at my mother’s we sang The King of Love  which is based on the 23rd Psalm.

2. Pokarekare Ana. 

We may not know all the words, but it’s the song by which Kiwis recognise each other all over the world.

3. Pachelbel’s Canon.

I don’t remember when I first heard it but it’s been played at lots of celebrations I’ve attended. The last of these was the wedding of our nephew in Argentina when his mother, sister and cousin played it on violins as the bride entered the church.

4. Killing Me Softly.

We were skiing on Coronet Peak and had paused where the chairlift passed close to the trail. A skier reached out and waved his mitten close to my friend’s face. She immediately started singing Strumming my face with his fingers. . . ”

5. Handel’s Largo from Xerxes.

Another tune associated with celebrations, although it was several years after I first heard it that I learned it came with words.

6. The Skye Boat Song.

Partly because of my Scottish genes and partly because it was on the CD the surgeon chose when our first son was delivered.

7. Danny Boy

Our son was Dan and we sang this at his funeral. But I first came across the tune when I was in a Bible Class choir and we sang The Day Thou Gavest Lord is Ended  to it.

8. Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary.

Another one associated with celebrations and we chose it for the recessional at our wedding.

9. The Great Pretender.

Any list of songs has to have a soppy one.

10. Hine E Hine

With or without the Good Night Kiwi.

11. Rock Around The Clock

A list has to have a good dance tune too.

12. When You Walk Through A Storm;  Do you Hear the People Sing;  Time to Say Goodbye;  First Time Ever; Nessun Dorma; Red, Red Wine; All My Loving, Let It Be, . . .  who said I had to stop at 10?

Danny Boy


Twenty years ago today we welcomed the arrival of our second son, Dan.

His then-four year old sister wasn’t impressed. She’d wanted a sister because she knew brothers died.

We didn’t know it then, but she was right. A few weeks later it was confirmed that Dan had the same brain disorder which had killed his brother Tom when he was just 20 weeks old.

Dan defied predictions and lived much longer, surviving until 10 days after his fifth birthday. But he passed none of the developmental milestones and could do no more the day he died than he could when he was born.

It’s now 20 years since he was born, almost fifteen since he died. A lot has happened since then, some of it wonderful, some very bad and most of it in between.

Every now and then we think about the boy and young man Dan might have been and we do so with rose tinted specs, because while children who die can’t do the good things parents hope they might, they don ’t do the bad things we dread either.

When Dan’s condition was diagnosed and after he died a lot of people said how lucky we were we had our daughter. I agreed, though not for the reasons most seemed to be thinking of. Children aren’t like pieces in a dinner set which, if one gets broken, can be replaced with another.

However, as well as letting me experience the joys of parenting, having another child also meant I didn’t suffer from any delusions that I’d be a perfect mother with perfect children. 

While I’ve blogged quite a bit about our sons, and called them by their names I say little about our daughter because I don’t think it’s fair to her. However, having made that comment about neither of us being perfect, I feel the need to clarify that that doesn’t mean we’ve had any major problems, just that she did the things normal children do, some of which parents wish they wouldn’t. 

But today I’m not thinking about those things, just remembering the wee baby meeting his four year old sister and the excitement and love we experienced 20 years ago. 

We named our baby Dan, not Daniel, and that’s what he was called, never Danny. But summer had gone and the roses were fading when he died which made this song even more appropriate for his funeral. 

Because it’s New Zealand Music Month, I’ve chosen the version sung by Hayley Westenra and dedicate it to all the other members of that non-exclusive club for bereaved parents.

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