Thoughts of the Week, The Dark Island and Highland Cathedral

I have been music blogging long enough by now to know which subject matters are best avoided – generally football, weddings and the Royal Family. I can’t however ignore the momentous news that our monarch of 70 years died last Thursday at her beloved home in Aberdeenshire, a place very close to my own heart. It came as a bit of a shock in the end, as only two days earlier she had carried out a very important piece of constitutional business, inviting the new leader of the Conservative Party to form a government. That has almost been forgotten about now.

Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire

Whatever your thoughts on the place of the monarchy in our national life, someone who was probably the most famous and recognised person in the world has left us, and news channels around the world are covering every step of what happens in the aftermath of such an event.

I seem to be alone in my little corner of the blogosphere, but I have been deeply affected by this massive change in the status quo. Prime Ministers come and go, recessions come and go, wars come and go, but throughout my lifetime the Queen has always been there, on the stamps, the money, giving Christmas broadcasts… . It’s a lot to take in that she is gone for good.

As someone who is a bit of a ‘quitter’ when the going gets tough, who found it hard to juggle work and motherhood, and who has not always kept her own counsel when it would have been wise to do so, I have always admired the many qualities the Queen had in spades. To have suddenly found herself thrust into the ‘big job’ at the tender age of 25 must have been frightening, especially as she was a mother to two young children at the time, but few can question her dedication and work ethic over the 70 years of her reign. There will never be another like her and I suspect things will change quite significantly, both at home and around the Commonwealth, now that she has gone.

The Queen’s coffin leaves Balmoral

Another reason why Mr WIAA and myself have been quite deeply affected by the Queen’s passing, is because we both also lost a parent quite suddenly, and have been reliving the raw emotion that came with it. My mother-in-law was abroad on holiday when she died, and my own dad went into hospital for a routine operation but didn’t ever wake up. They were both 25 years younger than the Queen was when they died – far too young. As for my own mum who now lives in a local care home, but who no longer recognises me, she is of the same generation as the Queen and all through the decades looked just like her. Because of the fashions of the day many of us probably say that about our mothers, but no, my mum always looked just like her. Not many of that wartime generation left now.

Because we have been reliving sad moments over the last few days, I am going to share the two pieces of music used at our own parents’ funerals. The first is called The Dark Island and it was the theme tune to a 1962 television series of the same name set in the Outer Hebrides. Mr WIAA’s parents were from different corners of England but they met whilst on holiday on the Isle of Skye in the 1950s and after watching this TV drama, once married with children, they decided to move to the Highlands of Scotland permanently. The second piece of music is called Highland Cathedral and is often heard at Scottish cultural events. We used it for my dad’s funeral but I hadn’t reckoned on choking up every time I now hear it, which is often.

The Dark Island by Margaret Donaldson:


Highland Cathedral:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I don’t quite know why everyone has chosen to make no mention of the fact the Queen has died, and I might be committing ‘sidebar suicide’ by doing so, but this place is also my web-diary so it would be weird for me not to.

My place of birth has been showcased in all its glory over the last few days, and I hope others will appreciate why the Aberdeenshire countryside held such a special place in the Queen’s affections. Likewise, Scotland’s capital city, where we had a wonderful Blogger’s Summit earlier in the year, has never looked better. After today the focus will turn to London and all that that entails, but if it was her time, I think the Queen would have been content that she ended her days quietly in Scotland, the only Queen Elizabeth we ever had.


Until next time…


The Dark Island Lyrics
(Song by Iain McLachlan)

Away to the westward, I’m longing to be
Where the beauties of heaven unfold by the sea
Where the sweet purple heather blooms fragrant and free
On a hill-top, high above the Dark Island


Oh Isle of my childhood I’m dreaming of thee
As the steamer leaves Oban, and passes Tiree
Soon I’ll capture the magic, that lingers for me
When I’m back, once more upon, the Dark Island

So gentle the sea breeze that ripples the bay
Where the stream joins the ocean, and young children play
On a strand of pure silver, I’ll welcome each day
And I’ll roam forever more, the Dark Island

True gem of the Hebrides, bathed in the light
Like a midsummer dawning, that follows the night
How I long for the cry, of the seagulls in flight
As they circle high above the Dark Island

Poppies, “Highland Cathedral” and A Brave Little Scot

Today was Remembrance Sunday and a parade took place through the centre of our town. One person was missing however, the person I wrote about last time, the daughter of my best friend who tragically took her own life just over a week ago. I hope this doesn’t come across as morbid but I have stumbled upon a clip I want to keep hold of, and for me this is the best place.

poppy

Holly was a great piper and four years ago the local pipe band staged a “flash mob” kind of event to raise money for the Poppy Scotland appeal. It was held in our local shopping centre and 14-year-old Holly, in her T-shirt and leggings, had to bravely step out into the limelight (or striplight) and play for a full four minutes before being joined by the rest of her band. I now watch the shoppers casually going about their business and want to shout out to them, “Stop, and watch this amazing little girl play her heart out”. The first piece she plays is Highland Cathedral which I will always associate with my dad as we used it at his funeral. The music the band marches out to is Scotland The Brave and watching the clip again through the tears, Holly was indeed a very brave little Scot that day.

Highland Cathedral:

I went to visit my friend this afternoon who is in the throes of doing something no parent should ever have to do, arrange her child’s funeral. There will be pictures, stories, lots of music and not a dry eye in the church. I showed her the post I wrote last time and passed on the messages of condolence left by my fellow bloggers. No need to leave comments this time as this post is more for my own remembrance, my blog being my web diary. My hometown is still in shock and there is so much more to this story I don’t want to go into here, but may do some day. It’s going to be another tough week.

Until next time, RIP our Brave Little Scot xxx