I am looking forward to a visit from my adorable little grand-daughter. Aurelie is six years old and is a gorgeous, energetic wee girl who fills the room with sunshine.

Before she started school, we used to spend every Wednesday together. We would go by bus to Burton, eat cheesy baked potatoes, play on the swings, visit our friends in the library and then fall asleep on the bus home. We would finish the day off by watching “Peppa Pig” or “Paw Patrol” on the telly. Lovely memories.

I am very nostalgic about our lovely times together and, as a musical memory, I wrote an entire album called “Wednesdays with Aurelie”. I thought you might like to hear some of the pieces I wrote for her.

The first piece dates back to when she was a little infant, about 18 months old. As is typical of me, I wrote her a lullaby “Song for Aurelie”

Song for Aurelie from the album Reflections by John McGuinness

The second piece is an orchestral piece called “Dance of the Teddy Bears”. Aurelie loved it because the two of us would enact the scene of the teddies waking up from sleep and yawning. We then had Teddy porridge and put our “carnival” suits on. At the march bit we would dance and play trumpets. At the end we would yawn and go back to sleep. Lovely moments! All pretend, of course.

Dance of the Teddy Bears; Music by John McGuinness

“All of these Reasons” expresses the sense of immense pleasure she displayed when we wandered down to the river to feed the ducks. The sad bit towards the end of the piece represents the feelings of sadness/ disappointment that would come over her when the bread ran out and it was time to leave. Incidentally, on my YouTube page, there is a video of “The Greedy Duckling” the music of which also dates back to this period.

All of these Reasons by John McGuinness, from the album From the Heart

The fourth piece is “Do you Dream of the Swans on the River”. On the way home, Aurelie would invariably fall asleep on the bus. Soooooo cute. I often wondered what she was dreaming about.

Swans on the River from Among the Willows by John McGuinness

Finally, I wrote her a nostalgic piece called “Aurelie” when I knew she would be going to school and these halcyon days would soon come to an end. It is a favourite of mine because it is unashamedly sentimental.

Aurelie from Papy Cool by John McGuinness

I hope you enjoy sharing some of these musical memories of my lovely little “Peppa”

Christmas Greetings

I have always loved Christmas. I remember one magical Christmas Eve walking with my older brother, Jim, through the deep snow to serve at midnight mass. It was my debut. I was so excited! I can still hear the distant church bells as we scrunched for a long way through the thick snow. All around, the silence of the night, the piercing chill wind, the distant lights surrounded us. After mass, we met our family and friends, wishing one to the other a wonderful Christmas.

I was not disinterested by presents but, for me, the lasting beauty of Christmas has always been the way in which it transforms people’s lives and creates a deep sense of mutual affection and love. Even today I get that lovely warm feeling when I see my grandchildren’s eyes light up with wonder at all things tinselly and sparkly. It makes the world a better place.

For me, it is a time of deep nostalgia too because most of the people who inhabited those places when I was a child and, indeed, most of the places themselves, are long since gone. It still manages to stir something of profound meaning and deep gratitude in my heart.

One particular Christmas Carol never fails to bring a tear to my eye. Consequently, I went to the piano and recorded it as a way of expressing my warmest Christmas wishes to each and every one of you. Now, which Carol could it be?

Thanks very much Anne for your guest article. Lovely to hear about your choir days and about your and Tony’s favourite Carols xx❤️