I was born in Portlaw and when my time comes to lie at the other side of the green sod, it is my wish that one third of my ashes shall be placed upon my grandparents' grave, William and Mary Fanning, along with my uncles, Willie Fanning and Johnnie Fanning who are also buried there. A further third of my ashes will be placed on my parents’ grave at Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire with the remaining third at a spot on the Haworth Moor.
After writing a musical play around 2005, I stopped writing for a number of years. It was only after I had met Sheila that the idea to resume my writing became a serious consideration. She liked my work and expressed a desire that I write some more. Sheila and I got married in Haworth on my 70th birthday of November 10th, 2012.
I had always wanted to try my hand at writing short stories; particularly stories from the land of my birth, Ireland. This thought eventually became extended to the place of my birth, Portlaw.
Portlaw is famous for perhaps having been a 'model village' long before similar village concepts like Saltaire in West Yorkshire or Rowntrees in York were established. Although its fortune as a village of importance has waned over the years and, particularly since the closure of its last major business, the Tannery, it nevertheless remains a potent force in the minds of all of us who were born there.
Although I was brought to England from Portlaw before my 4th year, and have lived in England ever since, my heart has always remained in Portlaw; the village of my birth. As the eldest of seven children who was born to an Irish woman with the most imaginative of minds, I was brought up on my mother's stories. Although a woman of small stature in her earlier days of marriage, stories didn't come any taller or in more incredible form than those of my mother's. Often, they would stretch the bounds of possibility beyond the realms of credulity, and yet, she always made me believe them; or perhaps it is more appropriate to say, 'want to believe them'.
So when Sheila persuaded me to return to writing, I decided to recount some of the stories my mother told me long ago. Being a person with my own imagination, I have taken the germ of her tale and elaborated it with the aid of 70 years of wisdom and a splash of literary licence to produce the final result.
I have researched all the background that provides the setting for these 'Tales from Portlaw', thereby enabling me to blend fact with fiction in the most acceptable of ways. I include long-established Portlaw family names in my stories, but with the sole exception of the landlady, Molly Rocket from the Cotton Mill Pub in Portlaw, any resemblance to anyone who ever lived or came from Portlaw in either name, likeness or character description is purely co-incidental. I hope that you enjoy.
‘The Last Dance’ is an Irish love story of a widow and a widower whose love for each other develops through their mutual love of Latin American dance, but at a great cost. It tells of the high price they are prepared to pay to win the ‘All Ireland Ballroom Dance Final’ in their ‘last dance’.