Clare Teal: Seize the Day and live life to the full like Doris herself

I was selling CDs after a gig in Clacton early last year when a smartly-dressed woman asked me to sign the CD she had just bought.

“Of course I’d be thrilled – Who’s it for love?”

“Er, Doris Day.” I looked up thinking really… in Clacton?

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Well you never know – I signed the CD and went on my merry way. A few months later I had an email from Annie of Clacton to say Doris had enjoyed my record.

A few days later a lovely parcel arrived in the post containing a signed CD from Doris herself. This now takes pride of place in the office.

I’ve been a big fan of the great lady’s from being a tiny tot – me not her. Doris was just 16 years old when she started touring with big bands in 1940, first with Bob Crosby and his Bob Cats then Les Brown and His Band of Renown. In her book Doris Day My Story she writes of the rigours of her schedule back then: “I did get a pretty good view of the country from the bus window, but the strenuous physical demands of touring, of performing every night until very late, of having to squeeze in rehearsals, of trying to get laundry done, buy new clothes, get to the hairdresser, of living out of a suitcase but having to look glamorous every night – all this made band travel a challenge to survive.” Especially when you’re only 16.

In tribute to Doris and her fantastic catalogue of music that has entertained millions of people, Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night is to pay its own homage to Doris this week, I have the honour of presenting the evening and will also be doing a few special concerts singing the songs of Doris Day with our small Hollywood-style orchestra starting at Chelsea’s glorious Cadogan Hall on May 24.

Believe it or not the great lady will be 90 years old tomorrow, by all accounts enjoying a happy and healthy life in Carmel, California. Doris has raised tremendous amounts of money for the welfare of unwanted cats and dogs but then she herself is a real survivor. Having bounced back from circumstances that would have destroyed most, her philosophy remains: “I love to laugh. It’s the only way to live. Enjoy each day – it’s not coming back again!”

Happy Birthday Doris Day.