Sunday, February 24, 2008

Strictly Come Dancing....


I don't think that I have ever put this on my blog before, though I did write it some time ago. If it seems over familiar please forgive me.

Village committees had met, deliberated, voted, and agreed that it would indeed be splendid if the children of the school could join in the forthcoming festivity by taking part in a couple of country dances. One involved lines of us standing opposite, boy girl, boy girl and head to tailing in a simple arrangement set to music. Along with verse variations where shapes were made with arms, and pat a cake clapping as a couple by couple passed down the middle. The whole concluded after reprises of the main theme. The other comprised a rather more circular affair. Now couples wove in and out of counter rotating rings in a path that would have generated a fine spirograph pattern had they been allowed to pull baler twine in their wake. We were all to take part.

To begin with I was just a bit clumsy. If there ever was a person who proclaimed that ‘white men ain’t got no rhythm’ I suspect that they could have held my ineptitude at skipping to a beat up as a definitive example. The trouble was that Mrs Jasper, the self chosen choreographer of the spectacle was a perfectionist. The sort of woman who saw my feet of clay as an insult not to be entertained. I was caught then, between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand there was no way that I was going to allowed to drop out. If one rat was allowed to jump ship, however much the ship would benefit, it was clear that there were a number of others that would rather not be part of it. In a school of under thirty students there really wasn’t a lot of slack as far as the required number at the dance was concerned. On the other hand there was Mrs Jaspers reaction to my overqualification in the left foot department. Over a period of a fortnight she went from being a patient maternal perfectionist to a screaming banshee every time I put a foot out of place. Rather that curb my wayward rhythms this really only served to aggravate them and produce secondary anomalies. Soon I was unable to tell clockwise from anti clockwise, invariably made lunges for a male partner, and, when trying to follow other pat a cakers, nearly had Wayne Bests eye out on the end of my thumb. Students with whom I had shared tears and laughter began to discuss openly the best methods for my dispatch and the disposal of the body. I was totally crap at country dancing and not even my sister had a comforting word.

Add all this to the fact that I was having a frighteningly early puberty. I reached the point where I prayed in earnest for some of the tragic deaths of children that we learned of in the Bible and Dickens could befall me, thus enabling friends and family to remember me as a wonderful boy. To spare them the need to speak my name in the hushed tones that would undoubtedly be reserved for the tales of the great barn dance debacle.

God answered my prayers, thoughtfully avoiding my untimely death, he instead sent a great flood to help me out.

Overnight the Bristol Avon catchment area was inundated with nearly seven inches of rain. The river rose, sweeping away old stone bridges. A dam burst and washed away the centre of Bitton. In our house the water rose to a depth of nearly four feet. In the early hours of Saturday July the thirteenth, the very day of the Upton Cheyney barndance, my sisters and I were evacuated by the fire service to a family on higher ground, and subsequently to my grandparents house in Kent. And as the circumstances of our family life moved on it turned out that we were to change school by the time the new term started. It wasn’t until the year two thousand and one that I felt able to dance as if no one was looking.

9 comments:

meredic said...

Sarah, Vi, I guess this is what I ought to have waved at you rather than all the attendant extra.

buffalodickdy said...

Boy, can I relate! I was ten, in Cub Scouts, and our den was to attend a local TV show- Buck Berry, a kids' show with the host being a fake cowboy. We get there, thinking we are audience only- wrong! We are all drafted into a square dance on local TV! I'm about 10, and am paired up with a civilian girl, rather than the Brownie troop also in attendance.. This was the first time I ever smelled perfume on anyone that wasn't 20 yrs. older than me, and at that age I knew this wasn't a good thing.. I scrunched my cub scout hat over my face, so no one would recognize me, and went forth dosey doeing... We probably looked like the living dead at a hoe down, but later in life realized the adults probably thought we were adorable...

Fi said...

What happened in 2001 to make you dance again? Or was that a teaser that i've fallen hook line and sinker for?! Still, it worked.

sablonneuse said...

That was a wonderfully funny post which brought back memories of country dancing at my primary school in the fifties.
Mr Mason was a pretty fierce teacher but we girls tried to please because the chosen few got an afternoon off school to go to the Country Dance festival (where they served jam sandwiches and buns). Despite the food on offer it was always hard to get the boys to join in. Was it - a) because Mr. Mason's favourite punishment was ear-twisting (only practised on boys) - b)because they would have to dance with a girl or c) was it a case of most boys being blessed with two left feet?

Lori said...

That is a great post and brings back memories. We had to dance like that in school and it was painful! These days I would probably enjoy it, but back then it wasn't a bit pleasurable. I can definitley relate!

DaveM said...

It brings back memories of Twmpath Dawns and trying to follow the instructions of the "galw". Always best attempted after a few beers.

startare said...

Like fi, I want to know all about the space odyseey that brought you back to the dance floor.

Vi said...

Who said rain dances don't work!

bittersweet me said...

The spirograph imagery made me feel quite weepy. A lovely post, and ending with a perfect memory of ultimate dancing.