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.