Saturday, May 12, 2007

Dancing partners

I've taken to listening to my i-pod when out walking the dog in the woods. I rarely see anyone, and lately I find myself skipping the light fantastic on mossy paths in hiking boots. And I love it.

I'd like to hear from any other Scots who got taught Scottish Country Dancing at school in the 1960/70s to see what you called a pas de basque/pas de bas. We called this hop step that some dances required a "Paddy Bar" because that's what we thought our teacher was shouting as we hefalumped our way round the drill hall. We never, ever saw the term written down, so we were none the wiser.

Our PE teacher, who was crippled with arthritis, used to beat the backs of our legs with a bamboo cane if we failed to achieve the required three beats in a pas de basque/pas de bas. She was a very scary old dude!


This is an early draft of a poem about it:

At seventeen, going on fifty-two

I dance in walking boots, in sunlight woods,
on the sphagnum-loaded ground.

No-one watches, or even sees, save my poor
bored dog and the odd surprised roe deer.

No-one reaches for the rod when my infant feet
skip a beat in some improv’d pas de bas.

No heady mix of beer and Brut lurches
over to spews up, “fancy dancin’?”

No tsunami of teenage disapproval
to cramp this mother's style.


Here's Janis for you too:

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7 Comments:

Blogger Colin Will said...

One of the locals in Assynt who had known Norman MacCaig reminded me that he had also taught Scottish Country Dancing at Craiglockhart Primary, where I was a pupil from 1948-55. I've no recollection of Norman trying to teach me to dance, but he may well have done. In my case the lessons didn't take.

6:50 pm  
Blogger Cailleach said...

Dancing - don't go there. I went to irish dancing lessons for a year. I just about mastered the reel but the jig defied me! I'm much better at th free-er version to music I love instead.

I ejoyed your poem about the differences between then and now.

Best of luck to your son on his exams...

9:20 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

That's quite a claim to fame Colin.
I've got two left feet two, but it maybe due to all the leatherings I got from old Migsie.

B your experience seems the same. The poem needs loads of work,especially the last bit, but it was fun remembering the classroom and the dance halls/discos. In the village dance halls to guys would get tanked up and lurch over for the last dance, when they were too pissed to be shy any more.

9:43 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

Duh, that should be "too"

9:43 pm  
Blogger Mr Farty said...

Dancing? No, got two left feet. I would just trample over your tootsies.

Interesting poem. Youth is so wasted on the young, as we oldies say.

And thanks for Janis.

12:51 am  
Blogger apprentice said...

I agree Mr Farty, it is completely wasted on them. You have to wonder though about education then, when you were constantly told you were rubbish at things you tended to accept what the teachers had to say on the matter.

I was a complete rebel, I remember I embroidered a Viking ship on my lap bag. i was happier tying fishing flies.

4:00 pm  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

I love the picture I have in my mind of you attached to i-pod, skipping on sphagnum carpeted forest floor, a roe looking up in surprise!

2:30 pm  

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