I was born in Dalkeith, south of Edinburgh into families, both maternal and paternal, who worked mainly in the Scottish and Welsh coal mines respectively. My grandfather played the violin for many a Scottish Country Dance held either in halls or barns and lasting until the wee small hours or until all the whisky ran out. He then went home for a few hours’ sleep before being back at work underground.
Family parties were always accompanied by dancing and drinking. If it was a house then the furniture was moved back to make room for eightsome reels, nips of brandy, dashing white sergeant and the rest. I was too young to be interested in those adult activities apart from being dragged onto the floor by my mother or an aunt. Gradually such festivities were restricted to weddings and such like and I became a bit more willing to take the floor.
After leaving school and going to University I more or less forgot all about Scottish dancing until at the age of fifty I decided I needed a hobby as my work was easing off and I had a bit of spare time. Looking through what was available in the hobbies/clubs folder at Headingley Library I narrowed it down to either the Institute of Advanced Motorists or Scottish Country Dancing. Very eclectic choice! Anyway the dancing won!
I phoned Eric Wallace who invited me to come to Avis Harrison’s class on a Thursday night as a taster. I was completely lost! I soon realised my family had been dancing for fun with no real concern about proper steps or following the proper dance movements. Thanks to the help, assistance and encouragement of all at the class, including the reputedly stern no-nonsense Avis, I began to make reasonable progress. After a good few years I even got invited to join the Advanced Class and became, what I like to think of as, a competent dancer. I also gained a wife! I met Heather at the St Columba’s class and before long we were a couple and a bit later a married couple. A big thank you to Scottish Dancing for that.
The highlights of my dancing career
Demo dancing with Catherine Livsey at various venues for Charity, Burns nights etc.
Dancing in an episode of Heartbeat twenty years ago with the redoubtable Julian Fellowes, writer of Downton Abbey. Dancing for the Branch at the Newcastle Festival competitions where the Ladies team won twice but unfortunately not the Mixed team.
Lots of fun and enjoyment at all the Club and Branch classes and dances
So a big thank you to all of you who have contributed to the above