December 2019       A NEWSLETTER     No. 159


After one of this season’s dances, a lively discussion arose in my class about the programme; other people also spoke to me about it. It became quite apparent that you can’t please all the people all of the time – and maybe you shouldn’t try to? I have structured this editorial as a series of comments, amalgamating two or three different discussions and trying to put contrasting opinions close to each other for easy comparison. All of these remarks are anonymous. You can probably tell some of mine - I’m the one who says “A long time ago” or “Once upon a time, we used to…” There are no right or wrong opinions – they just show that different people want different things from dances. At the same time, I have also tried to reflect the weighting of opinions expressed. And of course, the same topics in a different group may produce quite different answers.

“Oh, I did find last Saturday’s dance hard. There were so many unfamiliar dances, and I had to concentrate hard on every dance.”

“Yes, even some of the easier dances were new to me. And I can’t get my head round some of the more difficult ones.”

“But a lot of the new dances weren’t hard at all!”

“We were wondering about it, but we couldn’t go in the end, we were away. But the programme put us off anyway. Too much stuff we didn’t recognize.”

“It was a fantastic programme! It was a great challenge. And so different! I loved it!”

“Someone got up at the end and thanked the programme deviser for a great selection. They thought it had been a fabulous programme to dance.”

“Well, if a programme has got some new dances in, people need to do their homework and spend some time revising them or watching them on YouTube.”

“And all the classes prepare all of the dances on upcoming programmes anyway.”

“We only missed one week but we’ve never done most of them.”

“Yes, years ago I used to revise for a few hours on Saturday afternoons.”

“Who’s got hours to spare on a Saturday revising dances when you’ve got to travel to dances and you’re there all night as well? No one I know!”

“But it’s no problem if you have a walk-through before each dance.”

“Or even a couple of times if it’s a difficult dance.”

“But then you might as well be at a class. You lose all the atmosphere.”

“Fair enough if it’s a recorded dance, but not if it’s a live music dance.”

“Well, even for a band dance it doesn’t take that long to walk through.”

“But you’re paying a band a lot of money to sit back and twiddle their fingers while you do that. You could have another 2 or 3 dances on the programme.”

“In the past only pretty well known dances appeared on a band programme, and we would introduce new or difficult dances when we had dances to recorded music.” [Editor remembers that at one point even recaps were frowned on!] [But thinks it would be unhelpful to say so.]

“You just want some dances that you can relax into and enjoy without worrying.”

“If you don’t have to concentrate so hard, you can really enjoy the music.”

“I want challenge and excitement! And if everyone else in the set knows what to do, they can help beginners and there’s no problem.”

“But if everyone in the set doesn’t know what to do…?”

“But it can get so boring! I never want to dance Staircase in Styria again!”

And finally – don’t let this put you off trying to devise the perfect programme!

   Joyce Cochrane  


25th  JANUARY                                                                                                  

Our January dance, one of our winter afternoon dances, will be our Burns dance and supper, on Saturday 25th January. The dance will be held at the Dunnington Reading Rooms, beginning at 2.00 p.m, to music from the “Jim and Les Duo” – Rita’s brother Les and his friend Jim, who played for us last year. We are lucky to have so many dances to live music!

The dance will be followed by our Burns Supper, which Kevin will cook for us, and  the haggis will be piped in and addressed! The dance and supper together will cost £10. The programme has been drawn up by Joyce Cochrane .


The last of our winter afternoon dances will be held on Saturday 22nd  February, beginning at 2 pm, at The Darby and Joan Hall in Finkle Street in Cottingham (the postcode for SATNAV users is HU16 4AZ). Notice that access to parking is now via the side of the hall. Afternoon Tea is included, so you do not need to bring contributions to a faith supper. The price is £5 for RSCDS members and £6 for non-members.

The programme will be posted on the Branch website and circulated to classes as soon as it is available.


You may well be reading this on your computer or tablet – this is an experiment to see how members like Broun’s Reel in digital form. This does not mean that there are any plans to scrap the paper version! This will still be available at the usual dances. Please let us know what you think.


Many people will be sad to hear of the recent death of Maureen Haynes, actually once one of our Branch members before she married Derek and moved to Cumbria. She was an excellent dancer, a very good teacher, and a really lovely person.


Michael was born on 10th December 1927, in London, and grew up there; his parents returned to their native Gloucester at the outbreak of World War II. Michael then went Oxford to read Physics, and after graduating did a short service commission in the Navy, where he first came across Scottish Country Dancing. However, he didn’t do any more dancing until 1984!

Michael taught Physics throughout his career, starting in Bristol, and left his stamp as a teacher next in Nottingham and Worcester before taking up the post of Head of Science in Norton, North Yorkshire. Up till then his main love had been the sea: he sailed boats and had quite a collection of books on maritime history. In fact, he read very widely throughout his life, and was interested in many different subjects: once he became hooked on a subject he really committed to it, and these interests – from birdwatching to prehistory and archaeology - stayed with him all his life. Other major interests were gardening- Michael enjoyed working on his allotment – and walking, which was another interest he and Susan could enjoy together.

1984 was a significant date, for that was when he rediscovered Scottish Country Dancing at the York Club. He had not done any Scottish Dancing at all since the navy, but he loved it, and really threw himself into it. It was there that he met Susan, and they were married in 1989 – thirty years of marriage.

One New Year’s Eve, Malcolm and Helen Brown and the boys were all at Susan and Michael’s house, and in conversation they all wondered why they were sitting around when they could be celebrating New Year by dancing! So Michael took it on, and there followed 25 years of Scottish Country Dances on New Year’s Eve, the last one being in 2015. This was too good a fixture to lose, and so the Branch has now taken it over. Michael was a member of the York Scottish Country Dance Club Committee for many years, and MCed dances for both York Club and Leeds Club. At summer dancing sessions at Askham Bryan, he would really “hammer” new dances into people until they were absolutely sure of them – Father Connelly’s Jig is a legacy of those days.

Michael also kept tabs on what dances were “trending”, writing a major article for Broun’s Reel each year which included a statistical analysis of which dances appeared most often on programmes he himself had had the opportunity to dance. Although this may sound very worthy and/or scholarly to those who have never come across them, Michael’s quirky sense of humour, delightful observations and well-told anecdotes meant that they were a joy to read. I still smile when I think about the “Puke of Derth” which a very correct lady once invited him to dance! He thought very carefully about the content of these articles, and sometimes there was a campaigning tone to some of his writing.

Michael and Susan had visited Canada several times, and while there often joined up with Scottish Dance groups there and in the United States. They had really enjoyed this and had made friends there, particularly in Nova Scotia. Indeed, Susan had received a condolence card from the Nova Scotia Scottish Dance group when Michael died.

Michael was a true gentleman of the old school, the soul of courtesy. Even after many years of marriage to Susan, he still raised his hat (or his cap – he was an adoptive Yorkshireman) to her in the street when he met her, even if they had only been apart for an hour or so. His courtesy was not just towards Susan, but towards everyone, and he was always considerate of others, and inclusive of them. Whatever you had to say, you were always sure that Michael was listening and giving it his full attention.

Michael had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for four years, but still liked to go to dances even though he could no longer dance. He loved the music and the social side as much as the dancing. The last dance he was at was just the Saturday before he died.  Michael died on June 17th, aged 91. He will be sadly missed in Scottish Dance circles, and we wish Susan our deepest sympathies.

Susan East & Joyce Cochrane

BROUN'S REEL, our newsletter, is published four times a year and can normally be collected at the Branch Dances held in September, December, February and May.  Readers wishing to obtain Broun's Reel by post should send 4 (or more) first or second class stamps, together with a note of name and address, to Mrs. R. Robins, 90 Carr Lane, Willerby, Hull HU10 6JU.  Please don't also collect a further copy from the dances, or we might run short!

Editor:  Joyce Cochrane, 22 Newton Drive, Beverley,

  HU17 8NX.    (01482 - 871790)


York & North Humberside branch website:

Contact:  Rita Eastwood   (01904 - 413020)