December 2018         A NEWSLETTER           No. 155


It’s nearly Christmas, and sparkling lights are decorating shop windows, town centres and even some homes already. That’s fine now we are in December! I’ve always thought the lights in Cottingham, where our class is, are pretty wonderful – I’ve even been known to drive both ways down the main street to catch the effect in both directions! The lights are even better and sparkle more when I don’t wear my glasses (when the car isn’t moving, of course).

Everyone’s life needs a little sparkle in it from time to time, and never more so than in winter, especially when it has been dark and miserable like much of this past week, and you switch the house lights on at half past two. For many years, a lot of the sparkle in my life has come from Scottish Dancing, and I’m feeling a bit dejected at the moment about that. Two winters ago, gout prevented me from doing much dancing; last winter I had a whole series of heavy colds, and when I was well dances clashed with sessions from my Theology and Ministry degree course in York. This season has been a complete wipe-out due to an on-going Achilles tendon injury which resulted from the first dance class of the season. Add to that a lot of preaching and essay-writing commitments, and life doesn’t sparkle so much at the moment.

One of the great things about the autumn and winter is the number of dances that it’s possible to go to, and there have been some great programmes and bands along: I missed the Braes of Wansbeck – what a great name for a band! – and no one has told me how good they were. Even worse, Marian Anderson, one of my top two bands currently, played at the Joint Ball at Tadcaster, and I couldn’t be there! So I’ve missed the music, and the dancing, and also all that social interaction with my fellow dancers. Next time I get to a dance people will be asking who I am… Seriously, that sociability we have together is really important; as Jean Swearman keeps saying, Scottish dancers are such nice people.

What I have had is my dance class, and the very nice people in it: if I haven’t told you before, you really are a wonderful lot. Sometimes this term, because my dancing has been limited, poor and painful (and I probably shouldn’t have been dancing at all) I have felt before class that it’s just more work to do – and then I meet people, we chat, we dance, we have fun, and I go home in so much better humour! We have quite a few people who haven’t been dancing long, from three years to three months – and I am so proud of them. Age, hip and knee replacements, injuries and plantar fasciitis mean that footwork is not always brilliant, but the rhythm, phrasing and body posture can be very good indeed. I have seen MUCH worse on the internet, and I think that a group with the age and experience mine has could not really be expected to do any better at all. Dancers, I salute you! You have brought some sparkle into my life after all. And I am proud of you. Have I already said that?

Where else can we find some sparkle? At our branch dances, someone said to me that even in the most accessible programme there should a dance – or even one in each half – which has a “sparkle” about it, which adds that bit of magic to the programme. Mixing with other people – not just your own circle – I usually find really interesting; they are also such nice people! In the past five years or so I am constantly being surprised by what interesting lives other people lead; everyone has an interesting story to tell. I’d recommend that to everyone: listening and talking to others you know less well widens your life. That’s another source of sparkle.

Someone once said, long ago, that I wrote too much about dress. I still think it’s pretty wonderful to see lots of colours and styles in dancers’ clothing, and I like it when people dress up! The men usually look like they mean business there in their kilts; let’s not look as though we’re settled in for a night watching telly, ladies! Although maybe there has been a big revolution over the last three winters, and everyone does now look splendid and sparkling. (I mustn’t dwell on what I’ve missed!) Instead, I wish you lots of sparkle in your lives this Christmas and throughout 2019.  

Joyce Cochrane  


The following announcement appeared in October.

“New Zealand’s top science award, the 2018 Rutherford Medal, worth $100,000, has gone to Professor Rod Downey, a mathematician at Victoria University of Wellington.   Professor Downey works on computability, at the interface of maths and computer science, and is particularly interested in algorithms.”

Congratulations to Rod on this award.   

We had a very successful Downey Day of Dance at Stillington in July where he taught quite a few of his most recent dances.


There are still some places left at our Harrogate weekend: if you’ve not been yet, or not for some time, do think about coming in 2019! The teacher is Antoine Rousseau, from Paris, who I think is brilliant, and the whole weekend is a real treat. The following rooms are currently free:

1 double, 1 single, 4 twins.

If you are interested, or to find out more please contact:

Helen Brown (01904 – 488084) or

or download the application form from the website using this link: pdf

Hope to see you there!


This dance, formerly run by Michael and Susan East, has now been adopted by the Branch. The dance is held at the Reading Rooms in Dunnington, beginning at 8.00 pm. Ticket-CRIBS (limited to 60) are £5 per person, and we will be dancing to recorded music. You are asked to bring contributions to a Faith Supper at the interval; please remember that disposable plates are preferred. In addition, please bring food that doesn’t need heating, slicing or assembling, so that kitchen volunteers can dance too! The programme has been chosen by Joyce Cochrane.


Our first dance in the New Year will be our Burns dance and supper, and is one of our winter afternoon dances, on Saturday 26th 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 at Rita’s birthday dance. We really are doing well at the moment for dances to live music!

The dance will be followed by our Burns Supper, which Kevin will cook for us, and (all being well) the haggis will be piped in and addressed! The dance and supper together will cost £10. The programme has been drawn up by Rita Eastwood.


The last of our winter afternoon dances will be led on Saturday 24th February, beginning at 2 pm, at The Darby and Joan Hall in Finkle Street in Cottingham (the postcode for SATNAV users is HU16 4AZ). 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, to recorded music, has been drawn up by Nigel Bell.

Copy date for next issue:     3rd February 2019