December 2016          A NEWSLETTER           No. 147


It’s the time of year again – no, not when we are madly trying to prepare for Christmas, but when we are into the last three weeks of Strictly Come Dancing (it’s Week 10 as I write). It’s not the first time I’ve written about Strictly, but it’s been a while, so indulge me!

In this current season we must have seen the highest standard ever from the dancing celebrities. Each week, as the eliminated couple has said, they have had “the best time” and they don’t want it to end. All the practice studios appear to be in the same building, so that a real camaraderie has grown up between the dancers, and in their tea and lunch breaks (when they’ve had them!) they have got to know each other well, and to like each other. It’s the same with Scottish Country Dancing – we only get to know each other chatting between dances and at the tea or supper breaks, but I’m always struck by what a nice lot of people we seem to be and how much I like my fellow dancers.

Then there are the judges. Len Goodman has the reputation of the avuncular, high-scoring judge, but over the last couple of seasons this has not always been true; from a ballroom background, he gets particularly upset if a ballroom dance doesn’t look quite right and can mark a couple low for this reason, while marking other dancers high simply on entertainment value. Bruno Tonioli always marks this high, particularly in the earlier rounds scoring the performance factor higher than the technical factor. Darcey Bussell has absorbed what each style of dance requires very quickly, and can give good technical appraisal, speaking of the character of the dance. However, the eagle eye on technical analysis belongs to Craig Revel-Horwood, who values technical precision over entertainment. Next time you sit a dance out and watch others dance, think: which judge am I most like? If you’re feeling bold, think: which dancer do I most resemble?

Which brings us to the tricky topic of Ed Balls. It may be hard to see why the general public keeps voting for him. However, unlike Ann Widdecombe and John Sergeant, he has gone through the sympathy/ ridicule vote stage, and is actually dancing these days, usually in time to the music, though perhaps without the finesse you might want. As Bruno said a few weeks ago: “Most of those steps were recognizably jive steps”. Ed keeps trying, learning and improving, and this is recognized by the voting public. Perhaps he is the one most of us are like, even if we want to be Danny Mac or Oti.

A few weeks ago in the Radio Times someone asked why the music was so often pop-music which didn’t seem to fit. A pop song adapted for a ‘slow’ Viennese waltz seemed awkward – and aren’t Viennese waltzes quite quick? How can you get the Latin feel if you aren’t dancing to salsa or Latin music? Beats me! It’s a bit like all the Christmas music at the Tadcaster joint ball – very early in mid-November, and too much of it – and sometimes not even the right rhythm at all. Greg Lake’s ‘I believe in Father Christmas’ could have worked, perhaps, as could ‘Walking in the Air’ – but in the end they didn’t, and the former involved dancers having to adapt the strathspey dance rhythm to the music rather than vice-versa. [Oh dear – I can tell I have annoyed some people now – I will just have to insist like Len ‘This is my opinion’!] And how nice to hear how many of the celebrities this year keep crediting their celebrity partners and teachers!

And then of course, there are those fabulous costumes. It was good to see so many people dressed up at Tadcaster, whether you choose long, shiny or a sash – as Lynne says, the men in their kilts are always well-turned-out! With Brexit adding to the economic gloom we still feel, the addition of glamour with the kind of dresses evocative of the era of Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn. And as for that fabulous “Game of Thrones” dress worn by Louise Redknapp for that amazing pasodoble – you can’t have it – I want it! It won’t fit me, but maybe that’s the incentive I need to lose that weight! I could get my sewing machine out, but all my spare time is taken up with writing essays – or even writing Broun’s Reel!

   Joyce Cochrane


Thank you all! Years of persistence, innuendos and nagging have finally paid off and Mrs. S. L. is now in the York repertoire. Thanks especially to Sheila, who has included it in her Monday programme more than once, and to Michael, who made us practise it at nearly every Askham Bryan meeting this summer. Judging by what I heard after last Monday’s largely successful effort, a good number of us now agree with me that it is a lovely dance, enhanced by its music. Officially the music is Johnnie in Nether Mains by Neil Gow, and Sheila used this, I think, played by the band Ceol na h-Alva. (The music to None so Pretty is sometimes used.) We’re in good company in liking the dance: the Strathspey server website ranks it as 21st in 1117 rated dances, and this is from dancers’ votes.

Much as I try I can’t find anything about the real Mrs Stuart Linnell, if there was one. The alternative, unofficial, name for the dance is ‘Mrs Stuart Linoleum’, a disgracefully disrespectful nickname! I wonder if she was the sort of person one could walk over. Or perhaps Linnell should really be pronounced to rhyme with vinyl – and thus she becomes updated and we don’t tire of her?

It was John Bayly who devised the dance, in 1976, and I don’t have any information on him, either. He is also responsible for about seven other dances, and to my mind the five I’ve been able to examine are pretty ordinary compared with Mrs S.L. One of them reminds me of Postie’s Jig, while another, Milton’s Welcome, rings a faint bell – we may have danced that at some point.

Since I don’t know anything about Mr B. and Mrs L. I can make them up:

John Bayly went to a ceilidh

Mrs Linnell was there as well

She smiled at him sweetly, he nodded discreetly

But he was on fire, doubly inspired

By her glance – hence the dance!

Veronica Wallace


The welcome arrival of newcomers to our group has prompted recollection of our own beginnings some three seasons – and 267 dances (!) – ago.  It especially recalled the acute awareness that SCD can be a rather daunting experience, particularly where the starting-point is zero familiarity and when, unfortunately, circumstances do not make possible a dedicated beginners’ class.  

Despite the invariably friendly integration, the reiterated encouragement, the unstinting efforts to ensure fun, and the touching reassurances of progress – all of which have been essential in maintaining our commitment and morale – one word sums up those very early and (literally) hesitant steps: panic.  

The fear already started with a glance at the names of the dances on programmes, which provided few clues and seemed typically characterised by a mix of various Misses / Mrs, Lassies, Dukes, Royals, Trips, Ramblers, Rants, sheep counting, a Recumbent Stone, and a trouserless Willie.  And Mairi must be the most married woman in history.

The unease was intensified by the new vocabulary, where otherwise ordinary and familiar words assumed perplexing new senses: a corner was no longer part of a table, a room or a street but a person; casting had nothing to do with fishing or knitting; and setting did not refer to jelly.  

The confusion was further compounded by an admixture of French, bringing back nightmare struggles with the language.  We couldn’t tell our barattes from our bourrels, or our a...allemandes from our e...espagnoles.

Even when we thought we had grasped something of the ‘theory’, the whole world of ‘practice’ developed as a swirling mass where mind and body lost connection –as evidenced specifically by the fact that left and right often became synonymous.  (Some of that has not changed !)

Perhaps the best way to convey what those early experiences could feel like is through some sample new ‘reels’ (pun intended):

THE  BIRL R 32   Book 3426

1 - 8 1s 2s 3s turn RH.

9 - 16 1s turn RH while 2s 3s spin inwards and chase round 1 ½ times.

17 - 24 1s turn faster RH down the middle while 2s 3s grab the nearest hand.

25 - 32 1s turn LH, trip.  All fall down.

IT WIS ME   R 32     

1 - 8 1s cross RH & cast ...panic glances across set; stagger into centre back to back.

9 -16 1s down round 3s and back up, shoving 2s into middle.  4s drop jaws.

17-24 1s & 2s RH across, LH across at the same time, while 3s and 4s dance up to join in, for no reason

25-32 All end in knots.


1 - 8 1s and 2s RH across, 1s and 2s LH across and ask each other what comes next.

9-16 1s and 2s circle round, continuing to ask, while 3s dance down and out, to look for the crib.

17-24 Bumping reels of three on the sides, Man up, Lady down, on the floor.

25-32 All advance and retire, to the pub.

(As a follow-up, we are working on The Crawl, which involves 32 bars After Supper and After Hours.)


As many of you will remember, last year Michael and Susan East retired after 25 years from organising the New Year Dance at Dunnington.   The Branch has taken on the running of this event (with some trepidation as it was such a well organised evening).   There will be one or two minor changes in the way the evening will be organised but basically “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”!   One of the changes will be in the ticket/crib.   Susan used to try to organise a balance between sweet and savoury for the Faith Supper so we are experimenting with “sweet” and “savoury” tickets.   

The price for the evening is £5 per ticket and, as above, contributions are asked for a Faith Supper.   We look forward to seeing you at the Reading Rooms, Dunnington on New Year’s Eve.

The Branch Committee


If you have attended a branch dance this season, you will have noticed that two very familiar faces have been missing: Brenda George and Gordon Campbell.

Brenda and Gordon have been dancing with the branch for many years and are hugely experienced dancers. Brenda came along with Mike to look after the Cottingham group at Arlington Hall when we were teacherless in in the 1980-1981 season, I think. She looked after the teas and coffee for longer than I can remember, but will be more missed for her friendliness, helpfulness to beginners and newcomers and her encyclopaedic knowledge of dances! If you ever saw Brenda go wrong – well, that was probably the only time it happened.

Gordon has danced in the UK and beyond, wherever his life took him, starting as a child in the famous city of Dundee. Ah yes, I can tell you already knew that! If Brenda has an encyclopaedic knowledge of dances, Gordon can match it with dance bands, tunes, Scottish history and Burns poems. He was first on the Branch Committee in 1987 and altogether served 9 years. Both Brenda and Gordon have felt they need to give up dancing now as health reasons have meant that they are dancing less and less.

Gordon and Brenda – the Branch will miss you, the Cottingham class will miss you, and I will really miss you both. I hope to keep meeting you in cafes in Cottingham!


As for the last few years, we are holding a Burns Dance followed by a Burns Supper in the Reading Rooms at Dunnington, on the afternoon of Saturday, 28th January, beginning at 2 pm. There will be a short interval.

The dance will be followed by the supper and there will be the usual Address to the Haggis; the whole afternoon should end about 5 pm. The dance, including supper, will cost £5 RSCDS members/£6 non members. The programme, to recorded music, has been devised by Chris Hare.


Our Branch Dance on 25th February – AN AFTERNOON DANCE – will be held in St. Luke’s Church Hall in Willerby, beginning at 2.00 p.m. This is the first time we are holding an afternoon tea dance, and there will be scones, both sweet and savoury and cake! The price is the usual for the “special” branch afternoon dances, i.e. £5 for RSCDS members and £6 for non-members. The programme has been devised by Norma Wheeler.


For full details of our Branch dances see our Events page

For other events use our contacts SCD links page

Copy date for next issue:     11th February 2017

Mrs Stuart Linnell

Look back - in jest