February 2015 A NEWSLETTER No. 140
I’ve been threatening (sorry, promising) to write an editorial on Burns for some time, and finally its time has come. I’ve done a little research for it, but not a lot; a good deal of it has come from memory, some of it from my university English course: we studied 18th century literature in 1974/1975, which might mean my memory is not as good as I think. A lot of it comes from personal opinion, too – like everyone else, I like to believe I’m right.
Please don’t stop reading now if you think you’re not interested in Burns! I want to lay out what I think about Burns, and why I think he is important. You are quite free to disagree, so long as you put it on paper for the next Broun’s Reel. I’d also like to dispel a few myths. Two things have reawakened my interest in Burns – one, a visit to the new Burns museum in Alloway, near Ayr, and the second, our recent Burns supper.
So, to begin with those myths. The first is that he was ever called Robbie or Rabbie
– he refers to himself in one of the ballads as “rantin’ roarin’ Robin”, but usually
wrote letters signing himself as “Robert”. (Rab the Ranter is a folk-
Burns actually died in 1796 aged 37 after a dental extraction, though his health
was very poor at the time due to a severe rheumatic heart condition – one source
gave rheumatic fever as the cause of his health problems. Robert Burns grew up in
poverty and hardship, labouring on the family farm from the age of 7, and its principal
labourer by the age of 15. His father gave him his early education at home, and then
he had odd spells of (often good) schooling from time to time; he was largely self-
Burns stands in the Scots tradition following the Scots “Makars” of the 15th and 16th centuries, and Allan Ramsay (1686 – 1758), the writer of “The Gentle Shepherd”. He was a contemporary of William Blake, and links the earlier Scottish writers to Walter Scott and to Romantic poets like Wordsworth and Coleridge. Like Ramsay, he wrote in the Scots vernacular, though he also wrote in standard English – his more critical political and social writing was often in English. For those English readers who find the dialect impenetrable, look at some different poems – he also wrote in a lighter version of the dialect which will be easier to read.
Burns did not write in Scots to exclude English readers. One purpose was to make
poetry accessible to the people from his own backgound. More importantly, he wanted
to celebrate the richness of the language he heard around him, its cadences, rhythms
and images, and by using it, to prove that the vernacular is just as poetic a language
as English. He could write in the “high” style too – some of his earlier “dedicatory”
poetry reminds me of Pope – but it is still written in a Scots dialect, if not full-
He wrote in a variety of styles – love poems, epigrams, commendatory verse, ballads,
great rushing narratives like “Tam O’Shanter”. Later in his life, he began to collect
songs and tunes, much as Ralph Vaughan Williams was to do in England over a century
later. Where there was a tune without words, he would write a song; where there were
words, he would write music for them, or improve an existing song or tune. My 18th
century compendium states that some of the songs were “purified by Burns from an
indecent original”, the case of “Coming thorough the Rye”. It beggars belief to think
of what the original might have been! Some songs are rather unexpected, like “The
In short, I believe he was a great poet, and deserves to be celebrated!
Not to write any more silly pieces for Broun’s Reel.
New Year resolutions are made to be broken, so here goes...
First of all I’d like to record how wonderful New Year at Dunnington was. Just as wonderful as all the previous years. Those who didn’t come missed a treat. But they wouldn’t have got in anyway.
There were some grandchildren there, enjoyment for the rest of us as well as for them. Grandchildren are good measure around the festive season. One of mine sent an anagram to the North Pole and Satan sent him lots of presents. Another wrote and thanked me for the ‘rapping’ paper.
Now, there’s a thought: can you rap to Scottish country dance music, I wonder? A new genre called Scottish hip hop, to add to Southern rap and Atlanta hip hop? Could Auld Lang Syne be adapted for the lyric? I once saw a section of a play based on Ulysses (the Greek one) done as rap – very clever!
Sounds as if I know something about it, which I don’t – but anyway we do a bit of hip hopping, I suppose, and those with replacements have to be careful. Good luck, good health and good dancing to them in 2015!
And to all of us (even though it will probably be March by the time this appears – if the Editor doesn’t keep my resolution for me)!
Veronica Wallace, York
The Valentine is a lovely strathspey which we don’t seem to do often enough – perhaps, because of the title, we don’t like to put it on a programme in the middle of summer!
The dance was written by Linda Gaul and was published in the RSCDS Magazine in April 2009. Unfortunately there was an error in the wording of bars 25 – 26 which implied that the dancers were all facing up. This error was corrected in the RSCDS Magazine No 9 (page 6) to say that all dancers were facing their partner and that at the end of bar 28 they are all facing up. If you have an original copy of the dance and a copy of the relevant magazine, please correct the wording on your dance copy to avoid confusion. If you haven’t got a copy of the relevant magazine, either find someone who has (many of us are hoarders and keep them all) or ask me for the official wording.
This dance was taught at the Harrogate Weekend recently and it looked very good from where I was sitting.
Helen Brown, York
At our dance in December 2014 at Swanland, three people were very surprised to be awarded RSCDS Branch Awards, signed by the RSCDS Chairman, Jim Healey. George and Diana Edwards were both given award certificates signed by Joyce, as Y & NH branch chairman – Joyce was very surprised to get one as she’d not signed hers! At the dance, Joyce presented the awards to Di and George, and was presented with her award by Helen, as Secretary.
Rosemary Robins was unable to be present at the dance and so was presented with her award at the following Monday class in Cottingham.
The awards are given by RSCDS HQ in recognition of notable long-
ANNUAL DANCE, STOCKTON ON FOREST, 28th MARCH
Our Branch Annual Dance will be held at its usual venue, Stockton on the Forest village
hall, on Saturday 28th March, beginning at 7.30 p.m. The price for our ball this
year, to the music of Alan Ross, is £12 for RSCDS members and £14 for non-
The programme has been devised by Nigel Bell.
BRANCH AGM & DANCE, MARKET WEIGHTON, 11th APRIL
Our Branch Dance in April will be held again in the Community Hall in Station Road,
Market Weighton, where we first went last year for the AGM – YO43 3AX for Satnav
users (I hope I’ve found the right postcode this year!). The AGM should be fairly
short and will be held during the interval. The price is £4 for RSCDS members and
£5 for non-
The programme, slightly shorter to allow time for the AGM, has been chosen by Joyce and will be danced to recorded music:
Please do consider standing for the Committee next year!
Your branch needs you!
Please notify any topics for discussion at the AGM in advance
BRANCH DANCE, PICKERING, 9th MAY
The Branch Dance in Pickering, in the Memorial Hall overlooking the Beck, will be held on Saturday 9th May, beginning at 7.30. The dance is to live music from Robert Whitehead, and tickets are £6; you are asked to bring contributions to a faith supper as usual. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS A TICKET ONLY EVENT – tickets are limited to 60.
The programme has been chosen by members of the Pickering group:
Jean was a well-
Jean Kilgour was born in 1935 in Edinburgh, where she grew up, and where she began Scottish Country Dancing – although she insisted that she just knew it as “dancing” in her youth. At school, she was taught by Miss Allie Anderson, and her love of Scottish dancing lasted all of her life. During the war, she was evacuated to Castle Douglas, where her mother was from, and she retained a strong affection for Galloway all her life. Her family spent almost every summer holiday at Rockcliffe, and in her room at the nursing home she had a painting of Rockcliffe on the wall; she urged both of us to visit the area.
Jean studied dentistry at Edinburgh University, and carried on this profession for
many years: she worked as a school dentist in the East Hull clinic after her move
to this area. She married Edward McInnes in Edinburgh, and they came to live in Hessle
with their four children, Katherine, Fiona, Alison and Iain, when Edward became Professor
of German at Hull University in 1979. Sadly, Edward died in 1996. Jean and her children
and grandchildren were a very close-
After moving to this area, Jean danced first with the Wenlock Reel Club in Hessle, and later with the Cottingham and Willerby groups. She had two stints on the committee, for two years from 2002 – 2004, and then a full three years from 2009 – 2012. When Chris was first on the committee, she remembers spending really pleasant fun evenings when Jean helped in and advised on devising dance programmes. She loved walking and joined in all of the annual branch walks and lunches, helping Gill Hoyle to plan and lead the first ones, then later planning and organising them with Joyce.
Chris shared many happy memories of travelling with Jean to Scottish Fiddle Orchestra concerts and to St. Andrews; Jean and Chris would share the driving, and Jean would navigate, proving a good navigator around Edinburgh except for the occasion when they got lost and ended up at Coates Crescent! Joyce and Jean also travelled to St. Andrews together; Jean proved indefatigable, especially in the ceilidh dancing. Memories there include ceilidhs, classes, walks on the beach and footspa parties!
Jean was a great dancer and her giggle on the dance floor was unmistakeable and infectious. She was very good at supporting new dancers, and also gave Lynne a lot of encouragement over starting a beginners’ session and getting a live music dance in the southern end of the branch. Even when she could no longer dance, she maintained this strong interest in Scottish dancing, wanting to know about the latest dances and listening to Scottish dance music.
Dancing and her family were not her only free-
Jean was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in November 2013, and steadily became more impaired. She died on the evening of Monday, 24th November 2014. She will be much missed. Our sincere condolences to Katherine, Fiona, Alison and Iain, and to their families.
Chris Hare and Joyce Cochrane
Alick McTurk was a well-
Alick was born in 1920 in Hull, where he lived all his life. He saw a lot action in the war: after he was rescued from Dunkirk, hs was sent to South Africa, the Middle East and Iraq, then becoming a Desert Rat in North Africa. Alick had vivid memories of his wartime experiences and would write about them in letters to friends much later in life.
Alick always liked dancing and met his wife Kathleen at an Electricity Board dance;
he said “I knew straight away she was the girl for me”, and she always was. They
were married in 1949, and had two children, John and Margaret. Alick and Kathleen
took up Scottish Country Dancing and were enthusiastic dancers for the rest of their
lives, continuing into their 90s. Alick was always light on his feet with a perfect
sense of rhythm; even when his memory was starting to fail and he danced relying
on his little cards, he was always a joy to dance with. Alick had two full three-
Alick wrote in Broun’s Reel of his love for Scottish dancing and for Scottish dance music: Fraser’s Favourite and Deil Amang the Tailors were particular favourites, and he asked for the latter to be played at his funeral, saying that if he wasn’t really dead, he’d get out of the coffin and dance! In February 2006, he wrote:
“We owe so much especially in our later years to Scottish Country Dancing -
Alick was always a very keen photographer; joining the Hull Photographic Society,
and becoming its president in 1961 and 1962; in the late 1960s he joined the Willerby
Camera Club. Many of us will remember the slide sequences with pre-
Alick died on February 6th. Our condolences to Margaret and John.