May 2016          A NEWSLETTER           No. 145


The story behind “Reel of the 51st” is so well known that most of you won’t need reminding about it. Originally called the St. Valéry Reel, it was written by in their prisoner-of-war camp by officers of the 51st Highland Division, who had been taken prisoner at St. Valéry in Normandy by the Germans in 1940. It became the first modern dance published by the RSCDS.

Dances both ancient and modern have been named after people, often these days in tribute to a much-loved branch member or teacher – like Miss Milligan’s Strathspey, Miss Gibson’s ditto, Miss Allie Anderson. Neil M. Grant (Bk 49) and Miss Florence Adams (Bk 38) both received their dances as birthday presents; other people have had dances dedicated to them using their profession or hobby as a descriptor – The Tri-Mariner (Bk 48) was written for Richard Stevens, who sails a trimaran, and The Zoologist (Bk 46) was Duncan Brown’s tribute to Professor Ian Linn, who was indeed a zoologist.

George Emmerson’s Scotland Through Her Country Dances is a good source of information on who many of the people whose names appear in dances were, apart from The Laird of Milton’s Daughter, a title which in some earlier editions he wrongly attributed to Flora MacDonald. We will never know who many of these people actually were, especially with some older dances, but it’s nice to think that in some small way they have been immortalized. And while on the subject of names, could someone planning a future programme consider including Mrs. Stuart Linnell, just to make Veronica happy?

Some dances are named after the tune they were danced to, rather than a person, as is the case with “The Laird of Dumbiedykes’ Favourite” – the Laird’s favourite tune, in case you thought otherwise. “Miss Drummond of Perth’s Favourite Scotch Measure” is a tune just crying out for a dance, in my view, even if just to frustrate all those people who insist that Scotch is only what you drink. And even drinks have had their dances – Glayva and Johnnie Walker, for example. It appears that young people (and doesn’t writing that make me feel old!) are now drinking far less alcohol than in the past – perhaps they would be more in favour of Highland Spring than The Alewife and her Barrel?

Frequently, too, place-names appear in dance titles; local landmarks are quite common, like The Pitlochry Tryst or The Clatterin’ Brig (named after the bridge over the Devilly Burn at the bottom of the Cairn O' Mount Road near Fettercairn). Place names don’t have to be Scottish any more, of course, as we can see from Glastonbury Tor (Bk 47),  The Floozie in the Jacuzzi (Birmingham Book) and City of Belfast (Bk 48). Back in the late 1980s, I went to a (New Scotland?) dance in Edinburgh where the programme had been devised with a “Tour of Scotland” theme, so that all the dances contained Scottish place-names, following clockwise round Scotland: the ticket/crib cover had a map drawn with the “route” linking the consecutive dances marked on it. I still think it was a really clever concept, and it worked well as a programme too.

So when you are planning your holidays this year, you could consider planning an itinerary which visited as many “dances” as possible. It could add a different dimension to your holiday to visit The Birks of Abergeldie, or even those of Invermay, Castles Campbell, Douglas or Mey, but though you may be able to see others of Scotland’s Gardens, I think it’s too late to visit Cherrybank Gardens in Perth, which seems to now be a housing estate. You could even visit  Europe and far-flung places like Japan and South Africa, making a Trip to the Drakensberg to see the Cosmos in the Highlands!

Somehow I once labored under the impression that “St. Andrews of Brampton” was the name of a dog…. So, just me then?

Joyce Cochrane  


There we were, Norma & I, after a two week Easter break, all set for our summer season at the York club & looking forward to an evening with Robert Whitehead, playing for our April birthdays. Sheila Barnes at the ready to M.C. our celebratory programme, with cakes waiting to be shared, shoes on, members & visitors arriving, eagerly anticipating a special night.

But oh dear!! Big problem. The hall is currently undergoing extensive alterations & we've managed quite well, under difficult circumstances for the past few months, but horror of horrors, "No lights in the main hall". Lights everywhere else, stage, loos, kitchen & tea room, but sadly not our dancing space.

So with H & S in mind, dancing in the dark was not an option. Someone had the brilliant idea of emptying the tea room of tables and chairs, and suddenly bodies appeared, like ants clearing the room, where the lights were on. The floor was swept of debris from the builders, Robert moved from a large space to a bijou, but cozy one, and we had a Dunkirk spirit amongst us.

Sheila cheerfully & expertly guided us through our multi-national joint programme & all who stayed had an eventful, joyful & memorable evening.

So, our “No lights in the hall”, turned into the “Best Group in the North”, and we both want to thank all who helped to make it special & fun.

Judith Johnson & Norma Wheeler, York SD Club

Don’t you think “No lights in the hall” and “Best Group in the North” would make great titles for dances?  - Ed.

A Case for the Great Detective Broccoli Spears

(After that last, truly head-enlarging Editorial, I think I’d better shrink again and give you a bit of perhaps more characteristic trivial doggerel. But thank you, Joyce!)

There’s been a murder in the kirk

So Broccoli is soon at work

To solve the awful Sunday crime –

He’ll do it in his own good time.

The body sounds like Harris’s

Who’s been visiting the parishes

Demanding folks’ attendance

And appropriate repentance.

Perhaps he’d made an assignation

With someone in the congregation

So Broccy and his spies

Are out to question alibis.

They’ve run to earth

The Duke of Perth

But he and MacLeod

Were visiting Stroud.

Then they’re on to Ian Powrie

Who’s made his tuneful, all-too-flowery

Au revoir to his home town –

But he was staying with a Brown.

Where then was the Richmond Lass?

Surely she was not at Mass?

No, she, impeccably, was present

All the day at Twelve Coates Crescent.

The Cooper and his Wife

And their kids had gone to Fife

The neighbours saw them all

On the Sabbath playing ball!!

And Mrs Linnell?

Is she suspect as well?

Not so: from the talk

She’d hurried to York.*

Broccy’s at a loss

All tangled like Hugh Foss

But then he smelt pollution

And here is his solution:

The Minister had told his flock

That he was skating on the loch

(On a Sunday that’s absurd

Though they believed his every word)

But in the kirk he’d gone berserk

With a spurtle and a dirk;

He couldn’t stand the interference

So he made a Highland clearance.

*I keep on trying!    

Veronica Wallace, York


Members of the new committee are:

Allan Highet, Chairman

Chris Hare, Secretary

Lynne Brooks, Treasurer

Norma Wheeler, Minutes Secretary

Patricia Henshaw


Alex Hodgson died on February 24th. H gave great service to Scottish Country dancing having run the Wenlock Reel club from 1978 to 2010.

He was one of a steadily diminishing group of people who saw active service in World War 2. Born and educated in county Durham he joined the Royal Navy at the age of eighteen and then moved on to the Fleet Air Arm. After training in Canada he was posted to HMS Venerable in the Far East where he flew Corsairs.

After demobilisation he married Jessie in 1948. In 1950 he graduated from university with a degree in mechanical engineering. All his working life was spent working on aircraft with various firms which ultimately formed BAE. The planes that he worked on included the Buccaneer and the Harrier. He moved to North Ferriby in 1968 when his work was transferred to BAE at Brough, where he remained until he retired.

The Wenlock Reel club began at the latest in 1959. Originally it was for members and wives of the Local TA. It was initially run by Col. Dobbs followed by Harry and Pat Randall. Harry dropped out in 1978 following the death of Pat. This left the club teacherless without equipment and music. Alex was persuaded to take on the class, members produced vinyl records which were copied on to tapes and a reasonable repertoire of dance music was assembled. Alex was keen that members should join the rscds and helped by using the branch dance programmes as a basis for our local evenings. The emphasis in the class was to enjoy social dancing without labouring technique. He was presented with a well-deserved Branch Award

Outside dancing Alex had many interests ranging from gardening to fine arts and hill walking. After he retired he took up ice skating progressing through some of the earlier proficiency grades. Being able to skate backwards competently must class as being a little more difficult than poussettes or tournees!.

In later years increasing and multiple health problems did not deter him from dancing. He danced and taught as first couple in the top set until he finally retired at the age of eighty five. All of us who danced with him have very fond memories of Alex and the Thursday evenings spent with the Wenlock Reel Club.

George Edwards, Willerby

George Edwards presenting Alex Hodgson with his
Branch Award in May 2009

No lights in the Hall

A Case for Great Detective

Obituary, Alex Hodgson

New Committee