Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Giving Up, Giving In

Friday night, eight oclock and another interminable trip around the Oberwald is driving me insane. Someone famous whose name I forget once wrote:

“Time flies by when you’re the driver of a train and I ride on the footpath there and back again”

I am not sure who it was, but a few weeks riding the rails that I have had to endure these past few Fridays would see a version by Leonard Cohen, the introduction of a few minor chords to infer melancholy and emphasise a desire to get off the F*****g footplate and get on with life!

Fortunately I have an escape, and with the dance deservedly won by Abbey, despite a concerted media campaign by Susanna I currently have the music in me. The soothing tones of Sheena Easton singing “Giving up Giving in” currently feeds through my headphones and helps counter the Friday night riot of life on the Swiss rails as I ponder tomorrows night’s singing competition. Sitting over there with his bottle of Theakston’s Unpredictable and a bowl of pickled onions to hand taking in the fine detail of another jaunt up the Jungfrau he occasionally glances my way and If my lip reading serves me correctly mutters “living the dream” My occasional hand claps to Sheena’s bass baritone probably convey the message that I too am living the Friday night dream.

I am not.

Tonight should have been the final night of “Hair..........in all the wrong places” a musical by our local Saga amateur dramatic society. Rehearsals had gone well. The nudity had been cut from the original script much to the consternation of an easy living group with ideas beyond their station, who regularly gathered in the local drinking emporia to take in England football matches. Emboldened by England’s recent qualification for next year’s world cup in Rio Di Janeiro, they hatched a plan over a succession of Dubonnet and lemonades to include a tribute to the team somewhere during the production.

This turned out to be the removal of skirts Bucks Fizz style during the show stopping “Let the Sunshine in” to reveal no knickers but a quartet of Brazilian waxes dyed blue, green, yellow and white. Unlicensed for full frontal nudity the local council closed us down, narrowly avoiding a court case and three months of hard rehearsal came to nothing.

And now I am alone, the train did not make its destination climbing high on its rack and pinions (good grief how much of this programme have I absorbed) power was lost mid Alp.

Our power, not the Swiss power,

Holey cheese munchers far too efficient for that.

Well not the power as such, but the signal from the sky dish. High wind blows the branches in our hedge across the line of our dish and the signal is sometimes lost. This instigated a five minute rant from himself on how can it be that we can fire a signal thousands of miles out into space bounce it off a satellite before returning it to earth only for it to struggle to get past the hedge at the bottom of our garden. A ten minute phone call to a Sky man with a Scottish accent has further darkened his mood,which was not helped by the Sky man's parting reposte:

“You should cut yon bloody hidge then ya southern bampot”

Husband’s apoplexy was sent soaring and he snatched up the Legolas costume the kids bought him for Christmas to depart for Gondor (his shed) to engage the forces of Sky digital in battle via the medium of Warhammer, pausing only to fire three rubber arrows at the sky dish.

So I am left here to recap some of the singers from the first two episodes of The Voice. I don’t understand how the old guy from the North West was not picked as he out Bubled the Buble and Kylie seems a little over eager with the buzzer. I like William’s singers and his selections always seem a little more considered, although Tom Jones seems to have been at the Testosterone pills again, with his first five singers all young and female. I am sure I heard him say sotto voce to Kylie:

“I don’t know what’s going on so I don’t, All I got’s tail,.....Huuh!

Did I tell you I met Elvis”

It’s not the same as the dancing but it gets me through the week.

I have been busting a few moves recently while out walking the dog first thing in the morning. I have taken to listening to my ipod while walking and am unable to let the rhythm and beat affect the way I walk, occasionally chucking in a full three sixty degree spin or a high hand clap or circular motion with my hips which normally results in the dog walking ten yards behind me. Earlier in the week I had been surprised when a man around my age walking a spooky looking Weimaraner halted my progress, I took my headphones off thinking he required directions or change, but was put firmly on the back foot when he said:

“ I’ll name that tune in one............ Marvin Gaye, got to give it up”

Flustered I told him to not be so stupid, how could he possibly know what I was listening to. To which he replied,

“Ok, I may be wrong but I don’t think I am, you look like a trained dancer (ok he didn’t say that) and nobody walks like that to S Club 7”

As I stalked off, dragging the dog away from what turned out to be a sexy lady Weimaraner I clicked my ipod on from Marvin Gaye to something a little less bouncy.

Our game of "name that tune" has continued throughout the week, he didn’t guess “Candle in the Wind” opting instead for some dirge by the oily Deburgh which I found a little insulting, but he had Rockin Robin by the Jacksons when I was ten yards into the park. It may not be full on dancing but it is still the interpretation of music through body movement and I like to think of it as a middle aged version of street dance.

Oh great, Sky’s back on. Now do I send message to Gondor to let my Legolas know that the battle is won, or do I turn over and take in a bit of Phil and Kirsty,

Now where are they this week.................

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Piratical Patrick

I am currently sitting through an interminable programme titled “Swiss Railway Journeys” on the channel that time forgot. It’s one of Sir’s favourites and said channel are showing the whole series back to back over the next twenty four hours (yes there are that many railways in Switzerland) My suggestion that the train driver put his foot down to perhaps squeeze the programmes into a twelve hour period has sparked a conversation that somehow ended up with a two minute diatribe on the state of our roads and rail and how the Swiss maintain both despite extremes of temperature far in excess of our own. I confidently predict that every time our car enters the pothole at the end of the road this viewpoint will be repeated ad nauseam. The venting of the spleen has however saved me from the full series of crazy railroad capers, which is now being recorded for later on while Sir retires to his shed to engage the dark forces of Network South East through the medium of Warhammer.

Left alone, and with the relentless advance of Candy Crush temporarily quelled, I can turn over to the jungle where Vincent Simone has inexplicably been voted out. A talent for the Argentine Tango may not be top of the kit list for jungle survival but I had money on him making the last six, I mean, what’s not to like? He did make a fairer fist of it than the last hoofer to take on the bush tucker trials, Camilla broke down in tears on day three and was seamlessly switched for Joe Bugner, the job swap suited the fragile Dallerup who returned to the outside world to fill Bugner’s boots and in the two weeks that followed significantly raised sales in the boxer’s popular table top grill.

Or was that another boxer?

I may have got that bit mixed up.

The controversy over contraband has proved very interesting and Amy was the first to be hauled up before the beak over her concealer, foundation and chewing gum. A camp search for camp David’s needle and thread and Steve’s snooker table is imminent. Somebody is cutting hair, so there's a pair of scissors or a hairdresser hidden away somewhere, and there was definitely something tucked away in Vincent’s short shorts.

At this point I would like to cast my professional eye over the potential of the remaining contestants on all things Strictly. But first could I endorse the view of the judges with regard to last week’s show, Mark had been on borrowed time for a few weeks, we all like a larger frame that can carry a beat and move with rhythm, timing and steady top line, but where was the bounce in that Samba? The heat is on in this competition and they all would do well to take on board the mantra that was drilled into us from an early age:

You want Fame, well fame costs, and right here’s where you start paying in sweat!

Yes Mark ,it was time to go, you will be missed but not as much as Yvette, the deadpan Lithuanian who has potential as a Bond Villain, or the Joanna Lumley role in a remake of Sapphire & Steel.

In a competition that has been dominated by the ladies, it is Patrick that has caught my eye. Initially insipid he has improved week on week , and what great shape for a man of sixty, whatever diet and fitness regime he is on it sure is working. The flash of his smile and the twinkle in his eye must melt many a heart and the earring hints at gypsy roots or possibly something piratical (not Somalian)as he is threatening to creep up and steal the spoils from under the nose of early favourite Natalie.

Ok, his last dance was a Charlston which seems to be a "shoe in" for high marks this year, but his quickstep the previous week was a triumph, and I would suggest, under marked. Ashley is the only other celebrity male remaining and if he doesn’t sort his head out, (the angle not its mental state) has no hope of making the final; like a Costa cup of coffee, Ola has maximised value/profit from low value ingredients.

I don’t think there are too many miles left in Susanna, although Kevin will be missed, and with the jive out of the way Sophie and Brendon are destined to finish fourth if the dances fall their way.
Alongside Patrick the only two contenders for the glitter ball crown are Abbey and Natalie. I must confess I didn’t expect to warm to Abbey, pre-judged on the back of a career forged in Hello and Ok, she has been a revelation and where on earth did she find that Russian? The moment the camera first fell on his face the earth shook, as countrywide, a frisson shot through a million female hearts. A simply stunning specimen of a man and a top top dancer to boot. Born in a different time, like Anton, he would have been hailed as a god, not of this species but hewn from diamonds. I’d better stop there, their salsa was the best dance of the series so far.

Natalie is a trained professional dancer, she has to be, I can’t tell the difference, which for some reason irks me although I do like watching her dance, incidentally there is a checkout assistant in our local Tesco who looks and speaks like Artem. I seek him out each week but have yet to ask him if he is Artem, a relation, or a dancer. There is always a long all female queue for his till so it can’t just be me, although I do have to be careful as I found myself singing “There’s a guy works down our Tesco swears he’s Artem” under my breath while packing my bags. As ever the hardest two dances for the Celebrities have been the Cha Cha Cha and the jive, which for my money demonstrates just what a great champion Jill Halfpenny was. Her jive was breathtaking and confirms her as the best there has ever been, save Mark Ramprakash,

and Harry Judd.

Oh, and Kara Tointon.

Louis! Louis Smith!

but not Chris Hollins..... no, not Chris Hollins.

I’d better stop there, I can hear the warrior brave returning from the slaughter of the Warhammer battlefield, I’d better prepare the laurels for the slayer of the dark forces of Network South East and ready myself for another Swiss railway journey.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Not again!

Four years on and I am back writing this. Four years ago I ran away with a travelling dance troupe to tour holiday camps and halls of southern Britain in a show that can only be described as some way short of spectacular. I opened the event, clad only in lycra and was seen “en silhouette” dancing to the theme tune from Tales of the Unexpected. I was driven to this life of dance by an excess of football and a failure by “himself” to entertain the idea of supporting me in my quest for all things dance, preferring instead to expend his every thought (mostly shallow) on all things four four two, and jumping up and down on a touchline. I’d had enough of conversation being interspersed with “get in” and “goal” so headed for the hills. He did come to several of the shows, although often with an earpiece in one ear, once leaping to his feet, fists pumping, to shout “Back of the Net” as Sweaty Pauline, a filler act and palmist by trade was predicting the death of yet another cat. What she had against cats we never knew, but she predicted the demise of an audience member’s friendly feline most nights. Anyway, three weeks into the tour, the wheels had started to come off our delivery of dance. Ivanka the cross dressing cossack, irked by his/her removal from the top of the bill, had attempted to take out Guido and Stephanie, the show’s creators, mid Rhumba, literally bringing the curtain down on the whole proceedings. Later that night at “clear the air” talks Ivanka confessed that he/she was struggling to cope with his/hers gender realignment and the removal of top billing had proved to be the last straw, there had been whispers about cossack dancers being a bit of a one trick pony and unless wine was taken, once the fancy leg kicking is done there isn’t much else to follow, and anyway, isn’t part of the attraction of the dance the big brusque cossack demonstrating a softer feminine side to his character. Ivanka achieved this without having to dance, so you could understand the turmoil coursing through the trans gender cossack.

Fearing their show was faltering, Guido and Stephanie hastily re-choreographed the whole show around the rock musical Hair, only to avoid any payment of royalties to the writers, our show was to be cleverly titled Hare. I was to revisit my piece where I stand en silhouette as Vetruvian man at the top of the show with a few minutes of wiggling before tossing my head replete with lots of hair extensions before exiting stage left, Ivanka would perform his Cossack dancing dressed as a large rabbit to avoid any gender issues and would be joined on stage by Guido and Stephanie who would perform a Lepus themed salsa representing the courtship ritual of hares in spring. Sweaty Pauline was relegated to interval entertainment, which ultimately led to the downfall of the show after a huge bust up with Khan the prophet of doom over whether the shows principle show stopping song should be re-titled the Dawning of the Age of Sagittarius or Leo. The troupe split down the middle and the show did not go on. Guido and Stephanie later admitted that they had been considering an offer of some cruise work and this had made their mind up for them, so at that point I packed my bags.

I returned home to a triumphant husband. Who scoffed that he never thought there was any future in dancing and would I mind cooking tea tonight as there was a six oclock kick off that he and child B were keen to take in. Four years on both Child A and Child B have upped and gone to university leaving himself, myself and a dog to make a life for ourselves . Football no longer features large, retreat from the touchline was a natural progression once child B had exited for foreign parts. There was much muttering from husband about how he had given his best years to the beautiful game and could we sell the house and buy a pub replete with horse brasses, warm beer and a chequered carpet as so many had done in years gone by on exiting the game. Over the years this has turned to bitterness, it may be an age thing, but mention of the vast sums of money swilling around the game are often a trigger, as is the ineptitude of the striker of his favoured team, instigating a bout of his football tourettes and a voluble “Come on you Tit!” which seems to be uttered increasingly frequently and, I suspect,involuntarily as he goes about his business of the day, football is no longer the centre of his universe and he has been known to switch off a game mid innings. Concerned that the void left by departing children will be filled with conversation and opportunities to spend time together amid suggestions of dance he has taken to his shed, where he has rekindled a love affair with war hammer and Lord of the Rings, arranging his figures in mock battle, raging against the combined dark forces of Manchester United, BT Open Reach and Richard Madeley, occasionally emerging to shake his fist at an outside world that he seems to feel has failed him in some way.

We still share an ebay account and the list of previously viewed items is often a clue as to his current state of mind. If the watched item is an executive hair trimmer with nose and ear attachment there is a fair chance that he is on an even keel and maintaining a steady course. Football memorabilia from the nineteen eighties signals a melancholic few days are on the way. Any form of exercise equipment or candles and I can expect to be advanced upon at some point during the week, and items relating to Samantha Fox, expensive sunglasses, hair loss treatments, or leather motorbike outfits and I will have to give him some form of age related reality check within forty eight hours. For me the dance goes on, but at a local level, and I am currently involved in a production by the local Saga crew. By coincidence we are producing our own homespun production of Hair, we too had to change the title slightly to avoid any rights issues and are currently running with “Hair!.... in all the wrong places” I am to revive my Vitruvian Man/Tales of the Unexpected opening but have eschewed the lycra for a loose fitting onesie, and several of the cast are keen to retain the nude scenes that caused such a stir in the sixties in order to emphasise the twist in the title. Husband will dutifully attend on show night, sans earplug, and as part of his “reintroduction to society post football” treatment will also accompany me to after show drinks, which is nice, if a little unexpected.

At home the internet helps, at this time of life tablets play an ever increasing part of daily life for both of us. For him to maintain a mental even keel plus mobility following a couple of hernias and two dicky hips and for me to keep in contact with my friends and family through all forms of social media, to shop and also play games, although this has been thrown back in my face each time we bicker, but when he counters with “There’s three of us in this marriage, you, me and spider bloody solitaire” I know the laurels are mine.

As part of his post football treatment husband has been encouraged to embrace social media and he eagerly awaits his Facebook friend count to reach double figures and enjoys following Stanley Matthews, Bilbo Baggins and Nicholas Witchell on Twitter. Further social interaction has included texts and emails to a variety of radio and TV shows although this was temporarily thwarted by an injunction brought about following a series of text messages to Richard Madeley who happened to be sitting in on the Radio “ Breakfast Show, that accused the erstwhile daytime TV presenter of using up the world’s supply of the words “I” and “me” although the straw that broke the camel’s back was, and I quote

“If we have to have some former presenter called Richard from Granada reports wake us up in the morning why can’t it be Duckenfield and not this oily T****r?

And so I am back to writing this, taking in the dance on television in the knowledge that I have lived that life, albeit briefly, but three weeks as a transient hoofer opening the show at halls across the south of England and should we ever meet I will be able to look Len square in the eye and say “Yes, I have danced”

Thursday, May 21, 2009


FIN - for a bit
Ever so busy
Thanks for looking in and for kind words
Some kind of service will be resumed when new transmitter is switched on,
The Test Card
Picture of scarey clown with lecherous look in one eye, and small girl with balloons, surrounded by patterned frame with BBC logo at the bottom.
The scene played out to the sound of a long continous tone or a selection of lift music.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Could've Been a Lady

And the dance continued. On and on, our merry band wending its way through the holiday camps and leisure centres of the land. A travelling band of Minstrels paving a scorched path of dance and mystical magic, Two weeks extended into four, Guido and Stephanie delighted at the success of the show and their reintroduction into Showbiz Society. Bob and Jean the only casualties, press ganged at a coastal venue into a return to the Choppy Main and a new challenge demonstrating the Magic of Ballroom to seafarers on the P&O ferry “Pride of Bilbao” while battling the rise and fall of the Bay of Biscay.

After the initial giddiness of running away with a dance circus had diminished I settled down to a steady routine of life on the road. Seven shows a week, each night a new venue. Wake early in wherever we are staying, into the minibus and van and on to the next venue by midday. Set up in the afternoon, quick run through of performance, back to digs for meal and change, back to venue. Perform, glasses of fizz to acknowledge triumph, pack van, sleep. Same again. Monotonous though it may sound, it was all still relatively new to me. Other hoofers had their own ways of dealing with the repetitious days, To Sweaty Pauline, a new day, a new palm. Khan Astrologer of Doom lived the part twenty four seven, doom lay all around. Guido and Stephanie were under the most pressure, onstage for over half of the show and troupe leaders; they are busier than most, but as yet, no cracks showing. The biggest surprise to everyone, performers and audiences alike, has been Ivanka. The cross dressing Cossack has gone down a storm every night, and has displaced Khan as the penultimate act of the show; a move that Khan had predicted a week ago. The two continue to share a room, Khan confident in his prediction that Taurean Ivanka will be usurped amidst fire and thunder, and no good will come of this change in the running order.

Ivanka has grown into her role, and may have had his/her head turned by this elevation in status. Keen to attain the next stage of gender realignment he/she put in a request for an increased performance fee. Guido and Stephanie quietly reminding him/her of visa regulations in the UK and what they do to cross gender Cossacks in the barracks of the Caucasus.

This was the first real incident of creative tension between Troupe leaders and the popular Cossack who held the belief that he was fast becoming the future of Light Entertainment. At that night’s performance the air crackled with creative tension. Khan foreseeing trouble repeated his prediction of Fire and Thunder to the troupe and as I moved into Svetlina mode and climbed the stage I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach that all was not well.

Blending Science, Art and Dance, the routine begins with me assuming the position of Vitruvian man behind a large circular screen. I am displayed en silhouette, standing still for thirty seconds before the first Doo Doo Doo of the title music from Tales of the Unexpected strikes up. For the next thirty seconds it is a slow swaying of hips with arms outstretched, the arms are than introduced for two minutes of free style swaying before finishing in the position of Bruce Forsyth’s “The Thinker” As Guido has commented, it is a stunning opening that could only be improved by the addition of a full orchestra.

Returning to the dressing room and slipping out of my Lycra body stocking, the tension remained. Pauline was now on stage after some nifty sword work from Willie Watson. Glistening with palmistry pride she had maintained her run of discovering a Dragon Slayer on every day of the week, a surprise to Pauline who had only ever previously come across them at the weekends.

Next came Khan, keen to regain his place as number two in the line up, he was carrying out on the spot readings for whoever was born under the sign that the Sun currently happened to be in. In Astrological terms death defying stuff, the audience struck dumb by Khan’s reading for the man who had his birthday the next day,predicting the death of his cat in the morning and a particularly nasty and messy event late in the day on the way back from a celebratory evening out.

Ivanka followed on. A staid performance, in which he/she seemed to be holding back, a going through of the Cossack motions, just doing enough in a Russian Steppes kind of way that did not quite match previous performances. Then It was Guido and Stephanie. Freestlye Salsa movements from opposite sides of the stage, each night a new move, electrifying stuff that drew gasps from the audience. A sensual Rhumba to follow and then a super Samba, lost in a dance bubble they carried the audience away on a magic Latin carpet. Completely transfixed no one noticed the subtle change in beat. Ivanka irked by her pay dispute and emboldened by Oestrogen, was in control of the music and had skilfully segwayed the music to a new track, storming the stage with a high and low kicking Cossack routine to Hot Chocolate’s “You Could’ve Been a Lady”

Professional to the last, Guido and Stephanie adjusted to the change in beat and proceeded to dance the ladyboy Cossack from the spotlight, escorting him via a routine of tangoesque rushes to the side of the stage where he/she became wrapped in the stage curtain, eventually pulling the curtain down with a crash along with several lighting units.

“Fire and Thunder I tell you! Fire and Thunder! AAAGGHHH!”

boomed Khan as he dashed across the stage arms outstretched in a diversionary tactic that pleased all the audience bar one, who returned home to check on his cat and cancel his birthday celebrations. Guido and Stephanie took the applause and we all returned for the end of show Hokey Cokey except for Ivanka.

I don’t know where this leaves the tour now, Ivanka is piqued at his/her treatment and failure to achieve top billing. Khan has yet to predict the end of the world but I can feel it coming on, and just how many Dragon Slayers does one need to discover. Stephanie says the show must go on, but I just don’t know. I have spoken to husband several times this week, and the kids came to a performance with Grandma which was fantastic. Secretly I think they are quite proud of my new career, but I can’t leave them for much longer. We have to sort something out soon. We are all suspended in a dance/football limbo and must find a way to move forward.