December 2011      A NEWSLETTER           No. 127


A friend once described his vicar’s sermons as “not one big balloon, but a bigger balloon tied to a smaller balloon by a very thin thread”.  This editorial is even worse than that – a lot of little balloons tied one to the next by thin strings.  If you feel charitable, you could think of it as a string of pearls instead!

The last two editions have seen some really good thought-provoking articles, one by Ian Hazell and one by Malcolm Frost.  Some of the things both men said I really agreed with, while there were other points I could happily argue with.  Other people have spoken to me about the two articles, but no one has actually put pen to paper.  I thought that the articles deserved a better response than they got.

One of Malcolm’s points was that we seem to get hung up on doing ever more complicated dances, and that this was what drove some would-be dancers away.  He’s right, of course; however, there are people who would leave our classes in droves if all the dances were simple and straightforward, presenting no challenge. So a balance of dances, it seems to me, is really necessary, both in class and on social dance programmes.  What is often overlooked, and something which lies behind some of Malcolm’s points, is that great satisfaction can be found by dancing even the simplest dances very well.  Many of you will recognise that feeling, when everyone has remembered the figures, everyone has covered, everyone has danced an 8 bar figure in 8 bars (and not 6½ or 9 bars).  Ah well, a teacher can dream!

One of Ian’s frustrations was concerning music.  Like him, I’ve heard a lot of Scottish dance tunes played by the folk bands, in a rather freer and up-tempo style, and they really do sound terrific. After all, at some English country dances you can now dance to the sounds of the Oyster Band and others – check them out on the internet.  There are a lot of young Scottish bands playing folk music: why don’t they play for dancing?  It’s not that they are not good enough! However, a contemporary folk-style interpretation of the tunes is not the only solution.  Though I would love to hear that for dancing, I would absolutely hate to lose the more traditional style; I really do love some of the old strathspeys with their “Scotch snap”.  What about a young band like Luke Brady (a.k.a. “The Brady Bunch”), who we heard at the Day School dance?  They were terrific and really fizzed, and their energy animated us all.

Sometimes it seems that the accordion led sound of many Scottish Dance bands feels quite alienating to younger people, and this could lead to the inclusion of non-traditional music.  It could well be possible for someone to work recognisably Scottish bands like The Proclaimers into a dance set; I think I’d draw the line at Lady Gaga, however.  Or since it seems that most dancers dance in the USA, Canada, Japan and Northern Europe these days, does the music need to be Scottish at all?  It would have to be for me; this is just a question for debate.  And finally! How important is the music to you at a dance?  A lot, or a little?  How important is the programme?  the food?  the company?  the distance you have to travel?  Pick up your pen and let us know.  

Joyce Cochrane

Dancing to the music of Robert Whitehead at the Joint Ball in Tadcaster  in November. Thanks to Allan Highet for the photograph.


It was a cold wet and windy night approximately one year ago when I walked into the United Zion Church Hall in Cottingham firmly closing the outer door behind me and thereby excluding all who followed. The music started, drowning out the shouts and bangs on the door and windows by the rapidly chilling dancers I’d inadvertently locked out.

Inside there was no time to become uncomfortable. Hello to the lovely, always smiling, Joyce. A rapid introduction to all (not a large attendance, I thought) and straight into the first dance. I loved it! Just wish I could remember it! Eventually the well chilled, wet and rather disgruntled gained access and honestly………..I’m sorry!

I was the first ‘new’ dancer for a while. Initially I would stay for the first half of the programme but I was always aware that I was interrupting the smoothness of the dance so I left the second half to the proficient dancers. Only fair!

In the beginning it wasn’t the steps or the routines of the dances that that caused discomfort, it was the feeling that I was disturbing competent dancers. Of course that’s not correct as every-one tells you! Still it’s there in your mind and, I suspect, will be common with beginners

As time passed and nobody shouted at me I began to stay for the second half and also joined the class led by George in Willerby. This was a revelation. At the first ‘difficult’ dance I told George I would sit it out. ‘Why?’ he asked. ‘Because I’d make it difficult for the other dancers’ I replied feeling very righteous. George gave me his gimlet look. ‘Get in there and dance!’ I never looked back. As a confidence booster it was just what I needed and just at the right time.

I knew from the word go that there was something lacking in my brain. Everyone else would listen to the instruction and dance. I’d listen to the instruction, walk it through, forget the beginning and then, after I’d completed a turn or some other complicated manoeuvre  have no idea what to do next and just head for the exit sign with both arms extended in the hope that someone would latch on and direct me somewhere…….anywhere!  

Also there are the unfathomable expressions that meant nothing to me, like ‘easier dance’ or ‘harder dance.’  The calls that followed me around the set…… ‘Not that left – the other one!’ Actually and when I think of it, I still hear that quite a lot! My dancing really left a lot to be desired. I would gallop round the set leaning backwards with both arms wind-milling. I looked like the back end of a pantomime horse trying to catch up with the front.

It was getting embarrassing so I went off to Summer School. I had some back-up in that Jean and Chris were also going plus Margaret from York. (Or is that….. Margaret of York?). Have to get it correct…..I’ll see her soon. Summer School commenced polishing the rather rough stone. School in the mornings; walk through in the afternoons, dancing in the evenings and continuous rain. One evening was a ceilidh and I was able to explain to everyone about the care needed when getting too close to wild animals. I like to believe it impressed at least some of the audience.

Taking up Scottish Country Dancing means that I have met lots of really nice and friendly people. Every dance night is enjoyment and laughter. I have made a lot of friends through SCD and everybody is so fit. All right some walk a bit more than they dance but they do it with gusto, in time and with a smile. They’ll never be old and now neither shall I.

A year on and I am expanding my horizons. It is time now to attend area functions. So, soon I’ll have the pleasure of meeting more and more of you. Me? You’ll easily recognise me. I’ll be the one galloping round the set leaning backwards and with both arms waving. Just catch one, either one, and point me away from the exit sign.

Ken Wallace, Hornsea


As usual the October meeting of the Management Board covered many different topics but it started with finalising details of the upcoming AGM at the beginning of November.

A new logo for use by Affiliated Groups had been designed and agreed by the Board, and there was a brief discussion of the report by a new group set up to discuss Affiliated Groups, and what the Society could do to help them and encourage their formation.

It was agreed at last years AGM that £100,000 would be set aside as a Development Fund, and the Board has now approved the precise terms of reference and detailed rules to be followed when applying for money from this fund. Guidelines for applicants seeking funding from the Jean Milligan Fund were also submitted and approved, and all of these will be available from Headquarters.

The Executive Officer as usual gave a very comprehensive and detailed report on her work and the activities of the staff in HQ. A major point that arose from her report was the work undertaken by the development officer, who has been funded by Creative Scotland. It was decided that the Society would give some additional funding to enable her to consolidate her work, now that it is coming to fruition.

It was agreed that a decision was needed regarding the legal status of the Society to provide some financial protection for the Board Members, and the vote was overwhelmingly in favour of moving to a Company Limited by Guarantee.

The group working on developing material to emphasise the Health Benefits of SCD have developed a letter for distribution to health professionals, but are still working on developing a suitable poster for use in Doctor’s surgeries – (there are questions, such as should male dancers be shown wearing a kilt or trousers!)

Membership Services committee reported regarding possible developments to the website, especially trying to solve the problem of trying to find items. As reported in the Scottish Country Dancer, an electronic version of the Manual produced by two overseas members is now available on the website.

There was discussion regarding the call for new dances for publication in 2013, and the overall strategy of producing books - should it be every one or two years? I suspect that any decision made will be altered by future Boards.

Part of the meeting was given over to receiving a report form the Media Development Officer, who was one month into his initial three month appointment. His initial brief is to develop a detailed set of recommendations, and this preliminary report explained some of the unexpected problems that he had already encountered. It is expected that the initial work will be completed in time for the next Board at the end of November.

And finally we had a slight change to the composition of the Board – Ross Robertson had taken on the temporary duties of Treasurer after the last AGM, when we ceased to have a Finance Committee. As the board has selected a new Treasurer who automatically becomes a Board member, and who will present the accounts at the AGM, Ross relinquished his post at the end of the meeting, and I would like to say that he has been a highly valued member of the Board.

Malcolm Brown   


Malcolm, Helen, Allan and I attended the A.G.M. weekend in Glasgow, which was held in the Kelvin Hall. Memories of the circus held there, when I was a child, resurfaced! It was a lovely bright frosty weekend and Glasgow University on the hill opposite along with the Art Gallery looked very fine.

On Friday evening we went by bus to the City Chambers where over 200 members enjoyed a drink at a Civic Reception. The buildings are certainly very grand, with lots of marble, and as ex-Glaswegians we enjoyed a drive through town. In the evening there was a superb dance to the Ian Muir Sound with 488 dancers – quite an impressive sight.

On the Saturday morning there was a question and answer session and a class conducted very enthusiastically by Margi Stevenson. Controlling over 100 dancers in the Gillyflower dance is quite an achievement.

In the afternoon the A.G.M. took place with 212 delegates and many observers. There is a summary of the A.G.M. weekend on the R.S.C.D.S website. What struck me was how much good- will there is in working parties and groups, to keep alive the tradition of Scottish dancing, and to encourage new members.

The Annual Review 2011 was very informative and beautifully produced with photos. There are 13,321 members in 169 Branches/associations and 345 Affiliated groups and 3 Teachers’ associations. As numbers decline as members age, there is no room for complacency. The financial state of the RSCDS appears sound and it is fascinating to see the breakdown of Operational Income and Expenditure. This Annual Review will be available for download, and makes for really interesting reading.

In the evening there was another excellent dance with 542 dancers- a fine sight – dancing to the Lothian Band. Both dances went really well with familiar dances recapped both evenings – so really enjoyable and stress-free! People mixed from different branches and it was most sociable.

On the Sunday morning there was another workshop with over 100 dancers. Sessions were also held for Young Dancers and for those interested in dealing with the media.

A highlight of the Friday evening was the demonstration by young dancers of 2 dances which had won competitions. Abigail Brown won the section for dancers for those aged 12 years and over, dancing a lovely dance composed by her “ Abbie’s Twizzle” – well done the Brown family!

To dance with 500 other dancers to superb bands is really a great privilege and great fun. I have always enjoyed feeling part of a larger fellowship of dancers and the A.G.M. certainly provides such an opportunity.

Next year the A.G.M. is in Aberdeen- worth thinking about!

Margaret Highet York


Well it was the Autumn rather than the Spring, but the weather was gorgeous.   A few months ago I was complaining to Malcolm that we hadn’t had a weekend away this year and then I saw an advert for the Paris Branch weekend school being taught in English by David Hall.   We downloaded the application form and then the planning started.

We decided to travel by Eurostar as we had never been on it though both our sons had.   We found you can book on Eurostar more than the 12 weeks ahead that the train service in the UK allows.   However, we were prudent and waited until the bookings in this country were available so that we had the minimum disruption with our travel arrangements.   Having to wait a couple of weeks meant that the most convenient times for the cheaper travel had gone so we would have even longer in Paris – oh what a shame!

We travelled on the Thursday so that we had a whole day and a half before the class on the Saturday afternoon.   We decided that the “Red Bus tour” would be a good way to get around and see the sights.   We had specific places we both wanted to see and they actually coincided!   Our first port of call was the Eiffel Tower and the queues were horrendous.   We decided that a photo (well my camera had to do it in two parts!) and a walk underneath to enable us to get a feeling for the size would suffice, together with an ice cream.   The next port of call was Notre Dame which I’m afraid didn’t impress me too much.   It was very dark and there was no feeling of peace which I always get from other churches and cathedrals.   We finished our tour on the Red Bus and then went back to the hotel which was quite central.    We had been invited out to dinner with friends and thus started our initiation into the metro system.   Like any strange environment, it just takes a while to get used to it.   I must say by the end of our visit, we were getting quite blasé about using it!

Saturday morning gave us time to visit Sacre Coeur which was quite spectacular and did have the sense of peace.   The view over Paris is amazing and the number of people visiting the area was incredible.   A dash back on the Metro, a sandwich from Subway, a quick change of clothes (and mustn’t forget the shoes) and we were off again on the Metro to the class.   We had brief instructions on how to get to the class after we came out of the station, but we came out of the wrong exit (well the carriage stopped just by the escalator and there aren’t too many of those!), but, after a couple of detours, we arrived in good time for Malcolm to change his shoes and warm up and for me to find a chair to sit on with notebook and pen handy.

The class was an Advanced one and there were quite a lot of “young” dancers (well “young” is relative really, isn’t it?).   The standard of dancing was very high as was the standard of teaching.   After the warm up, which was very thorough, the first dance was taught.   I was pretty sure that Malcolm had the words at home, so I only made rough notes on it.   David then went on to teach dances that we had never heard of so I diligently wrote them down.   Fortunately, each couple worked at it so it gave me time to check I had all the details.   There were some interesting dances and David worked people quite hard.   The musician was Judith Smith, a fiddler, whose lovely music kept people going while they were struggling to fathom out what to do.   It was a joy to listen to.   I am sure once the dance was done all the way through, the dancers were able to appreciate the music for its own sake too.

In the evening there was a dance at the American Church in another part of Paris.   We had seen it the day before on the Red Bus tour!   More travelling on the Metro, a quick visit to the hotel to change and then off to find the hall.   Although we had seen the area before, it all looks so different at night but we did recognise one of the bridges across the Seine – it had a lot of gold on it!   Thanks to the Google maps on Malcolm’s phone, we set off in the right direction and after quite a walk we found it.   The dancing took place in a gymnasium with a balcony round it where the seating was, so you had to go down one of the two sets of stairs to the dance floor.   The music was provided by David and Judith and certainly helped the tired legs.   At the interval there was cake and wine – a bit more upmarket than tea and a biscuit!

Next morning we didn’t get lost on the way to class and arrived in plenty of time.   David had been asked to teach some highland so the warm up was geared to that.   He has a tendency to have some memorable phrases and this time it was “Take control of your own leg”!   By this he meant that the more you work on your own, the better your balance will be.   The class worked really hard that morning and did some very interesting dances.   One of them was a dance for 12 people in a square set with one man and two ladies to each side.   There were not enough people to have complete numbers in all the sets and Malcolm’s was the unlucky one and in the end he danced as a lady on the end of one three and, where it was important for the men to have four men, he danced as a man!   I was impressed that he knew exactly what he was doing.   He declined the offer to dance it again in a full set as he was shattered!!

We took up the offer of going to a local restaurant for lunch with other members of the class and we had a most enjoyable meal.   We were really pleased that we hadn’t chosen the rum baba for desert as it was enormous!   

The next morning, we went to the Louvre.   It is huge and we only saw one side of it.   We wanted to see the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.   The crowds round the Mona Lisa were unbelievable – all nationalities trying to see this fairly small painting with security people around and a barrier preventing people from getting too close.   At least we can say we have seen it!   On the map of the layout of the Louvre it looks as though you can get to different parts quite easily, but in reality it means a bit of back tracking, then down some steps, then more steps and at last we found the Venus de Milo.   I could see the beauty in her face but the sculpting of that face so long ago was what I really marvelled at.

Soon it was time to go back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and go to the station.   We were delayed on the way back through France as the high speed network in England had been shut down because someone had been seen near the lines.   We were glad we had booked a hotel in London as we would have missed our connection.

It was a pleasure to meet up with friends in Paris – I hadn’t realised how many people I would know there.  Combining dancing with tourism on a trip is a great excuse to see the world – I can thoroughly recommend it!  

          Helen Brown, York  


BRANCH AFTERNOON DANCE, DUNNINGTON, 15TH JANUARY                 Please notice that this dance is not only an afternoon dance, but also, for the first time, we are trying out holding a dance on a SUNDAY!

New Year’s Eve at Dunnington

Time:   8.00 pm (31 December 2011) to midnight plus (1 January 2012).

Place:  Dunnington Reading Rooms.

Catering: Faith Supper.

Admission:  By ticket-crib only.   The ticket-crib contains information on all the dances in the programme.

The New Year will be welcomed in our customary manner.   If, weather permitting, you wish to dance the year away, ticket-cribs, at £3.00 each, may be obtained from:

Michael & Susan East,  11 Cedar Glade, Dunnington, York, YO19  5QZ  (Tel: 01904 489 799)


Le Papillon   J   Childrens

The Mininster on the Loch 3 S   Goldring

Tambourine   R  Bowen

Hazel Tree   J    Drewry

Indian River Strathspey 3 S   Senyk

The Recumbent Stone 5  R   Drewry

The Cranberry Tart  J    7 Yr Itch

The Belle of Bon Accord 4 S   Deeside 2

The Wind on the Heath  R   Boyd


The Craven Reel  R   Carnforth 5

Bruce’s Men 3   S   Scotia

Napier’s Index   J   Bk 45

Lothian Lads   R  Drewry

The Argyll Strathspey  S   Bk 35

Old Nick’s Lumber Room J    Bk 26

MacDonald of the Isles3  S  Haynes

Joie de Vivre   J    Bk 39

The Montgomeries’ Rant   R   Bk 10


And after:

EH3 7AF (J  Bk 40), Seann Truibhas Willichan3 (S  Bk 27), & as usual: The Irish Rover (R  Cosh)

3  indicates a three couple set;  4   indicates a four couple set;  5  indicates a five couple set


Our dance in January takes place on Sunday, January 15th in the reading Rooms in Dunnington. This new departure has been well advertised so that no one makes an unnecessary journey to Dunnington on the Saturday!  The dance will begin at 2.00 p.m. and end at about 4.30 pm; as has been the pattern at afternoon dances, there will be no faith supper, just light refreshments at the interval.  The programme has been chosen by Margaret Highet.


This is the 3rd of our afternoon dances, and takes place  on Saturday, 18th February in St. Luke’s Church Hall in Willerby, beginning at 2.00 p.m.  There is a good-sized car park at the hall, and Rita has a link to a map showing the location.  As previously, there will be no supper but a shorter interval with light refreshments.  The dance costs £4 for members and £5 for non-members (and not the reverse, as I put in the last Broun’s Reel!) The programme, to be danced to recorded music, has been chosen by Joyce.


Our annual dance will take place on Saturdday 24th March 2012, at the Village hall in Stockton on the Forest, beginning at 7.30 p.m.  You are asked to bring contributions to a Faith Supper – as usual, disposable plates preferred!  We are giving advance notice of the dance and the programme this year to encourage as amany of you as possible to put the date in your diaries!  However, I do not yet have ticket prices.This year Alan Ross will be playing for us; the programme has been chosen by Malcolm

DVDs for sale

Several people have asked how to get hold of Malcolm’s DVDs, most of which have been produced for the RSCDS.  DVDs are available for Books 40 -46 ; the cost is £10 each or £50 for all 7.  Email Malcolm or see him at the Harrogate weekend if you are interested.


Ken Cole was born in York in 1928; having won a scholarship, he went on to become an accountant and an actuary.  He had many interests, including classical music, but is best known to us as a keen Scottish country dancer.  

Ken started Scottish Country Dancing in the 80s at a night class run by George Crosbie. His wife Katie had done some dancing years earlier, and he soon caught up with her.  He later danced at the Scots Society class run by first Mary Blackwell and then later George Main, and he danced at Cottingham on a Monday night up to the end.  After Katie died in 1995, Ken kept up his dancing and attended weekends at Cober Hill and Harrogate, which he much enjoyed.

He found learning dances quite easy as his mathematical mind could visualize the patterns and link them together.  He also wrote “The Raywell Reel”, for Mike George.  He served on the Branch committee as treasurer, and when not treasurer, audited the books.  He was Branch Chairman in the year 1989/1990.

A quiet, unassuming reliable man.  We shall all miss him at class

Brenda George  


George de Boer was one of the founder members of the Cottingham Monday class in 1979, and one of the drivers behind the early success of the group.  A stalwart of the group for years, he was also a keen walker and a keen singer, on one occasion stepping in to sing the bass solo in “Boris Godunov” at Hull City Hall when the professional soloist was taken ill.  George was Reader in Physical Geography at Hull University until he retired in 1983.  As he became very elderly, he moved closer to his family in the South of England.  He died suddenly but peacefully on 21st July, one week before his 91st birthday.

Joyce Cochrane