On Saturday afternoon I joined my lovely neighbour at the London Gymnastics Festival in Brentwood, where her daughter was performing with our local gymnastic troupe. Taking in tumbling, acrobatics and dance, it was like all my favourite bits of Olympic gymnastics but without the boring medally bits. I took my crochet with me in case I felt the urge to channel my inner Tom Daley but I didn’t even look at it. Brilliant choreography, no one got dropped on their heads (it was close a couple of times) and more spangles than you can shake a stick at – themed performances covered Harry Potter, Bugsy Malone, the Wizard of Oz, Snow White and Mamma Mia, as well as straight dance sets with music from Katy Perry to Queen. We were slightly bemused by the Royal themed one, which appeared to begin with her Maj being carried off dead, but we suspect it was a Jubilee show that was scuppered by the whole shuffling-off-the-mortal-coil thing. The final performance was by a mixed ability group, with a Greatest Showman theme, and that was amazing. The Epping troupe, who we’d come to see, were excellent – synchronised and well rehearsed.
I have always loved gymnastics, despite being completely hopeless at it. I like dance, too, and dabbled in Flamenco (very good for stressed teachers) pre-children. I like yoga but I don’t bend in any direction. I liked Zumba, too, but then we managed to move to possibly the only village in the UK in the early 2010s that didn’t have a Zumba class. Clubbercise – aerobics in a darkened room – is pretty much my limit. I like running but my knees don’t. I am pretty good at walking though, possibly as it requires very little in the way of co-ordination. That, I think, is where the problem lies.
As soon as the instructor tries to make me do something requiring moving arms and legs in different directions things start to go wrong. It can take weeks to embed a routine in my head/arms/legs – with flamenco, particularly, I had to go home and practise for ages after every lesson otherwise I had no hope of remembering it. When we did maypole dancing in primary schools and other forms of country dancing, my most enduring memory is that of our horrible teacher calling us a useless shower when we tangled ourselves in knots.
These days I like kitchen dancing when I am cooking, and have been known to break into a few steps in an empty office. I was even caught dancing in a field (to Joan Armatrading’s Drop the Pilot) by Wicksy from Eastenders early one Sunday morning while I was on a training walk and he was walking his French bulldog. It’s a song that’s impossible not to dance to, quite honestly, especially in the summer sunshine with no one else in sight (got that wrong).
Other songs that have to be danced to include:
- Come on Eileen – Dexys Midnight Runners
- Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones
- Just a Gigolo – David Lee Roth
- Proud Mary/Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
- Waiting Room – Fugazi
- Madison Blues – George Thorogood and the Destroyers
- Add It Up – Violent Femmes
- Dela – Johnny Clegg and Savuka (blame George of the Jungle)
- Born This Way – Lady Gaga
There are more, and many of them feature on my walking/running playlist as they keep your feet going! The Things used to join in when they were smaller – Thing 3’s favourite car song was The Lion Sleeps Tonight, which he used to bob about too, and he used to get down to Uptown Funk at parties. They are less likely to dance with me in the kitchen now, but they do at least let me twirl them on occasion. One day they’ll have their own kitchens to dance in, and all I can hope for is that their taste in music improves.
Other things making me happy this week…
- Last Sunday’s moonlight swim, with fairy lights on our heads. Winter swimming has started.
- The new Rebus novel appearing on my Kindle
- The autumn family day at Copped Hall, where I bought a bag of Adam’s Pearmain apples like the ones that grew in the orchard at Raglan Castle. They are sharp and crispy, and taste great even though we didn’t scrump them.
- Catching up with an ex-colleague with a day in Eton, exploring their collections and seeing a session and having the world’s poshest school dinner. I could not manage the cheese course.
- Crocheted Christmas decorations, including giant sprouts and big versions of the pigs in blankets
This week I am off to Bristol on Friday to present with a colleague at the Dress and Textiles Specialist conference; to the Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Awards on Wednesday, and – bliss – have half term off and will be spending it in Wales.
See you next week!
What I’ve been reading:
Believe Me! – Eddie Izzard
I Believe in Yesterday – Tim Moore
Elevation – Stephen King