Best to describe us lot’s country dancing as pants!

WATCHING 10-year-old charmers put on a song and dance show recently nudged some guilty memories of the mayhem me and my mates wrought at that tender age. It wasn t unknown for the country dancing classes at our village school to involve Pete Foster, Colin

WATCHING 10-year-old charmers put on a song and dance show recently nudged some guilty memories of the mayhem me and my mates wrought at that tender age.

It wasn't unknown for the country dancing classes at our village school to involve Pete Foster, Colin Horne, and me getting sent out to stand in the corridor - yards apart and no talking.

It was hard though, not to snigger as we stood there savouring our latest mischief.

How they ever imagined such herberts could seriously participate in the prancing about and fol-de-dee-ing of country dancing and singing beats me.


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Both activities brought out the worst in us, regrettably.

Village-born Colin later passed the scholarship, went to the grammar school five miles away and later still became borough surveyor of the town that our school was in.

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So, unlike Pete and me, he had a real head on him. Maybe that was why Colin so resented country dancing and singing classes.

The dancing particularly galled him.

With no place to hide, he responded by gallomphing around heavily flat-footed, effectively disrupting any circle he was supposed to be part of, and invariably ending up facing the wrong way round, to the confusion of all the others. His clumsy cavorting, however, contrasted sharply with the fluent right-wing runs he could make at footer. Pete and me were never as subtle.

A couple of East Ham vaccies, our idea of dancing was more knees-up mother Brown than the hey-nonny stuff, while our singing repertoire ran to Ten green bottles, Any old iron and One man went to mow. None of which fitted the required bill.

Miss Taylor, orchestrating things from the piano, was evacuated with us from Hartley Avenue Junior and was fairly alert to our larks. She always made sure we were in a different one of the four groups needed to do country dancing.

But with having to contend with Colin's crashing about and oversee the shebang, she had enough on her plate without looking out for Pete and me trying to kick each other up the behind while dancing.

Our part in country dancing ended once and for all after we contrived while doing it to effect a perfect sandwich tackle on Elsie Cross to pay her back for countless tale-telling.

We tried to make it look accidental, but still squashed her hard enough to have floored classmate Fatty Carruthers. She collapsed screaming blue-murder.

We got two on each hand from headteacher Mr Cudby, who ruled that henceforth we'd sit out all country dances.

It suited us fine. We could smirk at each other over Colin's desperate efforts to get himself sent outside to stand in the corridor.

A parish church choir regular, Colin had had to behave in the singing class. Pete and me though, had fun with the words of the traditional country airs. One such was The Song of the Raggle-Taggle Gypsies O (sartorially under-privileged travellers, now.)

They stood at the castle gate "and sang so high, and sang so low".

When it got to that bit, I'd screech out the "high" and Peter would roar "low". We never got told off about it.

Not like another ballad, "caw, caw, the carrion crow, hey-derry-down, derry-di-do". One chorus, we came out with caws Percy Edwards would have gone green over, and were promptly sent out - and duly whacked.

For some reason I was missing the afternoon when the awful Elsie got her own back for the dance sandwiching by squealing to Miss about the disgusting words Pete had warbled.

The song was of an old biddy who, nodding off on the roadside on the way home from the fair, had her petticoat cut to her knees by a passing joker as she snored.

Precocious pornographers, we'd amended it to her having her bloomers pulled to her knees.

Manfully spouting this, Pete was grassed-up and sent to the staff room, where he got the back of Mrs Taylor's hairbrush on the seat of his pants.

No relation to Miss Taylor, the country bred Mrs Taylor always moved up a gear dealing with us East Enders.

She'd have gone puce had she heard my mate bragging his pants had needed a good dusting, anyway.

Lords of the country-style dance all right!

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