Camberley Reel Club

Library - Manual Labour

Our former Chairman and Refresher Class instructor, Margret Talbot, passed the RSDCS Preliminary Teacher's Certificate in 2003. She set down her experiences in the following verses:

Manual Labour

What on earth possessed me I shall never really know,
But every second Sunday now to Wallington I go.
And more precisely even, it's to the Girl Guide Hall,
Where Baden-Powell looks down on us from high up on the wall.
As inspiration during the class for us aspiring teachers,
They should replace his picture with Miss Milligan's fine features,
For teaching Scottish Dancing is what we hope to do,
Though the task is quite enormous and the lessons left are few.

To show your class what they must do your dancing must be right,
Your strathspey has to dip and glide, your skip change must have flight,
Your pas-de-basque must have three beats, your slip step mustn't bounce,
For we've been told quite clearly the examiners will pounce
On every imperfection and every little fault,
Bringing our teaching aspirations to a rapid halt.

But slowly I am finding out what is right and what is wrong,
For instance, women teachers mustn't wear their skirts too long.
I think it's so your class can see your steps, but then again,
It could just be the rules are made by lecherous old men.
And it's really very crucial that you use the proper word,
Though some of the distinctions may seem a bit absurd:
While few are going to quibble that that direction's 'down',
If you say that you're dancing 'back' your teacher's going to frown.
In Scottish Country Dancing it simply isn't said,
So do try to remember – you must say 'up' instead.
And something else important you never should forget –
No-one ever dances on the wrong side of the set.
Unless it's. all gone pear-shaped in which case ' wrong' is right,
But otherwise it's guaranteed your teacher's going to bite
Your head off for loose usage – it's opposite you say,
Your speech must now be standardised the 12 Coates Crescent way.

And do try to remember, though tricky it might be,
There's no room on the dance floor for those things for brewing tea:
If you try to mention teapots your teacher will get cross,
So choose your words more carefully and call it hands across.
And if you talk of birling you really must desist;
You must pretend the word and what it means just don't exist,.
The RSCDS won' t ever entertain the notion,
That proper dancing can include that outlawed spinning motion.
For always dancing correctly is what it's all about,
Which means in essence that you must leave all the fun bits out,.
You' re now a PR person on permanent display,
And every dance you do has to be done the proper way.

So in the Duke of Perth you're going to find yourself in troble,
If you decide to birl the turns so you can make them double,
Or if you're in the habit when you're doing reels of four,
Of putting in a twiddle in the middle of the floor,
Or if you find in Monty's Rant it really does appeal,
To join in all the setting and shadow every reel,
You'll have to stop that sort of thing if you aspire to teach,
For it’s very much expected that you'll practise what you preach.

And then there is the Manual – you must know it inside out,
If you can quote verbatim it will help without a doubt.
Instead of spending weekends and free evenings simply lazing,
Bone up on the finer points of ...four couple allemande phrasing.
So if you really wish to boost your chances of succeeding,
That blue bound book of wisdom must become your bedtime reading.
You may well find this doesn't do your love life any good,
Half an hour on Chapter 2 and you won't be in the mood.
But it will all be worth it when you confidently stand
And turn to your musician and say, 'Thank you, Ready, and!'

MMT May 2003

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