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It started with a slice of serendipity. Late July I was in York, no reason, just a good place to be. And what I found at the centre, Parliament Street, was a set of buildings getting put up – temporary halls, some truly ornate. So I asked the story and found the Great Yorkshire Fringe was about to hit the city of my birth.
Excellent, I got a programme, looked over the events, discounted comedy items (can’t be bothered with ain’t-life-shit humour – cos it ain’t, it’s great) but found a Swing Music event. Yess! My sort of music: trumpets, saxophones, trombones, rhythm section, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, count me in. Lindy Hop dancers too, whatever they were.
My-my-my! Whatever they were!
Forget the music, cos when we turned up I was just mesmerised by the dancing. It was such a superb load of flash and cool and show-off and turn-on and skill and casual and, well, my words run out but my enthusiasm didn’t. Right then I wanted to Lindy Hop.
See, I’ve got to tell you a story. I’ve got type 2 diabetes, and that’s a total lie except it’s true. But how can I have it when I’m 6 foot 2, and 12 and a half stone? That equals one skinny-malinks-me, and you fight type 2 diabetes by getting yourself skinny-malinked. See what I mean? I was pre-skinnied. I didn’t need the diet. I was already good.
But the numbers said different. Score 42 on the blood test and you’re borderline. Score 60 and you’re well in, not drastic, not needles and the rest of it, but you’re in. And I scored – guess what – 60. Sometimes 59, sometimes 61, but average 60.
So what else could I do? Answer: get mega fit. Answer: Lindy Hop. I mean, come on, I’m not going to a gym, all that self loathing and self love and self flagellation and shared showers and shared dressing rooms. Ugh. And I can’t run, dodgy knee, and I struggle to walk fast, plantar-fasciitis in the right foot. But Lindy Hop, yeah, I’d go through the pain barriers for that, wouldn’t even know they were there.
And that’s what I did. Went to Pure Lindy in York, Tuesday evenings, run by Sian and Julian, lovely people, lovely sessions, mm that’s what I wanted. But the first week I went, the beginners were on 6 count moves and that made no sense cos I know there’s 4 beats in a bar, not 6. (Remember I love swing. I play swing – piano – I sing swing – sawdust throat. I know how many beats there should be to a bar.) So that was humiliating, total dyspraxia, first-time hopelessness. And that, my friends, is when you give up if you’re going to.
No, I studied YouTube. I analysed the moves (they’d be onto 8 count next time). I worked out exactly where each foot would go. I drilled myself. I turned up. I was good. Not spectacularly good, but good enough.
And here’s the big bonus, I’d go home and teach Chris the moves, half from the lessons and half from YouTube, and we’d practice together, an hour a day. We weren’t very good at first, but you know what practice does? That’s right, gets you very hot, very sweaty, and – bit by bit – very fit. Not too bad at Lindy Hopping either.
After a few weeks we had a routine – you’re not meant to, the guy’s got to lead, the gal’s got to follow, swop genders if you wish, but the thing is there’s leading and there’s following. Well, we didn’t. We just got our routine and stuck to it. But we were slick. I tell you there were times we flew.
We’d do the Lindy Circle and she’d throw back her hair and the gravity as we spun was just awesome. We’d do the Flip-Flop and we’d fly past each other, perfect sync. We’d put on Benny Goodman Taking A Chance On Love (vocalist Helen Forrest) and we’d be back in the 1940s, dancing in imagination with her mum and dad, dancing a dance without limit of time. And folks, I wouldn’t know if the earth moved right then cos we were flying two feet above it.
But let me tell you something about that Great Yorkshire Fringe show, the one where I got hooked on Lindy Hopping. An image that stayed with me afterwards was of a couple dancing past us, in the side-by-side hold, kicking and hopping in perfect unity. I still see it in my mind’s eyes. I wanted to do that more than anything, that perfect kicking and hopping.
And then one week I did. It was the Forties version of the Charleston, and what that involves is an 8 count, where on the 3rd count you kick (left foot) and hop (right foot), then on the 5th 6th and 7th you kick (right foot) and hop (left foot). That’s a lot of hopping. A lot of kicking too, but it was the hopping that counted, cos, listen, I’d got it (practised off YouTube beforehand) and I was kicking and hopping with everyone else in a line. Couldn’t wait to get home, practise it with Chris, get our own perfect unity of kicking and hopping in action.
Can you feel the story building to a climax? It’s got to, hasn’t it? Something’s got to happen. Well, you know what? Ping.
That’s it. Ping.
I felt my achilles tendon, left foot, give a ping as I hopped. Not a bad ping, didn’t stop me dancing at the time, only really stiffened up next day, but gradually I came to realise this was serious. Bust your achilles and you’re in plaster for weeks, out of action for months. Well, I hadn’t bust it, only pinged it. Not even a pop, only a ping.
But I’ve got to take care. If I want to get back to Lindy Hopping (8 count, 6 count, forget the Charleston) then I’ve got to let this ping re-knit itself. But that leaves a question, and maybe you’re asking it already. What about the diabetes? Had all that manic practising paid off? Well, guess what I scored on the latest test? 53! That, my friends, is a spectacular drop. You can’t go much lower once you’ve actually got the dire-beaties. So I was kicking some serious diabetic ass! Yeah, I was smiting some serious diabetic goolies! I was so fit I couldn’t afford not to stay fit.
So here comes the question. How do you stay fit when you’re nursing your achilles? I tried exercise biking. Nope, Mr Achilles didn’t fancy that at all. I tried again and Mr Achilles liked it even less. So what now? Come on folks, you’n work out the answer. Let’s make a sum of it.
The only way I can get fit is dancing + I can’t move my foot around = sit on a stool and dance.
That’s right. Put on the up-tempo stuff – Nena, 99 Red Balloons; Madonna, Ray of Light; Lou Bega, Mambo No.5; Los Del Rio, Macarena; & so on – then punch, dab, elbow, shoulder, shake, shrug, nod, use weights, drop weights, go go go. Takes a while till the arms and torso are geared up, but today I got real hot dancing on a stool. I got real sweaty. I released a whole bucketful of endorphins. And I kicked that diabetes so bad it dropped its head and slunk out the door.
Now, I can’t say how long it’ll take the achilles to stop sulking. It’s had three weeks, maybe it wants another three. Maybe another five. Whatever. Can’t rush cos, fair play, that’s a 65 year old achilles. It’s lived the bulk of its life in another millennium. But one day I’m gonna get back to Lindy Hopping. One day I’m gonna do the 8 counts and 6 counts. One day I’m gonna partner the love-of-my-life, and we’re gonna fly. Oh yeah, we’re gonna fly.
P.S. LOML has just done in her knee at zumba. Mm, could be a bit of a wait for those flying sessions...
If you’d like to see an accompanying pic, please click on http://dimensionsbeyond.typepad.com/dimensions-beyond/2015/10/lindy-hopping-and-stool-bopping.html …which should take you to my blog...
Once a year for the last few years I have set up a short story writing challenge. It runs here on the cloud. There is nothing to be gained but to be pushed to your writing limits, the possession of an excellent story and the admiration of your peers.
It runs within bounds and rules, that is part of the challenge. This year's is called Only a Winter's Tale and the group is found by clicking on the wintery picture in new groups on the front page (for some reason hyperlinks aren't working today). There are 34 members already which is in the comfortable range for it all to work. So I shall be making it a private group on Sunday evening and publishing the final details of the challenge.
This is just a little prompt in case there is anyone who isn't aware who would like to join, or anyone hesitating over joining. Sunday evening is showtime.
Are any of you visiting are lovely Island?
This year I am introducing children's authors and am very excited. The range of authors on the program this year is brilliant.
To find out more about this event read about it on my BLOG!
I am doing individual author blogs on my reader site
If you come along ,please say hello!
Earlier this evening I set up a new group. It's all about short stories. You'll find it as the first group (for a while at least) on the front page: "Only a Winter's Tale". Within this group I hope that the collective Word Cloud will produce a collection of short stories as good as those in previous such groups. (We have done this a few times before).
The group runs to a formula which is explained in the main topics. In previous years some of the work has reached highs that many so called professional authors can only aspire to. If they lurk around the cloud (and I'm sure some do) then they will be welcome too. It's truly for all and I seriously would like to see new members of the word cloud joining in. The group runs on the same spirit as the Word Cloud: supportive and encouraging. This something I do enforce with extreme prejudice. I do it simply because I love writing and I love short stories. Short stories are a proper ground on which many of the best polished their craft. I know that many people are absorbed in a current wip. But the best writers read and write widely and constantly. A change can bring benefits and you probably (certainly) will discover new things about your writing.
This is far from the first of these challenges, we have done. It is a writing challenge above all else, although there is a competition involved. Every story is visible to all. I already see that there is a gathering of short story enthusiasts in the time between me launching the group and Australia humiliating England. I really hope to see more. Please do take a look, one and all, and join in. It's a forum in which your imagination will be sparked, prodded, pushed and challenged. But you will be able to write a good story and that is, after all, what it's about here.
Please take a look, join the group, be welcome, and write.
Reasoning behind re-vamping my book covers is explained on my blog:
moment of fame will have to wait.
I have been invited to the To Hull and Back Anthology book launch.
I have researched the judges' profiles, websites and histories and although they render signs ranging from extreme feministic militancy to potentially academically induced cultural naivity, they seem a collection of people I would like to meet. By definition, as judges of a comedy writing competition, they must have a funny bone.
I had made enquires about renting a paisley smoking jacket and cravate and I had sourced a pair of John Lennon glasses complete with blue lenses. I wanted to be at my most beautiful.
But ... the ubiquitous but.... due to some deliberate or incompetent scheduling atrocity on their part, the book launch is scheduled for November. And so is the Rugby Classicals tournament in Bermuda.
So my chance to meet the gatekeepers of the industry, the judges, the other authors, the organizers, agents, Sky News, and both Random and House, the publishing duo, will be missed.
My chance to elevator pitch, to push a printed copy of Ugly Bob into the hands of a cornered agent and say "Fuckin hilarious, ain't it?" will be missed.
The chance for the illuminati to meet the illiterati, the chance for Gauche to meet the Left, for Right to meet Write and for Feminist and Sexist to clink champagne flute to cider mug ...will be missed.
Anti-matter will not meet doesn't-matter.
I will be in Hamilton Bermuda and surrounding beer tents for the gathering of rugby veterans, the Classicals, for the real Rugby World Cup in November...
Have you missed your moment of fame? Has a decision or circumstance of choice drastcally affected your writing? Tell us....
A businessman traveled to Japan to meet and play golf with a few
Japanese business associates. Having nothing to do the night
before his game, he decided to solicit the services of a
Later, when they were in the throes of passion, she suddenly screamed out "yakiya!" Not knowing the translation, he figured it meant he was performing exceptionally well, and so he kept going.
Again she screamed, "yakiya! YAKIYA!" And again, he smiled proudly at this congratulation and continued.
Finally, she shrieked "YAKIYA !!!! a third time, jumped out of bed and ran from the room. "Must have been too good for her!" he thought to himself, and went to sleep contented with himself.
The next day, while in the middle of his round of golf, one of his Japanese associates hit a perfect 6-iron off the tee right into the cup for a hole-in-one! Remembering his new word and wanting to impress his associates with his linguistic proficiency, the man yelled out "YAKIYA !"
Perplexed, the Japanese golfer turned to him and asked, "What do you mean, wrong hole?"
Cost of a round of golf
It was a Sunday morning and four good buddies were at the first tee. Number one said, "This golf game is costing me dinner for my wife tonight."
Number two said, "That's nothing, I had to agree to my wife's parents spending the weekend with us."
"Ha!" said number three, "I had to give my old lady the credit card to go shopping."
Number four said "Boy are you guys ever screwed up. I woke up this morning and the wife asked what I was planning. I replied 'Golf course or intercourse?' She said, 'Take a sweater' and went back to sleep."
£50 for a ticket ?
Tickets for the British Open are hard to get and the touts have a field day. One keen spectator was offered a ticket for £50. "That's absurd," the enthusiast declared. "Why, I could get a woman for that!"
"True sir, but with this ticket you get eighteen holes!"
Paddy was playing golf at a very exclusive club in County Kerry for the first time, and on the sixth hole he hit a hole in one. Jubilant, he walked down to the green and, just as he was taking his ball from the cup, up popped a leprechaun.
"Sor," the leprechaun bowed politely and continued. "This is a very exclusive course which has everything, including the services of a leprechaun if you make a hole in one in the sixth hole. I will be delighted to grant you any wish your heart desires."
"Saints preserve us," said Paddy in shock. But seeing the leprechaun waiting so patiently he thought for a minute then admitted shyly that he did have a wish.
"I want to have a longer penis," he confided. "Your wish is granted, Sor," the leprechaun said and disappeared in a puff of green smoke down the hole.
So Paddy headed back to join up with his friends and as he walked he could feel his penis slowly growing. The golf game progressed and Paddy's penis kept getting longer and longer until it came out beneath his shorts and reached down below his knees.
"Hmmmm," Paddy thought, "maybe this wasn't such a great idea after all." So he left his friends and went back to the sixth hole with a bucket of balls and began to shoot. Finally he hit a hole in one, and by the time he got down to the green, he had to hold his penis to keep it from dragging on the ground. But he managed to take the ball from the cup and sure enough, out popped the leprechaun.
"Sor, this is a very exclusive course," said the leprechaun bowing once again, "and it has everything including the services of a leprechaun . . . oh it's you again.
Well what will it be this time?"
"Could you make my legs longer?" pleaded Paddy.