Strictly Between You And Me

Submitted into Contest #74 in response to: Write a story in the form of a top-ten list.... view prompt


Creative Nonfiction

So another season of Strictly Come Dancing comes to an end. That’s Dancing With The Stars to those of you in the good old US of A. It’s not been the same this year, what with the pandemic. There were fewer contestants, a much-reduced audience, all with strict social distancing and masks, and the contestants could not commiserate with the losing contestant each week. No hugs, no fond farewells.

And there was no Bruno this year.  Okay, so he was there, and every week he joined in the other three judges, Craig, Shirley and Motsi, for a video chat, but we didn’t have the joy of his live reaction to each dance as he swept his arms around threatening to give Shirley a black eye, and yes, fell off his chair with amazement or joy.

So, it’s not been the same, but it was still a joy to watch, especially when Bill Bailey, at 55, became the eldest winner ever.

And all this glitz and glamour got me thinking. Would I ever do Strictly? I mean, if I won, at 67 I’d replace Bill as the oldest ever winner. Well, lets think of a few reasons why not.

Number One. I’m not musical at all. Used to be able to play the recorder at school – just about – but that was – hey – 50+ years ago. Later in life I tried the flute, another wind instrument after all. The cat I had at the time was not impressed. He would glare at me repeatedly from where he lay before getting up and stalking off in a huff, tail in the air in disgust.

And did I tell you about the time my husband got the sheet music for Ave Maria? This was last Christmas, and he said he’d like to learn to play this piece – he’s a pianist, not a fancy musician or anything like that, but good in an amateurish way – and suggested that as he plays the piano, I could accompany him on lyrics. If I didn’t feel up to it, I could choose to sing in English rather than Latin. When I’d finally stopped laughing and realised he was serious, I quietly tried the first line while on my own, and decided that if he wanted me to do this, I would read the lyrics instead of trying to sing them.

Okay, if I was on Strictly, I would not be playing the music or singing, but as the judges sometimes tell contestants, “Darling, you have to feel the music”. In other words, match your movements to what you feel. Yes, there are times when I dance, if a good piece of music comes on the radio when I’m ironing, but only because I know there’s no-one watching me.

Number Two. Memory. My powers of recollection have always been questionable. No, I don’t have dementia, it’s just that I’ve got a butterfly mind. My mind does not take kindly to focussing on one thing. At the moment I’m thinking about what I fancy for dinner (it’s boxing day, so it’s a help-yourself-to-leftovers day), whether I’ll ever see my granddaughter (born just before Christmas, but not allowed to mix under the current coronavirus restrictions), when will I see my other son again (saw him yesterday but for one day only), when will I get the vaccine, when will I be able to hug, how the hell am I supposed to type with the cat’s tail in the way – must be his teatime. See what I mean? Butterfly mind.

How have I managed to survive for so long? Well I’ve got a good logical brain. Meant I was ideal as a computer programmer. Not the best, I’ll give you that, but I was damned good at what I did. The type of code I used regularly was no problem – because I’d done it so often, it came naturally. And if it was something new? Well, there’s always examples on the internet somewhere. Find that bit of code, adapt for what you want, and hey, you’ve got a cracking bit of code that does exactly what you want.

Oh yes, and I’d been doing the job long enough to read the customers minds. If they said they wanted to enter this and that but never the other, you knew damned well that at some point they’d want the other with knobs and whistles on, so you’d code to be able to adapt.

So logic was never my problem, memory was. I’m sure given a few months I might master one dance, but a new one every week? Really?

Number three. Okay, and this is a biggie if you want to be a dancer, and that is balance. Something I lack completely. 

Even in water I cannot balance. I go swimming regularly, and I’m okay if I do the breaststroke, even get the breathing right. But front crawl? All that turning the head to the side to breaths makes my head spin.

Believe me, I’m one of those people who can trip over fresh air. I’ve done it on more than one occasion, walking through a shopping precinct, with all those nice even tiled floors, nothing in the way, yet I trip over nothing. 

I’m one of those people who constantly look at their feet when walking, just to make sure that they’re behaving themselves, being put down on the ground and not anywhere near a trip or slip hazard. I can’t run to save my life, never have been able to, and can only admire those who jog along without paying attention to what their feet are doing.

And don’t get me started about stairs, when on Strictly they trot delicately down steps, grinning at the camera, not a care in the world. Me, I’d have to watch where I put my feet, and have something solid to hang on to as I came down, not just someone else’s arm.

Number four. Well this one goes with number three really. Lack of coordination. Okay, for a dance, you’ve got to remember where to put your feet, whether your legs should be bent or straight, what to do with your arms, how to position your hands, keep your shoulders down, lengthen the neck, and if it’s a Latin dance, what do I do with the hips? Mine certainly don’t want to be doing anything fancy. Okay, so they might manage a bit of movement, but not continuously, and certainly not sensuously or the duration.

And don’t get me started on all those fancy moves where contestants are thrown up and around, only to land perfectly and continue dancing. I know if that was me, I’d have to pause, like a new-born wildebeest, while my legs worked out what to do again.

And as for getting up off the floor after I’d been stylishly thrown there by the professional, forget it. With my knees it’d take the rest of the dance to hoist myself into an inelegant downward dog as I attempted to right myself.

This is not a new problem that comes with age. Even as a teenager on the dance floor on a night out I struggled to keep moving in time with the music. Not a total disaster though. A few slow numbers some 36 years ago when I first got together with my husband didn’t go amiss.

Number Five. Stamina. This again goes with some of the previous two. Throughout my life I’ve lacked energy. Never any good on the sports field, the last to be picked for teams, I think I could manage about half an hour at a push in the training room before I needed to sit down for a long rest. These people we see taking on this challenge train for hours, as well as doing a full-time job. I feel tired just thinking about it. I’m retired now, but the past thirty-five years my job has meant sitting at a desk in front of a screen. My brain can do logical somersaults – my body can’t.

Number six. Shoes. I knew I was getting old when I bought a new pair of shoes and my old mum said “Ooh, I like those.” That’s because they were flatties and comfortable, not because they were stylish. She’s never liked shoes I’ve bought before. She hated the platform shoes I had back in the seventies, the ones with the pseudo-bark finish on the platform with ‘I love Bob’ carved in them. The ones I kept falling off but loved all the same. And when my niece got married a couple of years ago, I turned up in heals, with a pair of flats in the car so I could change after the ceremony. There’s no way I could have worn them all day. I certainly couldn’t dance in them. Yet on Strictly the women dance in heels most of the time. Sorry, it just wouldn’t work. I’d have problems dancing n flats. I’d find it impossible in heels.

Number seven. Ah. This is the embarrassing one. You see I’m one of those people who has to go to the little girl’s room regularly.  Not just an age thing, I’ve always been like that. A family failing – my uncle, God rest him, was just the same. Trips out need to be arranged with the nearest facilities in mind, be it on a country walk, country parks usually have facilities which is good, or a trip to the shops, where I finish up at the local supermarket.

And any bouncing up and down only exacerbates the situation. Okay, I could skip the caffeine, but I don’t drink that much- a max of two tea and two coffee a day. No, it would be embarrassing all round, that one.

Number eight. Now, the costumes, the hair, the makeup. They’re all fine. Who wouldn’t like to be glammed up by the professionals? Yes, I’d take that, especially as I’m no good at dong my own hair and makeup. But the spray tan?  And as I’m so pasty and white, I’d need a lot to make me look presentable for the show. And I know I wouldn’t be able to get it all off properly afterwards, which would mean orange sheets. If I’m doing all this training, I can’t be washing sheets as well.

No, definitely no spray tan, thank you. My husband likes me just the colour I am.

Number nine. Anton. Now don’t get me wrong, I think Anton’s a lovely guy, but he’s not the sexiest, and bless him, he usually, though not always, seems to get landed with the shall we say more mature women, those who have very little hope of making it to the end.

No, much as I love Anton, if I was looking to be swirled around he dance floor, it’d have to be with someone like Aljaz, Johannes or Giovanni. 

Or my husband. How about that? Pity he can’t dance either though.

Number ten. The final reason why I’d never be on Strictly is because I’m not famous. The people on the show are all big in some way, be it on radio, TV or social media. Retired computer programmers need not apply. What I need is a show where they take complete unknowns as contestants, such as The Great British Sewing Bee, MasterChef, or The Great British Bake Off.

Now, there’s an idea. I do a mean ginger biscuit, even though I forget to put the ginger in sometimes. What do you think?

December 27, 2020 17:01

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