We should see more dancing

PUBLISHED: 16:03 22 June 2007 | UPDATED: 22:53 28 May 2010

It was a social event I thought never happened in darkest Whittlesey: the Sunday morning sherry party where you get a handful of crisps and two thimbles of Somerfield Amontillado. I was cornered by a farmer. My daughter should be on the wireless, he boo

It was a social event I thought never happened in darkest Whittlesey: the Sunday morning sherry party where you get a handful of crisps and two thimbles of Somerfield Amontillado.

I was cornered by a farmer. "My daughter should be on the wireless," he boomed.

"What does she do?" I asked. "She's a dancer," he replied.

Oddly, he was right. There isn't enough dancing on radio. Before the Second World War, a troupe of lady tap dancers were regulars on a weekly variety show.

They not only danced their hearts out for the microphone in an otherwise empty studio. They changed into their tight satin shorts for the broadcast. The studio engineers said it improved the sound quality.

When I was very young, my mother used to listen to Victor Silvester's Dancing Club every Wednesday evening. At eight o'clock, she'd roll up the front room carpet and practise the steps as the band leader announced them while his ballroom orchestra played: slow, slow, quick-quick, slow.

As for television, we may have Celebrity Come Dancing but there's loads of other music we never see now. So far as I can tell, there's precious little country and western, folk or big band music on the box.

It's amazing how good ideas get forgotten. When we used to go on holiday in North Wales, we discovered most of the buses had letter boxes on the back.

You could post a letter at any bus stop. Not so long ago, in parts of Norfolk, Royal Mail used mini-buses to empty the roadside letter boxes - and gave lifts to anyone who needed one.

What happened to tins of powdered egg? It would be a marvellous stand-by in any kitchen cupboard. So would condensed milk.

What better treat after a day at school could there be than a plate of condensed milk sandwiches?

And then there's syrup of figs. All the problems of the education system would be solved in one go if senior staff at Neale-Wade, Harry Smith and the Queen's Schools could do as their predecessors were encouraged to do in the 1930s:

"Whenever a pupil is peevish, look at his or her tongue. If it is coated, administer California syrup of figs. It moves the bowels, cleanses the system and produces good behaviour.

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