Here’s Tae Us

It was our Christmas Ball tonight. Terribly grand, you know, the Scottish Country Dance Christmas Ball, with lots of complicated footwork and once figures.

Actually, the occasion is billed as the Family Dance, and never was a program more accessible. We’d walked quite a lot of it before in social groups, but you don’t get much more beginner-friendly than the dance selections we had tonight.

Even so, every year we make mention of this ball, and every year someone says ‘I don’t know how you do it.’ Well, tonight you’re getting a lesson, because us Scottish Country Dancers like our rhymes.

For instance, when dancing the poussette, the adage is:

Away from the centre, quarter turn,
Up or down, quarter turn;
Into the centre, halfway round,
Fall back, fall back.

And here, for reference, is the poussette, danced beautifully by more elegant people than us.


Remember, Away from the centre, quarter turn…

You watch even the experienced dancers still reciting it to one another as they go. We had a wonderful teacher who used to joke that they’d inscribe it on her headstone someday. (They probably will; she dances more than she doesn’t.)

Meanwhile, to dance crossover reels – that’s a reel of three on the opposite side of the set – the rhyme goes:

Ones dance over to begin,
Twos dance out,

And threes dace in.

As for the rest of it, you mostly grab the hands that get offered to you, keep alert to people advancing towards you, and it all sort of muddles out. Occasionally, when it’s done very well, it looks elegant while you’re at it. We’re working on that bit.

Currently we’re unwinding to today’s tea. It’s another tisane, and we’re not taking notes here, but surely there have been more herbal teas than anything else in this calendar? Readers at home, what do you think? This one it White Cranberry, wherein white chocolate meets dried cranberry, apple, raisins and papaya. The cat mug is once again earning it’s keep, now we’ve cracked how to use it without being scalded, and yields up a tea that is surprisingly tropical tasting. We’d blame the papaya, except we couldn’t actually taste it in the cup. The cranberry dominates, as you’d expect, while the white chocolate gives it a burst of sweetness.

The apple tempers both a bit, though we’re not sure the raisins come through. Honestly, there must be raisins in every second tea we sample, and we’re not clear why, because they really don’t steep well. Anyone who has ever soaked raisins in hot water for baking will probably understand this; not for nothing you have to add other stuff to a fruitcake to draw out their flavour!

So that’s tea and two wee verses for you, tonight. But the traditional way to close out a dance is with Burns. Specifically Auld Lang Syne. Only that’s for New Year, and that’s still a ways off. So instead, have Green Grow the Rashes, O. It makes for a lovely strathspey, but doubles as an equally enjoyable read – with or without tea.

Green Grow the Rashes, O
Robert Burns

Chor. – Green grow the rashes, O;
Green grow the rashes, O;
The sweetest hours that e’er I spend,
Are spent amang the lasses, O.

There’s nought but care on ev’ryy han’,
In ev’ry hour that passes, O:
What signifies the life o’ man,
An’ ‘there na for the lasses, O.
Green grow&c.

The war’ly race may riches chase,
An’ riches still may fly them, O:
An’ tho’ at last they catch them fast,
Their hearts can ne’re enjoy them, O.
Green grow &c.

But gie me a canine hour at at e’en,
My arms about my dearie, O;
An’ war’ly cares, an’ war’ly men,
May a’ gae tapsalteerie, O!
Green grow &c.  

For you sae douce, ye sneer at this;
Ye’re nought but senseless asses, O:
The wisest man the warl’ e’er saw,
He dearly lov’d the lasses, O.
Green grow, &c.

Auld Nature swears, the lovely dears
Her noblest works she classes, O:
Her prentice hand she try’d on man,
And then she made the lasses, O.
Green grow, &c.

Hopefully you have less trouble with the Scotts than did the glaikit computer, which made a braw, effort to translate it into garden-variety English. You, naturally, not being robotic, will notice it does that anyway on the last verse, spontaneously switching to High English instead of Scotts vernacular. The genius of Burns is arguably how fluidly he mixes both.

We’ll send you off now to dance the hours away as per yet another rhyme, or maybe just enjoy oddly tropical tea. Until tomorrow,

Here’s tae us!
Wha’s like us?
Gey few, and they’re a’ deid!

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