When we were at junior school, as well as having a P.E. lesson we also had country dancing lessons, from being quite little up to the time we left at the age of eleven,, moving on to secondary school. I loved country dancing, all the dances we learned, Strip The Willow is the only name I can remember, but it was great fun and as with things I enjoy I was a great enthusiast for it… unfortunately my enthusiasm did not my ability as a dancer. Every year in Cambridge there was a country dancing festival for all the primary schools in the area, and when we got to the top year I was desperate to be in the dance team which would go to the festival. That year our school did Scottish dances and I vividly remember the team of eight children looking so smart, the girls in kilts and sanding so upright, and the boys in white shirts… and I guess grey shorts because in those days boys wore short trousers to school.
Of course I wasn’t chosen for the tea, but maybe my enthusiasm and brio was what made them choose me to be the hobby-horse… not the school hobby-horse, but the festival hobby-horse! It was a proper hobby-horse outfit – I would love to know where it is now, a hoop around me with a skirt, and I was within a top which had a horse’s head and i could see through the gaping mouth. I had a whip and my job was to prance around, act the fool (something I’m very good at) and whip up the dancers… however, I had to be careful not to get in their way – the festival was about the teams dancing, not me! I sent the whole afternoon wearing the costume, prancing about, encouraging the dancers, and being a little bit anarchic but not too much!
I wish somebody had taken a photo… I would love to see the outfit I wore, because of course, I was inside it, and have no idea what it looked like!