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RSCDS London Branch eUpdate

Christmas 2020

Dear fellow dancers
Many thanks to everyone who joined us on Saturday 19 December for the London Branch Christmas at Home celebration.
The event was opened by London Branch Chair, Jim Cook, who, resplendent in Christmas finery, welcomed everyone with warmth and a, self confessedly, series of corny jokes. Simon Wales then took over as MC, introducing Mel Rowland and Margaret Moore, also dressed for the season, who delivered the first set of quiz questions, on Scottish History.  Throughout the 5 rounds of the quiz, attendees were able to take a little time to submit their answers via the Zoom poll function whilst Christmas music, with the kind permission of Nicol McLaren and the Glencraig Scottish Dance Band, played in the background.

After the history we were treated to a Duke of Perth Christmas Medley, courtesy of Craigellachie Band. As you will see further down this eUpdate, Craigellachie has released 2 of the dances featured in the London Branch Christmas at Home for general view and we include a link for your enjoyment.

Accompanied by a montage of Christmas dances past, Willie Lawrence then read Pat Batt's poem 'Wicked Willie', challenging listeners to identify all the dances featured in the text. Jeff Robertson followed on, swiftly swapping his Father Christmas hat in favour of a tartan tam o'shanter to challenge all present to confirm the correct definitions for some distinctly Caledonian words.

We were fortunate to have the support of a number of talented musicians. In addition to Craigellachie, Chris Oxtoby and Ann Stonehouse from the Strathallan Band played a set of jigs - 'Touch and Go', 'Para Handy', 'Myra's Jig' and the 'Parting Shot', followed by Ian Robertson with a set of waltzes composed by him for his mother, entitled 'The Heart of Me'.

It was time for another quiz round and Simon Wales challenged the gathered audience to identify 10 Scottish landscape features before introducing Craigellachie again, this time playing a set of seasonal strathspeys including 'O little town of Bethlehem', 'See amid the winter's snow', 'Deck the halls with boughs of holly' and 'Ding dong merrily on high'.

Throughout the party, the Zoom chat function was well used with comments flowing in from across the UK and beyond. Deborah Ainger and Peter Knight, both elegantly attired for the occasion, provided a set of entertainment questions and then it was time for more music from Ian Robertson with 2 marches by Iain Crichton, 'The Nurses’ March' and 'Miss Audrey MacKenzie'. 

In a slight change of pace, Jim Cook introduced Simon Wales as the author of a cryptic short story 'The Earl of Mansfield in conversation with the Dancing Master', again accompanied by a montage of Christmas dances past. The final round of the quiz featured general knowledge questions, posed by Jim and Mel Rowland, before Simon announced the winners of the Christmas baking competition - images below. 

London Branch President, Rachel Wilton closed the party by thanking all participants for their contributions and company then wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas. Rachel finished by encouraging us all to stand and sing 'Auld Lang Syne' as Craigellachie played followed by the traditional polka.  Many guests stayed online to continue chatting and enjoy a set of pipe tunes played by Neil Esslemont (delayed from the opening due to tech issues) 'The Gladiator',  'Donald Ruadh', 'Mrs McPherson of Inveran' and 'The Hard Drive', and more Christmas music from the Glencraig Scottish Dance Band.

We hope that you will enjoy the parts of the party we were able to reproduce in the items below.

Before we close for the year we'd like to encourage anyone who has not yet completed the London Branch Survey to do so via this link which will stay live until 31 December 2020.  The survey is open to everyone, London Branch members and non members alike. Your views are important and never more so than in this time of great change. We will share the findings from the survey early in the New Year.

Wishing you all a merry, if very different, Christmas and a happy, hopeful and healthy 2021.

RSCDS London Branch Christmas at Home

MC Simon Wales introduces online guests to  London Branch's first ever 'Christmas at home'.

Read on for samples of the quizzes, poetry, prose and music from the 19th December event.
Mel Rowland and Margaret Moore introduced the first round of the London Branch Christmas at Home quiz with 5 historical questions, each with 3 possible answers. 

Answers to these and the rest of the Christmas quiz will be included in the next eUpdate.
What was the name of James VI’s wife?    
Mary Stewart / Anne of Denmark / Mary Queen of Scots

Which building houses Scotland’s National War Memorial?  
Balmoral Castle/ Blair Castle / Edinburgh Castle

What nationality was the architect of the Scottish Parliament?    
Spanish / English / Scottish

In which Scottish castle were the Honours of Scotland (Crown Jewels) hidden as Oliver Cromwell’s forces advanced through Scotland?        
Eileann Donan Castle / Dunottar Castle / Glamis Castle
Which city has the nickname Auld Reekie?   
Aberdeen / Glasgow / Edinburgh

Read at the Branch Christmas at Home by Willie Lawrence, this Pat Batt poem contains the names of a number of well known dances - but how many?

It was with Wicked Willie this woeful tale began,
When Willie trod the Winding Road with wilful Bonnie Ann,
Her size increased considerably, not due to Sugar Candie
And she Hastened to the Wedding with Drops of Brandy handy.

But Willie found a New Rigged Ship, and he became a Sailor
And voyaged to the Isle of Skye aboard a Dundee Whaler,
And there he met a Highland Lass and made a pass at Nancy
But Nancy Frowned and Willie found he wasn’t Ladies’ Fancy.

Then Willie made suggestions to The Laird of Milton’s Daughter,
And she, poor girl, fell in to doing what she didn’t oughter.
The years went by and Willie met a Yellow Haired Young Laddie,
A Happy Meeting, for he cried, “The Deuks Dang O’er My Daddie!”

But Willie couldn’t stand the thought of being someone’s father,
So packed his bags in haste and said Farewell to Auchterader.
He turned up at St. Andrew’s Fair, there to Salute Miss Milligan,
Who turned and cast him, by the right, straight in the nearest Swilican!

Even our question master Jeff Robertson was unsure of one of these definitions - how good is your command of Scottish vocabulary?

Braw     brilliant /large /cold

Dreich   unfair/wet or grey weather/angry

Reeking   going on a hike/very drunk/raining heavily

Peely-wally  unwell/a bus/happy or delighted

Carnaptious  roomy/disappointed/ill-tempered

Mawkit   incredibly dirty/very clean/slightly dusty

Dunderheid  of questionable intelligence/with long hair/unable to get up in the morning

Messages  letters or emails/errands/shopping/gossip

Broo  job centre/café/butchers

Foostie  coastal wind/football fan/mouldy

Musical interludes

During the evening we were treated to fabulous music from Craigellachie Band, Ian Robertson, Neil Esslemont on pipes and Chris Oxtoby and Ann Stonehouse from the Strathallan Band.

Craigellachie has since released two of the dances played as a Christmas gift and we are delighted to share them here.
Click on the image below to hear Craigellachie Band in full musical flow.
On behalf of Craigellachie, Ian Muir said

"Having been unable to play for dancing since the end of March we decided that we would like to send Christmas wishes to all of our dancing and musical friends. What better way, than to send you two sets of Seasonal dance music. We hope that you enjoy them and that you all have a peaceful Christmas. We look forward, hopefully,  to seeing you sometime in 2021!

Best wishes
The Craigellachie Scottish Dance Band"
Our picture quiz included locations from all around Scotland. 
We are showing 3 possible options for each of the images.  Which of the (variously feasible) answers do you think are correct?
  1. Bridges: Clyde Bridge / Forth Bridge / Tay Bridge
  2. Castles: Glamis Castle / Balmoral Castle / Edinburgh Castle
  3. Viaducts: Glenturret Viaduct / Glenfinnan Viaduct / Glenmorangie Viaduct
  4. Horses: The Kelpies / The Sea Horses / The Krankies
  5. Skye: Neist Point, Skye / Quiraing, Skye / Sgurr na Stri, Skye
6.  Bridges (2): Clyde Bridge / Forth Bridge / Tay Bridge
7.  Galleries: Kelvingrove Art Gallery / Hunterian Art Gallery / Dunfermline Carnegie Gallery
8.  Castles (2): Dunottar Castle / Eilean Donan Castle / Cawdor Castle
9.  Arthur's ?: Arthur’s Mound / Arthur’s Rest / Arthur’s Seat
10. Falkirk Fit?:Falkirk Lift / Falkirk Wheel / Falkirk Rotary

Short Story

Written and read  by Simon Wales, this short story incorporates a considerable number of dance titles- but how many and what is the link between them all?  Answers to follow!

One October day the Earl of Mansfield was strolling across Midsummer Common on his way to pay a visit to Miss Eleanor, when he bumped into the Dancing Master of his old College, Hornpipe.

“What a lovely day”, he remarked, ”reminds me of when we spent Autumn in Appin. Remember the warm Welcome we had from the Gothenburgs? And Jessie and Jennifer Sand, you know, the Sands of Morar?”

He continued, “I was just about to catch the Hollin Buss, along Delvine Side to visit Margaret Parker and her sister, Sleepy Maggie. If we sit on the top deck as we pass Polharrow Burn, we may catch sight of The Nurseryman.”

“I don’t think so”, replied the Earl, “last time I caught that bus, I fell asleep, past Rutland and ended up in Edinburgh – EH3 7AF, it was…. and when I woke up they had made me president of the RSCDS!"

Question masters Deborah Ainger and Peter Knight posed 5 questions on Entertainment

What is the name of the witch in Tam O’ Shanter?    
Auld Reekie / Cutty Sark / Poosie Nancy

Who played Jean Brodie in the 1969 film ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’?
Deborah Kerr / Liz Smith / Maggie Smith

What hit BBC children’s TV series was filmed on Mull? 
Jackanory / Balamory / The Singing Kettle

Which city did Lulu hail from?  
Perth / Stirling / Glasgow

How many miles would the Proclaimers walk?  
50 miles / 500 miles / 1000 miles

Our Christmas baking competition attracted some high quality entries with winning bakes by Susan Beever and Rachel Wilton shown here.  We understand that the beautiful stollen did not survive much beyond the photograph before being appreciated in the most practical of ways!
Thank you to all who took part, prizes will be on their way to the talented winners shortly.
In the final round of our Christmas quiz, Jim Cook and Mel Rowland posed some general knowledge questions.  How well did you fare?
What type of fish is used in Cullen Skink?     
Cod / Mackerel / Haddock

Billy Connolly is also known as the………?     
Big Heid / Big Fit / Big Yin

Which Daniel Craig Bond film was set in Scotland?  
Goldfinger / Skyfall / Quantum of Solace

What name is given to the whisky that evaporates as it is being aged in barrels?  
Angels’ Share / The Waste / The Faeries’ Share

Where’s the best place to catch a haggis?   
Top of the hill / Foot of the hill / Supermarket

The Branch Jigsaw & the Earl of Mansfield...

Did you spot that the dances included the short story above all featured on the, sadly cancelled, London Branch Christmas Dance programme? Thanks again to Simon Wales for his ingenious story telling.

Click on the image below for a Christmas jigsaw.
PS: In case you were wondering, there were 21 dances mentioned in the Wicked Willie poem!

Thank you!

London Branch Christmas at Home could not have happened without the input of a number of people.  We send our grateful thanks to them all.
We look forward (so much!) to dancing with you soon.
Copyright © 2020 RSCDS London Branch, All rights reserved.

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