A few years ago I was driving to Chepstow on Remembrance Sunday. As the chimes sounded for eleven o’clock I approached the junction to leave the motorway. Unsure that it was the right turning I carried on driving much to the disbelief of my passenger and I had to exit at the next opportunity and do a U-turn to get to our destination. ‘Why didn’t you say you didn’t know?’ she asked with incredulity. ‘I couldn’t talk during the two minutes silence, could I?’ Seemed to shut her up. Because that two minutes means so much, so much to those lost in wars, those destined to be widows, orphans, families incomplete, the ones left behind. The red poppy we wear with pride is the symbol of ultimate sacrifice and the national logo of remembrance.
A fortnight ago the BBC was bedecked with poppies, last week the same and this week the must. There are no rules about when you can and can’t wear a poppy. There is a train of thought that says that it’s a bit like the twelve days of Christmas, but if you want to wear one every day you can. Indeed, the magnificent ceramic artwork at The Tower of London has been on display for months and will remain for a few weeks yet, something that will affect Christmas. I bought one as a present for my mum but now they’re not going to be available till January . . .
Ah, The Tower, the place where I dreamt that the producers were headed . . . for their choice of music . . .
Not to be, this week, a week fuelled by controversy in the tabloids, an article claiming that Steve had made a complaint about being bullied by Ola, that she has been too demanding, rude and unforgiving in training. Steve is quoted. So too sources close to the BBC.
There are a few views on this. It could be true. If so, step aside Steve, I could sell tickets for that gig. It could be the Jordan popularity machine. It could be the BBC’s keeping the show’s profile high. It could just be bull, an attempt by the papers to alienate Ola, or by a third party who think that she is becoming too big for the show. According to tweets husband James is incensed.
Just by chance Steve was asked to Paso this week and there was little doubt at the end that this particular bull was slain. Steve could do it without a cape and sword. His 28 point dance to ‘Use Somebody’ (please look it up, I had to) would have been better set at the Coliseum rather than Las Ventas in Madrid. He dressed like a Gladiator not a matador, no shirt, just a waist coat showing off his massive physique and fat free frame. He stood tall with menace, he slid on his knees and grasped the bull’s chest from behind, no reprimand, no bullying, perhaps encouragement. Her lime Flamenco skirt frilled as much as her bikini top. His knee walks the best ever, the shaping not, the fire burning, the subtlety amiss. Where the artistry lacked, the drama raged. The intensity made this work. Let’s hope things are less so next week in all corners.
Surprisingly through to next week following a Paso from Paisley, another 18 points, are Judy and Antony Smith of Bristol, though her last dance is approaching faster than a tram hitting Alan Bradley on Blackpool prom. Did I say that it’s Blackpool next week? Our hostesses called tonight’s show The Battle for Blackpool but given the poppies the choice of the word battle felt misplaced. A bit like Judy’s steps.
As well as dancing in public Judy got a talking part, Juddge Judy, Anthony Smith in the dock, the scales of justice balancing brightly, he guilty of the crime of illegal lifting. Whilst this was a funn idea, and they both camped it out well, wouldn’t it have been nice to see a proper dance to a proper track? They danced to The Clash. ‘I Fought the Law.’ Poor Joe Strummer.
Judy wore red having cast aside her charcoal Juddge’s gown. He wore black pants and a grey shirt and tie, Strictly County Jail emblazoned on the back with his criminal ID number. It all started with Judy bringing the gavel down and the criminal butt sliding to her, then adjusting his legs when he realised he was on the wrong knee. Of course there was a lift, some steps and pivots, even a nice butterfly jump but there was a pointlessness to it. Judy’s survival meant two others in the dance off, one deserving, the other another shock.
For weeks Caroline has been a model of consistency, her average over 31, this matched in her Waltz to ‘Three Times a Lady’. She has been accomplished; she has dancing form, we know, but her lines are still nice, her ambition high and she always delivers. How then did she end up in the dance off? Perhaps it was Pasta’s wink at her as they closed the routine. Perhaps the GBP thought, yuck, I don’t like that, and she becomes the victim of a heinous crime.
Of course, six or seven pivots got applause, as did the standing turns, and it was graceful and emotive. Being picky the juddgies spotted the rise and fall coming from her toes not her heels and this left it lacking smoothness. And she adjusted at times, and did she lose her balance when she danced like a flamingo at the finish? One day it will all come together for her. But the dance off? Whoa.
There was another Waltz scoring the same, Mark discovering Barry Manilow for the first time, ‘Weekend in New England’ one of his finest, Barry’s not Mark’s. Introduced as Mark Hauer, Kevin from Grimsby had a heart attack and needed a defibrillator for she is his betrothed. A Freudian slip from our hostess. Hottie wore a classical pink outfit, Mark was frocked up, lovely grey tail suit, black shoes and white bow. So why couldn’t he be bothered to shave? Scruffy. A chance missed.
What followed was far from scruffy. If you set the scene to be classical that is what you get. Both parties raise their game. They began with a clinch, a box step in huddle, a nice line, a hunched pivot and a dip with a gratuitous head to cleavage move. I shall have to practice that one. The standing turn got another ovation and the gentleness that followed, in spite of Mark leading with his head and hunching, again, was as soft and subtle as Steve’s Paso wasn’t. Surprisingly a lift wasn’t mentioned except for here. From being a wannabe Mark is now a genuine contender. Someone please buy him a razor before Christmas though.
I went to a gig at Thekla last week. It’s a boat moored on the river, the two bands, Ward Thomas and The Shires starred. Little did I know that the same boat would be used for Jake’s Rumba to ‘Strangers in the Night’. The floor was covered in smoke, strategically placed to hide his feet, he left the ship’s brow and headed towards Janette, she in a dark pink and navy two piece sliced on the diagonal, nice. After a few steps we were to discover that the QE2 had departed and we were left with the Costa Concordia.
Judgge Arlene, remember her, she said it takes a lifetime for men to master the techniques involved with the Rumba and this theory Jake proved. It was acknowledged too by Janette who decided to show herself off, more smoke and mirrors, to try and hide Jake’s shortcomings, another prone to hunch, his chin on his chest. She raised her leg, she wrapped it, she had it out at quarter past two, she kicked a skylight in and then he held behind her knee, her foot at eye level, and dragged her towards the lifeboats. 27 points is his worst score so far.
Sunetra Sarker used to live down St Oswald’s Road, Bristol, you know, the one with the green door. She has filmed Casualty at Elstree, in Bristol, in Cardiff and in Gloucestershire, so it was no surprise to see her training at David Lloyd, just up the road. Juddge Aggie used to do Pilates in that room.
With the Love Boat having been sunk by Jake it seems that Brendan managed to save one of the waiter’s outfits to dance in, a white blazer with black lapels and tie. This was a total contrast to Sunetra’s stunning full length frock, shades of green petering to the floor from the waist, the bodice covered in silver and gold sequins, angled from the top of her left ribcage to the bottom of her right. Beautiful. It also had a wing on the right hand, a wing that nearly strangled Brendan as he danced a Salsa comb in the Fox Trot. That was god telling him off.
Sunetra loves the Ballroom and it loves her, grace and subtlety come easy to her. However, you still have to get it all right and occasionally an error threw her off piste. There was gapping too and 31 to ‘All of Me’ was a fair reflection. When she dances this again nines will be there for the taking if not tens. The audience need a nine for their enthusiasm. They will give a standing ovation to anything, won’t they?
In spite of scoring a seven Craig actually made Frankie cry with his comment, ‘your worst dance yet’. It wasn’t just the comment but the acid that accompanied it. Had he been talking about Kevin from Grimsby’s outfit it might have been alright. He wore bright red pants and a t-shirt cut from a roll of wallpaper, narrow hoops, with triangles, reds and purples and whites, the sort of thing my grandad would have worn for a bet.
But no, the personal comment was hurtful, ill-conceived and unnecessary.
Frankie was asked to Samba to La Bamba, a speedy pace, frenetic even, no place for the feint hearted or to rest, even at the finish when she was dipped, left to fall to the floor, picked up and dipped again. Once would have been enough for most.
Things began with KFG wearing a Brazilian sombrero, Frankie in a funky white backless frock held together by red straps around her back and neck. Oh, for a pair of scissors. The sombrero discarded they were quickly into runs, nice basics, Bota Fogos, grapevines, a donkey on the floor, also wearing a hat, time on the stage, KFG with the sombrero back on, time alone, apart, dress fluffing, an occasional lead missed, a minor stumble. He put in a knee slide, pointless, until she walked over the top of his stretched out body shaking her booty. You could have sold tickets for that one too. Len marked her a nine in a nice 32 in what was the watch of the night.
A point more, his best ever, was Webby, flashing out a Quick Step to ‘I’ve Got Rhythm’. The back drop was a film premiere, a limo full of screaming school kids hijacking the event, the stage covered with giant musical notes and treble clefs. He looked splendid in his suit and white bow, Kristina another beautiful frock, a fabulous bodice, this emblazoned with a huge gold leaf, matching gloves running to her elbows.
Webby smiled all the way through this dance and why shouldn’t he? He ran and skipped like a kid in a playground, his joy obvious. His left arm in hold a little iffy but when the choreography cleverly included Charleston, his party piece, his smile turned to joy. The synchronisation was perfect, the timing sweet, the rhythm definitely got. The razzle and dazzle got the show off to a lovely start. He’s edging nicely towards a challenge in December where surely he will be scrapping with our Pixie, a ten from Darcey propelling her to a best ever 36.
Let me first tell you that this was a Fox Trot. Just in case you were in doubt. The song ‘When I’m Sixty Four’ doesn’t exactly conjure up a FT. Nor Pixie dressed out of the fifties playing with a mangle (old way of drying and straightening clothes) nor Trent in pants and braces auditioning for a part in The Beverley Hillbillies. An incongruous choice of song. Surely the song refers to the man’s age not 1964 . . .
As ever Pixie was cute, showing great empathy with her lead, but Lord Len’s eight added some perspective. Had they actually Fox Trotted throughout he would have been more generous but some musical accents merited a knee bend or two, a few bars were slapstick, there was a daftness to it. It didn’t spoil the feel because the feel was wrong as soon as the song began. At the end she threw the dirty washing at Trent. I’m not liking this violent side to her. That’s two weeks out of the last three.
The food chain has nearly righted itself because Alison and Ali Ash were the other cupple to make the dance off and against Caroline it would have needed a miracle for Alison to win that contest. They didn’t. She equalled her top score of 27 with her Charleston to ‘A Friend Like Me’ from Aladdin, the song sung by the genie, offering three wishes . . . I asked for a bottle of beer that filled itself up when I got to the bottom. What else would you like asked the genie. Two more of those please.
I think Alison and Ali Ash were supposed to be magicians, both in all black, top hats too, his gilded with a gold band that matched his tie, her belt and lapels. They had canes that were discarded mid-dance along with the hats. The dance was funn, heel flicks were sharp to start, though the bend in her knees lessened as the dance wore on. When Ali Ash did four star jumps, she followed by marking circles with her arm, very taxing. When he did four exaggerated kicks she just shook her considerable chest causing a tsunami on the Isle of Wight, no bad thing. He did a hand stand and she held his legs, the courage all his. To finish they ran on the spot his treadmill fixed at a higher speed. Obviously. It was swivel-less funn and a good finish to her run.
Next week we can hope that Judy exits stage left so that the real competition can begin. Also next week, with a little luck, Claudia will be back to replace the gushing Zoe. I’m told that Claudia can only return when she’s been on a fire awareness course organised by the local Health & Safety Executive.
Seriously though, best wishes to her, her family and her injured little Bam Bam.
November 10th 2014