On Tuesday, I was a guest author on the The Story Ape’s blog, where I wrote about Israeli folk dancing.

Ailsa Abraham commented:

I started in late middle age with Breton dancing and although exhausting it was such fun to be moving in rhythm with other people. Metaphor for life, perhaps?

The comment got me thinking about my relationship with dancing.

It began at the age of four with ballet. I had private lessons because the class was on Saturdays and I couldn’t join that for religious reasons. But I was allowed to take part in the annual concert, which was also on a Saturday. We walked to the hall because travel wasn’t allowed, and the teacher took the clothes I had to change into and wasn’t allowed to carry. I enjoyed ballet. I would probably have enjoyed the class more than the private lessons. I’d have enjoyed dancing in rhythm with other girls, but religion prevented me from doing that. I took some of the ballet exams. The best remark I got was that I had a very good sense of rhythm.

I don’t remember how I picked up the twist. Maybe from watching it on the telly. Maybe we did it at summer schools. I remember being good at it. I remember dancing it on the last day of primary school.

There were never many occasions to dance while I was at school. A wedding here, a party there. It was something I knew how to do. I watched what everyone else did and copied them. I always had confidence in my ability to dance. They laughed at me when I spoke, but never when I danced.

MeAndTheTribe

Being different (with a dance group in an Indian village)

At university there were several opportunities to dance. I loved them all. In particular, I liked dancing to the Rolling Stones’ song, Brown Sugar. I didn’t know what it was about; I just loved the music. And I loved jumping around in time with the music and in time with all the other dancers. This was something I could do at least as well as everyone else.

People I worked with were surprised to see me dance at all, let alone better and in a more liberated way than most. They assumed anxiety over talking must extend to every other activity. They were wrong.

I don’t know why it took me so long to discover folk dancing in Israel. For once, this was an activity in which I could be in step with everyone else. In everyday life I was always out of step. The only problem is that there’s more to going dancing than dancing. It’s also a time for talking.

My conclusion? Dancing is not a metaphor for my life. It’s a metaphor for what my life might have been.

If this post seems a bit confused, I think that’s because writing it has confused me. In the words of Fagin in the musical Oliver, I think I’d better think it out again. Can you help? Help me get my feet back on the ground? No, Beatles. I’m happier jumping in the air.

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Yesterday

Memoir Writing

This post is one of 26 I am writing for the A-Z Challenge on the subject of writing a memoir. I’m not an expert in writing memoirs, but I’m exploring the topic with thoughts about writing one, and am happy to share the fruits of my exploration.

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I don’t need many excuses to include a video of the Beatles. After all, I grew up with them. But this song tells the opposite story to the one that usually makes a good memoir. “Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away. Now I need a place to hide away.” We like to read about lives that have taken a turn for the better, people who started off badly but turned their lives around.

At least, I do. Don’t you?

Unfortunately, but excitingly, I probably won’t be able to respond to your comments before the beginning of May. But do please keep commenting. When the challenge is over, I will write a concluding post with a summary of all the advice you’ve been giving me. And don’t forget, the Comment link is at the top of this post.

Even I have happy memories of my childhood and this is one of them:

This post was inspired by fairyhedgehog.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow. Hopefully.

I have a special relationship with Britain. Any other country I visit is foreign. I’m fascinated by the way the people live and I love to explore the countryside. But it remains a wonderful experience of something else, something I’m not part of.

Britain – or, more specifically, England – is different. It’s the place where I was born, where I grew up. It’s a part of me, even though it doesn’t play a part in my current everyday life.

I haven’t lived in England for…. Well, let’s just say that when I was growing up, calculating money involved the factors 12 and 20, and my favourite music was provided by four boys from Liverpool.

Going to England isn’t like going anywhere else. It’s not a visit to a foreign country. It’s a return to a life I left – to the bad times and the good, to people I knew then and places that have remained. And that connects nicely to those four boys:

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all
 

So I’m going back soon, first for two weeks with hubby in Scotland, then three weeks on my own in England. I’m starting to make plans. If anyone has any suggestions about what I could do at not too great an expense – literary of otherwise – for three weeks in August-September, do let me know.

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to your door

I always loved The Beatles. I grew up with them. But I didn’t think much about the words in those far-off days….

I’m on that road; we all are. But each of us has to get past different hurdles on the way. I’ve just passed one – not just by being acknowledged as a writer, although that’s a big enough hurdle in itself, but also by having my blog discovered by more people, including people who know me but don’t know me. That still frightens me, despite all the praise and encouragement I’ve received. But I know it’s what I want.

Many thanks to everyone who said they liked my story. It makes it all worth the effort.

Have you passed any big hurdles recently?

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