Doggy Dancing

‘Have you heard of doggy dancing?’

This wasn’t the way that I’d anticipated introducing my frequent travelling companion, the urbane Dr A. But such a conversation opener demands its record.

In my innocence, I wasn’t really aware of the phenomenon of the doggy dancing, which Dr A tells me has taken America by storm, is incorporated into Crufts, and can even be found on primetime TV here in the UK. (Although I didn’t think Pudsey was ‘dancing’, but who am I to judge?)

Apparently the human tends to lead, with the dog frequently dancing backwards, reminding me of the famous quote about Fred Astaire’s dancing partner, ‘Sure he was great, but don’t forget Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards…and in high heels’. This brought me to a sentence I never thought I’d utter, on a train or otherwise:

‘So is the dog the woman?’

And an interesting one to answer in terms of gender and canine politics, as there is, apparently, a preponderance of gay men who doggy dance. At this point, I decided the conversation was getting too confusing for a Tuesday night, and we turned to the relative merits of hamsters and horses as pets.

I tentatively Googled ‘Doggy Dancing’ later that evening, and came up with this rather fine merengue. (Now there’s a happy couple, if I ever saw one.) It also returned this piece in the Torygraph, reporting on the Kennel Club’s ban on certain doggy dance tricks (dog health & safety), and ‘rules against routines that are “degrading” to the dogs’. Ms Kisco, Club secretary, commented that ‘”They are allowed to wear a certain amount – perhaps the equivalent of a dog coat. But we would absolutely not expect the dog to turn up in a full Father Christmas Claus kit, for instance”‘. (Checking the publication date of this piece revealed it was not 1 April as initially suspected, but 19 August.)

Apparently humans can continue to wear whatever they wish, though perhaps Simon Cowell and his ilk might want to consider whether costumes and routines on their shows which are ‘extreme, unnatural or degrading’ should be referred to the human equivalent of the Kennel Club. (Though perhaps the Grammys already tried and failed to do this in the much-ridiculed Wardrobe Advisory.)

Next time, I promise to report on the more erudite conversations in which Dr A and I engage, but in the meantime, here’s some more doggy dancing, from the delightful Eleanor Powell and Buttons. That’s my doggy dancing style.

Weapon of War

Travelling by bike and train has its charms. And its occasional challenges.

Particularly when catching a Friday evening train some hours into its journey south from Aberdeen.

Not long started on the Central Belt Shuffle, and boarding a busy train one evening, I had to ask someone to get up from a tip-up seat by the bike storage area so I could get my bike in. The two of us were then standing for the rest of the journey.

Another, prematurely elderly, tin-drinking man took offence. He started snarling at me, if you can both slur and snarl. I’ve no idea what he was saying, and smiled as best I could.

Five or so minutes later, out came a small set of pipes, with black* velvet bag.

I’d heard that bagpipes were a weapon of war. In a packed train carriage, with 20 minutes journey-time remaining, that was confirmed.

*This post was previously entitled The Black Piper, until my PC-checker suggested I might change it to avoid any confusion. Good call, Miss J.

Reading and Shuffling

Big notches on the Central BeltWhen not observing (or interacting) with fellow passengers, Central Belt Shuffler is often reading, or sometimes observing other people reading.

Indeed, one of the reasons to travel on the train is to read. Reading and travelling go together; hand and glove.

So it was appropriate to fall upon a review of this future read, after only a few days of starting to record the centralbeltshuffle: Robert Crawford’s On Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Willy Maley’s THE review, ‘Big Notches on the Central Belt’, begins by commenting, ‘This is a fascinating book, if in some ways a peculiar one…’

Fascinating and peculiar. Surely one for the centralbeltshuffle reading list.

‘We need future plans’

Live tweets from a morning commute:

There are Waterstones staff on the train frantically scribbling on ppt print-outs with graphs and tables. Not sure this bodes well.

Although they might be mature students preparing for a simulated business case presentation. In conclusion, ‘We’re doomed.’

They seem to be trying to find reasons why they haven’t hit their targets. Hmmm.

[Why don’t I just ask them if they actually work for Waterstones, a Twitter correspondent wishes to know.]

They’re VERY busy. ‘So this is December, the high street was down 10%…’

One of them is staring out of the window at the snow. The others, ‘Fiction up, children’s down’, ‘2%’, ‘what’s the comparator year’?

Besides, I can’t say to them, ‘Do you really work at Waterstones, or are you pretending?’

Perhaps they’re my students, but have changed a lot over the break?

‘This slide is pretty good’, ‘We need future plans’, ‘Here’s a James Daunt quote’.

Ah, I either know about forthcoming staff reductions at Waterstones now, or I’m spreading nasty rumours…

I’m afraid I can’t report the future of Waterstones as I’ve left the train… (In case any of you were on tenterhooks.)

Wine and Hearts

February 13th.

Boarded the evening train and sat opposite a blinged-up lady of a certain age. She looked a bit perturbed and said her friend was joining the train. I politely pointed out that there were still two free seats at the table.

Friend arrived, sat down. Lady 1 got out tablecloth (actually a napkin), forks, pre-packed salad (crayfish), sushi, Doritos, a bottle of white wine.

They fed me crisps and offered me wine (I was being abstemious). I got a bit of sushi.

Then it was pudding: chocolate hearts in white, milk and dark chocolate.

We had by this time been chatting quite a bit. I said, ‘I did worry that I’d interrupted an early Valentine’s.’

They shrieked with laughter.

Apparently they’re in an all-ladies samba band, most of whom (but not them) are lesbians. (‘We’re not gay’; drumroll.)