Alison Goulding: ‘No respectors of the weak’

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SIX years ago my mum came home with a concertina and said she was going to learn how to play it.

And I, the loving daughter, rolled my eyes, full of doubt and ready to skit.

It must have taken great restraint on her part not to just punch me then and there – but revenge is a dish best served cold.

Sensibly, she ignored my cynicism and got down to the business in hand.

Making a concertina sound nice is no mean feat. I know that from the early days, when she would retire to the next room to practice defiantly – it sounded like she was stapling things to an enraged sea lion.

Undaunted, she continued and made great progress – enough so that she has banded together with her friends to form a ceilidh band.

She invited me, the bf and the bf’s mum to their first official gig on Saturday night without so much as a ‘told you so.’

I went along with a big slice of humble pie in my handbag. They were great, and the place was packed out. We had our dancing feet on and were keen to join.

I have been to a ceilidh before, but my fear of having to touch strangers was at its peak, so I sat on the sidelines sweating and twitching for the duration.

Since then I’ve become slightly less precious. My phobia of holding hands with people I’ve never met is still there, but I am able to suspend it, at least temporarily, for the sake of social convention.

Anyway, I soon learned that ceilidhs are not for the faint-hearted. My belief that it would be a gentle affair was absolutely wrong.

I didn’t realise anything that resembles complicated group maths could be so, well, violent.

After thirty seconds of rule-following, each dance descended into the kind of physical madness associated with LSD.

And then the professionals turned up. We first became aware of them when they spun each other around so fast that two of their group’s legs came off the floor and swiped out several surrounding dancers like skittles.

They meant serious business, and as the night went on, we all got a bit nervous around them.

“They are no respecters of the weak” said the bf, darkly. He knows these things, having visited a dedicated ceilidh bar in Edinburgh.

And he was right. They danced like bulldozers cutting a path through sacred woodland.

They made the Glastonbury crowd look positively feeble. We surmised that they must travel the country crashing ceilidhs, terrorising the locals and living off party food.

Though we despised them, damn it they were good dancers! As the night went on our dancing got worse as theirs got better.

In fact, we were failing so badly at one point that we danced ourselves out through the fire escape to avoid further embarrassment.

Outside we found some very good swings in the adjacent park, where we swang happily, until a small child chased me off mine.

While a great night, it’s clear I’m not tough enough for such a crowd.

So it’s down to Ma Goulding. She’ll be fine.