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Published: July 27th 2011
Wednesday 27th July
Have you ever noticed that some places have a musical backdrop? Well, here in St Helena it is country and western music of the 1970’s. True there are some discs on the juke box and on their interesting radio channel that date from the 1950’s but most of it is from that ‘twang’ era that hasn’t been touched by Gram Parsons and his new-country (for those not acquainted with him, he was a member of the Byrds (remember them?) and the Flying Burrito Brothers who transformed the sound of C&W music before he was found dead at Joshua Tree). I know, that’s too much trivia information when all you want to know is ‘where is this going?’
Well, because of this intense St Helenian love of C&W music of a certain era I thought that going to the line dance at the Consular Hotel would be a good thing to do. Rather a disappointment on two counts. Firstly, there were only a handful of people there (eight women and yours truly, as it happens) ex-pats rather than Saints who would have shown their enthusiasm and skill. The second, and significantly tragic part of the evening was the incredible level of incompetence shown by your correspondent. Never before has the phrase two left feet been more meaningful to me. I went through the pain barrier of four dances and individual instruction to me, the remedial dancer, before I decided that I had done enough to tick this off as one of life’s adventures or experiences. I have done it and do not feel as though I will venture down this avenue again.
A quick exit to the bar – the Consulate Hotel (remember, the one with no guests) is a delightful place to be. Surrounded by a balcony supported (railway enthusiasts will be delighted to know) by railway track imported from the west coast railway in the UK (does that sound reasonable – I lost interest shortly after discussion began, I’m afraid) there is a terrific ambience which encourages conversation with strangers. Stalking away from the Line Dane fiasco I ended up in discussion with George and Ann who have invited me out to sail on their yacht on Sunday afternoon. Apparently I should think of myself as crew – which is fine as long as I don’t have to be Roger the Cabin Boy – rather than skipper! I’m ticking these life experiences off – fishing (obviously a natural); Line Dancing (which we can pass over quickly) and now sailing a schooner (or is that a sherry glass) in the South Atlantic – all in one week!
Despite comments from some ex-colleagues, this is a working trip. I have been supporting headteachers and teachers and the department staff to raise standards of pupil attainment in their schools. I have been given a very warm welcome and these colleagues seem very excited about the project they will be starting on as a result of his 4 week sojourn. I shan’t, of course, be here to see how it goes – maybe someone will ask me to return to evaluate the impact of my own work!
Later there will be news on how I sailed around the Cape of Good Hope or somewhere!
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What a mover!
Good to speak to you a moment ago on the modern miracle of Skype and great to hear your news. I'd have to say that your views about Gram Parsons et al strikes a chord!