Dance and Neurodivergence – Winning Entry

Throughout April we asked you to submit flash entries around dance and neurodivergency. We’re thrilled to announce the well deserved winner, 84 year old Peter Davies! He wins a copy of John Elder Robison’s Look Me In The Eye as his prize.

About Peter

Peter Davies was born in Barry long before Gavin and Stacey gentrified it and he moved to Cardiff soon after. The Luftwaffe’s bombs meant that his family were soon on the move again to safer places around South Wales.

Back in Cardiff, Peter went to Penarth Grammar School along the coast. A clutch of O Levels got him a job in Cardiff’s City Hall, but Buggins’ Turn was not for him. After National Service in the RAF (he never saw a plane!) and a year in college, Peter found himself doing social work in a red-light district of Birmingham.

On a weekend course to improve his social work skills, he instead fell in love with his soulmate, Christine. A job in London … more study (Newcastle) … and then back to the Midlands – not to mention three children. The next 30 years flew by. Peter taught adults in Cardiff, commuted to London to be a student again, did education advisory work and then took early retirement. This enabled him to travel, try his hand at writing, draw cartoons and compile crosswords. He also still enjoys visiting Women’s Institutes and Alzheimer’s sufferers groups to share poetry with them.

Chris and Peter are recently back in South Wales close to family after 20 happy years in Fressingfield, a beautiful village in High Suffolk.

Take Your Partners

Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, followed by the unmistakeable tune of Victor Silvester and his Ballroom Orchestra playing 'You're Dancing on my Heart'. I am back, over 60 years ago, to the Winter of 1958–59 when I started taking dancing lessons at the Victor Silvester Dance Studio in the cellar of the Capitol Cinema in Queen Street, Cardiff. It was a case of 'You're dancing on my FEET' at first, of course, but my dancing instructor, the delectable Diane, soon knocked me into shape. Diane was the only woman I ever knew who told me to hold her tighter and to get closer!

Our lessons were followed every week by a Party Night or a Gala Night and after three hours on the dance floor I staggered home sweaty, exhausted but exhilarated. Didn't we think we were 'it' after we'd mastered dances such as the quick-step and the waltz and, in time, we could even cope with, in a fashion, tricky ones like the foxtrot – although I must admit that the tango proved a bridge too far for me.

The tango aside, I loved all the evocative Latin American stuff – the samba and the rumba – and you should have seen my cha-cha-cha (which I can still manage today even with my arthritic hip!). We also had a go at old time dancing – who's for the Valetta or the Military Two-step or even the Palais Glide?

Then there was the Jive, how exciting was that! And when a Party Night REALLY got going there was the Paul Jones – I can still remember how disappointed one vision of loveliness looked when the music stopped, and she had to dance with me!

'You're Dancing on my Heart' and Victor's other strict tempo dance music was provided in those days by what we would today call 'vinyl' but Victor Silvester DID visit his Cardiff Studio once and gave a very polished dance demonstration with Diane. I am glad to report that he held her VERY tightly and you couldn't see any daylight between them!

Thank you again to all the entrants of our flash memoirs – we love reading them and have included the details of the next one below:

Our monthly flash theme for May was Walking or Chronic Illness

In May we celebrate National Walking Month with some blogs from keen walkers and ramblers aged 60+, accompanied, hopefully, by some of their photos. We also honour World MS Day with a blog focused on multiple sclerosis and looking generally at how chronic illness and creativity intersect. We would love to read your flash submissions in honour of either or both of these themes. Would you like to tell us something about your experience of being an older person who loves to hillwalk or ramble? Are you an older person managing a chronic illness which has had either a positive or adverse impact on your creativity? Send us your flash submissions!

Entries will be accepted until midnight on May 31st and flash submissions can take the form of a poem, short story or flash memoir. The winning entry will be chosen by the Autumn Voices staff team and the winner will receive the books Walking For Creative Recovery, by Christina Reading and Jess Moriarty and Piranesi by Susanna Clarke.

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