In Competition No. 3110 you were invited to provide a version of the hokey-cokey filtered through the pen of a well-known writer.
Thanks to George Simmers and C. Paul Evans, I now know that doing the hokey–cokey — said by some to have been composed by Puritans in the 18th century to mock the Catholic mass — could constitute a hate crime. Mr Evans weaved this into his amusing take on Kipling’s ‘If’. Equally enjoyable were reworkings by D.A. Prince, David Silver-man and John O’Byrne of Henry Reed’s ‘Naming of Parts’ (‘Today we have shaking of parts…’) and Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of My Self–Humiliation’, courtesy of Mark McDonnell. There was so much to admire. How I hummed and hawed before settling on the six below, who earn £25 each.
Out on the dance-floor, the clock at ten-twenty,
We dance to a rag-time, or is it a waltz?
My feet are flirtatious, but no cognoscenti,
And I lose the first set, scoring two double faults.
But oh! the conductor! He straightens his baton
And taps out a rhythm that gladdens my thighs,
As we fish with our left arms, and, following pattern,
Retrieve them, and swivel, but never capsize.
Oh hokey, oh cokey, with part-genuflection,
Extending our triceps with vim and abandon!
Now for the right arm, and forward direction,
And back, and so careful there’s no one to stand on.
The left leg and right leg take turns, with a flourish,
Before the whole person hurls forth with a shout,
And now I’ve a partner with needs I must nourish,
For that’s what the dancing is really about.
Bill Greenwell / John Betjeman
If you can join a group at merry-making
And lose your inhibitions for a while,
Can dance around and copy all their shaking,
And make each foolish gesture with a smile.
Swing each leg in and out and wildly shake it,
Then do the same odd movements with your arms,
Go wrong, be ridiculed, and simply take it,
And carry on, dismissing all your qualms.