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Redcoats on Tour – “Doon The Watter” Pt 1

Get togethers with any of my Butlins pals are always special occasions as they don’t happen all that often. They usually consist of a fabulous weekend which would include trips down memory lane, some of us would get back into our much loved Red and White uniforms (custom made), maybe do a bit of performing as well.

It was a few days before Burns Night when the current Mrs Frankie Boy and myself in the car, packed to the rafters, drove along the M8 for another much anticipated Butlins weekend, this time it was “Doon The Watter”. This not a traditional Butlins reunion. The weekend had been in the planning for months.

Towards the end of last year, the town of Dunoon was starting to like the idea of having Ex Butlins Redcoats around, thanks to the efforts of former Ayr Redcoat friends and colleagues, Jeannie and Andy who had their own spot on the local radio station and were a hit during the switching during last year’s Christmas festivities.

In January 2016, a number of us ex Reds were invited to join them for a housewarming/Burns Supper weekend “Redcoat Style” where we would partake of a special “Redcoat Detail” which would include a special “Redcoat Show” at a local care home, ending with us finally sitting down and partaking of the “falling down water” and Haggis – of course!

The town had known of our impending arrival. We were looking forward to meeting up again. I was especially looking forward to our show that Sunday. I had rediscovered my enthusiasm for performing in front of an audience during the as Butlins Reunions in Scarborough and even though it had been a couple of years, it was going to be great doing something again. I had found childhood memories performing as part of a concert party that used to travel around care homes and local clubs and what great audiences they were. And I was looking forward to getting back amongst it again.

In true Redcoat fashion there was going to be plenty of last minute rehearsing – no pressure. Something that we were used to back in the day when we actually worked in Reds and recently when performing our “Redcoat Show” in Scarborough in 2014 were we had an hour to rehearse a full show. For myself and my good lady there was an added edge to the running order. A few months previously, there was a newspaper article about us doing the show and it was mentioned that amongst our group there was a “semi-professional” ballroom dancing couple. It was only when I went to bed and placed my head on the pillow that evening that it dawned on me that they were talking about us.

For newcomers to this blog, I did come from a dancing background. I took up ballroom dancing at the age of eight, which eventually led to me becoming a member of the Scotland Latin American Formation Team that featured on the iconic TV programme, “Come Dancing” as well as appearing in demonstrations around the country as well competing in various sized venues like Mussleburgh’s Brunton Halls to Blackpool’s Winter Gardens and London’s Albert Hall. Even though we were not classified as professionals, we did approach things in a professional manner and it did result in me, as part of my job at Butlins, giving dancing demonstrations. So according to the rule books back then, I ended up as a professional – thirty four years ago.

I did dust off the cobwebs in 1996 when I was “persuaded” to take part in a routine as part of my daughter’s dance school end of term show, which kind of gave me a flavour of what I used to do. The video evidence is still out there on the net. But when I was asked to do something for this new show, there was more to this than dusting off the dancing cobwebs once again. I needed to choreograph the routine, plus I would be dancing it with my good lady. Ever since we first met, she always pestered me to teach her to dance. Now, she was getting her wish and we had four weeks to do it. Or put it another way, I had four weeks to remember how it was done It was originally suggested that we gave a demonstration of Rhumba. But there were problems.

The current Mrs Frankie Boy was recovering from a rotary cuff injury, a shoulder problem often suffered by American Footballers. And before you say anything, she has no interest in the game. In fact mentioning the words “Tight End” to her it has a totally different meaning The Rhumba is “the dance of love,” where you had to be sensual sexy and seductive. If I tried that dance with my wife being all seductive, then we would not have been able to finish the routine with her laughing. Forget the Rhumba, we went for an Argentine Tango, not as complicated, but lots of practise still required; which was not easy when you worked in a call centre. So every spare minute we had was dance rehearsal. And I can say that you cannot beat a quick Tango before you start your shift.

So what about the weekend itself? Day One; we hit Dunoon Town Centre in our Red and Whites stopping off at certain businesses at their request for some promo pictures, finishing off with a bit of shopping. Let’s just say we gave the customers of local supermarket something to talk about.

We certainly appeared to rekindle some holiday memories amongst the locals as we walked through town, smiling as they walked past us occasionally stopping to talk about their wonderful holiday camp memories. And the next day we would be bringing some of that holiday camp flavour to a group of special people when we will be putting on our “Redcoat Show” for the residents at the Ardenlee Care Home. So what followed was an afternoon and evening of rehearsals and technical run throughs where were many of us were out for the count come 9’oclock.

That is what happens when you are over 21.

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