"Between the ages of 8 and 11 years, I attended an Old Time Dancing School, and in doing so, I discovered dancing to be the hidden language of romance. Even in those early years, I would do whatever was necessary to get into a girl's good books, if I fancied her. Though fancying at that young age never amounted to more than the occasional peck on the cheek. Moving from Old Time Dancing to the Modern Waltz proved to be a master stroke on my part, and I found the mere holding of a female's waist for a full three minutes as one glided around the floor, sufficient to excite my senses and stir the imagination. In emotional terms, movement never lies or stands still. It pulsates with the body's twists and turns and synchronizes with the flow and ebb of a young love's heartbeat.
It was only after I started to learn the tango that I started to recognise that dancing is the most sensual means of movement known to man and woman. Indeed, some might even claim it to be sexual at its heart; a form of perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire!
Just as I was started to take the floor by storm and had won two medals before my twelfth birthday, I was run over by a wagon. I incurred extensive injuries, was in hospital for almost a year and didn't walk again until I was well into my fourteenth year of life.
For the latter half of my hospitalisation at Batley General Hospital (now a school), I slept in a veranda section of the hospital with two other long term patients. One was in for Polio and the other had broken his back in a fall and would never walk again. Veranda patients were always the ones with more extensive injuries, and whom were presumably assessed as being in need of more rest than the general run-of-the-mill everyday patient.The greatest privilege about being a veranda patient was having our own television set, whereas the rest of the big ward had to share theirs between forty patients; which essentially meant that unless you were fit enough to get out of bed, you never saw it!
One night, one of the night nurses asked if she could watch the television quietly about ten pm. As pain kept me awake most nights, I had no objection. The nurse was a ballet fan and there was 'Swan Lake' being performed by the great Margot Fonteyn de Arias on the twelve inch black and white television screen.
I watched Swan Lake with the nurse at the side of my bed. She looked spellbound from start to finish. There was a poignancy about the whole episode as I later realised. As my legs had been severely shattered, even if I was ever to regain my walking ability at a future date, I knew that dancing would never be on my cards again.
As I watched the ballet dancing that night, I soon became enthralled by the intricacy of the movements, along with the agility and strength of the dancer's leg muscles. I thought that Margot's movement reflected all that was divine. I knew then, that dance was no less than the highest art form; an expression of the body that no words can ever describe and no emotion ever deny. It holds itself in perfect poise and posture and its beauty moves in curves and contours of the spirit.
When I look back on that night when the attractive nurse sat beside my bed side and I now think about my love of dance, I sometimes wonder whether it was my infatuation with the nurse's presence or Forteyn's grace of movement that made the occasion one I've never forgotten.
Within two years I'd got my legs back and just about that time, along came rock and roll. Because all movement was free and wild in its expression, I found myself able to take to the floor again without seeming to be out of step, as I learned to bop and gyrate the night away. After meeting my wife Sheila six years ago, I renewed my interest in rock and roll, and for the following three years, we went to a Rock and Roll Club in Batley weekly. Sadly, my gradual immobility since I contracted my terminal condition two years ago, depleted my energy levels and meant no more rock and rolling for me. Even though I can no longer move my legs to the rhythm, my feet continue to tap to the beat.
Though it be over sixty years now since I first saw Dame Margot perform Swan Lake, as she was to become, her perfect poise and grace of movement will never escape my mind until the day I die. A few times in my life since, I have been tempted to see Swan Lake performed by the finest of ballet companies, but haven't. I essentially feared that if I did, I would mar that special memory of 1954 in the quiet of night with a beautiful nurse at the side of my bed in a wing of the old Batley Hospital. I wonder if she is still alive. If so she must be in her late 80's. I mean the beautiful nurse, not Dame Margot!" William Forde: September 12th, 2016.