The Rockin' Rollin' Rover

With Nicky Germain - Huddersfield

I was brought up listening to my Dad's collection of 78s (I can still smell that shellac), one glorious Little Richard LP, and one somewhat errant Wally Whyton LP. When I was 14, during the rock n roll revival of the late 1970s, I started going out to a local Rock 'n' Roll night with my Dad, learning the basic elements of dancing, and wearing full-circle skirts I'd made myself with urgent, if amateurish, ambition.

By 1981, I was doing my own discos in the Greater Manchester area - Rock 'n' Roll discos, and also heavy rock. Life intervened, as it has a habit of doing. I had a breakdown at 17 and was ultimately diagnosed with manic depression; I moved away, but the depression moved with me, and everything came to a standstill.

After 8 years on my own, with no social life and no music, I moved back to the North only to trip violently on the curled edge of Fate and blunder into my now ex-husband, a man who actually disliked music. Everything came to a standstill yet again. There was to be no music in my life, and certainly not a thought of dancing, for another 16 years yet.

When I finally got away from him I was amazed to hear that the Rock 'n' Roll scene was still going. It took a very conscious decision to start pretending to have confidence, but the bluff worked well enough to get me out and about at last: Bolton, Bury, Batley, Brighouse - anywhere, it seemed, that began with a B. Once I was on the dancefloor confidence was no problem, the music was all I needed.

The amazing friendships I've made along the way have come as an added bonus in my new life, something I never expected, having always been very solitary and shy. My nights out have helped enormously with my ongoing mental health problems, and I feel immensely lucky to be able to dance at all despite having rheumatoid arthritis - okay, my knees have never been worse, but happiness does a lot to combat the daily aches and pains, and with the help of the Rock 'n' Roll community I'm finally learning strategies for coping with both my illnesses.

I love my Rock 'n' Roll - Bill Haley and Little Richard stand out particularly; but I also enjoy blues, boogie woogie, swing, trad jazz, and through into heavier rock music, some classical and opera, and some elements of the punk scene of the late 1980s. From Guy Mitchell to the Dead Kennedys - anything with passion, rhythm and flair, as long as it's musical. Discordant music does nothing for me, neither does rap; and I can't comment on modern music because I honestly don't think there's any such thing.

On a personal level, my first love has always been writing; I'm also an artist, I have a passion for heavy weight training, and a fascination for relativity and quantum mechanics. I never wanted children, but over the years I've had the privilege of sharing my life with 121 pet rats, most rescued from neglect or cruelty; they lived contentedly alongside my cat Springer, and my disabled Border Collie Jim, also rescued. Due to my change in circumstances, I currently just have one pet, my little girlie Flynn who lives in the house with me as a Free Rat, neither of us being happy with the principle of caging an animal.

They say you're a long time dead, and I was. I've had to start from scratch, but I've been lucky enough to find myself again. Music and friendships have given me my spirit back and helped me find the strength to keep pushing forward.

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