Daphne doesn’t dance. She never danced when she was little, nor as a teenager, a young woman, an older woman and she’ll never dance now that she’s full of rheumatics. There’s a certain style to Daphne, but it’s nothing to do with the way that she moves, it’s more about how she holds herself still when all else rushes around her. Or so it seems to her. She thinks of herself as the sun. Or the Queen of Sheba. Or, on her darker days, a little old lady sat on a chair in a care home.
It’s not a particularly comfy chair, but it suits Daphne’s nature. She’s never been a particularly comfortable person. Not within herself, nor to be around. The other residents of the care home tolerate her more than they like her. She’s a bit sharp with them at times. And the rest of the time, she’s ‘bloody rude’, as Ethyl declared one rainy evening when she and Daphne disagreed over whether they should watch Love Boat (Ethyl’s choice) or a boring documentary about some dusty hell-hole or other (not Daphne’s description).
One day, Daphne died. And she went to heaven. When she got to the pearly gates, St. Peter said ‘there’ll be dancing tonight, you up for it?’
Of course, Daphne knew it was a trick question. Quick as a flash she said ‘yes, of course, St Peter. I’d love to go to a dance tonight.’ She knew that if St. Peter invited you to go to a dance before he let you into heaven then you blooming well better put a good face on it and agree. In fact, she’d decided to say yes to anything anyone asked her to do in heaven on the principle that there are lots of good people there and so they wouldn’t steer her wrong.
In fact, it wasn’t a trick question at all. St. Peter was, in all earnest, trying to drum up support for a new initiative he’d launched called How to Dance Well. He’d reasoned that, rather than leave it to the amateurs down on earth to tell people how to get down and get with it, he’d give them the skinny himself, being, as he was, rather a hipster. He’d found that the best way to pass the centuries along was to try new things. You see, like Daphne, he’d never been one to shake his groove thang either.
So, to cut a long story in half, he let Daphne into heaven, assigned an angel to show her where she’d been bunked and then went to his own digs to get himself ready; which is to say that he kitted himself out in something very similar to the outfit he’d once seen John Travolta wear in a film called Saturday Night Fever.
Cometh the night and they were all there standing around the dance floor. Girls on one side and boys on the other, as was once customary on earth and is now expected in heaven by them as what thought they knew what god and all his angels expected of them.
God, typically, wasn’t there. But that’s old news. I’ll tell you about it some other time.
St. Peter was the first to make his move. He’d already had a word with the DJ to get him to play music suitable for the kind of lively tripping of the light fantastic he expected, and he wasn’t disappointed when the strains of something funky began to flow from the speakers. St. Peter jigged forward, the side to side movement of his hips synched nicely to the throbbing beat and fingers pointing first one way then another. He was the very epitome of a dancing queen.
As soon as he reached the very centre of the floor, he came to a stop and did something no-one, least of all Daphne, who was watching from the side of the dance floor in her best glad rags, expected. He sat down on the floor.
‘This,’ he boomed out, his voice raised effortlessly over the music, ‘is how to dance.’
Well, you could have heard a pin drop if the disco beat hadn’t still been pounding out of the speakers.
Luckily, the DJ was a fast thinker and he killed the track immediately. No-one dropped a pin, but Daphne’s jaw did go rather slack until one of the angels standing beside her reached out a finger and pushed her teeth together with an audible clack.
St. Peter was not one to repeat himself, but, for the benefit of those at the back, he did so anyway. ‘This is how to dance when dancing is, as it should be, an expression of your inner being. At heart, we are peace. At our core, we are silence. We express the joy we feel, when we are living our truth, as love. Love, not of movement and sound, but of profound stillness.’ His eyes then turned to Daphne, whose lower jaw instantly began to sag again. ‘Daphne, you have been an shining example of how to dance well. I’m proud of what you’ve achieved in your time on earth. Of course, we’ll have to give you some guidance on how to avoid being rude to people who want to watch the other channel, but we have a seminar every Thursday at eight that’ll cover that off nicely.’
On hearing that, Daphne beamed, the music started up again and they all had a good boogie along to an ABBA medley that seemed to go on all night, and yeah verily a good time was had by all.
And that’s your lot for now.