The bear that went to Scottish village dances

The bear that went to Scottish village dances

Heart-warming animal story here, about a bear adopted by a Polish unit in WW2:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article-2182829/WOJTEK-THE-BEAR-BY-AILEEN-ORR-This-bears-necessity-A-ciggie-decent-pint.html

The bear accompanied the Poles to Scotland eventually, where he impinged upon the music scene as follows:

"He was also very keen on Saturday-night dances in the local village halls — one attraction was the home baking, the other the music. The bear would sit down, legs splayed, facing the band, and sway along to the jigs and reels. Wojtek did take up a lot of dancefloor space, but the Polish soldiers were keen to take him with them to dances — because he was very useful in attracting girls.

‘He had proved his abilities in that direction the previous year in Italy, when he would swim underwater towards a group of women in the sea, then emerge in the middle of them and lark around until any strangely available Polish soldiers could jump in and gallantly ‘rescue’ the victims."

The dances were in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders, btw. The article (the review of a book about the bear and his companions which is bound to be more informative) does not say where the unit stayed or visited in that county.

Re: The bear that went to Scottish village dances

Thanks for that! More animal stories will bighten up the landscape here! Now, about those dogs pulling the big guns in WWI…..what tunes do ya think they marched to?

Re: The bear that went to Scottish village dances

Great story. One I heard, and I can’t vouch for its authenticity, only repeat what I can recall, is about a monkey in Ferguslie Park a housing estate in Paisley near Glasgow, in the 50’s early 60’s.

A man named Gill (not our Llig) who was a merchant seaman, once brought a little baby monkey back to his mother’s house in the estate. It was cute at first but soon grew up and became a local celebrity and a bit of a tearaway, riding on the back of alsatians like a little jockey, and generally causing mischief.
When the police came round to the house after the monkey had been out causing mischief, the monkey would innocently cower in and cuddle up to the mother who would resolutely defend the animal sending the police away saying they should be catching murderers and so on. Gill himself would be away at sea so wasn’t around to see all this.
I don’t know what became of the monkey - I don’t even know if it was a monkey or an ape (ie chimp, orang utan etc) - and I don’t even know of the veracity of the story. But I think it’s a good, funny animal urban myth, and was assured it was true.

Re: The bear that went to Scottish village dances

…."Hartlepool"……or Boddam. [ NE Scotland ].

Posted by .

Re: The bear that went to Scottish village dances

"There’s always the story of Bamse"

Interestingly, I just saw Bamse’s statue in his home town of Honningsvåg last week. It apparently faces the one in Montrose(and vice versa). I’ll have to seek out the latter too.

I was actually as far north as the Svalbard archipeligo during my travels but, sadly, didn’t see any bears(Polar or otherwise).
Nor could I find any tune sessions up there either and I didn’t wish to upset Jeremy by starting a discussion to see if there were any.
;-)

Re: The bear that went to Scottish village dances

"Thanks for that! More animal stories will bighten up the landscape here! Now, about those dogs pulling the big guns in WWI…..what tunes do ya think they marched to?"

Well, that would be The Wild Rover - ask yourself, would you be pleased on a shilling a day ?

Re: The bear that went to Scottish village dances

Nice one, ormepipes - I was trying to think of a witticism appropriate for that post, but the obvious didn’t occur to me!

Re: The bear that went to Scottish village dances

North-East England has not lacked a history of animal magic.

This was added to when Lambton Castle, back in the Sixties / Seventies, created a drive-through lion park as a visitor attraction.

Things kept escaping. According to a newspaper article I read, a man from Fencehouses found a rhinoceros in his allotment.

Visions of an Andy Capp-like figure reacting to a rhinoceros in his allotment possessed me. In fact, they creased me up. Should I meet anyone from round there, I would try to find out more.

In due course I happened to meet one or two people from that area. No, I was told, it was found in the pond. No, it was a wood. It may have been somewhere else. It may not even have been a rhinoceros - though I don’t recall definitely being told that. I *think* it was still a rhinoceros. I want it to have been a rhinoceros. Poetry insists on it being a rhinoceros.

Scholarship can be a dull dog in this sort of terrain…

:-)