A Tribute to Brian

Brian Smith 1952-2016: a tribute from his friends in Aurora

 

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On Monday 1 August 2016, many members of Aurora attended the funeral of our friend and loyal supporter Brian Smith, who had been a stalwart of Aurora for many years. Despite living miles away in the country, in Insch, and then on the Banffshire coast, Brian was one of the most regular participants in the Thursday evening meetings, travelling to and from Dyce in all kinds of weather. Brian was a good dancer with a very good sense of phrasing, and he was a dependable partner with whom to dance. He obviously had a great appreciation of both the dance formations and the music. But like most, and probably all, of the other “senior” male dancers in Aurora, Brian devised a special way of performing the pas de bas.

 

We first met Brian in the 2000s when Brian and Alison were still based in Wiltshire, but had bought a holiday home in Portessie. They soon became involved in several Scottish Country Dance groups in the North East, but Aurora became their second family. Brian’s profession was in computing so the committee was delighted when he became involved in maintaining Aurora’s website. He also deployed his electronic engineering skills when he took home Aurora’s Coombers audio equipment for repair – and was horrified when he saw the primitive nature of the wiring within the box.

 

As both a committee member and ordinary member of the group Brian was invariably involved in the practical organisation of events, such as the annual ball at Westhill, and he also regularly called dances on Thursdays. Sometimes he and Alison arrived with armfuls of surplus produce from their allotment, which they worked on together, like all their activities, including family history and Portsoy Salmon Bothy. We remember Brian’s participation in Burns’ suppers, trips abroad to Belgium, The Netherlands, France (twice) and Italy, away weekends, and “ambles”. Brian loved most things Scottish, including malt whisky and walking in the countryside. On one memorable away weekend at Dulnain Bridge he refused to let the results of his overindulgence in the former prevent his participation in a long and strenuous hike. Brian was tough. He seemed impervious to the cold, even later when he was ill, and always laughed off the observations of Anna and Alan that “You’re not wearing a vest”!

 

We got to know and appreciate Brian simply as a good man. He never had a bad word to say about anyone and possessed, and shared, that essential, overarching quality of humankind – kind humanity – which is the basis of all forms of love and friendship. He was quietly determined and self-disciplined. Brian’s love of life and good humour endured throughout his illness. After his first operation and course of treatment we admired the way Brian returned to the dance floor (initially wearing a “pirate” scarf) and began to rebuild his strength. Later, when he became unable to dance, Brian continued to attend on Thursday evenings to watch, and to have a blether at juice time, and with anyone who was sitting out. Indeed, during this period he attended many other dancing events throughout the North-East and delighted in listening to the live music. Brian enjoyed Aurora’s twentieth anniversary ball at the Ashdale Hall just a few months ago on Saturday 21 May 2016. And he did not miss the post-ball party either, where once again his sense of humour and love of life shone through and gave us some confidence that certain things will never fleet away, because they belong not just to the here and now.

Quite apart from our individual and collective memories of Brian, Brian has provided us with an opportunity for us to remember him in a way that seems entirely appropriate for a dancing club: by performing a dance that he devised. He called his strathspey for 3 couples in a triangular set “The BermudaTriangle”. In a manner that defied his optimism, Brian expressed “the firm conviction that the dance is fated to join the fleet of other dances which have disappeared without trace”. So let’s dance it in the months ahead – and maybe we can thereby defy Brian’s expectations!

 




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