Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 8, 2012

Sensational Snippets: There Should be More Dancing (2011), by Rosalie Ham

There Should Be More DancingYears and years ago. an old lady took a tumble in our local shopping centre.  My mother helped her up and drove her home, and Mrs Fraser became part of our lives.

I thought of her tonight as I read this passage in  There Should be More Dancing, by Rosalie Ham

Pudding wept. ‘Mrs Parsons was so sweet and gentle.’

‘And poor.’ Judith was sitting in Mrs Parson’s rocking chair, an open biscuit tin on her lap, flicking through some old savings account passbooks.  The lid featuring a Scottish terrier and a West Highland terrier looking from behind a stone fence propped against the table leg at her ankles.  She discarded the tin and the passbooks and went to the fridge, holding the door open and staring at the contents –  a full jar of honey and some opened packets of dehydrated peas and carrots, No Name Brand cheese slices, Jatz crackers, small jar Vegemite.  She grabbed the Vegemite, unscrewed the lid, smelled the contents and put it on the table.

Pud walked carefully up to the front bedroom, and when she saw Mrs Parson’s bed she gasped, her hands going to her heart.  It was a double bed, with two pillows, but just one small dam in one side of the mattress where Mrs Parsons had slept alone for all those decades.  A scrap of paper marked her place, just a few places from the end, in a romance novel on the bedside table.  Pud opened the wardrobe door, but there was only one tiny nylon shift and a wool coat hanging there in the naphthalene air, the box of mothballs sitting on the bottom of the wardrobe next to Mrs Parson’s handbag.

Pud opened the handbag but found only the pastry from Margery’s birthday lunch, solid as a teacup, and a mouldy half ball of a muffin in rolled-up tissues.  She fell to her knees in dramatic grief, clutching the muffin. ‘Oh my god! It’s so, like, sad.’  Then she remembered the second bedroom, stood up and rushed to the small room.  Like the rest of the house, it was scrupulously dust-free and precise, the sheet on the narrow single bed was folded back, ready for someone. In the top drawer of the bedside bureau she poked at a folded stack of small, boy-sized singlets and underpants, and took a hanky from the square stack of washed and ironed handkerchiefs.  Her phone beeped, so she blew her nose and wandered out into the kitchen, reading the message.  It was Tyson.  ‘Wot’s in there?’ She typed, ‘It’s frozen in time’.

Tyson texted back, ‘Check bathroom cabinet for drugs.’

Her mother was standing at the linen press in the bathroom.  It was crammed full of face washers, tea towels. placemats, and toilet roll covers … all cross-stitched with flowers, puppies, landscapes and years of quotes from Doctor Woods’ desk calendars.  There was nothing in the bathroom cabinet.

Rosalie Ham, There Should Be More Dancing, Vintage 2011, p 190

The privations of lonely old age, and the pathetic hoarding of gifts kept for ‘best’ – just in case they are ever needed.

I can’t read it without getting a lump in my throat…

Fishpond: There Should Be More Dancing


  1. A lovely review and I think at one time or another, we have all known a Mrs Frazer!


    • Hello Julie, thanks for dropping by:)
      Every time I read a book like this it makes me feel like clearing out my cupboards!


      • Absolutely! – The problem is we probably all keep something for “best”, but the reality is that life is too short to do so. We should enjoy all those things we quantify as best!


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