Memoirs of a Sussex belly dancer

Elizabeth Gordon managed to work in a solicitors’ office during the day yet danced by night in clubs and tavernas as a professional belly dancer.

Elizabeth Gordon
Elizabeth Gordon

She tells all in her new book My Journey as a Belly Dancer (Troubador Publishing, £10.99) – a look at the way her two very different lives and careers were able to combine over the years.

It’s a book which starts with her Sussex childhood when Elizabeth’s parents built a house called Schooners in Seaford.

“Then we moved to a house on the cliff in Rottingdean, facing the sea with the back garden overlooking the windmill on the Sussex Downs where we became familiar with the sound of bugle noises trumpeting through the windows when the winds howled around the house, especially at night.

“When I was eight years old I was sent to Lavant House Equestrian School in Chichester as a boarder being in the same dormitory as Alan Weeks’ (the BBC sports commentator) daughter Beverley who taught me how to take care of myself.

“After the first week or two I began to settle more easily into the school’s regime and occasionally on a Sunday afternoon my parents would collect me to have tea and cakes at The White Horse Hotel.

“I learnt how to look after myself at boarding school and took solace in taking the horses out for rides in the woods on the outskirts of the school’s perimeter.

“On odd Sunday afternoons, a few boarders were chosen by matron to take into Chichester town centre to spend their pocket money on comics or sweets.

“Was I happy there? Yes, after I got used to it and I won first prize for my Tweedledum and Tweedledee sketch that I organised with another boarder of the same height as myself!

“We recited poems, making sure we grinned throughout and performed a little jig that we learnt off by heart.

“Our prize was a large box of different flavoured lollipops which we decided to share with the other boarders at an organised midnight feast, not taking long to polish them off!”

In later life, the book inevitably addresses the challenge of connecting two lives which were “salt and pepper” in nature – Elizabeth’s office job and her night-time dancing.

“The significance of writing an autobiography is finding satisfaction in knowing whether one made the right decisions along the way.

“There are many roads one can take during one’s lifetime and generally choices need to be made speedily otherwise they disappear.

“And writing one’s life down on paper helps to see if fate played its part in the story.

“The subject of the book is how we can overcome certain difficulties and face new challenges even though we might feel our lives have been turned upside down.

“I am aiming the book at those who should find faith in following their dreams.

“It might not be a road without challenges, but to be brave enough to take the risk and have the courage to tackle any challenges that arise.

“The experience of reaching achievement when following their heart’s desires is beyond explanation.

“I started (the book) when I retired because I never had time in between my jobs, and it was always something I thought I might do one day as I had been told ‘You must write a book.’

“Sadly, most of those friends are not alive to see the result!”

Elizabeth lives in London.