There’s a rather pleasing junkshop in the town where I live. I like to go in just to wander about and look at the stuff that other people have at some time bought for whatever reason.

Outside they have the obligatory books, and on Friday one caught my eye. It was, indeed still is, called ‘Alfred’s Basic Adult Finger Aerobics.’ The authors were the estimable Willard A Palmer, Morton Manus, and Amanda Vick Lethco*.

I forwent the purchase, and went to meet a friend in the bar of a hotel I may have mentioned before, the Saracen’s Head. But the concept nagged at me, and I returned to the shop and purchased the slim volume for 50p. It was an absolute bargain.

Firstly, there’s the cover illustration. It’s a pastel rendition of three people who look as if they’re auditioning for the original television series of Fame. Since this book dates back to the 80s, there’s a lot of hair. Patrick Swayze’s Dirty Dancing barnet is strutting its stuff, Princess Diana’s blond bob makes a surprise appearance, and one of Bananarama has a sweater tied loosely round the shoulders of her Green Goddess workout gear. You don’t need the Timelord when you’ve got this on your bookshelves.

We also have sweatbands and legwarmers!

Inside we get instructions on how to ‘Develop the strength flexibility and agility of each finger,’ just as the cover blurb states. Shake your hands with the wrist cocked. Make tight fists. Snap your fingers to the spread position. Blah blah blah**.

The problem was that I was with friends, and we just set each other off. We got into a dance routine. Shake, fists, snap, invert, fists, snap, shake. Four of us all pratting about in synchrony.

At some point I (of course it was) started singing Macarena. That made us all worse and more hysterical than we already were. The other people in the bar began to look a bit askance. Then we decided the Macarena had already been done, so I improvised and took into account where we were. Hence the new world-dominating dance craze was born. The Saracena. Coming soon to a disco near you.

Then we got very silly indeed. Given that Dollar are still touring and gigging in old folks’ homes, we reckoned we’d found a niche market. Where I live, the residents can indulge in sitting exercise classes. What better than the Saracena? Music and movement in the comfort of an armchair and with a nice cup of tea when you’re done.

I reckon there’s good money to be made here. I’ll have to buy a mirrorball of course.


*You may be wondering, as I did, where Alfred got to. And about the veracity of the names. Palmer? Manus? Suspiciously hand-related.

**We also got the invaluable advice that ‘It is important to breath easily and naturally.’ I can’t fault that as an idea.