The Elegant Stomping Dance


Veteran ABC journalist, former Kumuls captain, and all-round good bloke

“Roast” Dinner, Brisbane, Feb. 24, 2018. I wrote these words for the occasion and hope someone got a giggle out of them. By all accounts, it was a rollicking night.

180224 SEAN and PAULINE

Sean and Pauline, early arrivals (as is only proper for the guests of honour) at Saturday’s Brisbane bash. ~ Photo courtesy of Sue Ahearn


Lea Crombie and I have known Sean and Pauline Dorney for nearly forty years. They were at our wedding in Port Moresby in 1982.

Sean recently told me, when he’d seen a reference to this event, “Who could forget that wedding?”

It was quite an occasion, naturally. Lea and I sometimes remember it ourselves, when we’re in “those were the days” mode.

Among other memorable moments from the wedding, was Sean’s fine performance of his Elegant Stomping Dance. He did this after we had relieved him of the military sword with which the wedding cake had been symbolically severed. Sean’s a lovely fellow, but we didn’t think that his attachment to a sword was necessarily consistent with even the rudimentary health and safety standards of the day, or indeed the welfare of our other guests.

Those of you who have not seen Sean’s Elegant Stomping Dance have missed out on one of life’s great pleasures. It’s up there for thrills and dangers of spills with his other practice of freefalling from balconies.

If you imagine a sort of manic cross between the Jumping Jews of Jerusalem – also a fine dance, and one appropriately constructed by John Cleese and the other clowns of Monty Python fame – and Irish dancing, with perhaps a bit of Manus heritage thrown in, you’ll get the picture. He performed it at our house a number of times, on those occasions on which Pauline had brought along the buai, but his wedding rendition was the killer.

This was literally so. The Dorney “Elegance” had been demonstrated over wide sections of the grass matting that served as carpet in the dining and living area. Several guests, and from memory also the bride and groom, had had to exercise nimble steps themselves, to avoid the dervish who had appeared in their midst.

Some days later, the fresh Coral Sea breezes that aired our house with ocean ozone acquired another distinctive aroma, one that was rather less pleasant. Eventually we felt compelled to ask Segive, our houseboy, to lift up the matting during his next cleaning round, and investigate.

Segive met Lea a little later, as she returned home, dangling a small, flattened, and possibly mummified corpse from one hand. “Poor mousey,” he intoned, with due Protestant solemnity.

It had apparently been unable to escape one elegant stomp too far.

So Sean, you can be sure your presence at our unforgettable wedding was also, in its own way, unforgettable too.

Lea and I are sorry we couldn’t be here tonight. But not too far away we are raising our glasses to toast a great friend, a fine journalist, and an excellent elegant stomping dancer.

Cheers, mate!

Sean was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease a little while ago.

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