The Third Leader: Shake it all about

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Sometimes, one could wish life less complicated by so many competing concerns. Thus, no doubt, Mr Brown yesterday when confronted by a picket line; thus, too, the Spirit Shockers, the cheerleaders from Glossop who have been banned from exposing their midriffs.

There are, of course, a number of possible reasons for interfering with the right of cheerleaders to dress as they think fit. The British Cheerleading Association argues that such exposure might encourage dangerous crash diets, which is stronger than, how shall we say, a purely aesthetic objection.

I find myself in difficulty, partly through being of an age when the wisest choice upon encountering a bare midriff is to follow the Chancellor's example and walk straight on, gaze averted. And partly, too, through an antipathy to cheerleading in any form. Why can't they engage in a sport rather than taking part in some imported inferior adjunct?

Is this the spirit that saw Glossop become the smallest town in England ever to have a First Division football team (and that was just the North End)? Why don't they take advantage of living in the Pearl of the Peaks and go for some good, healthy walks?

Clearly incorrect thinking, and I will now follow M. Voltaire in disdaining pom-poms while defending their right to be shaken vigorously. I also note that Glossop was originally named Glott's Hop, after its Saxon founder, so perhaps dancing is in the blood.

There is still, though, the Midriff Question. Happily, my researches also suggest what would surely be an elegant solution: Vivienne Westwood was born in Glossop, and if anyone can design an entirely appropriate cheerleading costume, it's that Dame.

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