By the time you read this, Strictly will be into what is technically called “the middle bit”. This will be more than usually exciting, as it’s really hard to know who’s going to leave next. I can’t help you, as they’re all now friends of mine, and I’ll be sad to see anyone go – all the more so as I know what it feels like.
The end, when it comes, is sudden and dramatic. You look around at the others who have been your companions on this amazing adventure and realise you won’t be doing it again, ever. The fear you felt before performing has now become, in your memory, an adrenaline rush that you’ll miss and never experience in the same way again.
I was sad to leave when we did, as I felt we had more to give – Erin had a brilliant paso doble planned for Halloween and after that, we’d have been back to the ballroom numbers that had become our trademark stronger suit. But life, as John Lennon said, is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
We hadn’t taken our cha cha cha for granted: on the contrary, we had worked hard on it and it was an improvement on my last Latin number. Bruno wanted more hip action, and he got it. Only for Len to say, “All that gyrating’s not my cup of tea.” You can’t please them all the time – or, in Craig’s case, ever. At least not when it comes to Latin dances, where I continue to look as Latin as the Duke of Edinburgh.
And so, for Erin and me, the contest is over and we both feel flat. Life’s going to be a lot duller for a while. I’ll miss it all: the training, the discipline, the incredible buzz of those live Saturday shows, the friendships – and most of all Erin, my partner, ally and friend. She’s a joy to be with, always cheerful and a truly gifted teacher.
So what happens now? Well, who knows. Our own experience shows that no one is safe: anything can happen. There are just too many moving parts. The contestants each have different appeals, different fanbases, different strengths and weaknesses. All I know is, I’ll be watching and cheering them on all the way.