Monday, April 15, 2013

Slice Skating (or: The Perils of Being Extremely Sporty)

On my run this morning* I was going through plans. Working out what my next steps were, who to email, what to practice and where to perform. Striding along, face like a baked bean, concocting and scheming in the spring sunshine. I heard a male voice shouting from a car just behind me. Oh, wonderful, I thought, already internally penning the letter to Everyday Sexism. A woman can't even go for a run any more without...

As the car passed a smiling man leaned out of his window.

"Keep on going, girl! Keep on going!"

I smiled back, sweatily. Right, I thought. Thanks. I will.

*I enjoy saying that nonchalantly, like I go every morning after a conference call with the Paris office and an invigorating colonic.


I went ice skating on Saturday for my friend Ro's birthday. As Nicki, Sara, Ro and I pulled up to the glamourous haven that is Silver Blades Ice Rink (Altrincham) I began to feel nervous and started pining for a long afternoon in a pub with ale, Scrabble and endless dry roasted peanuts. Inside it smelt horrible.

"It smells horrible" I said, petulantly, too near the face of a man who was almost certainly not responsible for the smell.

We were, without any shadow of a doubt, the oldest people there without children. There were clutches of teenagers, all knees, braces and unnerving hormonal activity. There were parents looking on anxiously as their blade-footed progeny teetered around the rink. There were some confident older boys, slicing up the ice in great clouds of Lynx and acne.

The four of us clutched onto the sides as we ventured, extremely tentatively, onto the ice.

"Oh, God. What are we doing?"

I looked back at Sara, whose mute expression of fear and despair summed up my own.

(Being good children of the eighties we had our gloves on, familiar as we are with the horror stories of sliced, gloveless hands, rivalled only by those of the gory fate of PJ in Byker Grove when he took off his mask in paintball.)

Nicki and Ro detached themselves from the side. "It's just about confidence, really!" one of them sang from the middle of the rink. "I've been round once already!"

As I pulled myself wretchedly along the edge, I became aware of the music that was being played by the forty-something DJ in a booth at the side of the ice. Whoosh, I was taken back to listening to Chiltern Radio in the mid-nineties ("70s, 80s and today!") and I began to relax a bit.

Ro was guiding Sara carefully by the hand, making forays away from the sides in front of me. Right, I thought. Come on.

I unpeeled my be-gloved fingers from the rails. Terrified, I had to concentrate on the music, and sing along, loudly and completely out of tune.

"MAMA. JUST KILLED A MAN. PUT A GUN AGAINST HIS HEAD (I'm doing it, shit shit shit, I'm doing it) PULLED MY TRIGGER NOW HE'S DEAD..."

Soon we were all gliding (this is total exaggeration, I was not gliding) around the rink, singing along and trying not to be put off by the horrifyingly dangerous game of British Bulldog* played by the big kids on the other side of the ice.

*A game banned in all major UK primary schools since 1988.

After a brief break for some Slush Puppies (during which both Nicki and I got crippling Brain Freeze - agony for a bit but then fine, probably a bit like childbirth) we were back on the ice.

I hobbled round, watching the beautiful teenage girls with their insouciance and leg warmers, gazing into the middle distance while they slid effortlessly around, one white skate in front of the other, languid and delicate as hothouse flowers.

I spent a bit of time wishing I was a teenage girl again, before remembering that I wasn't like that when I was a teenage girl, and in fact was pretty much like I am now, struggling to stay upright whilst singing along to Bobby Brown's Two Can Play At That Game.

Then we went to the pub and had a pint and some dry roasted peanuts, and I realized how much nicer it is to be a nearly-thirty-one-year-old surrounded by good friends, good pubs and good beer than to be a teenage girl surrounded by insecurity, Sugar Magazine and frosted lipstick.


I turn thirty-one next week.



The sun is out.



I have to go and do some practice, now, as my cello is sitting forlornly in the corner, probably gathering warrens of dust bunnies. I have been a bit neglectful of practice recently, what with all the London adventures and teaching and majesty on the ice. I am glad I wore gloves to ice skate, as losing all my fingers in a freak skating accident would almost certainly have a negative effect on my playing. However, I could write an excellent autobiography called Slice Skating, which would no doubt render the whole experience totally worth it.


Anonymous Jackie Hagan said...

Cannot believe you all still have fingers. For the next birthday what you gonna do go picking up sparklers from the wrong end!!! :O

Re: stranger danger and jogging encouragement...
My friend who is, (um, what's a nice way to put this, she might actually see this, um, AHA!) of similar body shape and motivation as I, decided to go jogging in order to stop being a lesbian and get a husband, and while chugging painfully round the park a lithe scally child, made from muscles and hard times decided to jog next to her, shouting increasingly sarcastic 'encouragement' "Come on, you can do it! Come on yer big potato!" before running off laughing, at thrice the speed of she.

She did find a husband in the end. Using her wits. Her wits and her eyelashes. Her potato shaped wit.

3:59 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to prepare you childbirth is so NOT as you imagine it may be, ' agony for a bit but then fine.' Just saying.

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Blogger Léonie said...

Ha, Anon, it was a joke. I am pretty sure childbirth is a tiny bit worse than brain freeze, but thanks for the heads up.

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