Today my family and I went ice skating at the outside rink in Leeds City Centre. It was busy – it’s half term after all – but we all enjoyed it immensely. The skaters were a real mixture of ages and abilities. There seemed to be no one who could really skate and the ice was too busy to get up any speed or do any fancy manoeuvres. And around the rink there were giant screens showing the Olympic ice dancing which put us all firmly in our place.
Skating with small children is challenging. You have to be able to maintain your balance whilst ensuring that your wobbling off spring don’t pull you off your feet. My youngest didn’t really get going without having someone holding one and preferably two hands. The seven year old managed to build enough confidence to skate unaided and the big two have been plenty of times before and so could pretty much do their own thing.
I love to skate. I didn’t really do much ice skating as a child. The nearest rink was prohibitively distant. But this was the 80s and we had roller boots. My best friend had some first and I was so envious. Hers were blue and white and I coveted them more than I care to admit. Then I got some too. Mine were two shades of blue and red and they were my pride and joy. We lived in a really rural village in Lincolnshire where cars were rarely seen and we spent every night after school practising our turns until we really were quite good.
Every Sunday afternoon there was a skating session in a hall in Lincoln and we went whenever we could. The room was hot and sweaty with a selection of garish disco lights and a glitter ball. The music was the middle of the road fodder of the time -Foreigner, Hall and Oates. You get the idea. My friend and I used to skate round and round in our pre-lycra, skin tight jeans trying to look cool and attract the attention of the boys in their maroon cardigans and grey flannel pegs.
Half way through the session they would pull out a steep ramp and the skating would stop to allow the braver skaters to skate up and over the ramp. If you were really good you could do a jump or a pirouette at the top. I never was. There were far too many handsome boys watching to risk falling over, or worse, falling off!
Such simple pleasures. A hall, some music and skating round in circles forwards and then backwards. And yet I looked forward to it more than anything else that I did.
I note with interest that roller discos are making a comeback. I even have some newish skates. I suspect, though that I would need a considerable amount of practise before I could have another go. From time to time I can be seen skating up and down my road or around the local park. Maybe I can recruit someone to come with me.I’m sure it would be a highly entertaining way to spend an evening or two. Any takers?