Sunday, 25 November 2012


In my dreams, I skate and glide, I perform effortless curves, banking around corners, my feet just a couple of inches above the ground, I'm graceful, I could fly, and I never fall.

Which bemuses me, because I never was great at that sort of thing. Roller skates. Elizabeth Simpson had roller skates when I was about 7. And a key. And I was so impressed as she skated up the concrete driveway. Skates seemed like the ultimate liberator. As good as, no, better even than having a real bicycle. And Elizabeth, bless her generous little heart, offered to teach me, so I sat on the kitchen doorstep, and we did the skate key and straps thing, over my 'Start-Rite' sandals, and the bees of summer zigzagged by on their quest for pollen, and I stood, and my left foot went one way, and my right foot shot out, and I sat back with a crash, and banged my head on the glossy deep-red painted door. And I bit my lip and tried not to cry.

On the next try, Elizabeth clung to me carefully as I unfolded my unreliable limbs, and I gripped her in a fearsome clinch.

Now, bear in mind we were seven. Damn. If we were fifteen, that clinch would have seen steam coming out of my ears. But at seven? Nah.  So, I let go and tried a tentative step, one hand on the house wall. Yes! it works!
"You're doing it!" she cried, all excited, " just let go!"
At the end of the house, the driveway sloped.

And gravity sucked my legs.
And I accelerated, flailing arms, trying desperately to..
And I'm not sure what happened next. Maybe the skates crossed. Maybe my legs shot out, forward, backward, sideways.  Either way, the next I remember is lying in a bloody heap of pain.
Took a while to get those skates off. Sniffling but trying not to cry in front of a girl. Humiliated.  She could move on those skates as if born to them, and me? I can barely stand.
My knees were a swelling mess of blood and gravel, as were my hands, elbows and forehead.
I stoically told her I was okay, but it was time for me to go home for tea, and she accepted my excuse. "You can come back tomorrow for another go!" she yelled as I limped off up the road, to sanctuary.

But I didn't. The next day, I went to play with Barbara Wallace. She had a pedal-car.


  1. Ahhh...dreams...some things are so much easier in dreams. Except when I try to use a phone or a car...I have difficulty operating both in my dreams. I've never succeeded...not once; and I have no idea why!

  2. Hahaha! This is great! I can so relate. My first time on skates lasted about 10 seconds.
    I put them on.
    I stepped on the driveway.
    Whoosh. On my ass.
    I took them off.

  3. I attempted two skates at once for the first time when I was alone, so as to avoid embarrassment.
    This was wise as I forgot as I rose from the step, that the first paving slab under the feet was on a slight slope.
    I remembered when I came round again......

  4. I was no Elizabeth. I did have the skates but along with the skates I had the grazed knees blackened round the edges with ingrained grit and gravel.

  5. Those skates with keys were the death of many a shoe sole. Ripped those suckers right off, would they.

  6. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one.
    You all made me laugh, but Goatman wins, by explaining the damnation of my eternal sole!

  7. Your mention of roller skates brought back some memories for me. Kids in my neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s typically got skates and / or bicycles on Christmas Day. We'd all go down to the local recreation center, where there were concrete tennis courts, and the kids on the bikes would ride their new wheels, while the kids with skates (new or old) would hang onto one another behind the bike. As the skating line got longer and longer, the kids at the back end of the "whip" would get swung around at high speed and sharp angles and eventually have to let go.

    Ah, those were the days. Thanks for reviving the memories.

  8. I remember that 'whip' move. From a distance. I never persevered with those damned wheeled shoes, instruments of the devil that they were.

    I fell of a lot of bikes too, but that seemed a more worthwhile route to self-harm.


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