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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A change of subject (finally!)

What kind of things did you get up to when you were a teenager? (no I don't want to know all the details!!!!)

My social life revolved around Richmond ice Rink.  Although I had great friends at school, I kind of moved around in different circles depending on what was goin on at the time, orchestras, folk groups, mass (it was  a convent!), revising, skipping PE! so I never really stayed in the same group for long. I started skating when I was 7 years old (according to an old family poem written by my Uncle), Mum took me as a friend of hers took his daughter who was a few years older, and so started a whole childhood of Saturday afternoons at the rink.

There are so many memories entwined with the rink and my days there that it's really hard to know where to start. I skated every week until I was about 20, so it spans a pretty great period of my life.

The reason for this sudden nostalgia is that I found a group on facebook (and consequently the slide show on the Richmond link above).  I had never thought to search facebook for Richmond Ice Rink! No idea why, it just didn't occur to me.  So having had that particular thunderbolt hit on Friday, and having found a group, I spent 2 hours pouring over photographs and Oh MY..... how those photos pulled at my heartstrings with sudden rushes of memory and feelings. My first crush, my first boyfriend, my first drink (!) my first job........ oh it's almost too much! :-)

So, as much for me as anything else I'm going to scribble down some probably disjointed memories over the next couple of posts.  I will try to keep them in some semblance of chronological order, but hey they're memories and up until Friday I didn't even know I had them!

So it all started when I was about 7.  I went one week with my Mum, and a friend of hers and his daughter - Alison.  The idea was I would give it a go and see if I wanted to carry on. Well I think it was only about 3 or 4 weeks until I had my own boots and lessons booked. My first teacher was a lady called Jenny. She taught Alison too.  At Richmond there were two rinks - unimaginatlively called the big rink and the little rink.    Most people only got to see the big rink, the little one was for people like me who had lessons or it could be booked for a private party.  So at 2:30... I can't remember the signal for the start of the session, but we all used to crowd around the breaks in the barrier waiting for it, and then hurtle onto the ice when it went - maybe a whistle or an announcement, I can't remember....... I would have a 15 minute lesson. It started with just learning to skate forward (like a penguin!!!), and do a T-stop.  Then went on to learning drags and three turns.  I would then skate as much as I could manage at my young age until the session ended at 5pm.  For the first while Mum stayed and watched me.  Then as I got older and stronger and less inclined to come off the ice early, she would saunter into the shops in Richmond and leave me with some pennies for a mid session coke and cake, and come back later. By this time I had met plenty of young friends, and even when we cleared the ice at 5 we would go into the ladies at the back of the little rink where we had lockers, and still be practising jumps and landings.  It was a big changing room with rubber floors and lockers all around the outside, and in the middle a large rectangular clear area with a patchwork of red and blue rubber squares where we would jump around, and fall over, and try to get enough turns in to qualify for an Axle!! :-)

I should actually qualify at this point that I was never  any good as  a skater. I loved it, I tried hard, but I was quite frankly crap!  In my spins I would travel half-way round the rink. My edges made that awful grinding sound as I scraped my toe-rakes round in tight circles, and I was scared to death of falling.  My jumps had about as much spring as tigger in a coma, and if I ever did manage to land on one foot gracefully all the teachers would applaud as it was such an unlikely occurance!  But I tried and I loved it!

Into my life came new young friend Liz Miller and later her brother Richard, a young steward Adam (who is my aforementioned first crush! - and taught me how to hockey stop on my figure skates, it is a testament to my figure skating ability that I was better at that than anything my teachers tried to teach me, and could shower my friends in ice at 10 paces!)

I got better enough (that is -"Not a lot better" but "a little bit better!") to have to come in earlier for lessons as it was no longer appropriate to try to shimmy round public skaters gathering enough speed to take off for a full revolution jump (especially when there was little hope of you landing it), so after passing my prelims I went for lessons on the free ice before the session.  I think this started around 1pm, and meant that my Mum could no longer take me to the rink as she was working (she owned a wool and fabric shop for all you knitters who are now thoroughly bored, see there is knitting in everything!) So dad would now take me, and my sister joined in too.  I would guess I was around 12 by this time?  There were two changes that happened around this time and I'm not sure which order they happened in. One was the already mentioned progression to the free ice, and also I started learning the compulsory figures on a patch in the little rink.  The little rink would be divided by a scored line in the ice into 5 strips, each one the full width of the rink. You would then move through the disciplines of skating figures of 8, with each circle having to be on a set edge and equal in size to the other. as you progressed you learnt different figures, loop, three turn, bracket...... each being a shape that was to be drawn in the circle by shifting of edge and weight..... and supposedly with only one push off from the join in the middle of the 8 each circuit.  I was even crappier at these than I was at free skating! :-)  My teacher by now was Jackie (or Jacquie?) and she frequently used to have to come round and push me back to the start! You weren't supposed to push yourself off as you upset the pattern on the ice which was disected and studied by all and sundry to know how well you were doing (or in my case what they could laugh about this week!)

Actually as I am remembering that I think the compulsory figures came first.........

Right this has taken far longer than it should so I'm taking a break and will continue in my next post..... with the next installment!

3 comments:

  1. Hannah8:51 pm

    What a lovely post! Noel Streatfield's 'White Boots' was my favourite book as a child, I longed to ice skate. Turned out it was a good thing that I didn't, because I have a degenerative condition of my spine and it would have been lethal for me to fall. Looking forward to the second installment :>)

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  2. AH!! Those young and lovely memories!! I won't follow suit and write mine down but I DO remember my youth, specialy my teenage years with fondness

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  3. you weren't THAT bad you know. i, however, was absolutely shocking - remember i only had half a lesson? i don'tthink jacquie could cope with a whole one.... keep on remembering i'm enjoying it! xxxx

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