Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Failing to Figure Skate

`Well, have you thought of renting a penguin for half an hour, madam?`

I must confess I never had before, but if you think…

The beaming (surely not smirking) bloke behind the counter gestured to a clutch of bright penguins in the corner – high-viz, perfectly stable and sturdy handgrip at the back. Anyone could maintain their equilibrium leaning on the like (couldn`t I?).

George and Brian enthusiastically refused to try one but seemed very keen for me to and I don`t know what they meant about less danger to everyone else.

`Do many beginners use these?` I asked the man hopefully. `Mmm, quite a lot,` was the unconvincing reply.

I decided to launch back onto the ice without one. And with a change of skates – it could well have been their fault.

I blame certain winter TV programmes for the fact that we were here at all – the thrill of the speed-skating, the utterly beauteous figure-skating, the soft crunch of ice beneath swerving skate… so tantalising.

And Caroline had received a discount voucher in the post.

So four of us gathered at SpeedySkate for our first venture, clad in layers of Vest and Woolly (tights and tutus having but briefly been considered) and grinning rictusly.

We stood trembling while our enthusiastic trainer Steve bombarded us with vital tips to get us started and keep us upright. His finest achievement was of course making us let go - of him as well as of the side.

For the blades don`t carve a gentle furrow – they skid uncontrollably about on top, because only diamond could penetrate that cold, evil surface.

`Don`t worry,` smiled Steve as we skittered about, `Everyone falls over sometime – you just get back up!` Obviously, he`s never seen Bambi. And his youthful bones wouldn`t be left on the ice in a trillion agonised shatterings.

As the tutoring session wore on, we did manage to inch forward by means of the lemon maneouvre - Bend knees-Toes out-Glide-Toes in-Knees straight.

(knees-toes what?)

In the nick of time we also learned to STOP!, to look where we were going (always prudent), and to attract the attention of a merry gang of under-tens as we attempted for some reason to navigate car tyres.

"Please can we watch?" they giggled. "Sod off" I snarled. To myself.

Soon we`d collected quite a crowd of schoolchildren, which I`m sure helped us relax into the terrifying uncontrolledness of it all. Specially when they started explaining to us where we were going wrong and that awful accident their brother had had when he kept doing exactly that.

Annoyingly though, a lot of their advice began to make sense, particularly after Our Trainer had departed. We found ourselves following their lead, imitating their bendy limbs and... having fun! – we could do Anything

In retrospect we may have got over-ambitious but no-one was really hurt and they`ve kindly reserved me a penguin for next time.

Look out for us on certain winter TV programmes next year.


Expat said...

How brave you are! I tried roller skating once or twice, back in the day when the skates had four wheels and you strapped them on over your shoes. 'Twas not for me. I almost went ice skating today, not by choice but because freezing rain has formed a nice little rink on the driveway. I prefer my winter sport to be more gentle...skip the ski altogether and just do the après with a hot toddy in hand and a nice log fire to warm my toes.

Dolores Doolittle said...

"Brave"?! Thank you Expat! I shall frame that word and glue it to my head for my next attempt (which may be some time...).

Definitely with you on the joy of Apres-ski. Although I quite liked toboggan evenings on those hols - you`re down on the ground already.

JW10 said...

A thousand and one apologies, Dolores. Have just found your post. My subscription to your blog doesn't seem to have gone through.

Great image of you "driving" an ice penguin while adorning tutu and tights. You are the new Torvill.

I am sorry I can't be your Dean. My ice skating skills are Eddie the eaglesque. The skate boots don't half hurt the ankles, especially after plenty of twisty falls.

Dolores Doolittle said...

A joy to see you, JW, thankee greatly. (hope I haven`t inadvertently thwarted Hundreds of potential droppers-in...).

Eddie the Eagle is a dearly-beloved hero - Please boldly be my Dean (I`ll lend you my penguin...)

Expat said...

I am proud to say that Eddie the Eagle hails from my home town!

Canary Islander said...

Hello Dolores! Lovely blog!
I was terrible at all winter sports, but like you, loved the apres ski!

Dolores Doolittle said...

How wonderful, Expat - the very thought of running into him whilst stocking up on those toddies! (Did you ever)?

Bing informs (yes I Bing`d again, JW) that he comes from Cheltenham - a place of great beauty and literature festivals - d`you go back from time to time?

Dolores Doolittle said...

Thank you CI - splendid to see you!

Seems we`re all not-brill at winter sports here - I find that very reassuring.

How are you at Snowmen? - now there`s a merry winter sport requiring Huge amounts of skill and dexterity and you don`t fall over much!

Expat said...

I haven't lived there since 1968, Dolores, but we have had many a visit. It is indeed a lovely Regency town...but don't drink the Spa waters! The effects could make you be caught short, which come to think of it was Eddie's problem at the Games.

Dolores Doolittle said...

The Spa Waters of Cheltenham - I can`t believe they`re not nectar! But have noted. Poor Eddie - what foul luck...

Patsy said...

Last time I went ice sjkating I ended up in hospital with concussion. Penguins weren't available then and I didn't know they were now. I'd have another try if I could use one of them.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hi Patsy! Concussion? Blimey - if that had been me I wouldn`t go back without a StayPuft Marshmallow Man outfit from Ghostbusters.

I`ve been thinking a Penguin could be jolly handy in times of icy pavements too, or tottery over-spiked new shoes...