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     Volume 4 Issue 40 | April 1, 2005 |

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Straight Talk

The Lure of the Ice


“Please, please can we go ice skating?" came the sugar coated request from the kids this morning. I couldn't help smiling to myself as I looked at them. They had obviously pulled out all the stops as we had the big brown eyes, the lower lip trembling and the wringing of the hands. The thought that perhaps we should enrol them in drama school did cross my mind as they seemed to be doing a brilliant impersonation of Charles Dickens' Oliver begging for another bowl of gruel! Well, all I can say is that we capitulated and agreed to take them. One had to give them credit for effort! So in the afternoon, like dutiful parents we bundled them into the car and set off for the "Queens Ice Bowl" which is the name of our local ice-skating rink. Not that it has anything to do with our resident monarch only that it is in a place called Queensway which conveniently is not too great a distance from our house. But it does have the added attraction of having a bowling alley, video arcade, burger and food area as well as the ice skating rink.

Earlier this year we had actually arranged an ice skating party for our son and it seemed to be a big hit with all the boys. For those who are not professional skaters or do this kind of activity infrequently, the shoes required for skating can be hired for a princely sum of £1. Once the shoes were on, the kids were off like a shot. If the truth be told I had spent most of the time biting my nails while I watched my son's friends whizzing passed me at break neck speed. The only solace was that they were obviously enjoying themselves thoroughly. As luck would have it I had to sit on the sidelines as my back did not permit me to partake in this particular activity. As I had proved in the past, falling on ones backside is not conducive to a bad back. The only upside to not being able to skate was that I did not have the opportunity to humiliate myself! However, the rate at which people were falling over all over the place made me think that I would have been quite at home on the ice. But it goes to show how resilient people are as they just kept getting off the cold, hard surface and continuing as if nothing had happened. By the end of the party we were lucky that all the boys were in one piece and I was the only casualty as I was frozen to the bone thanks to the temperature in the rink and the fact that I had been rooted to the spot for the entire hour trying to keep an eye on all the kids!

Once again, as soon as we got to the rink, I was deserted by my children and my husband, might I add. As I stood on the sidelines I had the luxury of observing the antics of the people as they glided past me. I am aware that envy is one of the seven deadly sins but I have to admit that I felt an enormous pang of jealousy when I saw my husband skate around the rink with the children waving at me. How utterly exhilarating it looked from where I was standing. The mix of people was amazing. There were children as young as four or five holding onto their parent's hands but still determined to skate with them. There were a couple of brave but to my mind foolish parents skating with babies in their arms. I dreaded to think what would happen if they fell. Every now and then a group of teenagers would zip by me holding onto each other and laughing and joking. I had never thought of it as a place to socialise but actually it seemed like a great place to go with your family or friends and just "hang out". Definitely a good way of keeping kids off the streets or spending too much time in front of the television, computer or play station! What was also extremely nice to observe was how helpful people were. Complete strangers would come and help you up if you had fallen or lend a hand while you tried to get to grips with staying vertical on the ice. There was almost a feeling of camaraderie amongst fellow skaters. I had read a magazine article just the other day which mentioned that taking your date ice skating was supposedly a great way to get to know each other and I had to admit I was rather skeptical. But in retrospect, what a novel way to break the ice (terrible pun but irresistible!).


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