Wheels -v- blades

Today was another beautiful winter’s day with bright sunshine, a glorious blue sky and a temperature that never reached 10°. Mirinda went up to Crondall with the girls mid-afternoon and reported back that it was stunning.

Unusually, I took part in this morning’s Skype session. It was to congratulate Jason on his graduation. During the chat, it came out that he’s taken up roller-blading, which prompted me to tell the story of my one and only attempt at using roller skates.

It would have been early in the 1970’s. I was a bit of dab hand (or foot) at ice skating. I went with a group of friends to Homebush rink regularly and was one of the speedy boys. As I said to Jason, it was an excellent way of meeting girls.

Anyway, a few members of my giant family were rather keen on roller skating so a big family day was organised to head out to Richmond, (NSW not London) for a day of skating.

We caught the steam train from Blacktown to Richmond. I remember the journey vividly because I sat in the first carriage behind the engine and, by the time I reached the end, I was covered in soot. Suffice it to say that I sat back a few carriages on the return trip.

(The above photo is from a blog post by John Gadon from a blog called Steam Train Stories. He tells a fascinating tale about travelling on the Richmond steam train in the late 1960’s. The engine in the photo is the one I (and he) took to Richmond. He says it went from Seven Hills which is one stop beyond Blacktown, but I think it stopped at Blacktown on the way through.)

So we reached Richmond and, like a mob of excited bees, we descended on the skating rink.

From the moment I put the skates on, to the time I removed them, I spent far more time on my bum than on my feet. I found it ridiculously hard to remain standing with wheels attached. I just couldn’t get the hang of it. No matter what people advised, it made no difference. I’d move forwards and, clunk, I’d be on my butt.

It was very irritating and, consequently, my days on skates started and ended that day in Richmond. Obviously, I continued ice skating for a goodly while after.

I think the fact that the single, narrow steel blade doesn’t move independently might have had something to do with it. A few years later I had a go on a skate board and found it next to impossible to stay on it. The wheels defeated me.

Having provided a jolly good laugh, I went out to my office in order to freeze my fingers off, researching dead soldiers.

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