Part 11 by Naomi Grigg
I completed my finals in Manchester and within a few days of arriving home in Wiltshire, had headed to London. I packed a small day-sac with a change of clothes, some spare t-shirts, which could be used as clothing, nightwear or towels, a few sets of underwear and a few hygienic items, hung a pair of skates over the side, and grabbed a sleeping bag. You could tell I was going to London for good this time because I thought to take a sleeping bag.
On arrival in London I went through the familiar routine of asking for a place to stay for the night in the pub, and to my surprise, one of the skaters happened to have a spare room that was available for rent! Luck I tell you. Luck has always stepped in. His place was in Battersea which was easily skate-able from the park, and he only wanted £60 a week. What a dream. That night I laid my sleeping bag out on the bare mattress, unpacked my few items, and it felt like home. I was living in London. I was living the dream. It took a few days before Chris realised that I was using my t-shirts as towels and he had a go at me for not mentioning that I needed to borrow one…
Three weeks later I moved in with another couple of skaters who were living in a complete dive on Edgware road. The rent was £80 a week, but it was right next to Marble Arch, and that’s pretty much as Idyllic as locations get. Unfortunately it came with mice, cockroaches, a broken bed, in fact broken everything, an unusable kitchen, general filth, and amazingly for a 1st floor flat in a 6 story building, a ceiling that rained.
That summer I made ends meet by teaching skating with Skatefresh. It was a peculiar lifestyle, staying up til anytime I wanted because my first lesson would never be before 10am the next day, and I knew that so long as I raised £80 for my rent, and enough for gas, electric & food for the week, there were no other expenses. How things change… It was also the first year that we took part in the Le Mans 24 hour relay race in France. The teams I think were mainly made up of Skate Patrol people and a few others – there were 24 of us, and we split into two teams – a ‘fast’ team and a ‘slow’ team. I made the fast team, but not by any time trial, but because how I fared on the approximately-weekly suicide skates.
Naomi’s website: http://www.skatefreestyle.com/