Part 7 – by Naomi Grigg

That summer was incredible. I went into London whenever I could to practice, fresh with hunger. Practicing all the time – my learning curve was like nothing I’d ever experienced. I was like someone who knew the dictionary backwards, but had never been shown how to put the words into sentences. Andrew taught me so much about skating that had never occurred to me, as I had just learned through watching and doing. My 360s became almost easy once he had told me to fling my head around. I’d tried them so many times on the ice at Swindon, but rarely made it around – I would fall 9 out of 10 times due to insufficient rotation, and the rock hard ice had taken its toll on my hips and elbows.

He also taught me to dance. I say ‘taught’ but it was more of a “oh don’t be so pathetic! Just do whatever you want on skates to the music!” with the usual mocking tone. I couldn’t though, I really couldn’t. I stood there sort of shuffling my feet forwards & backwards knowing I looked like a complete idiot. One time when I skated along to the Beach (the spot where we skate in Hyde Park) the stereo was on and Andrew was doing a sort of walking thing to music, but it was so much cooler – it looked really funky to me, and as usual, I knew that if I could do that, then I would have arrived – I’d look cool skating to music.

So that was the move of the moment for me, alongside toe spins, alternating grapevine, some other stuff, and the elusive inverted barrelroll – I couldn’t get the feet right for it, and the dizziness was driving me up the wall.

I would watch and copy Andrew as he did his walking move, but all I got was “No! not like that! Oh come on!” – I think by that time I had caught on to the fact that you needed to translate what he said. For example “Yeah yeah whatever – but can you do…” meant “Oh wow! That’s really cool!” and “your hips are all wrong!” or “your forgetting to look up! You look silly!” meant “I’m impressed that you’ve got the last bit right, which is why I’m not ridiculing you about it again”.

I also met a guy at a skate shop in Lakeside shopping centre who I used to meet up with on Sundays to go into London in his van – it was so cool, it was done up so that you could pretty much live in it in the back. We would go and skate the park for the day with everyone and then at about seven or eight we would skate to Trafalgar Square with the quad dancers and dance for the rest of the evening at the south western part of the square. At about midnight we would drive back exhausted, making a pit stop at Bagel Bake on Brick lane to sit in the back of his van with the suspiciously cheap salmon & cream cheese bagels.

I still went every Wednesday night, though it was a different crowd than the weekend, and I didn’t really make any friends. I tended to stand around like a moo, looking back I think that no one wanted to talk to me because I was clearly much better than most of them and so it was up to me to speak to them first. I hate that. I really do, but back then I didn’t have the social confidence to just go up and make conversation.


Back to part 6

To part 8…


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