Part 8 – by Naomi Grigg

This was also the summer that Psycho Steve/Squaddie Steve/Aggro Steve (he went by so many names) took me aside and taught me to ride stairs one night at Trafalgar Square. I’d been told that it was possible when I was back at school – a Malaysian friend told me that one of her brother’s friends could do it, but it seemed totally impossible when I gradually stepped down some stairs whilst trying to get up the guts to just go for it. I had just stuck to jumping down them instead.

Apparently it’s easier to ride them backwards, and I can see why – it makes perfect mechanical sense, but I really like to be facing forwards whilst riding stairs to this day. I also learned that it was 90% guts and stupidity and 10% technique. So long as you scissor your feet, bend your knees, and keep your weight on the trailing foot, you’re ok. It’s when you allow your conscious mind in on what you are doing that you’re in trouble. That happened a lot for me – you’re half way down some steps and you suddenly realise that you’re doing it… wha! WHAAOOOOAOAOOAOAOOOOO BANG!

The end of the summer came, and I returned to university until the next summer.

Summer 2001 was awesome. I was living in Bethnal Green this time. I’d finished my sponsorship with Ford, and spent my final summer working on the trading floor of a city bank, UBS Warburg. I made so many new friends that summer, mostly because of Skate Patrol I think. Each day I would skate to work, then skate to Hyde Park after work at 6pm, and skate back home for 10pm, take half an hour to make and eat my supper before going to bed at 10.30pm, and wake again at 5.45 the next morning. It felt like a glorious lifestyle – I was never bored. Always either working or skating. The friends came much easier this year because I knew a few people from the previous year, and being a girl really helped with picking up new friends amongst the skate dancers.

A girl called Mykel was trying to start up a branch of the National Skate Patrol in London, and I was keen to get involved. I was really exited about being a part of something I had once read about years before in a skate magazine – I remembered reading about them and thinking they must be the really cool ones that everyone looked up to, and that sounded pretty good. I found out just before the training and qualifying session that I needed to have a heel brake for it. And a helmet. Yes, a helmet. Fortunately I still had the one that I had bought years ago for ramps, which had never really seen much light of day. The heel brake turned out to be the real problem though. I still had the one that had come with the skates, so actually getting it on wasn’t a problem, but skating with it on was. Heel braking itself was quite easy, if a little difficult to get used to, but having a couple of extra inches of rubber stuck on the back of one of my skates was a complete liability. Even all these years later, I still send myself flying in front of clients that I’m teaching, because I’ve just stuck a heel brake on for their learning pleasure. My new friend Steve Runyard and I were skating like careful beginners and were sure to congratulate each other after every half an hour or so of not stacking horribly. There’s something comical about skating along and realising that your competent friend is no longer next to you, but a few meters back in a pile on the floor, cursing.

 

Back to part 7

To part 9…

 

Naomi’s website: http://www.skatefreestyle.com/