Part 9 – by Naomi Grigg

This was also the summer that I marshalled on the Friday Night Skate. It felt so good to be part of something like that, and towards the end of the summer all the Skate Patrollers stopped going on the skate as marshals, and went on it as Skate Patrol instead. I enjoyed not having to wear hi-vis jackets anymore!

During my final year at university in Manchester I pretty much bankrupted myself with all my weekend visits to London – I just couldn’t stop myself. I remember the first Friday that I did it, I’d just got dumped the day before and was feeling really awful, as you do, and couldn’t imagine anything that could take away the feelings of rejection and inadequacy. But then I figured that since I always felt so good when I was in London with the skaters, that’s where I should go! Hell, if I go home and grab my skates right now, there’s a ridiculously slim chance that I could get a taxi to the station for the 5.40 train and then I might make it to the nightskate!

And so I ran home, grabbed my skates, got a taxi to the station and only just made the train. I still feel really bad about that taxi driver – I’d hailed him, jumped in the back, asked if there was a chance in hell of making the train, and he was like a dog with a bone – he was going to get me to that train on time whatever hideously illegal things he had to do to get me there – and I didn’t tip him one penny. It was only on the train that I’d remembered that you’re supposed to tip taxi drivers, especially when they do that kind of thing for you.

I arrived at the start point to find the skate had already gone, and after an initial tip-off from a bystander started my pursuit. A couple of phone calls later, I had caught them up, and I worked from the back of the skate to the front greeting everyone I knew – suddenly I was so elated – no longer was I the jilted misery-guts, I was now someone that people were pleased to see! I still remember reflecting how happy I was on that skate as I skated along seeing old friend after old friend, with the music coursing through the air.

After the skate we would always end up in the library room at the Vic, and I was sat there, surrounded by a mix of new and old friends, and said “guys, can anyone offer me a sofa for the night?” I think I stayed at Steve’s place that time, but it set the pattern of just turning up in London on a whim with just a bag with a pair of skates and an overnight kit of toothbrush, contact lenses stuff, and moisturiser, and going to the pub after the skate and asking if anyone had a sofa for the night. Those were great times. The Saturday night accommodation was never a problem because of the parties. They would start around 7 or 8pm after skating on the Saturday, and last until about 6pm on the Sunday evening before I got the train back. We would party til about 5 in the morning, just having good old fashioned fun – no skaters actually went out with each other back then, it would have felt a little incestuous (how things change…) and we just played games like truth or dare, and had play fights. I used to enjoy jiu-jitsuing the guys sorry arses. There would always be about 10 of us staying over in the living room of wherever we were, and the day would start with clean up & fry up, followed by hungover slothing all day, usually involving takeaways and videos. Those really were the days.


Back to part 8

To part 10…


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