Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

The ice rink: a smudge from every decade

So there I was admiring the way ice rinks can gather and maintain a smudge from every decade without having to bid any of it goodbye.  The reason I was able to deduce such an astonishing conclusion was I was freezing my arse off in the bleachers,  while my six-year-old puffin was zipping and twisting between grown, middle, and diddy men, women, children, pushchairs (indeed you can take your baby skating in the stroller, literally ice rinks adapt to every decade’s needs), wheelchairs. Somewhere out there was his father. Yours truly has only ever tried it twice, to little success and such intense discomfort in the foot region that I’m not tempted to repeat it. It’s perishing up there in the stands, with an electric heat strip hanging down in three spots, with no real heat ever reaching the top of your head. I was struck by how ice rinks refuse to cover up their age, so the hokey looking polar bear complete with woolly hat and ice hockey stick painted on the wall probably arrived in the 1970’s say. Then there’s the bunting flags which openly declare which season the various teams obtained them and finally the unapologetic soundtrack of Boney M bouncing the foot of the Grand-dad beside me, with mp3 player in his ears (Boney M overruled whatever was going on in the ears), and thermos at the ready, while his grandson skates alone below.

So out I meander to try warm the bloodflow at the desk and the woman explains she learnt to skate in this rink at age three and attended the preschool in the same building and oh, they’re ripping it down to build a fancy new one because of the impending Olympics. Drat and damnation I had been so uplifted at the prospect of revisiting the 1970’s, 80’s every Sunday and concluded the only other place which records the decades so proudly and incidentally in its walls is the outdoor swimming pool, which they’ve been threatening to destroy for two years. I wonder if the Boney M tapes will go into the same mush, when the bulldozers plough through the poor polar bear.

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