Roller skates

So I think I will be writing about the 80s.  My wafer thin premise will be a series of mix tapes.  I think the first mix tape will be for the years 1980 to 1982.  I was seven in 1980 and not really paying attention to pop music, but even so I can still remember a few songs that cut through my preteen haze and lodged in my brain.  Anyway, I won’t be writing just about music, I’ll be including movies and TV and autobiography.  You know, the usual rubbish.

This post is probably a good example because it is about roller skating.  Of course roller skating is not unconnected with the first song on the mix tape Wired for Sound.  I’m not sure why I wanted a pair of roller skates so badly, but they were obviously cool and I now wonder if the Cliff song had something to do with it.  After conducting an examination of my charmingly labelled first photo album I think the timing seems about right.

At the back of this photo album I have for some reason written out a list that explains what all of the photos are of.  I’m sort of surprised that I had enough foresight to do this.  I never have foresight.  Actually that’s not true, I have it I’m just too lazy to put my foresight into action.  Anyway, let’s not dwell on my failures let’s celebrate a success.

I think that I took this photo to show the birthday presents I received in 1982 when I turned nine.

The presents would be: three toy soldiers, a pop up book about robots, a book of magic tricks by Paul Daniels, and a pair of incredibly cool roller skates.  Aren’t those skates beautiful?  I can remember going to get them with my mother.  We went to a shop on Willis Street in that funny little complex where the Christian bookshop and Korean restaurant are now.  Many years later that shop would change hands and begin selling gargoyles (funny how some retail spaces seem to attract doomed business ideas).

Once I had the skates I of course faced the problem of learning how to actually skate.  At that time we lived in a house on a very steep hill so skating at home was never going to work.  Firstly, I am a bit of wimp when it comes to high speed, hard ground, and my body.  Secondly, I had already been badly traumatised by trying to be cool.  Someone convinced me to stand on a skateboard.  Unfortunately I was at the top of my friend’s driveway.  I stood on the skateboard and went straight down the driveway across the road, hit the gutter at the far end, pitched over a fence and disappeared down a steep bushy bank.  It took me about six seconds to complete this stunt, and my friends were quite impressed.  By the time I had pulled all the foliage off me and clambered back to the street I vowed never to try and skateboard again.

To overcome my lack of safe skating opportunities my mother dutifully drove me out to Paraparaumu Beach where they had an outdoor roller skating rink, but I was so shy that I couldn’t bring myself to go out into the big concrete pit with all of the other kids hurtling about and feebly putter from one end to the other.  All those kids seemed like they knew what they were doing and I was going to end up looking like a dork in black and yellow boots.

What I needed was flat concrete, and no audience. 

Undeterred I took my roller skates down to Gran’s place on my next holiday.  Her house was surrounded by long flat concrete paths and I spent many exhilarating evenings firing myself up and down the paths.  I even learned how to do 360 degree spins.  It must have been summer because I remember being out until well after nine and it still being light.  God it was fun.  I must have left a hundred yellow marks from the wheels on those paths, but I suppose they washed off.  Of course that was it.  I never took my new found skills and confidence out onto the roller rink or skate park.  I still had a crippling fear of looking like a dork.  In fact I think it took me until I was 30 to not mind looking like a dork.

Turns out I didn’t know how lucky I was when I got my boot skates.  Cathy tells me that she had strap on skates that you buckled over your regular shoes when she was a kid and she desperately wanted boot skates.  On the other hand she went to an indoor roller rink with lights and music with her friends so she probably had a better skating experience than me.  Mine is kind of a lonely memory, and has none of the stereotypes of 80s skating.  When you search “80s skating” on Google you mostly get lists of songs that people loved to skate to, or comments about the gear people wore which doesn’t have much to do with a nine-year old kid zooming around his Gran’s Mosgiel house in his jeans and a T-shirt.

Perhaps when you think of 80s skating you’re supposed to think of something like the clip below (which appears to be an episode of Chips dubbed into Spanish).  Maybe that’s where I went wrong as a kid.  I was supposed to be thinking of women in bikinis gyrating around on roller skates, and instead I was thinking of Cliff.  Explains a lot really.

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9 thoughts on “Roller skates”

  1. Are you some sort of pansy? This 80s stuff is so friggin gay! Well, except for the lassies in the video.

  2. You have chosen the best era ever!!! I also remember the skates that you strapped to your own shoes, they were the sort I owned. I also had a skateboard experience. One that I am still scarred from, though physically and not emotionally. I thought for some reason that on my first attempt at skateboarding that I could go down a twirling ramp at my school. How wrong I was, I didn’t even make the first corner. I think I only did it to impress the boys, guess I failed.

  3. Phillip – I think I watched Chips all the time but the only thing I can remember is the credits. I guess the storylines weren’t up to much (not if this clip is anything to go by)

    TSB – Richard, you’re just being silly

    Fflur – Even though I hid my roller skating from everyone I’m pretty sure I was hoping a roller skating talent scout was going to wander past my Gran’s house in Mosgiel and spot me. “Excuse me son, have have you ever thought of going professional?”

    Second – Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

  4. J-P, please don;t use TSB for that pseudoscotsman. TwistedScottishBastard is real, I cannot vouch for the rest.

    I would have loved a pair of roller skates with boots as a kid. Like Cathy and many in Scotland, all we had available was the strap-on version. I think they were designed to sprain ankles and bruise shins. I never did learn to skate properly, as the bloody things only lasted about 5 minutes before needing fresh adjustment/tightening. I eventually gave it up as a bad job.

    I enjoyed watching my son, 40 years later, trying and then mastering the skateboard. It’s not fair. Skateboards are intrinsically cooler than strap-on skates.

    I wonder if any of us will still be able to try them, when they bring out the anti-gravity boards as seen in Back to the Future.
    Way cool mista!

  5. My father skated as a sport when he was a young man. He had these designer black boots with built in skates. As little kids we used to swipe them and sit on them and go down our street (Liardet Street in Vogeltown). When we were a little bit older my brother and I pulled them apart and nailed the skate bases to pieces of wood and created crude versions of skate boards. This was before skate boards were introduced into New Zealand. I think my brother must have seen an image of them in an American magazine. We obviously ruined the skates and Dad was not pleased.

  6. I guess I’m slowing down, but I just realised that Phillip Edward Nis is P.E. Nis so I guess that’s Richard too. Don’t worry Kiwi Doug I am aware that the Bstd is not you (you are the full bastard). I think we all need to develop a R(ofRBB) filter.

    There used to be two boys who always brought skateboards to school and would try and do tricks. I enjoyed jeering at them – “wouldn’t it be easier to walk?” – which would always provoke them into trying to do some “trick” like jumping up and spinning the board around. They always screwed this up and then fell on the ground. God it was fun.

    Curmudgeon – as Vogeltown is one of those suburbs that hangs vertically off the hills of Wellington I am impressed to hear that you went hurtling down its streets on a home made skateboard.

  7. We also hurtled down streets on home made wheeled trolleys and down grassy banks on home made sleds. Lots of falls and no serious injuries. It wasn’t until we got our first bike (a big black scary thing that had belonged to my grandfather) that I got injured. Apparently (I don’t remember a thing) I was hurtling down a steep street , hit a pothole and went over the handlebars, knocking myself unconscious. I awoke in hospital with a scared and worried family around my bed.

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