It appears I am accidentally learning to ice skate. I didn’t intend to, I just sort of got coerced into going along one day with some friends and my other half. I spent a fairly intense hour shuffling around the edge of the rink using all my mental abilities in an attempt at keeping my feet under me.
It’s weird learning a new physical skill. I know exactly what to do – I can see other people skating around and what they’re doing makes sense. Lean forwards, push with one of your feet slightly twisted, glide, repeat. Twist your feet in that subconscious way you do when walking to steer. And yet I can’t do it that efficiently! There’s a lot of weaving about, slipping around and intense concentration that results in me going forwards really slowly while using 10x more energy than I’d use running twice the distance. Skating appears to be the art of constantly slipping face-first into the ground without hitting it, in the same way walking is the art of constantly falling over without hitting the ground.
Meanwhile people skate backwards on one leg while texting at speeds that’d earn you a speeding ticket.
Anyway, at the end of every skating session the magic ice repairing machine comes out which is called a Zamboni (in the same way anything that sucks up dirt is called a ‘Hoover’ and how we now ‘Google’ for things).
Before Christmas I read about someone’s project where they built a Zamboni out of a ride-on-mower. Then I went skating a few weeks ago and saw one. Today is the 112th birthday of the person who invented them. Completely unrelated things that my brain has decided to link together.
I went skating again last weekend. I was marginally less crap to begin with and by the end of the session I’d managed to propel myself around the rink unaided – and was no longer the slowest person there 🙂 My style is probably horrible, my technique is probably full of badness, but on a deeply rutted icy nightclub in the middle of Bradford that was infested with teenagers, I don’t think it matters.
Learning a physical skill like skating is quite satisfying. There’s an instant feedback between you doing something and you seeing the result. I am constantly amazed at my body’s ability to keep itself upright. Keep your head above your waist, keep your waist above your feet, the rest just happens by itself.
One day I’ll be going backwards on purpose.