On the 20th February I attended the Help Harry Help Others Charity Ball. Since it was for Charity obviously I drank a lot of champagne – it’s a tough job but support is vital. On the 21st February at a time when I should have been fast asleep I took a taxi to Futsall in Birmingham in deference to the champagne in my bloodstream and then I strapped eight wheels to my feet and protected my hangover with a helmet.
I soon had proof that if you fall over whilst skating (and I use the term ‘skating’ in the loosest sense possible) then even if you land on your arse it hurts your head.
If it had been possible to think this through it would have been a bad idea. Since various brain cells were at the bottom of a long stemmed glass somewhere in the ICC thinking wasn’t really part of my Fresh Meat experience.
Have you ever smiled for two hours consistently? By the time the Fresh Meat session had ended my face ached. And so did my legs. And my arms. And my shoulders. And, obviously, my arse.
I don’t think I have ever had so much fun.
At the grand old age of 42 I had previously to this skated for a few hours as a teenager. My cousin and I skated up and down North Pier in Blackpool one summer and I think I went to a roller disco a few times (it was a long time ago, and remember; brain cells, bottom of a glass) so I went into this as a non-skater.
Luckily I was guided round the track by Sami L Smack’s ‘Em and eventually she remove my terrified hand so I could go solo. I did a fantastic impression of Bambi on ice and looked with dismay at how much better everyone else was compared to me. Then someone else fell over. I was fitting right in.
The first thing we were taught was how to fall. Having spent 42 years walking into things and falling over my own feet I was way ahead of the game here. It’s actually quite liberating throwing yourself at the floor; like toddlers in a ball pit we threw ourselves onto our knee pads with abandon. And we did some skating. Proper skating where you feel like you’re flying. Ok stopping on occasions was an issue but I could rely on the floor to help.
Whilst we were having our own Fresh Meat session all around us there were Dames practising various moves that defied physics as far as my feet were concerned. These ladies are serious athletes and they were pushing themselves and each other in ways that left me awestruck. And they were so nice to us Newbies. Many of them took the time to come over and ask us how we were getting on. They shared stories of their Fresh Meat experiences and were keen to encourage us.
Eventually my Fresh Meat session had to finish. I felt strong. I felt invincible. I felt sore and still partially hungover. I knew I was coming back.