diamond geezer

 Friday, November 29, 2002

Skating on thin ice

My parents came down from Norfolk for the day, and we spent most of our time failing to buy any Christmas presents. Not that there weren't lots of shops selling things, because there were, but there weren't any shops selling anything worth buying. Or, perhaps more importantly, there weren't any shops selling anything worth opening on Christmas morning and pretending to be excited about.

So, instead, we headed down to Somerset House to look at the ice rink in the courtyard there. It opened for the winter yesterday, and it's already busy throughout the day with people willing to make complete fools of themselves. Every hour a new group of about a hundred budding skaters is sent out onto the ice. They emerge sheepishly, clutching onto the handrail and shuffling slowly round the edge of the rink. Most look as if they've never been skating before, which of course they haven't. Our intrepid on-the-spot reporter took this picture. Eventually the punters risk their first short skate across the ice, at which point half of them fall over, look up in an embarrassed way and attempt to pick themselves up without getting too cold. After a few falls or near misses most people slowly gain in skill and confidence, and 45 minutes later they're skating round the rink with ease. Unfortunately this is the signal for the ice marshals to announce 'time up', and usher everyone back to the changing rooms. At this point a huge ice-vacuum-cleaner comes out to pick up any severed limbs, or maybe just to smooth over the surface of the ice, and then the whole cycle starts again with a new group of ice virgins. See you down there?


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