Life, death, hockey and the whole damn thing

Driving the Ghia.

It’s June. How is it June already? The Canucks are about to take on the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup play-offs, playing even as I type this. Winter sun is flittering across cold Melbourne. There was dew and fog on the windows of the Karmann Ghia this morning, but Atomica Caffé was warm and the toast was crisp. The New Yorker isn’t as good as Wiredmagazine on an

iPad and I drove along listening to “Long Live The Duke And The King” by, umm, The Duke & The King and singing.

It was nice to feel happy. My cat died two days ago and there’s been a lot of crying. I’ve always been a total sook when pets die – especially long-term much-loved pets, like Choo Choo, our beautiful 20-year-old Burmese. She was a rocking cat, right up there alongside my childhood ginger moggie, Orlando, and my long-haired German Sherpherd, Tessa, as the best and most-loved pets I’ve ever mourned. Happily, Fly Dog The Magnificent is as alive as ever, but oh, it was rough to say goodbye to dottering, failing Chooey, even if I haven’t lived under the same roof as her for three years or so.

Brought up all kinds of stuff I won’t go into here, about Loss, about marriage break-ups, about my boys losing a pet they’d known all their lives, about other deaths, about relationship deaths, about wishes never realised, dreams shattered, friendships that failed … you might get the sense that I managed to spiral a fair way from the actual sad event of Choo Choo’s passing. But that’s what can happen, I guess. Pets are so universally about pure

love, about unconditional love, about adoration … all the things we love to receive and love to give. But so few people are capable of it, and that’s the bastard. So to kiss a grey-brown furry head, with slightly glazed eyes, and say goodbye to pure love. How could you not cry a river?

In other words, damn, was I ready for some hockey last night?! Last week’s session was a beauty. We were learning crossovers, pivots, all my old enemies but I had a genuine crack. Sure, I probably wasn’t leaning on an outside edge like an Olympic speed skater on a bend but I was trying, and only occasionally crashing in the attempt. Coach Lliam urged me on, and I could feel some respect for not staying in my safety zone, even if the results didn’t always get there. I definitely landed some perfect pivots, which rocked.

RIP Choo Choo

It was our first class in full armour, which is always fun, especially for the first-timer Intro students. We did Supermans, where you throw yourself at the ice, stomach first, slide along and then try to stand without losing all your momentum. I was nailing it.

But then hadn’t done any exercise since. Thanks to a fun few days with some northern visitors, I’d rediscovered the zoo, and then had to help out on the less enjoyable task of assisting my sister and her daughters move out of their home, I hadn’t got to the gym, or run or anything for a week.

So I turned up for last night’s class feeling a bit rusty, but I needn’t have worried. My skates found the ice straight away and I felt good, pivoting, skating backwards, gently hockey stopping even during the warm-up.

And last night, we had sticks and pucks which makes everything fun.

Lliam and Army clearly had decided I was Victim Of The Night. Every time I took off on a drill they were whacking my armour with their sticks, or trying to slash my stick as I controlled the puck.

Me being a hockey player and all, I smiled and muttered some gentle curses that would make Premier Ted send the cops straight to the Icehouse, and kept on going. Premier Ted would definitely have an issue with your average night’s hockey language.

And then, towards the end, I managed my greatest hockey career highlight since I broke my stick smacking a powerful goal in training.

Lliam set himself, legs planted, muscles bulging, right in front of me, five metres ahead, and snarled: “C’mon Place, get past me!” and then relaxed, joke over … so that he wasn’t ready for me to pass the puck neatly between his legs, and dart by. I heard Army cracking up behind me as I skated desperately away, retrieving the puck. Lliam yelled: “Yeah, but where’s the puck now?” … given this drill was all about controlling the puck on your stick at all times.

“Not with you,” I yelled back over my shoulder.

I was sniggering right up until I reached the other end of the rink, at which point I sagged and said, in my best Gob Bluth voice: “I’ve made a huge mistake.”

Because, yes, I had just cheekily flicked a puck through the legs of Melbourne Ice’s former captain, star player and occasional enforcer. This could come back to bite me.

Made me smile though and, after the week so far, I was all for that. Thanks Lliam and Army.

In fact, let’s keep smiling … Please welcome to the stage … Gob Bluth!


  1. […] around the ice (apart from when they decide to use such hacks for sledging practice – see last post), these people armour up, lace up skates, grab sticks and play hockey like you couldn’t […]

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