Chasing the night

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Harbourside car park hockey. In the rain. Pic: Ben Weisser

Have you heard?

Class is cancelled …

What???

The rink’s apparently not ready, post skating titles …

WHAT?

The Ice Cat broke down …

The Zamboni …

Oh my God …

Calm everybody. We just need to stay calm.

OH MY GOD!!!

The Icehouse staff doing the right thing,
going over and above to phone everybody in last night’s classes and Dev League,
letting us know,
saying sorry,
inviting us down for a free general skate,
extending the term by a week.

By now, emails flying,
Facebook in meltdown,
decisions to be made about whether emergency counsellors need to be called in,
to help the shocked, grieving hockey rookies cope.

Bottom lips quivering.

No classes?

Tonight?

OH MY GOD!

Facebook humming.
Plans emerge.
Well, we’re free tonight anyway, right?

The Harbourside Hotel does a roaring trade as rookies can have a sly drink, pre-General Skate
– something we’d (well, I’d … ok, maybe one) never do before a real class.

And then General Skate is a Wednesday night social outing;

Chris’s Janson and Hodson,
The Hough gals,
Will Ong, Wayne, waves and grins.
Beyonce dancing on the screen,
All the single ladies … All the single ladies …
hockey rookies everywhere, hanging laps and chatting,
catching up in ways we can’t when the heat of class is on.

But then, a need to hit a puck. General just not cutting it.

Into the night we go,
Alex clasping a brand new stick,
Kittens and I with a quiver for anybody who wants them,
Jack turning up in time to play, stretching truths to escape class,
Kittens’ wider, non-hockey crew, well-charged after a social afternoon
with us as we hit the top floor of the Harbourside car park
and smack some street-pucks.

Two McNabs down. Note to self: Wear shoes when you play street hockey.

Getting carried away.
Women playing in bare feet, having assumed skates when leaving home this morning, pre-cancellation disaster.
Bare feet not a good idea.
A McNab down. Broken toe? Only bruised?
Another McNab down. Make that two.

This one nastier. Ouch.

Blood on the concrete.
Rain falling.
A few fluorescent lights.
Puck-catching tricks with sticks.
Banter. Laughter.

Driving home in the dark rain.
A Wednesday night without class – the third in a row – but the rookies taking control of the night, making it ours.

Fun.

Cyclops on Ice, and other lessons

Things I have learned over the past 24 hours:

If you have a strange incident where your left eye goes totally nuts, waters profusely, then becomes blurry and scratchy for hours, for unknown reasons, this is an excellent time to go skating in a big, unruly General Skate crowd, to test how good your one-eyed-reaction-skating is under pressure.

If you’re not at Mamasita, the brilliant Mexican restaurant tucked away at the top of Collins Street, but arrogant enough not to take bookings, by 6.15 pm, you either have to suck it up in a long queue down the street, or not.

“Not” can be a good option.

Pelligrini’s back room remains a lot of fun and with excellent pasta, if the Italian Waiter’s Club is also full (What’s going on with all the CBD dining, peoples? It’s early January?)

Pelligrini's, Bourke St. Sit out the back.

Falling backwards, mid-pivot on your wrong side, hurts as much as it ever did.

My wrists remain unthrilled with landing hard on ice. But thankfully are strong enough to escape only mildly strained.

Blood & Sand has definitely moved into First Place in the Nicko Place List of Excellent Cocktails. It’s Scotch whisky-based, with blood orange mixed in, and I’ve had it at two venues now (CollingwoodWorld and Lily Black’s) and both were awesome. (The Flaming Lamborghini remains my popular favourite for potentially dying while attempting to drink a cocktail for the entertainment of a crowd).

The Latin for “I will be on my portable communication device” is “Ego meum consilium Donec vulputate“.

Some people don’t like General Skating sessions when there are seemingly hundreds of kids on the ice, all strapped into rental skates and yellow bibs, with no idea of how to skate or which direction to even attempt to go. Me? I love it … working on your tight turns can be helped by weaving through witches hats, right? Well, imagine how good for your on-ice reflexes are metre-high witches hats that move, flail their arms, lurch in random directions and often splatter onto the ice right in front of you. Nothing but fun.

Non-skating witches hats.

My dog has a much higher pain threshold than I do. Her stoic acceptance of a Big Achilles has been an inspiration.

Icehouse staff who stand at the goalline, looking terminally bored, while learner skaters go in all directions, as against the one direction, and then make a point of coming over to growl at you for leaving the ice by the gate nearest the lockers, instead of the gate with 600 people trying to squeeze through? … Well, let’s just say you’ve got a great career as a petty bureaucrat coming up, dude.

Bike couriers have an entire world and culture that I was unaware of, but is actually cool in many ways.I now just have to work out how to weave this knowledge into my new novel.

My pivots and hockey stops are definitely coming along, but I have – dammnit! – somehow become that thing I didn’t want to be: a one-way turner. Turning left, right foot in front, hockey-stops and pivots are getting there. Going the other way? Not so good. Yet I feel like I’ve worked on both equally and tirelessly. How did this happen? Sigh. More ice will be eaten before this one is done.

I need to get to more Come & Try and Stick & Puck sessions so I can skate in full gear and have less fear of damage. Bowing to peer group

The Blood & Sand cocktail. Photo by me. Arty, huh?

pressure, and the fact I don’t actually fall very often any more and can’t remember when I last whacked my head, I’m now hitting General Skates in only elbow pads and hockey gloves (gotta write a novel by October = can’t afford a broken arm just now; uncool fashion or not). But to really step up pivots, and to attempt hockey stops at speed, I’m going to need to have the full armour, so when I splatter, it’s the gear that takes the brunt. Maybe I should sell tickets? Hand out Blood & Sands while the crowd watches me fall? This could be an earner …

The Icehouse hasn’t scheduled anywhere near enough classes for First Term this year, and is squeezing all of it into a Wednesday night. I’m going to have to fight harder than for Falls or Big Day Out tickets, just to get a berth in Intermediate and Dev League. You’d swear they don’t want this sport to take off the way it is. Which would mean I’d need to instead write a blog about Tennis. Nobody wants that. Least of all, me.