FESTIVE ICE RINKS
LUV - Oh, hello! I’m British. You can probably tell because if I detect even a single flake of snow within ten miles of me I phone up everyone I know and scream “SNOW SNOW SNOW” and then pop into Twitter to post “SNOW SNOW SNOW #snow” and finish off with a quick whirl round Facebook liking every status I can see all of which say “SNOW SNOW SNOW”, and because I have a tea towel that says “Keep Calm And Carry On” and chuckle every time I use it, and because I am unable to show any unfettered emotion without the warm helping hand of my borderline alcohol dependency problem (unless, of course, that emotion is to do with snow).
And because I’m British, I outwardly revel in having a shitty British Christmas full of shitty British Christmas memes. The overcooked sprouts! The disappointing reindeer jumpers! The lack of snow! The BBC Christmas trail that’s so teeth-grindingly irritating, it would make even the most placid peacenik want to build a sealed geodesic dome around the whole of Salford and pump it full of mustard gas because the horrific loss of innocent life would be acceptable collateral damage!
But inside, like all Brits, ALL Brits, I yearn for a better Christmas experience. I want Miracle on 34th Street, Sleepless in Seattle, Santa Claus: The Movie. I’d even go for Serendipity, and that film was so bad I physically ate the DVD after I’d endured it so it would never harm another human again. I want it American-style. Come on, don’t pretend. We all do! That’s why we LUV Starbucks Christmas cups full of over-sugared, over-personalised hug substitute, and the She and Him Christmas album, and the recent urban carbuncle that is Seasonal Ice Rinks.
Because who cares that they require so much power to stop them reverting to their original fag-butt-filled puddle of slush state that they are solely responsible for the destruction of the planet, and all the polar bears now have to live on one tiny patch of glacier, tessellated together like Sticklebricks? Who cares that most seasonal ice rinks are in the beautiful surrounds of a multi-storey car park attached to an out-of-town shopping centre and are the size of three postage stamps? Squelch on those fear-sweat filled boots and ease yourself onto that lozenge of frictionless pearly pleasure, and you’re instantly sweeping majestically through Central Park with Tony Bennett crooning in the background and some adorably be-scarf-and-gloved man/woman/some kind of bloody child (delete according to taste) beaming at your side. The fairy lights are twinkling, you couldn’t feel more Christmassy if Santa himself was garrotting your colon with tinsel, and you can forget you’re just spending half an hour repeatedly stumbling past a couple of dejected, sequin-encrusted mannequins in a Topshop window.
Plus, unlike at your normal municipal ice rink, filled to the brim with sullen teenagers with weaponised feet mainlining Relentless and tonguing each other senseless in the bleachers, the good Seasonal Ice Rink people will sell you copious amounts of mulled booze; enough to numb the inevitable coccyx trauma caused by prising your trembling hands from the advertising hoardings and launching yourself blindly into the melee. Pissed on zero mu. It’s the dream.
And if that’s not reason enough, the one and only time I’ve been to a seasonal ice rink, at the Natural History Museum, I fell over in front of Anthony Head. That’s Uther Pendragon, and more importantly, Giles from Buffy. Extrapolating that evidence, that means every single time anyone goes to a seasonal ice rink anywhere, they will encounter a minor celebrity and nearly pull their trousers down by clutching desperately at their cuffs.
No-one want to go seasonal ice-skating with me any more. I can’t think why. Despite that - LUV.
- Julia Blyth
HAT - Every year it’s the same. Every year, regardless of who I’m with, it’s always exactly the same. The evenings get darker, the advent calendars get wrestled open and the suggestion is made. “Hey, do you want to go ice skating at Somerset House/ Canary Wharf/ Bluewater/ some nondescript-looking German plaza?” And I always say yes. I always say yes to festive ice skating, even though I know the parade of genuine fucking catastrophe that inevitably lies in front of me.
Because, really, ice skating is a massive lie. We’ve all been conditioned over the years to believe that ice skating is fun and effortless and graceful and freeing. Celebrities on Dancing On Ice seem to be able to zip around without too much effort, and they’re celebrities for crying out loud. They’ve barely got the cognitive ability to think and breath at the same time. let alone ice skate. If they can do it, it’s probably a piece of piddle. Even Charlie Brown enjoys ice skating, and he very obviously hates everything about this shallow joke of a life. So it must be AMAZING, right?
Fucking no. It isn’t amazing. Because this is what happens when you go to a Christmas ice rink, in order.
PART ONE - Resentfully forking out £20.
PART TWO - Sitting on a drizzle-covered plastic bench for 35 minutes watching that poxy road sweeper thing going round in circles.
PART THREE - Taking your shoes off.
PART FOUR - Immediately standing in an icy puddle and drenching your socks.
PART FIVE - Handing your shoes to a disinterested rink-worker and saying “Size ten, please. Ten. Size ten. Size ten. No, ten. Ten” and showing him ten fingers just to reinforce the message.
PART SIX - Being given a pair of size eight ice skates.
PART SEVEN - Ow.
PART EIGHT - Pathetically clinging on to the outer wall and slowly dragging yourself around while a succession of children and pensioners thwang past you with a look of absolute pity on their faces.
PART NINE - Building up courage. Look, all these other idiots can ice skate perfectly well. Several of them are even girls. That kid over there’s got an elastoplast over one of her eyes. Some of these people are quite fat, and even they’re doing OK. You’re better than this. You can do it. You’re a man.
PART TEN - Finally letting go of the outer wall.
PART ELEVEN - Basically just clomping around the circumference of the ice rink a couple of times, and then getting bored, and then getting off the ice rink.
PART TWELVE - Noticing that less than four minutes have passed since you put your skates on.
PART THIRTEEN - Ow.
So there you have it. Festive ice rinks. Bah humbug. Bumbug.
- Stuart Heritage