Monday, 21 December 2015

Chapter 117: Clowning on Ice

Christmas is hotting up. I know this because we arrived at the Tower of London rink on Saturday to find the sun blazing and a pool of water several inches deep covering the ice. Still, we had my husband's family over from Geneva and not to be deterred, the Swiss Family Robinson ventured out on ice. 

Very much a beginner, I have been skating several times over the past couple of weeks in an effort to keep up with a family that has grown up on ice. And also, because I love it. Working with balance, momentum, pushing myself beyond my comfort boundaries, embracing my fear of falling - skating has a lot in common with learning circus skills, and is just as much fun. I can now get round the rink on my own, but I love to hold hands. Whether with my husband, best friend or an ice guide, it creates a connection, trust and intimacy that makes the world go round. 

I laughed as I watched my husband and his sister spray each other with skid stops, just as we do in skiing, made my son laugh as I tried to race him, and smiled at some spectacular falls skimming the pond from fellow skaters, no harm done. By the end our feet were all sodden, but we were happy. Sinatra came on over the speakers. My husband, chuffed to pieces at my improvement since our date skate, barely a week ago, caught my hand and soon we were flying around in time to the music, picture postcard perfect. He leaned in to kiss me squarely on the lips, but that was a move too far. As I lost my balance, he dived to try and catch me, but too late, and we ended up a couple of clowns in a tangled puddle. It was a beautiful piece of slapstick that had onlookers in fits of laughter. Only there was an audible crack and a cry. My husband's leg, broken, we knew in a heartbeat. Soon there was a Beefeater helping him into a wheelchair, and he was carted off to A&E. You really couldn't make it up, could you?

Meanwhile his sister and I took the children to Yo Sushi on the Southbank, an annual tradition, "though it's not the same without Papa". In sore need of distraction afterwards, and some Christmas cheer, we passed  a poster for Slava's Snow Show at the Festival Hall, a couple of doors away. Funnily enough I had been checking out availability online in the morning, much to my in-laws delight, but unsurprisingly we couldn't find seats for so many. Maybe turning up in person at the box office, half an hour before curtain up, they would have returns, or maybe one less would tip the balance. As luck would have it, there were seven seats in the front stalls, where I heard you should sit if possible, kids were half-price, and fate seemed to be giving us another break. Clowning, that had been our downfall, would now be our refuge. But that is another story, to follow...

In the meantime, please don't let this cautionary tale put you off. Christmas for us now has untold disappointments, but digging deep we are also discovering hidden gems and things to laugh about. My husband hasn't ruled out skating in future, just the hand-holding part, while I maintain, it was really the kiss that really toppled me... And if you want to see some truly vertiginous acrobatics on ice check out the phenomenal Le Patin Libre who are presenting their latest show "Vertical" at Somerset House 12-16th January: (click here).

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