Featured Story - 'The Other Foot.'
I think the first pair of roller boots were mine. I can’t be sure though as everything we had was pooled together into some kind of joint ownership so they may have been Aisling’s but that didn’t really matter, the real issue was that there were two of us and only one pair of roller boots.
The roller boots were the current thing – blue, velvet like and with 3 coloured stripes on each side. Whether they were the current thing with many, I don’t know as we weren’t ever really that interested in the others, we always had our own ideas. I can still remember putting my feet into them for the first time, they were too big of course – you always needed to buy them a bit bigger to make sure you didn’t grow out of them too quickly.
We sat in ‘the square’ out the back of my house and wondered about our dilemma. ‘The square’, aptly named was a small area of walls about knee high in a sort of a hexagon shape which we were encouraged to play in. There were small stones inside and a few low maintenance plants and hedges which seemed to attract huge masses of ladybirds. I can see the ladybird black and red now, hundreds of them scarpering around our feet while we sat on the walls listening to the soundtrack of ‘Dirty Dancing’ on the tape recorder.
There were a few options with the roller boots. We could wait until we had the second pair. We knew this would happen sometime. The issue of course with this was it was all dependent on when the money was there and we knew better than to ask too many questions, just in case there might be a change of mind.
We could try and borrow another pair from someone else in the meantime. The problem with this was we really only knew one other person on our estate with roller boots and she was a rival. She had been showing off for weeks, making the whole thing look effortless. We were full of envy so of course wouldn’t even speak to her.
The third option was having one roller boot each. Neither of us had ever been on roller boots before so we knew we were going to have to practice loads if we were going to be the champion star roller booters we expected to be. We were pretty confident we could pull it off. We agreed this was our best option. Then, we drew up our plan. We always liked to have a plan, we were good at projects. It could have been the summer scheme club we ran out of Aisling’s back shed, the latest dance moves for the youth centre disco (we had two rival dancers there too so we always liked to be ahead of the game) or how to get that week’s ‘Smash Hits’ magazine – well, we didn’t want to miss getting any of the lyrics of the latest songs that we loved!
So, our project roller boot began. We would start early each morning and decide who was practicing on the right foot and who was on the left. Then we would map the distance to go and the route for that day, adding in up hill and down hill aspects, corners and tricky obstacles such as high kerbs that needed careful navigation by the stopper at the front. At the end of each day, we would record in the project roller boot log, issues that we had encountered, tips and ideas for the next day’s training and congratulated ourselves, we knew we would be brilliant when the second pair finally arrived!
We dreamed of whizzing past our houses on the way to the Shambles to Mallon’s shop. Wouldn’t they all be amazed when we expertly rolled into the shop, fast but expertly controlling our roller boots as we collected the bread and milk? We couldn’t wait! And so project roller boot continued.
Then, the big day arrived. We met in ‘the square’ both of us with a pair of roller boots each. We could hardly tie the laces we were so filled with excitement. As we sat on the wall, ready to go, we decided on the very first location, it had to be a good one. A lap around ‘the square’, a lap around the whole estate – up and down the hill or a trip into the town? We knew after all our hard work, we would be great so all were agreed, why not? We started to get off the wall, hands held, ready to steady each other, just for those first few faltering balance moments, and off we went!
Seconds later, we were collapsed in a heap in the corner of ‘the square’, neither of us able to balance yet or control the stoppers. It we hadn’t started at full speed, maybe we would have got a little further. Filled with disappointment we couldn’t understand it – all that hard work! But after a few minutes, and it was always like this with us, we started to giggle, then it grew a little bigger into a bit of a laugh and before we knew it we were hysterically laughing and holding our sides in that way only children can. As we lay there laughing and half crying, Mummy came looking for us. She had 5p each for us so we could go to Mallon’s shop and buy a bag of rainbow drops. Of course, she had anticipated tears and had thought sweets might be needed. While we dug into them a little later we eagerly started into our new plan, project roller boot no. 2. By the end of the summer, we had mastered it and best of all, we had started to organise a tournament at the youth centre to find the very best roller booter – and of course we knew who we thought should win!