1. On the ice

    The winter ice rink has appeared in front of the Brighton Pavillion. Every afternoon I pass by on the bus and watch the people gliding around it slowly like ducks on a pond.

    I have never been ice skating. I think I should like to. I’ve always thought that it seems like such a gentle, happy thing to do, swooshing around in soft arcs, carving shallow curlicues into the ice. I imagine it would feel lovely to just glide and slide and listen to the scrape of the blades and not think of this and not think of that.

    I would like to sit on a wooden bench beside the rink and tie the heavy boots onto my feet (would they be heavy? I think they would but I do not know) and watch the other skaters for a while. I would be nervous. I would like someone to talk to me as they take my mittened hands in theirs and pull me up, slowly, carefully, someone to put a steadying arm around my waist, to tell me don’t be nervous, it’ll be OK, you’ll be wobbly and it will feel weird and if you fall over that’s OK. I will laugh nervously. I’ll get up. I’ll sit down. I’ll get up again. I would like a hand to hold mine as I scrabble around like a newborn foal, feet steel-shod, legs unused to the frictionless ground, arms flailing. I would fall on my bum lots and I would blush and laugh and it would be OK and I would get up again and move forward a little. I don’t know how long it would take until I could skate with any grace along the ice, but I would love to try.

    I think skating on the ice would feel pretty great. And if you forget the heavy weights on your feet that hold you to the ground for a moment, I imagine it might just feel a little like flying.