Tuesday, March 20, 2012

1979: You know it won't last forever

These days, crazes seem built to last. But back then, one after another passed through our lives: frisbees, spacehoppers, skateboards - you name it, we had it. What we never had, though don't think we didn't toy with the idea, was our own pair of roller skates.

Another brief but hugely enjoyable phase, roller rinks were all the rage around this time. Me and my two current best schoolfriends had become super-friendly with three girls in the year below. I'd pointed out to my friend Richard one day, that this girl was the spit of Grange Hll's Cathy Hargreaves on whom I had a major crush at the time. Being far too shy to even contemplate asking her out myself - and besides, she wouldn't be interested in me and even if she was, where would we go? - he did it instead. So at least I got to spend time with her.

We went around together for a some months, but always with her miserable friend in tow. She was called Claire, had a pinched face and short hair and my friends always trying to persuade her to go out with me. It wasn't going to happen; she wouldn't even look at me. Just as well, I wasn't interested in her either. She was plain, mean and smelled of wet thick-knit cardigans. I'm failing to remember the third wheel, but she was going out with my other friend.

'Going out' in those days was not what it might entail now. Not at that age anyway unless you wanted a shotgun wedding. The odd snog and hand hold was about the size of it. Oh such innocent times. Cathy Hargreaves' dad still pronounced pizza as 'pitza'. The past is another country.

And what could be more innocent than going roller-skating. Together, we'd go late Saturday afternoons to the boxfresh local leisure centre, where we'd tear around in a circle to Heart Of Glass, Oliver's Army, Clog Dance (worked a treat) and Into the Valley, trying not to but secretly hoping to do a Frank Spencer and impress everyone forever (see below).

The one song that really reminds me of this, and the one they played all the time was I Will Survive, the big number one single of the time. It got at least two airiings per session. She even had a roller-skater in the video. It really was all the rage. I don't personally have much time for it, and though it does conjure up this moment let's have the other one that really takes me back to the rink, Get It by The Darts. Does anything say 1979 more than they do?

How long this particular craze lasted I cannot recall, but it was fun while it lasted. Next!


  1. Someone played I Will Survive in the office yesterday and I instantly thought of roller skates. That and piled high rubbish bags from the dustmen strikes, as our communal bins in the flats were overspilling with them..

    I must admit I was hopeless on rollers, ok on ice skates - but most comfortable on skateboards.

    Do you remember Darts, Messing Shoe Blues? One of several cheeky B-sides around then - see also: They're Aint Half Been Some Clever Bastards, Frigging in the Rigging and Michael Booth's Talking Bum

  2. Never roller skated in my life, but used to shamble round the ice at Queensway - where was my fear? I'd never do it now.

    And I can't hear 'I Will Survive' without imagining a bunch of divorced women, dancing in a circle and all trying to look brave. A grim song.