In the last fortnight, I have seen three separate grown men go past me in Shoreditch on rollerblades. According to the rules of fashion science, if you see something three times it's officially a trend.
I thought that, like snakeboarding, rollerblading had been laughed out of the public domain years ago after a campaign of humiliation by every skater on Earth. I'm not sure what it is about modes of children's transportation that inspires that kind of rage, but I wanted to find out if people still hate 'bladers as much as they once did. So yesterday I got my friend Harrison to spend an entire day on rollerblades.
"But why didn't you do it yourself like a real gonzo journalist?" I hear you cry. Two reasons: A) I used to rollerblade a ton when I was a teen and am actually okay at it. Somebody spending an entire day on skates without falling over isn't funny in any way. B) I'm a sensitive person and I couldn't bare throwing myself back into war with skaters. I spent my teenage years dealing with that shit.
When I say I got Harrison to spend his entire day on blades, I mean his ENTIRE day. This is him starting the morning off with a shower. Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed (sorry ladies!) but I'm assured it was exactly as difficult (and presumably, hilarious) as you would imagine it to be.
Next, it was time to dress. Because he's a n00b that refuses to take stuff seriously, he wouldn't to go outside nude from the waist down, so I had to let him take the skates off for a second to put on his jeans. Hunter S. Thompson must be spinning in his cannon.
And he's ready for the day! The sheer grace of a life on wheels is especially evident in this photo.
Within seconds of getting out of the front door Harrison was down. Much to my relief, as I was worried that he might actually be able to skate.
We decided to head to Stoke Newington to the new skate park there to see what the community would make of Harrison's wicked wheels. It was harder than we thought. This picture was taken while a bus driver was telling Harrison he couldn't get on her bus "with them things on". History repeats itself.
Unwilling to ride his bike more than a few feet, Harrison insisted that we take the train instead.
I can see no reason why that bus driver wouldn't have wanted him on her bus.
Though he managed to not fall over for the whole train ride, he instantly hit the ground as soon as he stepped off. Despite what it looks like here, he didn't actually break his arm.
This is when we popped into a chicken shop so I could buy Harrison some lunch. I really really willed for him to slip and drop it, but he didn't. I would have completely regretted buying him a £5 lunch had everyone in the shop not kept staring at him like he was a bleeding vagrant.
Here he is falling in the street empty-handed. Possibly just to fuck with me.
I made him go into this snazzy deli, but again he didn't fall. Customers were looking at him with a mixture of curiosity, hate, irritation and whatever the face is that people pull when they think they're being 'pranked'.
On the way to the skate park, I suggested to Harrison that we go for a nature walk. Mainly because I couldn't think of many more things that would be difficult for him to do on skates. As you can see though, he looks pretty comfortable, cocky even; like a robot farmer off to deliver an electric sheep or something.
This is Harrison "dropping in" at the skate park. A couple of minutes there were all I needed to see that skateboarders' attitudes towards inline skaters haven't really changed. Within seconds of our arrival a group of younger boys with skateboards (and a micro-scooter, lol) had called Harrison both a "spaz" and a "wasteman", but to his credit, he bladed on.
A couple of the kids even went as far as skateboarding literal rings around Harrison in an attempt to humiliate him. Karma was in the air though: This photo was taken when one of the lil' bullies collided with Harrison's foot, sending him into an extremely satisfying faceplant. Not so funny now is it, SPAZ?
We did meet one kindred spirit there, though. After speaking to her it seems attitudes might be changing slightly. "Nobody ever really makes fun of me," she told us, "but I never really see anyone else on blades. Especially never any girls." She should come to Shoreditch, it's full of them.
And that was pretty much the whole day. You'd be amazed how long it takes somebody who can't skate to do things while wearing skates. As a reward for being such a trooper despite falling over constantly, I bought Harrison a pint. Which, AGAIN, he didn't slip and drop. Jerk.