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September 5, 2013 / mmpomegranate

Why Wednesday was a bad day.

I haven’t written here for a long time. Other things have got in the way. The main topics of conversation; roller derby and baking have taken a back seat in the past year. And I certainly haven’t written anything like this here, or ever really. But I feel like I need to say something.

Yesterday, while sitting in the park having eaten my lunch, I was attacked. I’m not sure that it’s beneficial to go into a huge amount of detail. It was not the most violent or serious of attacks but it was unprovoked, aggressive, deliberately intimidating and physical. This attack happened because of the way I look, or because of the way a group of people interpreted the way I look.  As far as I can tell, this attack happened because a group of people took it upon themselves to and were unable to define my gender.

In the past day, I have been sick and exhausted and unable to go about my life as I want to. I have not been able to work. I’ve felt unsafe in the town I work.

I’ve only recently started a new job and have moved to be closer to my place of work. So already I’m new in a strange place. In the past couple of months I have been physically intimidated and heard people make comments about me several times, but this is the first time a person or group of people have addressed me. (Maybe I have been spoiled having spent most of the last year in the socialist republic of South Yorkshire, surrounded by loving friends and community… but no, this shouldn’t be allowed to happen anywhere.)

It shocked me that people would do something like this to me, it upset me, it made me angry. One of the things that made it worse was that it happened in a very public space, in plain view of many other people. And no one helped me. No one did anything. Well, that’s not quite true, I saw more than one person laughing.

But then I didn’t do anything either, I just did my best to ignore them and calmly walk away. But I could feel the tears in my eyes, and panic rising in my chest.

So I suppose I wanted to do something about it, after the fact, past getting it logged by the police only to be ignored. I wasn’t really sure what. So I’ve written it down here so that people know that these things are still happening. And how it makes people feel.

Why should I be made to feel intimidated and unsafe, to not be able to go about my daily routine and catch a short hour of calm on a small patch of grass, in the middle of my work day? Well I shouldn’t, and neither should anyone else.

Positive steps have obviously been made but these days it often feels that society is taking steps back in terms of LGBTIQ rights, what with, amongst other things, draconian laws in Russia and the rest of the world’s disappointing response, and section 28 style policies in our schools. We need to fight against this worrying trend and there is a lot that can be done.

Speaking up, making people very aware that attacks like this can and do happen every day, and that it isn’t acceptable is an important part of this.

If anyone is better at the practical or the advice side of this comments would be much appreciated…

April 1, 2012 / mmpomegranate

Going Public: A first timer’s bout report.

Last weekend saw the Furness Firecrackers‘ debut open bout and it just happened to be the first I’d seen in the flesh; can’t believe this given the amount of time derby has now been in my life but it was nice to share the milestone with the team. To say we were excited would definitely be understating the mood! It’s surprising the amount of energy the prospect of roller derby can provide you with so early on a Saturday morning. Despite several absentees (a few of our number had decided to drive across to Newcastle, getting an extra hour in bed) the Venga bus was full of lively anticipation including pass the parcel, complete with informative rule eggs hidden in each layer.

The journey was quicker than predicted and after some leisurely stops we made it to Newcastle for Daylight Slayings, a double header featuring the Firecrackers v NRG Whippin’ Hinnies followed by NRG Canny Belters v Glasgow Maiden Grrders. There was plenty of time to daub on the war paint and lust after merchandise before the skating commenced so we reserved our places in the suicide seats and set off for a program.

(spot the first timers)

Firecrackers’ entrance:

The Firecrackers v Whippin’ Hinnies was up first, with a slightly reduced 20 minutes each way. The ‘crackers had a nervous start (first open bout ever!) and were 76 – 16 down at half time but we really upped our game in the second half, recovering a lot of lost ground, with some great jamming, unfortunately we fell (repeatedly) at the final hurdle and finished the game 137-57. It was such fun to watch and I’m really proud of everyone who played, and my voice was pretty hoarse the next day from screaming! It was a wonderful feeling to support my very own team.

The second bout between Canny Belters and Maiden Grrders was absolutely captivating, the first thirty minutes were very fast paced with a score of 40 – 12 in the first ten minutes, reaching 104 – 75 by half time. I was convinced the Belters were going to take it but Maiden Grrders really accelerated their game and got in some fantastic jamming. Both teams slowly stacked up the points resulting in a close final score of 156 – 164. Thrilling. And massive thanks to NRG for their hospitality and great venue!

You should all be so pleased! Oh and an extra special well done to Heather, LJ and Stef for being awarded Most Valuable Player, Best Blocker and Best Jammer respectively…

Time for bed I think girls. Night night x

March 28, 2012 / mmpomegranate

Outdoor Skating? Just wait while I get my bearings.

My new outdoor wheels and bearings finally arrived,
I went for Kryptonics, and although I have nothing
to compare them to they came highly recommended.
They seem pretty sturdy, with a fair amount of bounce
for those more potholed pavements.

I was very prepared for my first attempt at outdoor
skating to go badly, I had been warned by several people
that it’s much more difficult than skating indoors, I had
also just spent a weekend gorging on cake and booze
courtesy of expat gourmet so I wasn’t expecting excessive
speed.

 

 

 

So we pulled up to the dock museum, padded up and set off. “What were they talking about?!” I thought to myself, “This isn’t so bad, slightly tougher on my back but certainly not painful.”

Anyone who has seen me skate for longer than a couple of hours has probably seen me fall over or at least wobble or stumble, I’m getting a reputation for being ‘fearless’, a very kind way of saying ridiculously clumsy. It wasn’t much of a surprise that it didn’t take long for me to rack up an impressive number of falls. Don’t you worry dear reader! I deliberately dove into the grass verge to avoid serious injury. Several times. Much to the amusement of my fellow skaters. But better safe than sutured.

My second attempt was rather more successful until one of my stoppers popped out, got caught in my wheels and tripped me over. Queue slow motion falling to the ground, with leg sprawling across the curb. I became the proud owner of an enormous bruise on my hip, which has only continued to grow and become more painful over the past few days. Bruises are usually a badge of honour but when they come from a cold lump of concrete it’s hardly a victory lap moment, not least because I could barely stand up…

readers of a sensitive disposition should look away now
(much smaller than actual size)

 

March 8, 2012 / mmpomegranate

Minimum velocity…

I’m beginning to think I am the world’s worst blog updater. I’ve been having a difficult few weeks; isolation and lack of occupation is certainly getting to me, much more than it was before.

I finally passed my minimum skills testing, seemed to me that it took ages but depending on who you speak to it was rather speedy.

The skills one needed to master in order to pass were:

Posture! This is just SO important for everything.

Skating forwards using both feet; correct stance is key – if you can’t do this then you’re probably not taking the test.

Crossovers – took me a while to get these because I have a habit of not squatting low enough.

Sticky skating – regular readers may recall my difficulties with the leisure centre skates, it definitely helps if your wheels turn.

Gliding on each leg – I didn’t have much trouble with this, again it’s a question of blaming my tools.

Laterals – get yourself some 45 degree angle trucks and everyone will ooh and ahh at your magically improved lateral skills, even when you protest that it is all down to the skates they will insist on complimenting you.

Various falls – single knee falls on both legs, double knee falls (one after the other), pornstar (fisting necessary), baseball slide and single knee 180.

Stops – T stop and Plow stop.

Stepping forward, backward, left and right, with minimal wheel turnage.

Hop between feet.

Squat and skate – self explanatory.

Squat and glide – need to be able to do at least a straight and a turn.

Jump a 3 inch obstacle – don’t lose balance when landing!

Look left right and behind (whilst skating…)

Weave a ten cone slalom (six feet apart) – see laterals!

And finally – that dratted 25 in 5 eluded me, just, I managed a paltry 24.5 in 5 and that rhymes as well so it’s practically on the money, besides I was up to 26 the week before.

Soon I’ll be subjecting  my scrimmage skills to testing, I hope to pass as I’m fairly confident I can do everything, although I haven’t attempted them for a while. It definitely brings me that  extra step closer towards a bout, whether I excel or not, which is extremely exciting!

February 3, 2012 / mmpomegranate

Lapping it up.

I have just a little bit of derby news to share. Sunday was the day of our second ever scrimmage. We were a bus of nerves as we set off to Manchester to weigh up this unknown quantity, the Wirral Whipiteres. There was much discussion about whether it was a good idea to watch a video of them from a few months before, know your enemy and all that, but I don’t think it made much difference.

I think it was a fairly good result for a second attempt against a team we knew very little about. The main problem was far too much time spent in the sin bin, and not enough actually competing on the track. I definitely enjoyed it more than our last one despite poor lighting and copious amounts of blue paint dust ensuring a clear photograph was an impossibility. Notwithstanding, or perhaps due to defeat, it was more energetic, more determined, and more evenly matched.

I finally feel like I have really progressed after a bit of a lull since December. Intensive minimum skills training is paying off and I’m fairly confident I’ll pass in a few weeks time. Most importantly though, I did it. Twenty five laps in five minutes. It felt like it too, I was exhausted for the rest of the session and my legs were completely gelatinous (thank goodness there are no pictures of that). Although, it’s clear that reaching my target of running 5km most days is helping the stamina and fitness along. And I should hope so too.

Me for the rest of the evening:

January 17, 2012 / mmpomegranate

If the skate fits…

So they came. Yes it was a while ago now but what with the excitement of Christmas/working 50 hours in a week an appraisal was placed on the back burner.  But now I’m free to pine and lust after sweet employment once more. (I’m not trying to say that my momentary employment was in any way enjoyable, you know that don’t you? I just mean that I have a lot of spare time again. Hours of it.)

Deciding which skates to buy happened to be one of the most difficult decisions of my life, now you might say that  it’s pretty obvious that I haven’t had a huge number of difficult decisions to make in my life. Well you’d be half wrong, and no, I won’t explain right now. It was recommended I buy Riedell R3s but then I heard bad things about them, and once doubt is sowed in my mind, it’s difficult to assuage, even though it was just the stupid internet that told me, and we all know that the internet knows much important information but has a habit of MASSIVELY BLOWING THINGS OUT OF PROPORTION. It was a lot of money to spend on a heretofore inessential item. So I agonised over it. For weeks. Then decided to spend more. As we all know I am extremely indecisive and when it comes to making decisions about purchases it often seems that the only way to solve the problem is to  just buy the item before I’m really ready and hope for the best. So I did. And I wasn’t disappointed. Not one bit.

I went for Sure Grip Skates with black Invader plates, black DA45 trucks, QUBE Juice bearings, Fugitive wheels, and Carrera toe stops, with red Sure Grip toe guards, I think.

At first I had my reservations but I’m going to plug the website which is Skatebritain.net because the man I spoke to was really lovely and helpful and we exchanged smiley faces. Also the delivery was as speedy as my new skates even though it was nearly Christmas, which I found really impressive.

When they arrived my grandparents were away so I wore them like slippers for several days (please don’t tell them because they’d never forgive me and I’m scared they’ll notice the ghost of the black mark that I made with the toe stop of the left skate but hurriedly washed off). I’ve had a few opportunities to try them out now and they are amazing. I can’t believe the difference they have made. They have the DA45 plate so my laterals have improved no end. I’d like to think it’s also because I’ve improved but even if it’s just down to the skates I am happy. Last practice saw the latest chance to attempt 25 in 5. I so very nearly made it, which is so worse than hopelessly failing. Twenty three and a half. TWENTY THREE AND A HALF. So close. But close is just not enough. It has made me even more determined to do it next time though, and with a bit of luck I will. Again, I think the improvement is mostly down to the skates but now I have a proper little list of all the skills I need to be able to master in order to pass my minimum skills, rather than keeping a mental note of all of my failures.

December 5, 2011 / mmpomegranate

A roller girl by any other name…

I know everyone is fed up with being bombarded by links to various roller derby related sites and tweets about roller derby and facebook statuses and comments about roller derby but I’m not sorry.  Be prepared for this to continue. As we all know this weekend saw the first ever Roller Derby World Cup and I felt like I should say something about it, although I’m am not entirely sure what. Just that it was a fantastic experience, even from my room thousands of miles away, watching on a grainy streamed video with often incomprehensible commentary. I hope and know that women across the world have been inspired to set up their own leagues.

It seems that the event was a greater success than expected, it definitely attained some much needed exposure and hopefully the funds to go with it. Maybe it will be on my telly one day soon.

As well as reinvigorating (as if ’twere needed) my love of the sport this weekend also brought to my attention the debate surrounding the fabled derby name. There are those who believe that in order to be taken more seriously the game should ditch the creative monikers and some competitors even chose to go by their given rather than chosen name for the duration of the cup (although I’m sure some of them did it for the fame). I say poppycock, celebrate the game as the cultural movement it is.

If you know anything about me, you know that I can’t resist a pun, and what better way to enshrine one’s love of word play than to create the perfect balance of cultural reference and metaphorical(?) violence within one’s very own calnamebour. But how to choose just one?

So far my favourites are Fisty Muffs and Dolly Outsmart’em but as we are well aware the vacillating nature of my brain knows no bounds.
Opinions, ideas or suggestions are still very welcome.  Now, I’m off to practice Christmas songs on the Uke.