Twenty Fourteen

Facebook has, of course, offered to compile a set of images that is supposed to represent a review of the past year. I have passed on that golden opportunity. I offer you, dear reader, a more thoughtful version.

Last Christmas I was suffering the pain of a herniated disc. Such pain that I played “lying down” charades with the children as it was the only way I could find relief. It was a bloody awful Christmas and in January I declared that I would be quitting roller derby. I just wanted to crawl into a hole and stay there. But derby friends immediately came to my rescue and said that I should still be involved, NSOing or refereeing. Well, with hind sight, “being involved” was never really going to stay that way. In mid February I saw an MSK specialist who reassured me.

By March I was back on track. I was at back at practice, though taking it careful. I also took out a year gym membership, to build core strength to better support by back and hopefully prevent repeat injury. I’d been encouraged to swim to help my back but I found that it made my back hurt – I don’t do front crawl, which is what I should have been doing. I also found that fitting in swim and gym was consuming a fair bit of my free time.

A long weekend around my birthday in April gave me time to think, and skate lots. The atmosphere at work had changed substantially and not in a good way. These two strands in my life seemed to be saying that I needed to kick myself in the arse if I expected change. So I set my mind to improve my fitness level and to find a new job. Shit!

May saw Skateful Dead’s third co-ed scrim. I wasn’t skating by then, though I note that the training session at the end of the month was particularly good. By the end of May I had found a new job. I started at the end of June, so had a month read up on the technology I’d be using. I was too busy to write, though did manage to fit in some derby photography, which included a trip up to Scotland with Hull’s Angels.

My new place of work is Bradford, so the commute is half the time. Some flexibility in start/finish times also helps greatly with the trains. I clearly recall going for a run one fine evening and bumping into Leeds commuters arriving on the late train that I used to get. That extra free time has allowed me to fit in gym sessions after work and still get home at a reasonable time. The job is going really well. I finished my first project in reasonable time and it’s been well received. The current project involves phased releases as it’s pretty big. I getting to use some agile programming techniques and they are working well. Very happy at work now.

August was the Men’s European Derby Championship, held in Newcastle. But for me the bigger event was our co-ed scrim. I felt that I was safe to play and I loved it. I got to skate with some amazing skaters including four from HARD, some from LRD and a few from Scotland who happened to be in Newcastle but nipped down for the scrim. It was a confidence booster that I feel everyone needs from time to time.

Over the summer holiday we (The Skateful Dead) seem to ‘lose’ a few regulars. They haven’t moved on to skate with other teams, they’ve just become too busy to make it to training. One session there were just four of us. Numbers seem to have improved recently, last week we had ten – enough to scrim. Gillie, our coach, and Phil, one of our skaters got married in October. They also took time off to prepare for that. We managed without, as you do, but a coach is an important person on the team.

In September I had opportunity to get on my aggressive (in-line) skates again. A group, which seems to be led by LRD skaters, had arranged a “skaters only” session at The Works in Leeds. It’s an indoor skate park. I’ve been there three or four times now and I’ve found that it’s really helping with my jumping and transitions. I highly recommend giving it a go.

During September/October I had a row of five weekends where I was doing something “derby” every weekend. The biggest of these was a trip over to Dublin with HARD. Crazy flight times, little sleep, grumpy photographer and a jolly minibus trip. All the fun!

After the flurry of activity, November seemed quiet. I managed to get some development time in on my Penalty Timer app, incorporating changes that became apparent during use. I was excited by the prospect of Christmas too, and put my tree up at the end of November.

December brought a well attended Skateful Dead co-ed in which I took part, followed by a trip over to Hull. Photography for both the A and B teams then the HARD Christmas party. A really good start to the Christmas period.


It is also little over a year since I first did photos for Hull’s Angels, covering a closed scrim against The Crucibelles. Since then I’ve been over to Hull quite a few times, down to Nottingham, up to Scotland and even over to Ireland. The journey to Scotland was pivotal in my getting to know them better. We travelled by coach from/to Hull, so plenty of time to chat/listen to chatter. Dublin too was so lovely. I felt very much part of the team there. I’ve covered eleven games/events with the Angels this year and a handful of others in amongst. Looking at data from my camera I see that in over the past twelve months I’ve taken over 28,500 photos

Thank you

There are too many people to thank individually for all the lovely things that have happened this year. I do though want to name a few whose actions and support have drawn me further into the derby community and made the year such fun. First, Carly and Lawrence for not letting me quit in January when that’s all I wanted to do. Second, Danni, Julia and Abi for getting/keeping me involved with Hull’s Angels through which I’ve met many skaters and travelled more than ever.

So much love for the roller derby community!