Oooh. They’ve put an ice rink up. This means CHRISTMAS IS COMING. For some reason, the reality check which eventually happens to most people didn’t hit me: I still get as unreasonably excited about Christmas as an 8 year old. More so, actually, than my 8 year old cousin. However, the general rule is you cannot show Christmas excitement until at least after Halloween. Even though Christmas adverts start popping up in October, even though the minute the weather changes you’re ready to hunker down in a blanket nest and eat your own weight in chocolate, you must. keep. it. hidden. Once Halloween is safely behind us, you are, at last, free to sail down the streets, wearing at least 3 scarves and wailing christmas tunes at the top of your lungs. That time is not quite here, so I have to resist the urge to excitedly repeat “CHRISTMAS” in a high pitched squeak every time someone says it. Apart from Christmas, I just love this time of year in general. In winter, it is actually socially acceptable to wrap yourself in a duvet like an overgrown slug and just watch bad movies all day (at all other seasons you have to go outside sometimes). There’s a wonderfully excesssive amount of hot chocolate, and there are crunchy leaves everywhere. Everyone becomes a child where crunchy leaves are involved. I have seen many a “jock” type boy galumphing moodily along, spot a promising leaf from afar, glance furtively around, and proceed to charge joyfully at it. Elsewhere, small children are dressed in so many layers that they must waddle everywhere, and the slightest gust of wind sends them face-planting. However, being so thoroughly padded, they usually just ricochet back up and carry on with their merry waddling. There’s always that slightly confusing moment when shops are split exactly in half between halloween and christmas decorations, and you trot nervously between witch hats and stuffed santas. However, this ice rink is a sign that I can begin to gradually show christmas excitement, and hopefully acclimatise my flat people to it in a way that won’t scare them off permanently. In theory therefore, the ice rink is a good thing. However, it means at some point I will be frogmarched onto it to go skating, which I am not excited about. I’m very good at standing at the sides and offering moral support and admiration to all skaters, but thats it. Whatever universal lesson given to everyone which means they can magically skate with no lessons whatsoever seems to have skipped me. Many people laugh merrily at my insistence that I cannot skate, saying it just takes practice. After several hours of no changes to my terrible skating performance other than they are now taken down with me when I plummet to the ground, they are less keen to help, and sidle off, leaving me to flounder in the middle. I am ashamed to say that at these times, when the sides of the rink seem to be moving further away, it doesn’t matter how many people I have to take down in my determination to reach the safety of the rails. Small children, elderly people; all are mown down in my desperate flailing. I am terrible at skating. I am so slow that one time a small child used me as a push start. A friend of mine seems to have supernatural skating powers: on one occasion I was convinced to go skating with him and several others and whilst they sailed merrily around the inside of the rink, I was in my usual stance of feet planted firmly on the floor, clinging to the rails, and refusing to move, and was therefore in the perfect vantage point to witness his skating. It was surreal. I never saw him move. His feet, his legs, his whole body were entirely still, and yet he zoomed along at an alarming pace. He didn’t push off; he just stood still, stuck his arms out in a bizarre airplane fashion, and proceeded to gather speed as if he had his own personal breeze to move him. He would glide from one corner of the rink to another, arms raised, legs stretched out, like some weird vampiric moth, a maniacal grin on his face. Bafflingly, no one else seemed to notice this unusual sight. They continued to twirl along using their feet to move themselves like normal mortals do, and in the midst of them, a lone figure glided silently along, not moving a single muscle, like some weird ice skating ninja. Show off.