The Toboggan Run

For the sake of those who have only recently joined, here is a golden Oldie, to the rest, I ask your indulgence.

I have said in the intro I was a latchkey child of a one parent family, I was also the baby sitter for a brother whose main aim was to gum red bars of Lifeboy Carbolic Soap with relish. I had just been introduced to ball-bearing roller skates and, when not at school, lived on wheels from breakfast until bedtime. It was a way of life which had been denied me in Africa because there were few paved areas on which to skate, but now I had discovered them, I was learning fast, if at the cost of sheets of my skin.

One Saturday Mother instructed me to take charge of Baby, who was sitting in one of those old fashioned, deep bodied, prams nannies would wheel in Hyde Park. I was rarely intentionally mischievous, rather I was inventive and given to ill-considered impulses. This time, becoming bored with pushing Baby round the roads at a snail’s pace, with no opportunity for adventure or self expression, I thought of the idea of skating with the pram, so two birds could be dealt with at one go, duty and speed. This too became boring until I realised that I had been doing the circuit the wrong way. If I tackled it anticlockwise I would have to descend a steep hill, instead of climbing it. This opened up a much better prospect and I proceeded to perfect the Toboggan Run system of perambulation, whereby the perambulator became the toboggan with Baby acting as ballast.

At nine years old I found this system so simple and so splendid I wondered no one had thought of it before. One skated to the top of the hill by any route. When on the flat, one turned the pram round, ducked under the handle and grasped the sides of the pram with the hands, put the chest on the back rim of the pram, and then skated as never before. When the whole unit was reaching Mach 2, one lifted one’s feet, skates and all, and then tobogganed down the hill accelerating the while, much to the enjoyment of Baby.

The game went on for the rest of the session until the moment when Mother rounded a corner to be met with the sight of her last-born hurtling towards her and no sign of anyone controlling the pram. I was hidden by the hood and the body of the pram and was almost alongside Baby as a passenger. In spite of the fact that Baby clearly thought the whole idea marvellous and also in spite of my assurances that it was absolutely safe, Mother put an end to a sport which might have had international recognition.The success of the venture outweighed the punishment to such an extent I can’t remember the form retribution took, but then I always did take punishment as a rod to be borne in the search for excellence.

Categorized as Frivolity

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