There are stalls selling team ‘merch’ and cupcakes, Jewellery, hot pants and even baby clothes along the side of the room and steadily the hall is filling up with the eager buzz of spectators awaiting Evolution Roller Girls first ever open bout – But I’m from Nottingham; what the hell am I doing here??
Time to test the track; so I follow my girls out and try to look like a seasoned professional, attempting to cross one foot in front of the other on corners like we were taught in basic training; like every adequate roller girl knows how.
But I bottle it on every corner-Christ what am I doing here??
I cast my mind back.
Monday 7th July 2012. Nottingham Roller Girls first fresh meat intake. I’m sat on the sofa exhausted, unfit, unhealthy and not in my right mind having finally settled a 6 month old and toddler for their afternoon nap. I half heartedly toy with the idea of attending the ‘fresh meat’ session at Gedling School when my husband rings.
‘Are you going tonight?’ he asks.
‘I don’t know; I’ll let you know when you get in.’
Somewhere between then and that evening insanity takes over and I decide I’m going. Yes I’m unfit, yes I have a living atlas etched on my belly and thighs, yes I may be a little too old for these things and yes I may have lost my core muscles somewhere in the last two labours but god damn it I’m a bad ass independent woman and I’m not gonna attempt to get fit in some class next to some hottie who doesn’t sweat and needs to eat cake- I’m gonna do it in style:
I’m gonna do roller derby!!
So I go. I’m pleasantly surprised: not only by the mixture of men and women of all ages from all walks of life, but by the fact that I can actually skate?!
Steadily one week rolls into the other and I look forward to my Monday nights exercising; and I’m gaining skills as well, they’re gradually ticked off my basic skills sheet; and my thighs are getting toned and I feel myself getting fitter- bloody hell, I’m actually not too bad at this!
Then I get a text, there’s a last minute bout arranged between Nottingham and Evolution; is there any chance I can attend team training? …
And suddenly I’m here.
O.k. on the next lap I will manage the perfect cross over and will look awesome to all watching.
Then I hear a distant tribal like chanting and the beat of drums. Bloc Party’s The Prayer is playing over the speaker:
‘Lord, give me grace and dancing feet
And the power to impress.
Lord, give me grace and dancing feet,
Let me outshine the moon.’
In that split second I look around. I see my team mates. I see the opposition. I see our supporters. I see my fellow fresh meat who have come to watch us. I see my husband, sat cross legged at the front of the crowed in the suicide seats looking at me; beaming, the proudest man in the room.
In that moment I’m not an exhausted mother.
I’m not an ex-businesswoman.
I’m not an overworked housewife.
Heck, I’m not even a house wife.
I’m Feartrix Rotter.
I came here to bout.