Holding it together: Alexander Palace

Even though…


  • the sun refused to come out and the temperature had dropped by easily10 degrees since the previous day so we were dressed all wrong
  • the whole building that should be better used is an enormous white elephant, eerily quiet between gigs, a bit like the shocking silence that school playgrounds exude when all the children are gone
  • the inflatable caterpillar for bouncing in was dwarfed by the immense space – mini pitch and putt, ice rink pop music drifting in
  • round the back the walls are crumbling, windows are boarded up, in the Palm Court plaster Sphinxes sat comatose under parched enormous sub-tropical dusty shrubbery




…despite all this, it didn’t get me down because of the skaters.



Their whole personalities re-housed in their ankles and boots with blades attached. The fast ones were all feet: shy, wide-eyed non-talkers, boys, zipping between the more socially apt. In the middle distance, swerves and tight-corners described such skill and confidence hidden in marrow and cartilage.


Dotted about were examples from that thick pi-chart-slice of society that seems normal on land, then gets on the ice and look like they have either just had a debilitating stroke or undergone deep and traumatic brain surgery half an hour before. They wobble and grab at anyone near to steady themselves; they’ll pull children and OAPs down in their deep-seated desperation. I wont tolerate prejudice and the like, but seeing these totterers caused an extreme reaction.


But those who could skate, only really at home on the ice, they threaded the novices and inept. Drawing and drawing the sign for infinity. Scraping to a stop and looking you right in the eye, then off again to find themselves tucked inside a tight corner or where their calf muscle flexes.


About grahamcliffordpoet

Graham is an award winning poet, based in London. He graduated from the University of East Anglia with an MA in Creative Writing, and has since published nationally and internationally, winning many awards and performing at some of the most prestigious and well known Literary Festivals. His debut collection, The Hitting Game, is published by Seren.
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