Railtown Loco Rollers

It’s been ages since I’ve blogged, and I know not why, just haven’t been stirred to write about much lately. There’s been loads going on though. I’ve been to loads of gigs here and there, met lots of nice people (as ever!) and I’ve even developed a liking for real ales. Who knew!?

One new development I am DEAD proud of though is roller derby. I began to notice a few of my Facebook friends were getting into it, and really REALLY falling in love with it. They’re all looking fit, firm and fiesty and they’re all women who’s opinions I trust and who hold similar political ideals. A co-incidence? Mais non. Turns out that roller derby is a feminist movement on wheels. Community, support, fun, self-esteem building… all really good things in my book.

So where was the team in Crewe, a town I thought would need this kind of movement as much as any? Nowhere to be seen. Lots of teams around us in Stoke, Liverpool, Wirral, Chester and so on. But nothing here. Hmmm… strange.

I went to Liverpool with Michelle from OffBeat Brewery to watch the Liverpool Roller Birds bout at Sefton Park and was blown away. What a great afternoon! Everything impressed me, from the organisation, to the style of play, to the gear the skaters were wearing and the way everyone drops to one knee to shield and protect a skater who is down and injured. That is team.

I still don’t know if it’s a good idea, but I went a bit Billy Bonkers and decided to form our own team in Crewe. After a few false starts I came up with “Railtown Loco Rollers” as our team name, and as with anything worth doing these days, I set up a Facebook page. Unbelievably, people started ‘liking’ it and before I knew it, I had a dozen women saying, “So, where do we sign, when do we start?”. Shit!

I did a bit of emailing round, and Sir William Stanier sports hall were very good bout helping a fledgling sports team with some time on a Monday night. Brilliant! The worst bit was getting messages from friends saying they work on Mondays and couldn’t be there, but it was the only time and date we were offered so I had to take the hit.

One of the new team members messaged me and said she had just moved to the area from Blackpool, had been in their team until she left, and was DYING to get her derby on again. In addition, she’s a graphic designer and would be able to do logos… for cake and beer! That’s the kinda currency I like, so today we got our logo too!

So we have a roller home, a name, a logo and a few women who can’t wait to get their wheels on! We even have a sister team, Stoke City Rollers, who want to join up and train with us, and amazing offers of guest coaching from bout-ready ladies from other local teams. The rest will come, I’m hoping to get a bit of something in Crewe Chronicle this week which hopefully attract a bit more ‘fresh meat’. It’s all coming together ridiculously quickly!

But the one question everyone has asked is, “So, will you be putting skates on Chappers?”, and the short answer is no. There is nothing in the known universe that could induce me to put wheels on my feet. I have a terrible phobia of falling over. Wet leaves, wonky paths, ice and downward escalators are my nemesis. BUT I can organise the shizzle out of anything, so let me introduce you all to:

RLR Logo

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Spooky Samhain.

I’m not normally one for Halloween. I dislike the way it now seems to be sponsored by Haribo and is mainly an excuse for hordes of teenagers to beg for sweets and cash with menaces. There I’ve said it.

This year I was invited to do it properly, with applewood bonfires, purification from the bad luck of the last months, offerings to the Ancestors and welcoming the dark months (for without dark, there can be no light). In addition to this, there was cake, booze and dirty joke telling, which as far as I’m concerned is what makes Paganism so brilliant. Actually, I’ll go so far as to say that they are three of the things that make LIFE brilliant.

Ken and Lucy O’Malley-Local were our hosts, along with their daughter Sassy. I was invited along with Marie and Paul Bentall and their son Kian. It became apparent that it was going to be a great night, when Ken answered the door to us, dressed as a bearded crone, complete with pipe and headscarf. Marvellous. I am pleased to say his wife looked rather sexier as a saucy corsetted pirate lady, complete with bandana.

Drinks were poured, music was played and the kids were taken for a spot of trick or treat action (not that I approve, but I did steal a chewy lolly or two, just for safety test purposes you understand). Afterwards we were fed and given another metric fuckton of booze (note pattern starting to form) and were encouraged outdoors for fireworks and bonfire lighting.

Now then, you know how they always tell you to keep your fireworks away from flammable materials in case they ignite and start a great big fire? Well, the plan was to use that risk and turn it to our advantage. The fireworks were set into the unlit bonfire and set off, in the hope that they would cause the paper, kindling and recently collected wood to spring into impressive and fiery action, and that it would be spectacular. No fucking chance.

The fireworks worked, but no fire. It took another half an hour, ALL of Ken and Lucy’s newspaper recycling, another bag of kindling, a tube of Pringles, a gallon of petrol and a napalm thrower to get it going. However, we persevered (a pyro like me will never give up on the possibility of a fire) and eventually a lovely fire burned.

Lucy lit candles and tealights at her garden altar and all the correct things were said to please the dead and to invoke loveliness upon the assembled boozers. I wish I knew what those blessings were, so that I could relate them to you, but I’m afraid I was very, very drunk. Just rest assured there were no goat sacrifices and no boiling of babies, although we did come very close to roasting a Jack Russell…

As the night air cooled, we wandered indoors and sat around Lucy’s kitchen table and attacked more of the food and booze. There were River Cottage vegetable pasties (as made by the Bentalls) and sexy cake (as made by Ken, who is a cakey genius). There was great hunks of tiger bread and ooooh I’m going to stop now before I get accused of upsetting people’s pre-crimbo LBD diets or something. Let’s just say it was carb heaven, and did a lovely job of a) soaking up the boozes, and b) making me sleepy.

So, after we had collectively put the world to rights, bitched about shit witches, talked bollocks and told more dirty jokes, it was time for home.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never been one for Halloween, but from now on, give me Samhain and sexy cake at the O’Malley-Local house, every year. The Ancestors would definitely approve.