11 November 2014
Dear Jocelyn Taylor Moore
Today I came across a photo of you roller skating at 83. I thought, “Wow, imagine if I could do rolling arabesques like that at 83”. I’ve been saying for quite a while now that I’d like to still be "skating when I am eighty”, but it’s quite a shock to see someone actually doing it. Quite a lovely shock, actually.
Then the bigger shock came when I realised this photo is from 2011. I had a bit of fun surfing and seeking you out, you see – and apparently you’ve been skating your whole life. No wonder you look so fit and happy in the photo. Then I see on another site that you are still skating now – and still coaching others – including numerous World Champions in figure, free, dance and pairs skating. All I have to say to you is Wow.
You see, the thing is, Miss Taylor Moore, I loved*loved*loved skating as a kid and teenager, but the only place I could skate was between the milk trucks at the small town butter factory where my Dad worked. I know you started on your sister's skates in the basement of your home. So you'll understand where I started. My skates were yellow plastic from Kmart, they strapped on over my canvas sneakers, and they were super responsive with excellent bearings. But there weren’t a lot of coaching opportunities, or even other skaters to watch. Occasionally when I stayed with my grandmother in Shepparton, I got to skate at the rink there – in unfamiliar hired skates that had boots like ones I'd seen on TV. I learned about going round and round in circles, which seemed very limited to me, after doing figure eights around the tankers. But it was brilliant. Brilliant. Of course, I learned very little apart from how to stay upright - and balance on one foot.
I have since started skating again – I took it up as a serious obsession at the tender age of 44, and after a few months of struggling (and then some years of slowly learning more) I have become a *bit* more capable, thanks to some excellent teachers at my rink here in Melbourne. You would know how important a good teacher is – laying down the ground rules, keeping everyone safe and pushing them to take the risks you know they need to take to improve.
I love this photo of you - what a fantastic high kick. My guess is you had just won one of your nine championships and this was taken for the paper. What gets me is the lack of safety gear – I am sure you knew just how risky it all was, and thought it was worth doing anyway. That’s gutsy. These days I skate in knee pads, elbow guards, wrist guards and a helmet. But then, I’m far more likely to fall than you – and I DO want to still be skating at eighty!
There’s some work been done around the positives of skating – the lateral motion apparently is good for the brain – and I bet you know that, which is why you skate every day. I wonder what a day off skates feels like for you?
I have met some excellent people through skating, and the most impressive of them tend to be roller derby women. I know this is not your field – it’s certainly not mine either – but I do admire their guts and determination. I bet you had that in spades when you were skating professionally in the championships – I know the top figure skaters skate for hours every day. It certainly shows in those who train.
Skating has been so good for me. Skating inspired me to write again. Without those eight wheels I would never have started all of this – it started with a poem, and later, a song, Derby Girl Blues.
I am printing out a photo of you for my skate bag. My new idol, Miss Jos Taylor Moore. Skating and coaching at eighty-something. Good on you Jos. Next time I hazard a jump, or grind my teeth over my transitions, I will think of you.
Thank you, Miss Taylor Moore. And may you have plenty more great days on wheels.
Love, peace and light