Author Fleur McDonald, Esperance, reflects on her childhood idols Torvill and Dean

By Fleur McDonald
April 30 2022 - 10:00am
Esperance-based author Fleur McDonald.

WHAT is your favourite childhood memory?

One of mine would have to be Torvill and Dean.

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They were the darlings of ice skating in the 1980s.

I loved their sparkly, glitzy costumes as they danced across the ice, eyes firmly on one another.

They took my breath away.

They were glamourous, exotic and stare worthy fascinating.

My life was full of red dirt, loud galahs screeches and shimmering heat of the Flinders Ranges.

A life on ice was alluring and they were the only reason I begged for a set of roller skates for one Christmas.

Yes, I realise that roller skating and ice skating are two different activities, but I imagined trying to keep an ice rink frozen in 40 plus degree heat wasn't a realistic possibility.

Torvill and Dean had much influence over my younger years.

I would fly around the shearing shed, mum's old veil from her wedding streaming from behind me, or race around the verandah at nana and papa's homestead, pretending I was in front of the cameras, competing at the Olympics.

The shed at mum and dad's truck depot was another favourite because of the cement floor.

Twisting, turning, crepe paper streamers in hand, dancing to the music coming from my cassette Walkman.

Remember them?

With the horrible, flimsy foam-covered headphones?

Still, time moves on and the roller skates ended up in the bottom of the cupboard, spider webs forming on the rusted wheels.

The images of Torvill and Dean faded, replaced with the like of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and rebellion.

Fast forward to 2019 when my best friend was turning 50 and we went on a cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong.

Having never been on a cruise ship before, the entertainment on offer was both a surprise and delight.

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Especially when I read there was ice-skating performances.

What?

How?

Here we were floating around in heat and humidity and there was ice rink on board.

How did they keep that frozen in the middle of the South China sea?

It didn't matter, because I was in heaven.

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For the next 10 days the flashy costumes were there, the dancing and athleticism, the beauty.

The music that swirled around and the sound of ice being shaved from the surface as the skaters turned their skates hard to stop.

I went back again and again and again; to as many shows as I could.

Transfixed.

Thrown back to a time where life was carefree and happy, without responsibility.

To where a curious young girl, dreamt of all places far-flung across the world that were wrapped in ice and snow, short, shiny costumes and white ice skates, and a life just like Torvill and Dean.

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