Latest Nonsenses

Meet a woman who skated derby before you were BORN!


Let’s not forget our history. catches up with one of the country’s original roller derby stars. Still going strong at the age of 93, PENDULA BARMCAKE has plenty of wisdom to share with the modern derby community…

Hi there Pendula. Are you one of those gays? Did the council send you?

I’m here to interview you for I don’t mind if you are. Everyone’s gay these days, aren’t they? I expect I am by now. You just can’t tell, can you?

I’m just here to ask you some questions. Are you from the Microsoft? They keep phoning me up, asking questions and demanding money. I don’t even have a Microsoft!

No I’m not. Also those people are scammers, don’t talk to them. So when exactly did you first take up roller derby? In the ninenteen somethings, love. We were all at it then.

Was it a different sport then to what it is now? Eh? What sort of a sentence is that? Are you French? Ask it again, properly. Ask me politely.

How do you feel roller derby has changed since you used to play it? Ooh, it’s all about the ankles.

In that modern derby skates allow more flexibility on the turn? No, in that they can show the bloody things. That’s why they cut those skates so low these days. Would have been a riot if they’d worn them like that in my era. Still used to put doilies round the bottom of our piano legs, we did. 1940-something that was. Ninenteen forty thrupenny. Thereabouts.

So do you follow modern roller derby at all? 1940s is modern, you silly biscuit.

Um, OK. What sort of crowds did you get back then? What sort of crowds do you get? I mean you, not yo mom. We’ve all seen that queue. Boosh! Wackawack! My grandson told me to say all that bit. Does it make any sense? I can’t understand a word.

I think we might have got off the wrong foot here… What, the same way that Aceface Wilson of the Hartlepool Pissers got off on the wrong foot when she lined up against me in ’47 Champs?

No, I was saying that… hang on, 1947 Roller Derby Champs? I was captaining the Horsham Hors. Wilson had said something to the London Gazette about our team name and we were all ready to make her pay for it. Horsham’s Mayor even doubled the squad’s powdered egg ration that week to make sure we were fighting fit for the game. But I’m rambling now. I’ll shut up.

No, no, please continue… OK, although I’m sure this won’t mean anything to a youngster like you. We’d basically set up our blocking rotation into two key line-ups. One was a so-called “power line-up” featuring more physical players, and we planned to utilise this against Wilson and the one-legged Ferris Sqwheel, Hartlepool’s two hardest hitting jammers. The other line-up was built around pace. We knew the Pissers would try and speed things up when they got a chance, and would probably try to push our girls up onto the outside line wherever possible. Hartlepool were at home and had a deal with a local butcher who was going 50% with the team over the value of any ‘meat’ scraped off opposition players on the barbed wire boundary (this was before the invention of track tape). Harsh, but we were still living under rationing don’t forget, and our pace line-up was designed to counter that tactic by outrunning and outgunning their blockers. Although we were more penalty heavy that we would have liked in the first half, we came out of the break only 96-137 down, and knew that walling up tight against the likes of Sqwheel and Compus Mentalist – both of whom were already on five box visits – would hopefully draw out enough penalties to weaken their roster. It worked like a dream and the final jam saw me lining up against the aforementioned Aceface Wilson. Neither of us passed clean on our initials, so we were facing a full length final jam (ie one minute forty seven seconds, as we were still using Imperial measurements then). It had suddenly become a game of chess. Chess on skates. Chess on skates played by rugby players. Rugby players who are women that don’t like chess. Or rugby. With scant seconds left on the clock, the Pissers were 209-206 up and both myself and Aceface were hitting turn one – elbow to elbow, shoulder to shoulder – and the back of the packs. I can’t quite do justice to what the Hors pulled off in those final few seconds. Long story short: Wilson hit a granite solid fully braced two-wall that sent her up and into the wire, whilst I took a long-stem lateral whip from my awesome teamie Oval Teen and hit big air, jumping the T1 and T2 apexes in one fell swoop to land right in front of the Hartlepool pack on the stroke of fourth whistle. Nailed it! We won the game by one point.

Wow! Was that your greatest moment in roller derby? Roller what?

Stay tuned to for further interviews in our ‘History Makers’ series…

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