Millfields Park in Hackney, east London, is filled with the sound of tiny wheels gliding on concrete after the nearby schools finish for the day. Children in checkerboard shoes and hoodies have come to skateboard at dusk. It is a few days before the start of the second lockdown.
Nieko, aged eight, tells me he took it up a few months ago because he just “likes riding around”. His mother, Joanne, a product designer, says she is pleased to get him off the internet. It is, she says, like the old-school days when people would knock on your door and invite you to the local park.
Finnbar, 10, says he started in August: “I find it fun to skate everywhere [and] practise my ollies [jumps]. I’m getting all right at them.”
Similar scenes were being repeated around the country, with a surge in skateboarding since the start of the pandemic. “We expected it from when the Olympics started,” says Neil Ellis, head of digital engagement at Skateboard England, but we didn’t expect this increase that’s come through Covid. The skateboard shops have had their best sales ever.”
Ellis has been skateboarding for 23 years and has never seen a situation where you couldn’t get hold of a board. “But this year there’s a worldwide shortage.” Although skateparks are now closed again during the second lockdown, it has been the same story everywhere.…