London's parks are becoming over-run by a menacing, multi-coloured, mobile eyesore. No, I am not referring to John Major's beggars, but to that worrying new craze, roller-blading.

It now seems that London's ex-joggers, misfits, Antipodean imports and cardio-vascular performance victims have found a common goal: to weave backwards at high speed through the tourists, families and couples for whom these green spaces were originally intended.

Joy-riding on eight in-line wheels is, surprisingly, a 19th century

invention. However, it is only in the past seven or eight years that the manic twenty-something ex-jogging fraternity have taken it up with a


Today's Day-glo fanatics with their sleeveless T-shirts, sports Walkmans, leather braces and baseball caps do not belong to the sport's ancient tradition, but to that of Central Park.

These tanned tyrants are spreading faster than Dutch elm disease through Regent's Park, Hyde Park and even Kensington Gardens.

Trafalgar Square occasionally res-embles a roller-blade disco, while the odd stray blader can be found

carving his way through London's traffic. I only hope roller-blade despatch riders don't evolve from the Lycra-crazed gene pool.

Whereas jogging at least provides entertainment to anyone like me who delights in thetre d'absurd and has a good capacity for Schadenfreude, bladers are like dumb mutants from a second-rate sci-fi movie. Travelling backwards, perpetually looking for the pod from whence they sprouted on some

dismal day, their mission is to drive the human race from any open space with a concrete runway.

Unfortunately, unlike those teenage fads for skateboards or Bros,

roller-blading is mainly an adult preserve. It won't just skate off into the sunset. One well-known London shop sells more than 75 pairs a week (average cost pounds 100) and informs me that the world championships are happening in Scotland in July with pounds 5,000 for the winner.

It is as addictive as crack, convincing its believers on the first fix that they are really cool and better than anyone else. But just like drugs it is very, very easy to do. Remember this when some prancing poseur cuts a perfect circle right in your face. You could do it, your grandmother could do it, Billy Goat Gruff could do it.

On an individual level, there seems little you can do to wipe that 'Hey, look at me, I'm great]' smug smile off a passing blader's face. You could write to your MP but, doubtless, the cancer is spreading through the corridors of West-


Apart from stringing chicken wire from appropriate park fixtures, the only solution would appear to be a 'reclaim the parks' vigil. This would involve those for whom the parks were originally in-tended calmly sitting cross-legged on our once-safe paths and poking sticks through the wheels of any

passing blader.

There should be a satisfying number of bloody knees and grazed hands to show for it.