courtesy Gustav Eden
Location: Jazz Square
Attendees: Ray Beers, Fattie, Art Griff, James, Siggy Sturlasson, Milo (Insert Nickname), Undersigned.
Special appearance: Baker
“We’re running late”
“Want to skate Mayfair?”
“Could you bring some wax?”
Missed calls 6h15-6h45: 4
Temperature: Cold but bearable
Milo: Skating in a t-shirt on his own for 15 minutes, pondering the status quo.
Featured obstacle: Bottom “slappie” step
Go-to: Frontside tailslide
Roll-past obstacle: Barrier
Pose this shot: “Into the light”
Baker arrived halfway through the session and decided that he doesn’t need to skate more than every six months to put everyone else to shame. Ollie pop: 1/2 body height. Length of grind: N16 8JH.
Conclusion: Good one. More of this.
“Never skate the day before a trip” was successfully ignored. Enjoy the weather.
New Pub: The Kingsland
Verdict: A pub’s pub. A landmark of frill aversion
Conclusive remarks: “This is such a good spot”
Originally published in Sidewalk Surfer magazine, around 1998.
Click below to expand full text.
[DDET Uncle Someoneâ€™s World of Something: The Fisherman]
There he sat, reading the skate magazine. He had watched a couple of skate videos earlier, and flicked through old magazines all day. He wore skate shoes with holes in, big jeans, and a tee-shirt from his favourite skate company.
He loved and lived skating.
Until the ghost came.
He was not aware of the ghost, but the ghost was very aware of him.
It began tormenting him, although it was not a bad ghost. Itâ€™s motives were very complex, but it knew that to fulfil itâ€™s goal it had to work this way. Chasing and teasing, lying and denying, confusing and enriching. Only these tactics would change the boyâ€™s mind, and save the boyâ€™s soul.
The boy had been skating for three years now, and the ghost had been working on him for the last six months. The boy had a problem. He had begun to doubt his own ability at skating, as well as at school. He thought he would have to make a choice soon between school and skating, because both were suffering. His last report card had been one of his worst yet. And for the last few months he had begun to feel frustrated when he was skating. Tricks werenâ€™t being landed properly. He had even lost a couple of flip tricks that he had previously wired. He could not succeed at both school and skating. Or so he thought.
One night the ghost told him a strange story in a dream:
There was a fisherman some time ago, who lived in the North of Scandinavia. A cold darkness reigned throughout the bitter winter, and hazy light struggled to provide warmth during the brief summer. From October to May the fisherman would catch his fish through the ice with special nets he had made, and he would use a rod on his prey from June to September. With each fishing method, there were countless little techniques and systems to try and achieve success. Each one was very difficult to learn, and required months, even years of solitary practice in order to perfect. As he had to make his own equipment as well, this took all of his spare time and energy. The nearest trees were a few days hike away, so wood was very scarce. Each device had to be built right the first time, and if not, then he simply had to adapt.
It was a learning process that he had picked up himself over many years. No one had taught him many of the things he knew. The fisherman spent his whole life learning about fishing in his own environment. He could be considered a master, a truly wise man.
One spring when the ice began to melt, some brightly coloured debris washed up on the shore. The flotsam and jetsam had come from the wreck of a cargo ship many miles off the coast. The fisherman picked through the rubbish, ignoring many items that others would have saved. Tearing open a black bag, he removed some pieces of old card and paper. Some of it had pictures of food on, including various fish he had never seen before. Amused by this, he began to chuckle and took a couple of these fish pictures with him.
On his way back to his cabin, looking at the brightly coloured packets with their strange wording and even stranger looking fish on he began to laugh out loud. He laughed most of the night to himself, pausing merely to eat the fish he had caught and cooked that day. Looking down at his plate of real, edible fish and then across to the false, inedible pictures of fish he had got from the beach he began to chuckle again. When he woke up the next day, he found himself laughing straight away. He was laughing about the other people. He knew that other people lived far away from him, over the sea. But he hadnâ€™t realised how stupid they were, what sort of lives they led. “I catch fish and I eat them!” he shouted to an uninterested rock, “And all those people do is make pictures of fish!” He began chuckling to himself again as he pinned one of the fish pictures above his door.
From then on, every morning as he set out and every evening as he returned, he would glance up at the picture, and a broad smile would appear on his weathered face. Even on the coldest and darkest of days.
The boy awoke with a start, his memory of the dream was vague and confused. But there was something new about him. He felt good. There was a sharper focus in his eye. A smoother beat to his heart. On his way to school, he walked down the street as slowly as he could, guided by something new inside him that he hadnâ€™t felt before. It felt so good, so relaxing. And yet he was amazed because he still got to assembly on time. The Headmaster spoke at the assembly about careers. As he was in the middle of careers week, that day he was due to meet the careers advisor to discuss his future.
The careers advisor was called Mr Hartley. He wore a tweed jacket with strange, dirty velvet trousers. He looked a mess. As he had obviously failed in life, it was very difficult to see how he could possibly inspire others down any career path. He was more likely to put you off school and learning, even life itself.
â€œI want to be an astronautâ€ the boy replied to Mr Hartleyâ€™s hopeless question.
Mr Hartley snapped in, â€œThis is not a good time of your life to be joking around young man. Everything you do for the rest of your life will be decided here. You have to think very carefully about your decision.â€
The boy did indeed know the importance of that time in his life, but in a very different way to Mr Hartley, â€œOkay then. I want to be a racing driver.â€
â€œThat is not a serious proposition, BOY. Look, youâ€™re getting a letter home at this rate. Now letâ€™s have a look at your file. Good maths grades. Have you ever thought about being an accountant?â€
The boy looked down at his scuffed shoes to hide his smile. They didnâ€™t look like the shoes of an accountant.
â€œWhat is it boy? Donâ€™t you think youâ€™re good enough? You can start at the bottom you know, and after a few years, well, you begin working your way up the ladder.â€
The boy couldnâ€™t help a chuckle, and then broke out into laughter.
Mr Hartley fumed and began shouting some nonsense.
The boy didnâ€™t hear a word of it, he was laughing so much. Tears began to stream in his eyes. A blurry Mr Hartley stood up and began waving his arms about, shouting even louder. The boys laughter grew and grew, there was no stopping him now.
He could not see Mr Hartley any more, just a blurry swirl. He felt relaxed and excited at the same time. He saw only a rainbow of light, and heard laughter from himself and a thousand like him. His vision began to clear, but he was somewhere else, not in the careers room at all. He was somewhere very white.
Then the ghost slowly appeared before him. He studied it closely before understanding what it was. Then he began to see what he had learned from it. He realised now. The choices in his life were false, it wasnâ€™t one or the other, this way or that. He was capable of going in any and all directions he wanted. The fisherman in his dream was an inspiration. The fisherman knew what he wanted, there was no clutter in his life. The boy could succeed at school and at skating – it was easy, all of it. Anything that he had ever done was easy, and now, anything that he was ever going to do would be even easier. He smiled and thanked the ghost, and it smiled back and disappeared.
The next thing he knew he was in the headmasterâ€™s office, with Mr Hartley and the headmaster towering over him. In a surreal fashion, Mr Hartley was still trying to continue the careers discussion, â€œLook young man, it is my job to set you on a career path, and I will not have five minutes of stupid giggling prevent me from doing this.â€
The boy looked at the careers advisor, then at the headmaster. He thought of his skating, and his school work, then he thought of the ghost, and the story it had told him in his dream. He knew how to shut them up.
â€œI want to be a fisherman.â€ he said.
Originally published in Sidewalk Surfer magazine, around 1998.
Click below to expand full text.
[DDET Uncle Someoneâ€™s World of Something: Does God Exist?]
â€œUncle Someone,â€ one of my skate nephews might say, â€œdoes God exist?â€
Well Iâ€™ve been asked this enough times now, itâ€™s time I found out the truth.Â God is an old mate of mine, so I thought Iâ€™d ask the man himself.
â€œDo you exist?â€ I said rather precariously to him one lazy afternoon.
â€œGood question.â€ He replied, â€œEver since the Seventies I havenâ€™t quite known myself.â€
I was confused. â€œWhat happened in the Seventies then?â€ I asked, wondering if drugs were involved.
God picked up my thoughts and barked his reply, â€œDrugs were not involved.â€ after a short pause, He said â€œIt was TV.â€
I was even more confused then. â€œSo you watched TV and decided that you didnâ€™t know if you existed anymore?â€ This couldnâ€™t be true.
â€œNo, I watched TV and decided that it wasnâ€™t worth me existing anymore.â€ He looked me straight in the eye and continued, â€œIt was two programmes that did it actually. A cartoon series called Mr Ben and a skateboard film, I think it was called Hot Wheels.â€
I began to think that maybe drugs had been involved, but I did my best not to let the thought materialise – I didnâ€™t want to make the Big Man angry…
He carried on, “As usual, I was watching all the TV stations in the World at once, when an episode of Mr Ben came on. It was fantastic. Watching this guy go into a clothes shop wearing a suit, and then he would put on some different clothes from the racks each week. By putting on these clothes he would be magically transported to the time and place where the clothes came from.Â One week he was an Roman soldier, next week an astronaut, the week after he would be an intrepid jungle explorer. Bloody marvellous!â€
I dimly remembered this program myself, but it hadnâ€™t had this profound effect on me. On telling Him this he replied, â€œAha! But you didnâ€™t see it the way I did.Â With this Mr Ben character, for the first time in my life I saw someone who had a better job than me! Each week something amazing would happen, a fantastic adventure, but by the end of the program he would be able to put his suit back on and go home a happy man – what freedom!â€
â€œBut Mr Ben was only a cartoon, and-â€
He interrupted me abruptly, â€œONLY A CARTOON! How dare you say that you non-believer. Whatâ€™s this then – ONLY a conversation weâ€™re having, ONLY a sentence youâ€™re writing, ONLY a column in Sidewalk? They all exist donâ€™t they?â€
I had to admit He was right, so I decided to move on â€œWell okay. So you liked Mr Ben the cartoon, but it doesnâ€™t explain why you donâ€™t think that itâ€™s worth you even existing anymore.Â I just donâ€™t know what you mean.â€
â€œSorry, I didnâ€™t mean to shout.Â Anyway, Iâ€™d just made the decision that I was going to give up my job and become Mr Ben.Â I had everything set up.Â Mary was going to take all the houses and cars, Jesus didnâ€™t want anything so I said he could have my job, Moses was going to look after the garden – I had it all sorted.â€
Rather impatiently I asked â€œYes, well, what happened?â€
â€œThen I just saw this film, a skateboard film called Hot Wheels.Â It changed my life forever. I hadnâ€™t paid much attention to skateboarding since itsâ€™ invention 20 or so years before, but then, right before my eyes, mankind had transformed it into something magical, something incredible, limitless. You see, Iâ€™d just decided that being Mr Ben was the best job I could have, when this skateboarding came along. It was even better. And it wasnâ€™t even a job, it was a … it was … it …â€
Gods eyes glazed over and he looked at the Heavens. Itâ€™s not often Iâ€™ve seen him speechless. After all he invented speech. Yet I could tell that this was truly important. A defining moment.
Snapping out of it, he continued, â€œWhen I invented mankind, I programmed a simple and well-meaning destiny for them. They were to find a partner, build a family and a career, and if they worked hard enough, they would discover me at the end of it. But this skateboarding thing was something else. I didnâ€™t plan it. It was out of my control. Skateboarding was way superior to the simple destiny that I had planned for humans. It was more fulfilling, more real and alive. The skateboard had become the ultimate urban device, I had accidentally created the key to mankindâ€™sâ€™ escape. I just couldnâ€™t believe it.Â Whatâ€™s more, I had undermined myself, I had lost control. Mankind was now my rival, my equal. Can you see my problem? For me to exist was a joke. I had invented mankind, and they had created something that was even better than me.
I just had to stand down.â€
Which brings us back to today. Nowadays I just potter about on my mini-ramp and check out new skate videos. I can see now that mankind can look after itself, so I suppose I did a good job after all.â€
I waited a few moments. Itâ€™s quite breathtaking to hear a man of Godsâ€™ stature describe his own downfall. Sheepishly I asked, â€œSo, do you exist then, or donâ€™t you? Sorry but I still donâ€™t get it.â€
His reply came slowly, â€œWell, if I had to say yes or no, I guess Iâ€™d have to say no I donâ€™t exist. At least not in the sense that I used to. Iâ€™ve gone from being the Ultimate Being, to just, well, an interesting concept I suppose. Quite a step down really.â€
How can someone tell you they donâ€™t exist?
Iâ€™d had enough of this talk, I was beginning to wonder about my own existence. His answer would have to do, Iâ€™d describe it to my nephews somehow…
God and I had a tall drink, and then chilled out with an old-school session on his mini-ramp until the sun dipped below the hills.