Monday 4 March 2024



I don't know when he got so chatty.

Honestly, he talks and talks without end it seems. But, here's the punchline - it's always good.

Top quality entertainment, plenty of info, a sprinkle of wisdom all floating on a magic carpet ride of freeform imagination. I don't know how he does it. You could say I'm in awe of the bloke.

He'll describe how he approaches an airline meal on a long haul flight. And I'm right there, tuned in and soaking it all up. Next thing you know, we're underwater and he's gliding along the seabed explaining how to use your fins so as not to disturb the coral. Then we're drinking coffee in Sri Lanka and it's the best thing in the world to do even when it's also probably one of the most terrible cups of coffee you could ever buy. An hour and a half later, I'm buzzing and I've still got my coat on, haven't even taken my hat off yet. Only meant to drop off his card and present on my way home. 

It was his birthday this week but he already has a gift, the gift of the gab.

Saturday 27 January 2024



Social Media - It takes a lot of effort doesn't it? Getting stuff together, learning the lingo, the set-up. Ready for whatever it is you want to do.

But these social media hangouts all seem to go the same way eventually.

I'll just sketch out some thoughts on the big three; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Actually there's not really much to say about FB - it was always destined to go south. Too big, too populist. Hanging out with your kids, your grandparents, your cousins, your neighbours, your workmates all in the same place and all piling in was never gonna be fun. Add Zuckerberg's rabid ambition to be all things to all people and it guaranteed that the lowest common denominator would set the limits for the whole enterprise. Now a global wasteland of nonsense.

Twitter was actually great around 2008. The word count thing made it really interesting - attracting users who could be succintly smart, funny & informative. I had lots of very good interactions with all sorts of people, always respectful. Mainly personal opinions and shared interests. Journalists quickly adopted it and started using it as part of their daytime work - it became a newsy resource. Then in 2015/6 fuckin Donald Trump ramped it up. Obviously it suited him, one rambling sentence being the limit of his literary ability. His egotistic rants normalised toxicity on Twitter and subsequently dragged that poison across a lot of other media too. Ultimately attracting yet another white male megalomaniac billionaire to wade in. It became a cesspool very quickly. 

Instagram was my jam for the last year or so. Drawn to it initially cuz it was mainly visual, which felt like a safe and equalising place. But that didn't last long and it soon became commodified. Zuckerberg  saw an opportunity to grab a new online marketplace and threw open the gates. It's gone to shit and is now rapidly spiralling down the toilet.

I always liked that the internet was originally set up as a civil experience, it felt hopeful and positive - that it could be whatever the people wanted it to be. But that doesn't feel true anymore - it's now a functionary for business and power. The users are the product.

And the irony that I am using Blogger (a dormant, abandoned building) to air these points is not lost on me. I don't know where to go now.


Monday 11 September 2023



Out on the pushie the other morning and every cyclist that passed in the opposite direction (and there are always plenty of cyclists out early on the weekend mornings), gave a soft salute as they whooshed on by.

I considered this as I pedalled along, how do I feel about that slight raising of the hand? 

I realise that I don't mind it, it reminds me of something that used to happen whenever you would see another car with surfboards on the roof. A soft salute, an acknowledgement, a small sharing, sometimes a thumbs-up, or a thumbs-down depending. Although the negative thumb wouldn't stop you. Still had to drive down to the break anyway, make your own decision on the viability. May or may not have been a false flag, that particular little signal.

Anyway, surfers don't give any kind of salute now, never happens.

Wednesday 9 August 2023



Hong Kong, early 90s.

Place had a very serious end-of-the-world vibe. 

In a few years time it would be handed back to the People's Republic of China following 156 years of very laissez-faire British governance and who knows how that will play out? Therefore, pedal to the metal, we're flying headfirst towards the end of the road anyway so don't think too much.

Lan Kwai Fong (also known as Too Far Gone in keeping with the spirit of the times) was where you went to keep the buzz going on those hot sultry HK nights. 

One particular Saturday sticks in the memory. Two different UK DJs playing on the same night in a couple of clubs a few streets apart. David Holmes or Brandon Block? 

During my short stay in Hong Kong I'd found myself lumped in with a rag-tag bunch of expats and we'd generally meet up in a few of the bars and then kick-on into the early hours, drinking way too much, talking gibberish and generally getting messy.

Anyway, consensus amongst this group was that Brandon Block was the geezer of choice. I'd had my doubts about these people all along and this just confirmed it. No taste, no style.

Couldn't convince them otherwise, so I left them to it and headed off to a rooftop club.

David Holmes every time!

Sunday 18 June 2023



Rumour of a wave. So I head down to the bay, it's 2 foot and clean, no wind, dropping tide.

It's a warm night and a hazy sun gives off a dull beige glow. Not the sparkling Hollywood glitter of the previous evening, but the waves are better. I paddle out in the rivermouth rip at the north end and catch a couple of lefts.

I see my son further down the beach on the middle peak. As usual he is catching plenty of waves. I paddle over to greet him. We chat, remarking that it seems relatively quiet given that this is the first reasonable swell in over a month and it's a Friday night. Maybe everyone just headed straight to the pub after work.

My surfing ability has taken a deep dive over the last year coinciding neatly with Cealan's elevated skill levels. As I get older and slower, he grows in confidence and has rapidly overtaken me in terms of how well he now surfs. He is already better than I ever was.

I used to have a personal rule that dictated I had to catch a 3 wave minimum every session. Not an ambitious quota but one I could achieve quite comfortably, indeed sometimes hitting up to 30 waves on my better days. Nowadays I'll settle for a flipped version of that rule where I aim for a 3 wave maximum - and I'll admit that there have been a few sessions where I've struggled to hit that number.

Anyway, I had four good ones under my belt so I decide to catch one in and head home. Low tide now, so I walk back across the beach and climb the rocks up the cliff.

Once up on the cliff I turn and gaze back out to sea. I always pause like this apres-surf, taking a mental picture of the scene for the memory bank. I see lines approaching and watch as a set bulges up on the peak and I instantly recognise my son's silhouette stroking into the first wave. He swoops left, cross-steps to the nose, steps back, pirouettes a swift 360 (his signature move) and walks back up the board. It's a classic 'Cealan' ride. As he stalls on the tail to flick his board up and out of the whitewater he simultaneously looks up at the cliff, raises his arm and gives me a wave goodbye.

Eyes like a hawk, that kid.

Sunday 3 July 2022


Climbers, mountaineers, alpinists.

Surely more on the edge than most. In fact, they often go over the edge, very often fatally.

Some of these stories have been told by the climbers themselves (those who lived to tell the tale), and some have been told by friends, writers, filmmakers and even their own families.

'Torn' is a film directed by Max Lowe about his father Alex Lowe, a larger than life character who led an extraordinarily adventurous life. But it is Max's examination of what happened in the wake of that life that makes this film so incredibly poignant.

'The Last Mountain' - another incredible story of a climbing family and the deep & lasting legacy of how the pursuit of adventure in the mountains can be life-changing for everyone involved. The film follows Kate Ballard's journey to find peace following the loss of both her mother, Alison Hargreaves, and her brother, Tom Ballard. Both of whom died at almost the same age, in the same mountain range doing what they loved to do.

'Free Solo' - captures all of the utter nail-biting tension as Alex Honnold attempts the first free ascent of the sheer face of El Capitan in Yosemite. The heart-in-mouth terror of watching him free-climb is stunning. But it is the interplay between Alex and his fiancee Sani McCandless, that creates the personal drama. Alex, single-minded, obsessively determined, seemingly oblivious to danger. Sani, emotionally open and engaged with the project, supportive yet also very honest about her struggle to balance her love for Alex with the very real fear she feels.

Just three of many amazing films about extraordinary people who are happiest when they're on the edge.

Monday 2 May 2022


5 ways you can make your visit to Cornwall a happy one (for everyone else)

1. Don't bother

Seriously, just don't come. Nobody really wants you here, even the tourism businesses are not that interested in you personally. They only want your money. You clog up the roads and car parks, snaffle up all the best housing as your vacation accommodation and generally get in the way. This is first and foremost our home, it's more than just your holiday destination. You are an uninvited guest, on top of this, your presence doesn't contribute to our communities and certainly doesn't help our environment.

2. Don't imagine Cornwall is your spiritual home

Just don't, even because you've been 'coming here for years'. Nothing makes you look more like a fool and actually we find it insulting that you would assume this faux ownership status based on some imagined affinity. I've been to Gordano motorway services (Bristol, M5) more times than I care to remember, doesn't mean it's my spiritual home. Nobody cares.  Just be honest about it - you like the place and you can afford to take a holiday here.

3. Have some respect

The beautiful beaches, quaint villages and towns are home to us, we live and work here. You are here as a guest, be considerate of this fact. 

For example at the beach closest to where I live there is limited parking. It's always been a great place to take the dog for a walk or get a quick surf in. Because we may only be an hour doing the above we have always parked on the side of the approach road when the car park is full. Just a few locals doing this sporadically over the years, temporarily in & out, not causing any bother to others and no harm done. Last year visitors started also parking on the approach road. The crucial difference being that there were hundreds of them, badly parked, staying all day long, complete with outdoor chairs and roadside BBQs, showing no respect for local farmers, damaging the verges and causing chaos and traffic congestion. Because of their lack of respect this once low-key, local resource has now been ruined as the Council have decided to put double yellows all along the road in both directions. This is a classic example of how visitor ignorance, lack of awareness and zero respect for others has lasting consequences. Surely, ironic too that their very presence is destroying what made this location such a special place.

4. Look beyond the brochure

Parts of Cornwall have extreme poverty, poor housing, high unemployment & low wages. Think about contributing something to the people that actually live here. Seek out some local charities who might benefit from your wealth as opposed to directing the bulk of your tourist £s directly to Air BnB, out-of-county second home owners and international supermarket chains. Try to contribute directly to the community you are staying in.

5. Drive better - be aware

Honestly if you insist on hogging the middle of the road then you'll have to learn to reverse when you meet oncoming traffic. Use your indicators, don't dawdle, some of us have things to do and places to be. Similarly when you're in town, spare a thought for others by not strolling four abreast on a narrow pavement. 

- - 

You are basically a visitor in somebody else's home - try to remember that.

Wednesday 1 September 2021


I swear it's true - reaching down to pick something up from the ground gets harder and harder every year.

Ironic really, given that I'm probably shrinking a little bit as the seasons pass. You'd think a bit of a stoop and some general lowering of the centre of gravity would help. But nope, definitely more effort required to reach the shoelaces every morning these days.

So why does the earth feel further away than it used to? It clearly isn't, maybe it is just the sense I feel that the earth is calling me downwards. And my old bones are resisting gravity's pull as a last stubborn stand against the inevitable march of time?

Life, it is so very cyclical isn't it? We're born to be low down to the ground, literally. Unable to stand and designed to spend that first year crawling around on our bellies in the dirt.

But instinctively we want to raise ourselves up, to reach for the heavens, aspire to be tall. And we grow like weeds, pushing upwards and onwards. We leave the dirt behind, we want far horizons, blue skies, we want the stars themselves.

After a couple of decades or so we reach our peak. We are naturally the fittest, strongest and most fertile we'll ever be. Of-course we then spend the next couple of dozen years trying to maintain this peak, striving to extend the virility. Working endlessly to push, pull and drag ourselves up to a new plateau where we hope we'll feel safe and secure, beyond the reach of the inevitable decline. Never imagining that we too will succumb to frailty and become diminished versions of ourselves some day.

But slowly, and it is ever so slowly at first, gravity pulls us back down to earth. Gravity and time bow our heads, bear down on our shoulders, slow our steps. We may not want to admit it, but we can certainly feel the earth calling us down. That's right folks, we all know it's true, (although none of us want to think about it) - nobody gets out of here alive.

And so the circle of life, we suddenly realise, isn't like a merry-go-round but actually more like a Ferris wheel, the ground seeming to rush up towards us, our ride nearly over. Too soon, way too soon.

But we are returning to earth - back where we came from, back to where it all started.

Saturday 24 July 2021


A beautiful and sunny Saturday morning, clean little waves and no wind. 

It's changeover day, which means all the tourists are either packing up, vacating their holiday homes and hitting the road if they're of the outgoing variety. Or they're stuck on the A30 in traffic on the way down if they are the incoming variety.

It leaves a nice little window to get in the surf without the crowds.

Me and R hit Gwithian before breakfast, just as we're getting suited up Cealan & Z pull up with exactly the same idea in mind. So it's almost a family affair and we paddle out to a little right hander that works pretty sweetly on an incoming tide.

We have it all to ourselves for a while and then Pete Dudley paddles over and joins us. We know Pete, he's a good surfer and a nice guy, originally from Wales but now a St Ives local (and incidentally an uncle to the very talented longboarder Elliot Dudley).

We all take turns sliding into quick, glassy peelers. During a nice 5-wave set Pete, Cealan and Z have all taken waves. R and I both paddle for the last wave & find ourselves riding in side by side. As we glide along the face next to each other Pete is paddling back out. 

In his broad Welsh accent he yells, "Lovely... Just like Torvill and Dean!

(Disclaimer: R and I have never ridden a tandem surfboard together. And it is impossible to find a tandem surfing image that isn't blatantly sexist.)

Sunday 11 July 2021


I went for a surf yesterday.

First time for over a month, cuz I've been landlocked with an injury.

Knee to waist-high waves, sunny and no wind. Perfect for a few summer dribblers.

It was busy, one of the reasons I tend not to go in the middle of the day. But the tide was on the push and the weak swell needed all the help it could get so I figured why not?

Someone dropped-in on me every other wave. And on those other waves if it wasn't a drop-in I was facing someone paddling out right in front of me on the open wave side.

I know it's summer, there are tons of beginners on holiday and on an inconsequential wave it's to be expected. But it is really annoying and also a bit baffling. 

I'm pretty sure that 99% of the people I encountered in the surf yesterday would have driven to the beach. Presumably they didn't pull out of junctions in front of oncoming cars and went the correct way through roundabouts.. (Kids & teenagers tend not to drop in, they are generally much more respectful and very aware of what's going on around them when they're in the water.) Therefore we can assume these adult learners aren't total idiots as they made it to the beach in one piece, so why does all their common sense dissipate when they get on a surfboard?

I'm not a fan of rules per se, but surf etiquette is just basic common sense. Whether we call them rules, or guidelines, or protocols or whatever.. There are only a few 'rules' you need to know and follow.

1. Don't drop in!

The surfer closest to the peak always has right of way. 

If you don't know where the peak is - (it's the first breaking part of the wave) think of it as the surfer with the longer potential ride has priority for the wave. 

If that is still unclear - Just look to the peak, if someone else is paddling for this wave and they are closer to the peak than you - they have right of way. 

If 'looking at the peak' is too complicated, try 'checking your mirrors' ie; simply check behind you to see if there is someone already on the wave who caught it before you and then back off and get out of their way.

2. Take your lumps

Paddling out - it is your responsibility to not get in the way.

Ideally - when you paddle out to the line up, don't paddle straight through the waves where people are surfing, paddle out where people are NOT surfing.

However at beach breaks this isn't always possible, but time it right and you can usually keep out of the path of oncoming surfers. But inevitably you will find yourself right in the zone where a surfer is already up and riding. 

The rule here is simple - when a surfer is on a wave you must go behind them NOT in front of them. The temptation is to go in front because that looks like the easier route, the wave may not have broken yet and the water is smoother. But don't do it! You must not go in front of the surfer already riding on the wave. You should go behind the surfer and into the whitewater if necessary where it is rougher and may not be so easygoing. Basically, you gotta take your lumps.

3. Don't ditch your board

This really is just common sense and basic awareness

It's very tempting to throw your board behind you if a wave is breaking that you can't paddle through. But this is totally irresponsible and selfish - you no longer have control of your board and whilst you may have got yourself out of harm's way there is a good chance you could have sent that loose board flying straight at somebody else. Hold onto it!

- - -

There are some other 'rules' about snaking and right of way and general etiquette in the line up, but in my opinion these three above are the fundamentals and should be taught by the surf schools alongside whatever else they teach beginners trying to catch their first waves.

We all make mistakes - at some point everyone drops in on a wave. But being aware of these basic common courtesies in the surf creates a much better atmosphere and keeps surfing fun for everyone.

Saturday 5 June 2021


Surfing has revealed my Achilles heel* - or more accurately, my Achilles toe!

After a long winter of having to wear boots as a necessity, it is always a welcome turning point in the year when Easter arrives and the temperatures rise enough to ditch the kook boots**! I absolutely love those first few surfs back in the summer suit at the start of Spring when I can feel the wax beneath my toes again.

Here in Cornwall, the tail end of May saw an unbelievably good run of swell paired with balmy weather and a high pressure system that puffed offshore breezes across the peninsula non-stop for over a week. It was nuts!

Okay, it also meant the crowds were off the hook. But, by some magical meteorological coincidence those perfect conditions just stayed the same all day long everyday.

It was great, meant I could check the cams a couple of times during the day whilst at work to get a sense of where it was looking good, wait until almost dusk for the crowds to thin out and then go enjoy some sunset glass to satisfy my soul.

I did it again the following evening, and the next and the next... A total of 7 surfs in 7 days! Bliss.

Until I looked at my feet. Bliss had turned into blister and what I can only describe as a small pot-hole had been ground into the side of my big toe. Caused it seems by what my son laughingly refers to as 'foot dragger style'. Every night there was blood on the sand, then during the following day it would form a thin scab only to get knocked off again by the end of that night after yet another surf. Making that hole a little deeper, a little more gnarly every time. Can there be too much of a good thing?

Needless to say, it's now gone pear-shaped. Couple of nights ago, my whole foot was on fire and I could barely walk the next day. The evening spent in A&E confirmed an infection and the result is the next 7 days on antibiotics and probably spent out of the water too.

Maybe I should have kept those kook boots on after all...

- - - 

* If you don't know the origin of the term Achilles' Heel, click the link, it's a cool Greek myth. 

** I wear Solite boots in the Winter, they are the best boots I've ever owned - truly game-changers!

Sunday 23 May 2021


There was an incident many years ago, not back in the Dark Age (70s-80s), more like in the Middle Ages (90s-early00s), that I clearly remember.

It was a beautiful Spring day, and miraculously I found myself with a couple of child-free spare hours on a weekend. There was a slim chance of a small wave at Aggie and I really fancied a splash as I had recently become enthused by Mal riding and wanted to try and get in as much as I possibly could.

As with most surf spots in Cornwall the first clue as to the state of the swell was revealed by the car park - it was sparse. But I parked up and wandered down to have a look anyway. It was serene and lovely but barely surf-able, with just a tiny little wave nudging across the bay every few minutes or so. There was one guy sitting forlornly on his board, seemingly with the same idea as me.

Armed with the fresh revelation of how easy it was to catch waves on a longboard and determined to make use of my precious free time I decided to go for it.

There was only really one peak where the little ankle slappers were breaking, so I paddled over to join the other guy in the water. Aware of the etiquette of barging in on a solo session, I breezily asked if he minded if I shared a few. Thinking to myself that it was laughable at best to even be trying to surf on a virtually flat day and this fellow surfer would see the irony in this... 

His back was to me and he half turned his head and scowled a warning at me.

"Don't take my wave."

Not quite sure I'd heard him correctly, I asked..

"Sorry mate, didn't quite catch what you said there?"

This time without even turning to make eye contact he repeated loudly.

"Just don't take my wave!"

Ah, okay obviously a local then.

I was initially shocked by the aggression and then annoyed by the arrogance. Firstly, nobody owns these waves even if you have the good fortune to grow up next to them, and secondly there was nothing at stake here apart from an occasional dribble that might just about carry enough momentum to make it to shore, maybe.

Either the guy was totally wound-up and determined to enforce some kind of locals-only priority (which St Agnes is renowned for) or he was just a dickhead. Either way I wasn't interested and carried on doing my own thing and caught as many waves as I wanted within reason, allowing plenty to pass me by as I always would when surfing with other people around me anyway.

Eventually the tide shifted and what little swell there had been fizzled away to nothing. I left the beach satisfied to have got wet, but miffed by the weird exchange with the other surfer. It left a bad taste although I have to admit it did sadly reinforce an opinion that St Agnes locals do tend to love themselves a little bit too much.

- - 

Now twenty years later I believe I may have some understanding of what was going on with my friend in the sea on that flat, calm day.

The sense of privilege that let him behave in such a way must be even more bitter today. Maybe he did grow up in sleepy little St Agnes. An idyllic childhood in a charming coastal valley. Maybe he had surfed there all his life, run down to the beach after school with his mates, known everyone else in the water. And maybe he had seen the small terraced cottages get sold off to wealthy second-home owners. Now effectively no longer affordable for his own children. Maybe he was appalled by the influx of very rich, very privileged incomers who now made up most of the population and were smugly claiming the village as their own little enclave. 

Maybe he'd had an inkling of what was to come all those years ago when he'd seen me paddling out to try and surf 'his wave'. Maybe he'd known all along that his privileged little village would become a victim of privilege itself.

Saturday 15 May 2021


I've known B for over thirty years. 

I can clearly recall seeing B for the first time; a teenager riding a skateboard, blondey brown hair swept back in an Alice band. Smooth androgynous features and a slight slender frame. The common question most people asked when first seeing B was; 'Is that a boy or girl?'

Skateboarding drew us together as friends and B became a solid buddy, we spent hours and hours skating, surfing, listening to music... Just generally hanging out back when time seemed to be abundant and responsibilities were out of sight, way off beyond a distant horizon.

B was always just B to me, a good friend. But I was also very aware that he was different to most anyone else I'd ever met. He is uncompromising in many ways, and has no interest in conforming. He has a brilliant, enquiring, inquisitive mind and an astute view of himself, society and the world we live in. An incredibly talented musician, artist and maker. He has spent the last few decades continuing to follow the beat of a drum only he can clearly hear. 

We met up for a chat and a cuppa recently. In a rambling discussion that covered Christ Airs, biscuits, horseboxes and sexual politics B claimed that maybe he was non-binary.

Suddenly an imaginary lightbulb went on above my head as I poised, mid-slurp, and considered what B had just told me. For the first time in our long friendship I suddenly saw him in this new light. Why not? It made perfect sense, he's just a human, a really good human. If gender had to be described as a scale with extreme testosterone-fuelled machismo on one end and utter feminine oestrogen at the other. B would be somewhere in the middle... Just like the rest of us.

Insert second lightbulb moment here: Maybe we're all non-binary!

Think about it, what purpose does it serve to be labelled a man or a woman aside from sexual reproduction? Can't think of a single job that can't be done by either sex (apart from sperm/egg donor or wet nurse admittedly). Parenting and marriage are based on the equal division of labour & responsibility between two people (gender not essential). Sport has definitely fallen into the stereotype of segregating the sexes - why? (Ok, we're culturally and traditionally used to seeing separate all-male and all-female teams and events, but there's actually no real reason why this has to be.) Business, industry, education, organised religion, politics, arts and culture - none of it needs to be specifically gender biased. And, this is the real clincher for me, I'm 100% convinced the world would be a better place if men hadn't predominantly been in charge.

We give no significance to the colour of our eyes or hair (although for some reason the colour of our skin matters a great deal to some people). Gender specific labels are now seen as old-fashioned and dated - eg; terms such as 'Bachelor' and 'Spinster' no longer have any relevance at all. We're reassigning titles such as Headmaster/Headmistress to Head Teacher and so on. In the future what real purpose will being defined as male or female really serve?

Thursday 22 April 2021


I had always imagined that somehow in my autumn years, the natural manifestation of all life's experience and knowledge would magically deliver me to a beautiful state of mind and a comfortable place where I would be 'Healthy, Wealthy & Wise.'

Of-course the reality is much more like 'Fucked Up, Hard Up & None the Wiser Why...'

And this is absolutely fine, I'm ok with it, in fact it's a perfect life lesson. 

I'm learning how to come to terms with the truth whilst still believing in the dream.

- - - 

"And you may find yourself 
Living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself 
In another part of the world
And you may find yourself 
Behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was

Water dissolving and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
Under the water, carry the water
Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean!
Water dissolving and water removing

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again into silent water
Under the rocks and stones, there is water underground

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

You may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
You may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? Am I wrong?
And you may say to yourself
"My God! What have I done?"

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again into the silent water
Under the rocks and stones, there is water underground

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Look where my hand was
Time isn't holding up
Time isn't after us
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Letting the days go by
Same as it ever was
And here the twister comes
Here comes the twister

Letting the days go by (same as it ever was)
Same as it ever was (same as it ever was)
Letting the days go by (same as it ever was)
Same as it ever was
Once in a lifetime
Let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by.."

- - - 

Once in a lifetime - lyrics by David Byrne

Sunday 28 February 2021


I've been reading a lot recently about how surfing has many health benefits, both physical and mental. This struck a chord with me. 

Albeit a discordant one. Because I've also read about surfing being a spiritual, soulful pursuit. I've read about surfers being 'at one with nature' and finding deeper meaning within the act of surfing. Recently I listened to a podcast where some surfers were claiming that they remained childlike and curious purely because they were surfers.

To me this is all bullshit! Yes, surfing is fantastic and fun and physically satisfying. But to claim it somehow also rewards with elevated consciousness and superior awareness is bonkers. Why can't riding a bike or playing a round of golf* make us appreciate nature and our place in it? Why would surfing be exclusively the only activity to exercise both mind and body?

I surf because it's fun. I live near the coast and I've done it since I was a teenager. Yes, it often helps me switch off from work and reduce the daily noise & I enjoy the challenge and exhilaration of being in the sea. But I honestly doubt that it makes me a better person. In fact it probably does the opposite. Surfing involves way too much ego and selfishness to encourage spiritual development.

If I really want to do something that helps my physical and mental health I go for a run. It's incredibly simple - the only essential equipment is a pair of trainers (don't even have to be expensive). Some shorts and a t-shirt will complete the set-up. Step out of the house, and head off. 

Very soon I strike a rhythm, one foot in front of the other. A regular pace and quite quickly my mind quietens. I'm not competing with anybody for this space. I'm certainly not trying to impress anyone with my steady plodding. 

During a year of semi-regular runs I noticed that random thoughts would click into place and ideas form and solidify with ease. This was a revelation to me. Somehow the act of tuning out and following the repetitive pattern of my feet on the ground actually cleared my head. 

To me this is meditation. And I'll go so far as to say that a quiet run can be a lot more soulful than trying to catch a wave.

*I personally have no interest or desire to play golf, but can easily imagine that it has massive benefits for those that enjoy it.

Friday 5 February 2021



This photo of me taken by Paul 'Milo' Milsom is from the early 90s maybe some time around 1991ish.

Milo was staying with me in Falmouth, we spent the weekend skating Crantock, St Newlyn East and almost definitely Playing Place too. In the evening we did a little curb scratching and ended up at a party with ‘lots of garlic’ according to Milo. I actually don’t remember the garlic part. 

I do remember that leather jacket though. 

I had worked previously at Skateboard! magazine in London. The publisher also produced a couple of motorcycle titles from the same offices. They were a cool bunch and the mix of skateboarders and bikers actually worked just fine. 

I would cycle to and from work across London and one night when I went to leave it was pissing rain and freezing cold. One of the biker journos, guy called Rick lent me a leather jacket he had lying around in his office as I only had a hoody over my tshirt for protection. 

Fuck, that thing felt so good! Fitted perfectly, was hefty but sort of loose in a cool way. The leather had a beautiful authentic patina that only comes with true wear and tear. The weight of it alone was enough to let you know you were shouldering something substantial… I don’t think I even owned a coat at the time, maybe just a sketchy charity-shop anorak. So this was a revelation to me, I was hooked - that jacket was awesome.

The next day I left it at home to dry as it had got soaked on the previous night’s ride home. Back in the office I asked Rick if I could keep it as I knew he didn’t wear it often, in fact I’d never seen him wearing it at all. In the same way that we got freebies on the skate mag, the biker journos always had fresh gear; jackets, gloves, helmets, boots etc. Perks of the job. And I knew that he was particularly taken with a new Italian leather jacket he’d been swanning around in for the last month or so. He didn’t exactly say no. Mainly cuz I was pestering him so hard to let me keep it by guilt-tripping him into passing it on to me, knowing for a fact he got it as a freebie himself and didn’t wear it. I think he would have preferred me to shut up about it and take the hint that he would rather keep it than give it to some annoying skater. I let it pass, but importantly the jacket was in my possession.

I took to wearing it all the time as if it was in fact my jacket, and whenever I passed Rick in the hall he would jokily threaten that he wanted it back. And I would equally jokily respond ‘Yeah, yeah - one of these days..” Like I said, those biker guys were cool. 

I was not cool though, because I basically re-assigned ownership of that jacket from Rick to me right in front of his face. What a shit move.

After a year or so, it just became mine... I figured it was like squatters rights - if you live in it long enough then it becomes yours.

Eventually the magazine gig came to an end and I moved on. Which is around exactly the time that the above photo was taken of me wearing ‘my leather jacket’ back in Cornwall. Well needless to say Karma caught up with me because also not too long after the pic was taken, so was the jacket.

Stolen. Out one night somewhere, placed it on the back of a chair, closing time comes around and with it the realisation that the jacket has gone. I was gutted but I also knew justice had been served. I’d been sneaky taking that jacket from Rick and it was inevitable that it would be taken from me in the same manner. Full circle karma baby!

Monday 1 February 2021


A small blue planet spinning through space. 

Whether by devine plan or random chance, this particular planet has exactly the right atmosphere and environment to sustain life. It has well-established lunar and seasonal cycles. A sturdy ecosystem combined with steady climate and temperatures. Plentiful water and a balance of natural resources and a thriving population with the intelligence & potential to maintain peaceful existence. 

At times the dominant occupants (humans) have displayed both extreme courage and creativity as well as staggering selfishness and stupidity. But overall they have achieved a universal balancing act designed to preserve harmony. 

Then a virus emerges that attacks all the humans on the small blue planet regardless of racial, social or economic background. It is indiscriminate, highly infectious and incredibly deadly. Very quickly it threatens the continuing existence of the entire human population of the small blue planet. 

The situation is blindingly clear - the virus must be eliminated or suppressed globally. To try and protect only a percentage of the total population will be a waste of time and effort. The virus is too infectious, too easily spread, too efficiently lethal for scattered piecemeal solutions. In simple terms the entire planet must work together for its own survival. 

But this particular world has survived countless wars, conflicts and natural disasters so it has plenty of experience in how to overcome and manage such catastrophes surely? Faced with such a threat it could easily unify to ensure its own safety and future. 

Although there are huge discrepancies between the wealth of the various countries, the rich nations could comfortably support those from poorer continents. Luckily the small blue planet has learnt some important lessons from its shared history and has gone some way towards planning for widespread danger. It has agreed on international treaties, created worldwide authorities and global coalitions precisely to try and eliminate such a threat. 

In fact, for example just a handful of staggeringly rich individuals from one part of the planet (America) could fund enough vaccines for millions of impoverished people across the whole of the planet. 

The situation is dire and extremely urgent, possibly the most important threat the small blue planet has ever faced. 

We watch as this virus slowly spreads, mutates and continues its steady, deadly assault on the people of the small blue planet. Shockingly they are stagnant. Unable to muster a shared purpose, instead they bicker amongst themselves. Waste time prevaricating, endlessly arguing and making excuses. Waiting, waiting..

The question is not when will they come up with a cohesive, unified plan to help every single global citizen and therefore ensure their future. 

But why haven’t they?

Tuesday 26 January 2021


essjay williams interview
Essjay Williams is a bona fide OG Cornish legend. A first generation Truro skate grom, a pioneer 70s park rider, an original Westcountry Skateboards team rider and Tris team member, an independent skate shop owner and all-around good guy.

Well respected across the board by the industry and skaters alike, Essjay has seen it all from the very early days, through the various booms and busts of over 5 different decades - that's right, dude's been heavily into it for nearly 50 years and is still hovering around the Cornish skate scene today. Take some time to dig into a little bit of skate history..

All pics courtesy of Essjay's collection.

- - -

Hi Essjay, thanks for taking the time, first off, what made you start skateboarding?
I have a memory of seeing a surfer skateboarding on the Killacourt in Newquay when I was a toddler and after that I always wanted a skateboard but never got one until a surfing mate of mine “Nelly” turned up one day with a homemade deck and Chicago trucks with Cadillac wheels - an awesome set up! That was the start.

When was this?
Early 1975.

What was the scene like back then?
I don’t think that there was one, but they started to include a bit of skateboarding in the American surf films so we used to go to see them as often as possible.

Where did you skate?
At first it was Redannick garages & Dobbs Lane, (anywhere with a slope!) then we used to cobble up ramps outside of our houses and once made a ramp on a building site opposite the library in Truro. Skateboarders started to meet at the Council offices car park below the viaduct in Truro, that is where I used to sell stuff from the boot of my car! That was the beginning of the Truro scene.

Essjay on a makeshift ramp opposite the library on Pydar Street in the centre of Truro.

Chuds and Essjay catamaran at the Council offices car park in Truro.

Which parks did you skate and did you travel to skate?
There were no parks until they built Watergate Bay and that opened officially on 29th May 1977 and that was our home for a while, Nelly and myself once got there at 6.30am for a sneaky skate before the emmets turned up and to our surprise the old chap that used to run it came down and took our money! Then Holywell Bay opened up followed by Playing Place and later the Flamingo indoor park. I visited Millendreath and Portland, Torquay, Barnstaple and others that I cannot remember when I was doing my delivering job! The Plymouth “zoo” park was amazing, loved the full pipe and the snake run, I have a photo of my wife Irene skating the pipe!

Uk's first skatepark at Watergate Bay.

Banking off the high wall into the bowl at Watergate Bay.

Irene pumping it in the full pipe at Plymouth Zoo park.

We also went to the first Skateboarding exhibition at the Royal Horticultural Hall in London on the 12th-15th Feb 1978 quite a few Americans were in attendance such as Bobby Piercy and Steve Cathey. We hung around with the rest of the Westcountry Skateboards crew who had a stand there.

Westcountry Skateboards Team. Left to right back row; Spike Harvey (Si's dad), unknown, Shaun McIlroy, Jed Stone, Essjay. Bottom row left to right; Ian Boyce, unknown.

In Nov 1978 I borrowed Steve Crewes dads VW van and took the Tris team to the British Open Championships which were held at Billy Smarts Skatewave in Windsor, an amazing indoor park, I think we just skated the rest of the park, away from the comp and had a great time!

I guess I did quite a bit of travelling in 1978!  

Was there a local shop? 

When I started skateboarding in 1975 there were no local shops, you had to search out surf shops to find anything and that was rare!

Luckily for me I was a delivery driver for a Truro biscuit company and I travelled across the UK spreading Cornish bakery love! And I bought my first (British) set up from Tiki Surf in Braunton which I promptly took back as the plastic bearing races melted on my first ride and the bearings simply rolled down the road! So I forked out double the money and bought a Grentec Cuda, a vast improvement, I eventually replaced the trucks with Chicagos and the wheels with Metaflex. That board travelled with me all of the time.

Were you on a team?
Somehow I blagged my way onto the Westcountry Skateboards team which was owned by Rob Ward and Dave Thomas, the top skater was Jed Stone followed by Shaun McIlroy. We used to do demos at various Cornish schools which ended with us autographing the flyers, cheesy or what? But fun!

Repping Westcountry Skateboards (big gloves were mandatory in the seventies).

Then a bit later on I ended up on the Tris team as most of my skateboarding was done at the Flamingo near Redruth which was run by Johnny Manetta & Pete Frost who owned the Tris surf shop in Porthtowan. Pete had a skate shop in the Truro Pannier Market for a while (the first Truro skateshop).

Essjay right up there above the stickers in the Flamingo half-pipe. That thing was savage - 4ft of vert, no flat-bottom and only 12ft wide. Commitment!

Looking after the Tris shop at the Flamingo, thinking "Yeah, maybe I'll open a shop one day, so that when kids break their boards..."

Who were the other local hotshots?
The first local skater who seriously impressed me was Steve McNicholls, top surfer and an amazing skateboarder. He was the first person that I saw doing a handstand on a skateboard, Jed Stone was impressive and got photos in every magazine! Steve Crewes from Camborne also ripped at every aspect of the sport – top man!

Who were your influences? 

Probably Gregg Weaver, Stacey Peralta then later on Tony “Mad Dog” Alva! Along with Jeremy Henderson & John Sablosky. 

Did you do other stuff, like surfing etc? 

I did a very small amount of surfing but I didn’t really get on with it, in fact the last time that I went surfing was with Steve Crewes at Watergate Bay around Nov 1978, I remember coming out shivering & chattering and decided there and then to only surf on concrete! Apart from that no other sport just went to see bands and have a few beers! 

Always livin' life to the full.

What year did you start the shop and why? 

Well in the late seventies I used to sell stuff from the boot of my car for Westcountry Skateboards and later on bought stuff from a mate of mine Dick Willoughby who had the Surf Spot in Bude but unfortunately I broke my Tib & Fib in Dec 1978 on the Flamingo half pipe then again in the same place four months later at Knuckey’s back yard ramp in Redruth so that put a dampener on things and I didn’t skate again until around 1984ish when I worked at Holywell Bay.

Flamingo halfpipe 1978. Ouch!.

I remember not being able to buy decks, trucks, wheels etc without visiting loads of different surf shops. I went to Slam City’s shop in Talbot Rd in 1988 and I think that’s what gave me the idea for a shop where you could get everything in one hit. 

I started up Essjays/SJ’z Skateboard shop in September 1989 after getting a pay-out from an endowment thingy which I had taken out whilst drunk in 1975! I think it was 5 grand so I bought a lease on a shop and went off to see Dick with £2500.00 to fill the shop! Unfortunately it didn’t even fill the back of a pickup so I borrowed another two and a half grand off a mate and away we went.

After that I managed to get accounts with all of the skateboard wholesalers. My wife Irene initially ran the shop as I was working and eventually Matt Price came to work for us along with Teddy & Si (the Saturday boys). 

Did you sponsor riders? 

Yes, I think that Si Annear and Matt Price were the first although the sponsorship was simply a free tee-shirt and a bit of discount, the real deal for sponsorhip was with a skate manufacturer if you were lucky! I think we shop-sponsored a few others but I cannot remember them all (apologies feel free to beat me) other sponsored riders were – Leo & Jody Smith and the staff! 

Were there many girl skaters in those days? 

Not really, in the seventies I can only remember about four including my wife! Then when I had the shop maybe a dozen or so, it’s now come a long way, there’s some amazing girl skateboarders now such as Elissa Steamer, Leticia Bufoni & Sky Brown amongst others. 

Classic SJ'z 90s skate shop wall.

Have you any tales from the shop days? 

Oh yes! One I remember very clearly, I was walking through the mews about 9.55am to open the shop and I noticed a bit of a to do in the Barbers opposite. What had happened was a client had sadly died whilst having his hair cut, so I quietly crept past and unlocked the shop door when all of a sudden the alarm went off and Teddy & Si jumped out and ambushed me shattering the silence, I could have curled up and died. 

I used to love our Christmas staff do’s which were held in various establishments usually because we had outstayed our welcome somewhere the year before! One time we were in a meadery which had just opened and they sat us upstairs on an open balcony and gave us a load of free wine after which Si decided to throw his chicken bones at the peasants below, then we had a carbolic soap eating contest (we found it in the toilets) Si had to go home to clean his teeth - wuss! But for some reason we never got chucked out of that one. 

Every Christmas Eve, I’d stock a “few” beers and friends & customers would have one or two, then we would hit the pubs which usually ended up in a mess!

With Danny Way.

We used to get asked for some strange things in the shop such as; “Do you sell cotton?” or “Have you got walking stick badges?” or “Have you got a bit of you know what”. We used to keep a book with all of the strange requests but I think Stu ate it! Talking about Stu, he wrote in the accident book once after hitting his finger with a hammer - where it said “Any action taken” he wrote “Yes I shouted F**k as loud as possible” made me chuckle. 

And I once got talked into buying a thousand Tech decks in one go! ...too many tales to tell! 

Don't even think about it.

Also – I used to go to various meetings in Truro about skateboarding, as usual when the council were asked about facilities for skateboarders they wrongly assumed that it was a fad and would die out hence putting it off to the next meeting and so forth but I remember attending one meeting (early 1977) with my mate Nelly and for some reason we were a bit late and the room was crammed with kids and their parents so we entered and unexpectedly got a big round of applause from everyone apart from the councillors! Just because we were adults and on the kids side I guess!

Sometime around 2006/7 Truro town clerk Russell Holden came into the shop and asked if we were willing to do a petition for a skate park in Truro? No problem! In fact it was refreshing to have someone from the council on our side! So a petition was done and with Russell on our side, planning and funding was sorted, designed by Leo, Jody, Stu along with Terrain Designs and on the 11th April 2009 Truro’s skate plaza at Hendra was officially opened.

Why close the shop? When was that? 

Things had been getting tighter from about 2003, pressure from rent and business rate rises along with increased competition were beginning to tell. I kept fooling myself that things would get better, and they did now and then but the debts were increasing and in 2010 I took a job erecting spiral staircases and left Stu to run the shop with Irene covering his day off. I jokingly asked one of my suppliers if he wanted a shop for nothing and he said yes! So he bought the stock and I walked away in August 2010. It was very strange after 21 years but we had had some great times! 

The shop went on for another two years, but unfortunately the doors finally closed in 2012. Strangely enough in 2010 we sold more decks and hardware than we had for a long time but unfortunately the profits were in clothing and shoes and they were not selling, I should have moved on a few years earlier, but hey...! 

I know you love music – fave band? 

Music is great! Favourite band? Wow there’s so many, probably the Beatles, they have been with me since about 1963, also King Crimson, Zep, Edgar Broughton Band, Floyd, Band Of Horses, Sabbath, All them Witches, Drive By Truckers, Kurt Vile, Stones, Saint Agnes, The War On Drugs, Joe Pocketknife, and many many more – by the way, at the moment my earworm is Morning Dew by the National. 

Favourite gig? 

There are so many, so I’ll just name two – Rolling Stones/Lynyrd Skynyrd at Knebworth Park 21st Aug 1976 and the Sex Pistols at the Garden Penzance 1st Sept 1977. 

No way! A legendary gig that one. How did you even hear about it?

I cannot exactly remember how I knew that the Sex Pistols were playing at the Garden. I used to read Sounds and other music mags a lot, maybe it was from there but also all the ads gave it away as they were billed as Acne Rabble, The SPOTS (Sex Pistols On Tour Secretly) and in the case of the Garden – “A mystery band of international repute”. We queued for quite a while and only just got in, it was packed but a great gig! I liked punk but always thought that I was a bit too old but it turns out Johnny Lydon is only 18 months younger than me!

Hog life.

Have you always been into motorcycles? 

Yes, my first was a Lambretta LI 150 which I bought for £40 in June 1970 unfortunately I smashed it up six weeks later. Then I bought a 198cc Francis Barnett for £14 which had been leaning against a wall in a garage for a few years, after that a nice 250cc Villiers Captain America Chopper! 

From then on it was a mixture of Japanese bikes, one of them a Suzuki B120 which I rode to the Watergate Bay Open Skateboard Championships and hit my foot whilst going around a corner leaving it badly sprained, somehow I still managed to enter the slalom and came 4th. 

I bought a 1964 650cc Triumph in 1980 and used to ride it all of the time to go to Trevornick (Holywell Bay) where I used to work (I still have it). And in 1993 I bought a 1340cc Harley Davidson which has now done over 140.000 miles - still going strong! 

I am also the regional rep for the Harley Davidson Riders Club of Great Britain. 

Do you skate at all nowadays? 

Only the occasional flat ground pushing and carving, I keep thinking of visiting Newlyn East or somewhere quiet but then I chicken out, but my brain seems to skate ok! 

Do you keep up with the skate scene nowadays – what do you think of it? 

I try not to but I keep getting dragged back (laughs), a former customer and friend “Benny” started up a Facebook page called the Cornish Shredders and it’s a great way to catch up with people and watch videos and so forth, also the scene seems to be getting better and better, and Mount Hawke Skatepark is brilliant. My Grandkids go there now & then, what a facility! A big shout out to Ciaran, Sarah and the team for all their hard work!

Cheers Essjay!

Thanks Essjay - it's been great catching up and hearing some of your stories. Any honourable mentions you wanna throw in?  

Thanks go to “Nelly” - Irene - Westcountry Skateboards - Tris Surf – All of the SJ’s staff – The Truro crew (you know who you are) - Dick Willoughby R.I.P. and all who supported and supplied us. And don’t forget it’s not about how you skate as long as you skate! A big thanks to Sqeez for getting me to speak!