Thursday, 3 May 2012


livin the nightmare
What you want is not always what you need.

Cornwall had always wanted to be Australia, actually it had always wanted to be a mixture of Australia and California. With a little bit of Hawaii thrown in for good measure.

To be fair, on a few occasions it almost was. Sometimes, one of those all-too-rare Indian Summer late September days would dawn with a clean swell running under a warm blue sky drawing everyone to the beach. The local surfers would happily proclaim to one another that all those cold, miserably wet days in thick rubber were worth it to enjoy a proper Aussie-style beach day now and then.

Towards the end of the year 2040 a combination of factors heralded a change that finally turned decades of Cornish daydreaming into reality.

Global warming had finally tipped the natural balance. Northern Europeans accustomed to sheltering behind windbreaks and fleece jackets even in August could hardly believe their luck when September gently drifted into October and the weather got no worse. Quite the opposite in fact as temperatures remained high to combine with daylight saving (abolished back in 2015) and create long balmy evenings all through Autumn. Actually the languid, drawn out Summer that had started back in early March was continuing deep into November as well with daytime temperatures still averaging 26°c and seas simmering at a bath-like 21°c!

Most of Western Europe was delighting in this extended heatwave, but Cornwall alone was on the receiving end of one particular feature of this seemingly blessed change to a sub-tropical climate. Through pure geographical luck combined with the warping of Atlantic jet-streams and established pressure systems being nudged and re-routed by the global conditions Cornwall began to benefit in another way entirely.

At first it wasn’t obvious, but pulse after pulse of clean swell for weeks on end accompanied by perfect offshore breezes caused a few of the older crew to wonder if it could indeed be too good to be true. But, jeez, the forecast was again predicting another perfect day tomorrow with a fresh bump in the swell pushing the surf up to overhead. Who in their right mind would turn their nose up at that?

Yes, the impossible was possible, not only was there good surf in England but unbelievably it was now world-class surf, consistently pumping day after day - and to top it all - the sun was nearly always shining too. Maybe climate change wasn’t so bad after all...

So it continued, the weather remained glorious, winds mainly puffed lightly off-shore and barely a day passed by when there wasn’t a decent wave to surf. Winter came and went and no-one really noticed, so mild was December and January, it seemed the Endless Summer had not only arrived, it had decided to drop anchor and settle in Cornwall. Permanently.

Life was good, so good that it started to become a problem.

After decades of surviving on a diet of poor surf the local boardriders went nuts. Gorging themselves continuously on the non-stop feast of waves on their doorstep, it was too hard to resist. A kind of madness descended upon them. Even after months of pumping surf they still behaved as if it could all disappear overnight like the old swells used to. Work became secondary, and it wasn’t just the surfers who felt that way, no-one wanted to go to work. The weather was too good, the surf was too good, life was for living at last. ‘Make the most of it’, they’d say as the hospitals went understaffed, the schools virtually empty, even local government officials were pulling sickies every other day...

It wasn’t just the native population either, people were relocating from all over the country to live the dream, surfers were constantly arriving from all corners of the globe to grab their share of the endless procession of perfect waves breaking on Cornish shores. The locals, who were already surfing like there was no tomorrow, were joined by hordes of new arrivals adding to the mayhem. Within less than a year the beaches of Cornwall had become the centre of attention. If the locals had thought crowds were a problem in the past - they were nothing compared to the carnage that now ensued. What remained of order soon slipped into frenzied chaos.

The line-up became black with bodies, the narrow country lanes jammed with thousands of vehicles. In an attempt to avoid the gridlock people began to just stay at the beach on a permanent basis. The car parks turned into squatter camps with the now stressed and squabbling surfers scrabbling for space on the land as well as in the water. The dunes were soon covered in a stinking mass of human shit and toilet paper.

The sea itself had been transformed into a place of torment, beautiful glassy waves continued to break but there was no way to actually ride one. Surfers were now constantly frustrated, their numbers so great it became physically impossible to trim across the peeling face of a wave. Even trying to straight-line it to the beach would mean a snarled-up slalom ride through the seething throng. Like a tantalisingly twisted form of purgatory there was no way back either, no-one dared risk giving up their place in the line-up for it would be taken instantly. One and all stubbornly held their ground whilst simultaneously wishing fervently it were not so, yet incapable of doing anything to change it. The genie was well and truly out of the bottle, the bottle broken and trampled in the sand.

The dream had not only turned into a living nightmare, it had become a living hell!

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