Chapter 1: ‘The Origins of disaffection’
‘Perhaps rather fittingly for a skateboarder, I was born in the searing and scorching heat of the summer of 1975. Like the great majority of people, I unconsciously (and consciously) engaged in the cosmic game, ‘divine delusion’ and ‘divine paradox of great perfection’ of: ‘Let’s create, and then pretend and imagine to be, ‘the all of everything without end’ until we spontaneously and intuitively realise we are experiencing all that we have imagined, but in truth, are ‘the divine’ made manifest in form seeking to remember and recognise our divine-self, eternally existing and residing outside of time, space and form’. As such, and like you who are reading these very words now and have your own name, I became a ‘Divine Being Identifying As Dave’. Indeed, I slipped into complete ‘divine unconscious amnesia’ regarding my eternal-self and actual reality, and a remarkable and imaginary experience I quickly consciously egotistically identified with as ‘my life’ unfolded instead, strongly reinforced through a delusional process of socialization and associated life-experiences…’
‘My father was a short, stocky, muscular, dominant, no-nonsense kind of man, who had a temper like a raging bull most of the time, knowing nothing of the virtues of patience at all, and used physical discipline as and when he saw fit, for any and every misdemeanour. In terms of a conceptual profile, he resembled a short, broad, rugby prop-forward and assumed the same kind of character and behavioural attributes as well, despite having a big and generous heart beneath his rather superficially harsh exterior; a man who fitted-in perfectly in the distinctly male dominated, dirty, dangerous, toxic, hard, unforgiving, smelly and rough world of mechanical engineering. He was a distinctly ‘man’s man’ who’s interests lay in sports such as boxing, weight-training, wrestling, body-building, strong man and cycling, and he had little if any what you’d call, subtle, ‘artistic tendencies’. That said, he did sometimes pluck a few strings on a big old acoustic guitar (which I found fascinating) whilst constantly extolling the virtues of Bert Weedon’s ‘Play in a day’ guitar book (a delusionary title in relation to playing the guitar if ever there was one!). However, his hands and fingers were short, gnarly, covered in an enduring black oil and grease stain from his work, extremely muscular, not very flexible, and he had a grip like an iron-vice without subtlety; not really a ‘sensitive musician type’ in the making!’
‘…like most people, I became psychologically separated from the energetic domain of ‘the divine’ and my ‘divine unconscious shadows’ and their associated emotional and physical manifestation, and instead, I learnt to deny and repress them, to positively channel them through physical activity in the form of sports or even blame them on the external world, whilst even perceiving them as dangerous, or to be regarded with suspicion as opposed to engaging with them or seeking to comprehend the meaning behind them. But ‘the divine’ and ‘divine unconscious shadows’ although eternally, energetically, existing outside of time, space and form, are real, and thereby ‘exist, persist and insist, if we resist’ and no amount of socially learnt, egoistic denial, channelling or rejection can alter this enduring truth. Consequently, and despite my conscious positive management of them, as I grew up, in an on-going attempt to gain my attention and recognition, my divine, eternal and enduring ‘unconscious shadows’ persistently manifested as they called for my attention,…’
‘In terms of our early education, it was pretty normal and along with the great majority of children today, I was relentlessly indoctrinated with ‘conventional perceptions’ via mainstream educational practices and subjects that largely reflect left-hemisphere, cerebral activity, perception and understanding. For whatever reason, intuitively, I perceived all the flaws in ‘convention’ which caused me to question that which I was told as being ‘right’, which created a subtle sense of personal antagonism against social indoctrination at school. Nevertheless, in keeping with the delusional philosophy of: ‘You’ll do what you’re told or get punished or labelled as being bad if you don’t’ my siblings and I attended the local primary school only 15 minutes’ walk away from the bungalow, which was as conventional a school as you could find. The school was completely devoid of skateboarders, and I was neither ‘here nor there’ in terms of social status. On the one hand, I didn’t fit into any sort of trendy ‘click,’ nor did I hang around in any gang, but neither was I considered a complete social misfit who stood out like a sore thumb by being overtly ‘different’.’
‘…the contradiction was that like most other young children, due to my inherent comical mischievousness, quite naturally, I also craved friendship, fun, excitement, adventure, exploration, identity, happiness, acceptance, relationships and ultimately, kinship. Moreover, and despite my short-arse frame, one of the most magnetically attractive social skills I did have at primary school was a natural ability and flare for physical activity. Consequently, I played a part in many school games, assumed the role of school goalkeeper and became ‘super fit Dave’ (as my father liked to put it) because I was always physically active in some form or another and expended energy like it was going out of fashion in a conscious attempt to channel my ‘unconscious shadows’; a reality that eventually lead me to skateboarding; an activity I youthfully perceived as an anti-culture; an activity not necessarily a sport which acted as a corrective to what I perceived and eventually loathed as ‘conventional sports’.’
‘My father in his ever generous manner, sometimes handed us cash out-of-the-blue as well and said things like: ‘‘Ere boy, spend it on what ya like, but don’t tell ya mother I gave it to ya’ or ‘’ere Dave boy, pop round to the chip-shop and get us ‘pie and chips’ for tea and keep the change; but don’t tell ya mother I gave it ya.’ Eventually and despite my mother’s severe reservations about the consequences of such ‘they’ll be alright’ opinions of my father, my brother and I started working at the garage around the age 11-12, on the odd Saturday morning once a week in the garage forecourt shop to help out.’
‘…in keeping with the socially repressed and depressed local environment, at the local secondary school, corporal punishment was rife, as were serious physical fights, bullying, stealing and complete intolerance of anyone seen as an outcast, ‘not fitting in’ or weak. Accordingly, the teachers used a variety of devises to maintain classroom order, such as ‘the slipper,’ ‘the cane’ and board-rulers. In one memorably horrifying classroom incident in particular, I witnessed exactly how far some teachers were willing to go to maintain classroom order and good behaviour.’…
‘Unfortunately, the Biology teacher unexpectedly soon returned to a class that could at best be described as ‘sailing on a sea of youthful exuberance and defiance;’ he was of course absolutely fuming and Bet, was caught out of his seat and standing at the front of the class, right behind the teacher’s desk; OOPS! Consequently, and with immediate effect, the Biology teacher sternly shouted at him: ‘What an earth do you think you’re doing boy?’ to which Bet had little to reply with other than: ‘err; don’t know sir.’ Then and very strangely, the Biology teacher said in a very calm and rather eerie voice: ‘Come ‘ere boy.’ And so, the whole class watched on as Bet walked across the classroom to stand in front of the Biology teacher in a moment where time literally felt like it stood still; eventually, they were face-to-face. Then, and from nowhere, the Biology teacher simply let a right hook of an open palm fly straight across Bet’s face and almost knocked him completely off his feet in doing so! The whole class simultaneously gasped in complete shock and horror as Bet immediately began to stumble around the classroom in a daze and with tears in his eyes, but without making a murmur…’
‘For inexplicable reasons, during the third year of secondary school, I befriended another misfit named John, who lived in a place called Boulevard Close; a quiet, newly built culde-sack in Mablethorpe where nothing much ever happened, but newly laid tarmac and curbs were a plenty! John (or Gutsy and Gutsy Moul as he was later fondly and affectionately nicknamed by our ‘brotherhood of skateboarding’) was diametrically opposed to me in almost every way. He was as thin as a rake and as quiet as a mouse, with a great sense of humour and wit that he used as his ally in times of confrontation. With his dark black hair, slight frame and NHS style glasses, he looked similar to a life-like version of Penfold! His overall quirky and comically mischievous demeanour brought a smile to my face and he looked like a funny and endearing guy to spend time with; I was magnetically instantly drawn to him.’
‘…And so it came to pass that after walking back to where Gutsy lived one night after school in 1989, I clapped eyes on his skateboard for the very first time and bore witness to his ‘magical and mystical skateboarding moves’. For whatever strange reason, upon first seeing Gutsy’s deck and although I’d never even ridden one as yet or had any comprehension of the world of skateboarding, it was as though a bright light switched on inside of me and I was immediately captivated by the contraption, despite its glaringly poor quality. Although I had no clue whatsoever of what a life changing moment this in fact was, before my very eyes lay the ‘alternative’, affirming and escapist activity I was desperately seeking; in time it would literally transform my world, my place within society and perception of, everything and everyone…’
‘Whereas previously, I’d just walked around Mablethorpe in my free time often completely ignorant of my surroundings, being caught-up in the conceptual issues of my daily life and my unsure and sketchy place in society, instead, everything around me was now analysed for its use in skating and the possibilities seemed endless. I’d become completely free and focused at a conceptual level, often totally forgetting about the hassles of daily life altogether; skateboarding acting as a decided mental focus without parallel, even when I wasn’t riding on one. Furthermore, and perhaps seemingly bizarrely to the uninitiated, the very sight and sound of skateboard wheels rolling along on pavements, trucks grinding on curbs or wood slapping and scraping on tarmac, created a type of sensory addiction to skateboards that as a skater, became like a drug. Very soon, even hearing a skateboard rolling along on the pavement was enough to awaken those ‘skateboard psychic senses’ at any time or place and stop me dead in my tracks…’
‘…I became increasingly bored with being the school goalkeeper and taking part in football altogether, feeling evermore different to the other lads in the team, who were to my mind excessively and egotistically demented about winning and losing, almost to the point of clinical neurosis, not to mention their overindulgence in stereotypical male behaviour that often included bragging about ‘how many ‘birds’ they’d shagged on the weekend’ (allegedly) or the number of fights they’d got into; duh. My sense of disaffection from my peers and desire to be free of being the goalkeeper, increasingly manifested in subtly defiant acts such as hilariously purposely kicking the football straight off the pitch from a kick-out, knowing full-well it would annoy some individuals in ‘the team;’ HA! Of course, immediately they proceeded to scowl at me in annoyance and shout things like: ‘Keeper; what the hell are you doing; keep the ball on the pitch you fuckin’ idiot.’
‘At last, my world at every level was beginning to be transformed in a decidedly positive manner and my ‘unconscious shadows’ and associated sense of social isolation and disaffection in the world, was increasingly quelled, despite not having vanished altogether; all thanks to the sub-culture of skateboarding! Little did I know or could have imagined the long and rocky road that lay ahead of me as a skateboarder or that my adventure and journey as a skateboarder, had only just begun. Quite to my surprise, from here-on, I would find that skateboarding really is a life-long addiction like no other I could have imagined, and the activity would play a pivotal role as my life unfolded, and in ‘Transforming [my] Consciousness through Skateboarding’ ways, beyond the wildest of imaginations!’
Chapter 2: ‘The Superficial Face of Skateboarding in the 1980’s’
‘In many ways the 1980’s was a rather strange, bizarre, contradictory and even arguably calamitous period for the fortunes of skateboarding. And yet, it is said that ‘within great upheaval, calamity, cataclysm, change and transition, equally lies tremendous opportunity;’ an enduring reality that street skateboarders would eventually be the decided benefactors of. However, our initial reference point in terms of the history of skateboarding in the stated period stands in marked contrast to the current ‘street skateboarding crazed climate’ of today. Indeed, at the beginning of the 1980’s, in the smouldering ashes of the heavily surf influenced, media declared on/off 1970’s skateboard craze, ‘flash in the pan fad,’ ‘skateboarders are a joke’ and ‘skateboards are simply dangerous toys’ era that was later dominated by the authentic likes of the Z-Boys, despite a brief resurgence in public popularity and interest in ‘the sport’ in some quarters skateboarding had already become an underground, exclusive and anti-establishment activity, as it retreated from public view…’
‘In sharp contrast to the aforementioned styles of skateboarding, street skating (or ‘street style’ as it was known at the time) in the early 1980’s as a serious style of skateboarding in its own right, was still not even born in all reality, even though many ordinary skaters naturally used the streets to get from one place to another, whilst cruising along on their boards (the real origin of street skating). In many people’s imaginations at the time, the image that street skating did conjure up was largely confined to skaters just cruising around their local streets when they didn’t have access to skate-parks or ramps, and simply replicating basic vertical manoeuvres in street terrain at best, which later became a craze in itself (street and hand-plant craze). Nevertheless, there were few major or significantly established ‘street skate stars’ as the main emphasis of coverage in skate magazines and media of the day was undoubtedly focused on the undisputed kings of skating of pool and vertical styles, being seen as more hardcore and ‘for the real men’ as it were. Likewise, the incredibly complex technical focus of freestyle that was practiced on the flatland, often in the street, was not regarded as street skating in its own right, but was viewed as a more specialist, static, and geeky form of skating that wasn’t really for the hardcore punk practitioners. The comparatively thin, short and light, freestyle boards were often sniggered at and sales of them were low in comparison to the larger, wider and diversely shaped ramp and bowl riders’ pro decks. Freestyle skaters were at best, often regarded as something of an interesting oddity or a sideshow in the world of skateboarding, not taken all that seriously.’
‘Last but certainly not least in my admittedly brief and biased list of influential street skaters of the 1980’s, is Matt Hensley. Hensley came to prominence as a street skater in the late 1980’s with his incredible and at the time defining landmark sections in H-Street’s ‘Shackle Me Not’ and ‘Hokus Pokus’ videos. Hensley was incredibly talented at a wide variety of flatland, curb, and obstacle based ‘street moves’ that pushed the boundaries of what was possible on a skateboard further than ever before. He had a highly individual, smooth, graceful and distinct style, all of his own. Alongside Tommy Guerrero, he was perhaps one of the first street skaters to actually look ‘cool’ in his style of skate wear, which was in marked contrast to the increasingly out-dated, punk, slash dogs of old, who actively sought to be anti-fashion. Hensley on the other hand, being kitted out in his Airwalk ‘Prototypes,’ Vision Street Wear boots and H-Street t-shirts, looked like a new and modern breed of street skater in comparison to what had gone before; to a large extent he made street skating credible, widely popular and even arguably, trendy. Of course, Hensley was far from a clotheshorse, and his skill as a street skater was undoubted, practicing a whole manner of board and truck-grinds on benches, handrails and freestanding rails, whilst at the same time almost effortlessly ollying dust-bins and even kick-flip grabbing them. He was amazing on the flat as well, practicing a wide variety of no-complys, kick and heel-flips, 360-flips, 360-shove-its, impossibles, in lines, and much more.’
‘The likes of Frankie Hill, Rudy Johnson, Salman Agah, Ray Barbee, Jim Thiebaud, Tom Knox, Sal Barbier, Gabrielle Rodriguez, Sean Sheffey, Mike Keeper, Ron Allen, Jeremy Klein, Ron Chatman, Alan Pertersen, Colby Carter, Mike Carroll, Ed Templeton, Jason Lee, Eric Dressen, Andy Howell, Rick Howard, Ocean Howell, Justin Girard, Willy Santos, Steve Berra, Julien Stranger, Guy Mariano, Eric Koston, Ron Knigge (and many, many more) began to emerge and in-turn had a significant influence upon the ordinary young kids who were totally into skateboarding at the time (Gutsy and I included). Unfortunately for vertical ramp riding, in contrast to the increasing number of young street skaters swelling the ranks in the USA, the amount of young and exciting vert’ skaters emerging to replace the senior 1980’s pro’s by the very end of the decade, were undoubtedly fewer in number. Although the widely and highly ‘rated’ likes of Colin Mckay, Rob ‘Sluggo’ Boyce, Danny Way, Chris Livingston, Reese Simpson, Ray Underhill, Andrew Morrison, Chad Vogt, Neal Hendrix, Bod Boyle, John Sonner, Alfonso Rawls, Bucky Lasek and Dominic Keitch were undoubtedly newly emerging, young and raw vertical talents, they were a decided minority in comparison to the abundant swathe of newly emerging street skaters of the late 1980’s…’
‘Although nobody concretely believed it yet, in a few short years, street skating would be the undisputed king on the ‘skateboarding block,’ as it literally became a phenomena and vertical ramp riding would be considered by most street skaters as, ‘for old dinosaurs,’ ‘a complete joke’ and even in some quarters as, ‘completely dead’. This pivotal change radically altered the skate industry, skate product and attitude beyond all comprehension and forever, and was a rapid transition that as a young street skater, I witnessed and embraced first-hand.’
Chapter 3: ‘The Brotherhood of Skateboarding’
‘Despite the increasingly strange, but exciting situation in skateboarding as the 1980’s drew to a rapid close, young skaters such as Gutsy and I were oblivious to the undercurrents in the industry, taking everything at face value, and simply pursued what came natural and most easy to us; street skating. For the remainder of 1989, and into the early months of 1990, despite it being winter, Gutsy and I went out skating on our new boards together on a regular basis and began to venture well beyond the confines of his quiet culde-sac, seeking far more challenging terrain, in and around Mablethorpe…’
‘Although skateboarding 2-3 miles to a destination that we’d never skated at previously or even knew any skaters who lived there may appear somewhat (or perhaps completely) insane to some, for a pair of young street skaters like Gutsy and I, it was simply another exciting skateboard adventure and exploration whatever the weather. It was a chance to expand our skateboarding horizons, to discover new skate terrain and hopefully meet new skaters, similar to us. The whole process of exploring what the seafront from Mablethorpe to Sutton-on-Sea offered in terms of skate terrain, not to mention the actual coast road itself, was approached with nothing more than our usual overzealous skateboarding excitement, intrigue and comical mischievousness. For the journey was as enjoyable as the destination itself, and every bank, curb, step or smoothest section of tarmac we could skate together, we sure did and loved every second of it. When rolling on a skateboard it’s more the case that the journey you embark upon often becomes far more important than you’re actual destination, and arriving at the journey’s end can even feel like something of a disappointment. In particular, the first stretch of the seafront between Mablethorpe and Sutton had an endless number of banks we cruised up and down together, and smooth tarmac sections where we hacked along like never before with the crisp sea air blowing in our faces and when the weather was good, the sun glowing on them too. Of course, because Gutsy and I set-off on an early Sunday morning it was as quiet-as-a-mouse everywhere and the sense of freedom and brotherhood we shared was pretty much skating bliss.’
‘…And so it was that in a somewhat nervous, intimidated and embarrassed state, Gutsy and I looked on as the Sutton Skaters began to hack past us, skating up and down the ‘Ices’ exchanging subtle ‘alright’ grunts with us, whilst we stood on our boards frozen to the spot feeling rather out of place, whilst embarrassingly glancing at the floor and each other. Immediately, we could see that they were clad in real skate-wear and boots, had pro’ decks and must have been skating for a while already, as they cruised up and down at speed and did a few basic lip-tricks on the curbs and some bench-slides to assert their authority (kind of like what adolescent males do when asserting their vigour I guess). It was quite amazing to watch from mine and Gutsy’s perspective, as in reality, we craved a wider ‘skateboarding brotherhood’ to become a part of; now, here it was right before our very eyes!…’
‘In our highly irresponsible youthful skateboarding manner of the day, in response to members of the public bemoaning our new found skills, Gutsy and I just looked at each other and laughed or started covertly communicating with each other as only we knew how! Indeed, our sniggering, disguised mocking and covert mumbled comments of: ‘Ah, be quiet ya billy sitch’ or ‘yeah, whatever ya diiiiick’ and imitated whales of being a baby like ‘whaaaaaaaaaaa’ or being a misery ‘murrrrrrrrrrr’ at people complaining about our alternative use of benches, was often met with less than positive responses. People said in response to our cheek, a whole manner of things like: ‘Now don’t try and be clever with me sunny’ or ‘now less of the bloody cheek; if you don’t stop vandalising those benches, I’ll call the Police, they’re not made for skateboarding on; look at the damage your causing to that bench, it’s not designed for that, so stop it now’ and ‘I know who your mother is at the garage and I’ll be having words with her, don’t you worry boy; the next time I see your father I’ll tell him what you’ve been doing…’
‘…when we stayed over together at Luke’s house out in the country on a Saturday night with his parents out in town, leaving us home alone, we did what any self-respecting young street skaters would; watched MTV music channel, ‘Yo! MTV RAPS’ and newly released video films like ‘Boyz in Da Hood’ (which again, Luke’s generous mother splashed the cash for); ate Chinese take-out and junk food; played Nintendo; obsessed over skate mag’s and videos; listened to music; messed about next door on the local camp-site; raved around the huge grounds of the house like mad heads; and the older of us sampled alcohol from Luke’s parent’s expensive collection (despite Luke’s pleading to the contrary, saying his dad would ‘kill us’ if he found out; obviously he never did!). At the same time, Gutsy and Wilf often hilariously raided Luke’s store of top-notch skate-wear (t-shirts, jumpers, skate boots etc) declaring ownership of the items they liked best, saying: ‘I’m ‘avin dat; yeah; fits nice; it’s mine,’ and ‘hey, check these out in Luke’s wardrobe; thanks for buyin’ ‘em Luke; I’m gonna look way cool skating in these!’ Of course, this was despite Luke’s best efforts and argument to the contrary…’
‘The collective sum of my transition into a skater and entering into the conceptual fantasy land of the skateboard industry by way of magazines and films, was that on the whole, increasingly, it felt like a new and powerful drug had taken hold of me, and I was irreparably changed forever; in terms of embracing skateboarding as a way of life, I’d reached the point of no return. The long-term collective conceptual impact of the Powell Peralta and H-Street films was that we collectively spent the whole summer of 1990 under the blazing summer sun, replicating the styles in tricks, clothing and lingo we’d witnessed. We all lived in an insular, intensive, ‘always skateboarding,’ pressure laden, H-Street and Powell Peralta dominated ‘boyhood skateboard fantasy land’ for the whole summer together and accordingly, became a distinct ‘brotherhood of skateboarders’ with our own rules, styles, languages, behaviours, forms of communication, ‘fights and falling out’ and cliques. It felt like family, and I’d never had such a raging summer before in my entire life, whereby I felt so fit, active, free, alive and healthy, or felt such a strong and natural sense of belonging and brotherhood as a skater amongst my new found bro’s. It was an addictive daydream that naturally, I wanted to last forever.’
‘…Whereas Luke’s folks turned up in a modern Toyota ‘Silica’ and Steve’s dad picked him up in a new and ‘hip’ Ford ‘Orion,’ my father came in a knackered, late 1960’s, Ford ‘Anglia’ or a bright Orange, 1970’s Saab, both of which required extensive restoration and looked more like banger racers than ‘classic cars’ as my father liked to call them. Needless to say, I was mortified skating over to where he parked whilst beeping his horn loudly on a hot and very busy summer’s weekend in a coastal holiday hotspot with people everywhere looking on in amusement. Sometimes, if feeling very brave, Gutsy would come back to Mablethorpe with me and whilst skating over together from the ‘Ices’ to where my father was parked Gutsy would hilariously mumble words to the effect that: ‘Oh shit; your dad’s a crazy-ass and scares me Dave; I’ll get back home alive won’t I?’ to which I’d reply: ‘dunno man; anything can happen when my old man’s around’ which didn’t ease Gutsy’s nerves at all! After opening the door and my father saying: ‘Alright Gutsy ya plonker; get in then boy, don’t just stand there gawping, what ya messin’ about at; this is a classic car mate; there’s nothing to be scared of ya wimp’ and after Gutsy looking at me in a ‘is it safe to get in Dave?’…’
‘Despite my open admission of a propensity to comical mischievousness, sometimes, events unfolded that weren’t necessarily all my fault. In one incident in particular, I snapped my board under the ‘Ices’ whilst we were all sessioning together (a highly unusual event for me; not!) and felt seriously ‘bummed’ as a consequence. Thereafter, Luke decided (perhaps very unwisely) that it would be a great joke to try and snap the board into even more pieces, and began jumping up and down on it. Understandably, already in a ‘bad mood’ because I’d have to find cash for a new board, I didn’t quite see the funny side of ‘the joke’ and thereby, I attempted to return the favour on his rather new World Industries ‘Vallely Mammoth’ deck. He tried to skate away of course and when I caught up with him, quite naturally, he began swinging his arms and fists to defend his deck and I began to return the favour as tempers flared out of control…’
‘We made weekend trips to Pizza Hut together for our Saturday night fill, which Luke’s ever-so-generous parents would splash the cash for (although actually getting served was quite difficult, as the waitresses took a somewhat understandable dislike to us, being a cheeky and lude bunch). Many times we would sit around a large table for ages and grumble: ‘Are they coming over today then or what; we’re starving’. Mostly, when we did get served, Luke or Wilf would place the order whilst the rest of us sat there sniggering like idiots that only made the waitresses dislike us even more, as they dreaded our arrival on a Saturday evening and loathed having to wait the table we sat around; they still looked pretty hot to our young eyes though! Indeed, many times Wilf would whisper in a seriously funny manner to me as the waitress came over: ‘Hey Dave man, check her out; WHOA! or OO-ERRRR!’ which made me laugh my head off every time!’
‘...Despite these new and somewhat destructive tendencies, and our at times petty bickering, disagreements, fights-and-falling-out, all-in-all, and for the most part, 1990 was a great year in terms of skateboarding and the complete lifestyle change it had affected in mine and Gutsy’s lives, and the decided ray of light skating had shone onto us. ‘... The Stone Roses later confessed that they called their insular world as a band ‘The Egg’ and RIDE said of their early days as a group that it was: ‘...like the boys going off to war.’ My idealistic perception and experience as a youthful street skater amongst my new found bro’s was very similar. As a daydreaming, young street skater, living completely ‘for the moment’ in a ‘boyhood skateboard fantasy land,’ I naively believed (and took for granted) that things would remain the same between us and last forever; quite naturally, and in keeping with the divine and enduring truth that ‘life is change and transition,’ I couldn’t have been more wrong.’
Chapter 4: ‘The Breakdown of Brotherhood’
The imperceptible advance of street skating, mini-ramp exploits and the bursting of an insular skateboarding bubble.
‘The human brain has the remarkable ability to memorize and recount events.
Sometimes, this can be very useful; a way of fondly recollecting over past or treasured experiences that in some way or another made us feel truly alive, happy, content, free and ultimately at peace in the world.
Nevertheless, no amount of conceptual fantasy or cerebral daydreaming can ever alter the enduring and divine truth that life and all of the myriad factors that compromise it, are inevitably subject to relentless change and transition.
Those who embrace this truth will prosper; those who resist it often perish.’
‘Transforming Consciousness through Skateboarding’
‘Absorbing oneself in the radiance of the light is equally absorbing oneself in the shadow of the darkness’ and ‘absorbing oneself in the shadow of the darkness is equally absorbing oneself in the radiance of the light’.
‘Although the above passages express great wisdom and divine truth, unfortunately, they certainly weren’t statements at the forefront of my conscious awareness at the very end of 1990, as an escapist and daydreaming teenage street skater, living in a: ‘boyhood skateboard fantasy land’ and ‘brotherhood of skateboarding’ that acted as a decided release from what I perceived as ‘the humdrum hassles of daily life, convention and the mainstream’ and my ‘unconscious shadows’. Although quite naturally, in accordance with a prime law of existence itself, and by the ‘divine unconscious’ eternally existing and residing outside of time, space and form, change within the world of skateboarding and my own life continued at a rapid pace (and very often, quite beyond my conscious control or understanding). Just as I naively thought I’d found ‘my perfect time’ already the subtle, but largely hidden, ‘divine unconscious undercurrents of change’ were working their merry magic; for, it is undeniably true that ‘everything is already ending as soon as it begins’. Indeed…’
‘...throughout 1992, ‘Ever-slick’ became increasingly popular in the skateboard market place (particularly amongst many street skaters) and even became fondly named in an abbreviated form as simply, ‘slick’. In time, nearly every skateboard company ‘worth its salt’ in the early nineties put out ‘Ever-slick’ decks under their own title (they basically ripped Santa Cruz off!). For example, Powell used the terms ‘Slip-skin’ and later ‘V-slick’ (the letter ‘V’ actually described Powell’s flat concave pressing of the time, not the actual slick itself); Acme called it ‘Slip and Slide;’ G&S named it ‘Banana Peel;’ Black Label used the term ‘Grease Belly;’ H-Street decided upon the moniker ‘ASG’ (Actually Slides Good); Planet Earth ran with the term ‘Thermo-slick;’ Blockhead chose to call it ‘Super-glide;’ whereas Santa Cruz created variations on a theme over a period of time, with ‘Ever-slick’ eventually morphing and evolving into ‘Extra-thick-Ever-slick,’ ‘Extra-slick,’ ‘Racing-slick’ and ‘Super-slick’. Whatever the names attached to the product, in reality it was essentially various types of a plastic skin attached to the complete bottom of a skateboard, and apart from the extra weight it added to a deck (some ‘serious’ ‘technical street skaters’ disliked this fact to the point of skating wood boards only) arguably, in functional reality, it largely ruled…’
‘Luckily, my father often helped me out with changing them in his usual: ‘Give it ‘ere boy, it’ll be alright; now where’s my bloody hammer’ or ‘I’ll get my gas torch on it Dave, to heat it up and then bang it out; what do ya mean it’ll melt the base-plate; what a load of crap these are’ approach. Naturally, when I realised such a thing existed as the indestructible ‘GK kingpins’, I often thought to myself; thank god for Grind Kings! Their indestructible construction thankfully meant an end to tippy-toeing into the garage to ask my father if he’d bang another kingpin out of my truck base-plate where he’d say: ‘Now what have you bloody knackered up boy; give it ‘ere and let me have a look you plonker; ah, piece of cake for an expert like me; this is an easy job boy.’ Many times, Gutsy or Wilf would be sniggering away in the background, to which my father would say things like: ‘Alright Gutsy ya plonker, what ya laughing at boy? he’s as ‘thin as fuckin’ rake’ he is; are you sure you eat boy?’ or ‘what ya laughing at Wilf ya knob; he’s always laughing at me he is, the cunt; where’s that fuckin’ old green Beetle or should I call it an old banger that needs drivin’ to the scrap yard; fuckin’ air-cooled German crap; get a Morris Minor boy if ya want a decent classic car.’ Gutsy would usually just snigger and say little or nothing in response in his usually endearingly shy manner, whereas Wilf would often laugh-out-loud and reply: ‘Alright then mate, what you up to now ya crazy-ass; you’re a fine one to talk about old bangers; the garage is full off ‘em’…’
‘The new mini-ramp was 4ft high X 12ft wide and made by the company ‘Freestyle Ramps’. The construction and quality of the finished article was amazing and we were lucky beyond belief to have had it built at all (a fact we were pretty much oblivious to being young and naive lads who had not an inkling as to the realities of ‘finances’ and just took it for granted and without a second thought). Accordingly, it was during the very early part of 1991 that we all tried to get to grips with learning to skate the somewhat plush looking mini-ramp. For the most part, Wilf was undoubtedly the most excited about the mini-ramp being built and quickly naturally excelled on it. He was always ‘stoked’ on watching the mini-ramp sections on Powell’s ‘Public Domain’ and ‘Ban This’ videos and regularly bemoaned the fact that we didn’t have such facilities of our own to skate. As with street skating, Wilf was not only the most enthusiastic about skating on the mini-ramp but also took to it like a duck on water. He was quickly able to ‘drop-in’ with ease and began practicing lip-tricks such as 50/50’s, smith-grinds, and rock ‘n’ rolls shortly after. In contrast, the rest of us found the prospect of ‘dropping in’ rather daunting as the ramp was larger than the one built at Luke’s house, and we took a while longer than Wilf to get-to-grips with the transition from our regular habitat of the streets to the somewhat more plush surroundings of where the ramp was situated in a playing field, and the concept of mini-ramp riding as a whole.’
‘...And so, in accordance with the divine and enduring truth that ‘absorbing oneself in the radiance of the light is equally absorbing oneself in the shadow of the darkness’ it was now that I experienced the ‘flip’ or ‘dark-side’ of my complete immersion in the sub-culture of skateboarding at the behest of pretty much everything and everyone else. Being part of what was the decided anti-societal and socially unacceptable sub-culture of skateboarding at the time alongside my bro’s, had afforded me a cherished and comfortable place on what I perceived as ‘the other side of the fence’ in relation to what I viewed in a biased manner as ‘conventional society’; that with which I’d perceived that ‘I didn’t fit in’ with for the greater part of my youth and had partly created my sense of social disaffection, antagonism and alienation in the world. That was of course, until I met Gutsy; we’d become skaters together; been embraced as brothers by the Sutton Skaters; lived the life of being a ‘real’ skater for a very intense period and all the light that had shone into and on my life as a result, thereby transforming it for the better, in each and every way. But now the ‘skateboarding daydream fantasy land and brotherhood’ dynamic had significantly changed and I’d become severed from the group, I felt completely bereft of a secure place in society again, and when I looked around me and at my life in general, besides a few casual acquaintances with lads who didn’t skate from school and my new relationship with George, I realised I had few, if any, ‘real friends’ who I really identified with, outside of and away from my old bro’s. Again, this was an isolating realisation and made me feel like a lone buffalo separated from his herd in the middle of the African plains with a serious dislike of lions!…’
‘…instead of carving out a career path for myself as planned through academic channels in a ‘normal’ and ‘conventionally acceptable’ manner, I would soon find myself again privately subtly rejecting social expectations and ‘conventional perceptions,’ and instead, antagonistically embracing skateboarding amongst a decided sea of personal turmoil and disaffection, driven by the hidden power of my persistent ‘divine unconscious shadows’ and projections. Moreover, the skateboard industry continued upon its own internal revolution in which vertical ramp riders were decidedly marginalised, whilst ‘phat pants and tiny wheel, flatland technical street skaters,’ dominated at every level. From here-on, the fantasy land of ‘Boyhood and Skateboarding’ decidedly ended and the doorway that led to, ‘Skateboarding beyond Boyhood and Brotherhood’ firmly opened; along the imperceptible, unconsciously driven, advancing tide of my life, I could do little else but ‘step inside and go along for the ride’. It would prove to be one hell of a head-trip and bumpy ride at many levels simultaneously and surprisingly, easily surpassed everything I’d already experienced as an ordinary skateboarder!’
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BOOK 1 ‘Boyhood and Skateboarding’