Chapter 1: ‘Popsicles predominate: skateboarding in the midst of University life’

‘By the autumn of 1996, at the end of the 3 years when I’d lived in Mablethorpe and worked in the garage after leaving Grantham College in ‘93, quite suddenly, it was time to ‘Embrace Adulthood’. Apparently, according to the socialised perception of the society in which I live, hilariously, at the ripe old age of 21 I was ‘an adult’ who had to ‘find his own way in the world’. Whilst this was true at a certain level, as with many ordinary skateboarders and young adults in general, it was clearly, completely delusional. For, like many ‘fresh-faced’ young adults and skaters who’ve recently graduated from the school of ‘being a teenager’ or a ‘boyhood skateboard fantasy land’ I still longed for excitement, adventure, ‘having a laugh,’ brotherhood, belonging, exploration, and more, whilst having little in the way of ‘life experience’ or wisdom, a concrete means of supporting myself at any level, a real clue as to my sense of place and purpose in the world or what exactly I was going to do with my life in any decided fashion. So, much head-scratching and confusion about such matters was still predominating my time privately but without a concrete resolution, whilst society and the adults around me subtly said: ‘Hey, you’re an adult now; time to act your age and grow-up; skateboarding is for kids and will never come to anything anyway; you should have grown out of skateboarding long ago; you need to stop daydreaming and get in reality’.

‘…Driving to Marjon University Plymouth was quite an event in and of itself. This was not surprising really because I’d never driven half way across the country before in my entire life, and I’d never set foot in the city previously. My trusty 1963, VW Beetle was loaded with my essential and minimal items of the day (my ‘civilian’ clothes, a box of food, my Telecaster guitar, effects pedals, and Princeton amplifier) and I decided against taking a deck with me, unsure if I would want to skate anymore and whether the activity fitted-in with my perception of University life anyway. I idealistically perceived going to University as a chance for a completely new start in my life, whereby I’d leave my past behind; skating was a large part of that past related to boyhood and youth, so I initially reasoned it was best left behind to fully step into adulthood. Moreover, University was my admirable and positive attempt to step foot on the career ladder, as by the age of 21, I’d finally come to accept that a decent occupation was essential for one’s well-being and more importantly, income, and at a subtle level the ‘it’s time to grow up’ perception of some adults around me increasingly echoed in my reluctant ears; I couldn’t keep living in the escapist and fantasy laden world of boyhood or youth any longer. Accordingly, all the oversized clothes I’d once worn with absolute relish (despite the sniggering of ‘Joe-public’) that marked me out as a skater, were now packed away at home like an old skate fashion museum and I begrudgingly slipped into a more acceptable style that made me as uniform and unexciting as everyone else…’

‘Upon driving into the University Campus, I could see several rows of tennis courts and some small, football type hard-core pitches to the right, but despite being somewhat surprised, I thought nothing more of them, positively reasoning that: ‘Even at University, people like to play sport for leisure, so nothing to worry about and no big deal, hey?’ Also, as I followed the signs for the car parks, I drove by the student Halls of Residence. It was immediately obvious that two sets of housing existed. One set looked like something from a 1960’s council estate in the middle of the hardest part of Moss-side Manchester that had been left neglected for years on end; whereas the other buildings were like something from a new, and ‘posh’ housing estate, looking all new, squeaky clean, and pretty. I privately mused: ‘Wonder which one’s I’ll be living in’ (as if it was hard to guess, right?). Even more concerning from my point of view were the large football and rugby pitches not so far away from the Halls of Residence that didn’t make me feel 100% positive that Marjon was a ‘kick-back-relaxed’ place. Nevertheless, after parking my glowing VW in the car park and immediately having to get used to the unsettling idea of leaving it there unattended all day and night for weeks and months on end in all weathers (a reality I’d totally overlooked when applying to University) I walked over to the reception to find out what my fate would be with regards to where I would be lodging. Upon walking into the University reception for the very first time, it was very busy with students coming and going, and to my surprise, a plethora of ‘track-suit-types’ immediately caught my eye. Alongside the sports facilities I’d already seen entering the University Campus, within an instant, I put ‘two-and-two’ together; Marjon was rather sports orientated (to say the least). My conclusion began mild alarm-bells ringing in my head about the amount of sport that was undertaken at Marjon; surely I hadn’t chosen to study at a Sports University College of all things had I, and repeat the same old cycles again?; no way, that would be impossible for a ‘clued-in,’ ‘know what I’m doing with my life’ and ‘up-together’ skateboarding dude like me, hey?…’

‘…It was now that like all skaters before and after me, I’d experience the effects of a type of ‘skateboarding generation gap’ that had imperceptibly crept upon me at the ripe old age of only, 21! The shop was actually part-skate and part-bike, but still had a decent array of pro’ decks, trucks and accessories. Immediately upon entering into the back part of the shop where all the skate decks were hanging, to my surprise, I soon realised that I was already completely ‘out of the loop’ with the ‘modern’ skate scene, and strangely, I felt very old at a mere 21 years of age. All the decks that lined the walls, hanging there like some treasured pieces of art waiting to be destroyed, were generic in shape to say the least, with rails as straight as could be, rather standard dimensions of 7.75-8” wide and 31-32” long, and the short truck-hole pattern was mandatory and standard on all boards. The decks were more like lollypop sticks and blandly uniform in profile than I’d ever imagined they could be, and it appeared that such designs as ‘old-school riders’ for ‘older’ skaters didn’t even exist. The once flowing and curving rails of ‘football slicks,’ and even the earliest popsicles in 1993, had disappeared entirely. Instead, some new ‘popsicle’ decks for sale had rails so straight that the nose and tail of the board slightly curved outwards; a profile I gawped at in a kind of ‘oh my god; what is that!’ reaction…’

‘…in the first few weeks in particular our evenings were mainly spent in the Student Union where ‘fresher’s’ entertainment was laid on at night time, and along with most of the other students on the same floor in the Halls, we collectively got ‘wasted’ and danced around like mad people until the early hours of the morning in a semi-stoned, drunken and delirious state (much to our detriment the next ‘hang-over-laden’ morning!). Also, many evenings we ventured into Plymouth city centre to various nightclubs, pubs and restaurants, where we happily drank, smoked, and ate lavish meals together, and then danced the night away until the early hours of the morning, and returned back to the University campus in a somewhat ‘worse-for-wear’ state. When I first arrived at University, although I’d smoked socially in the past, I was not a full-time smoker; this soon changed with rapid effect. Indeed, ‘fresher’s’ on the same floor as Mark and I often crowded into each other’s rooms at night for a collective smoke, drink and junk food gorge, whilst watching videos, playing guitar, partaking in various ‘drinking games’ and generally messing around getting ‘wasted’ together (and casual sex for those who were ‘free and single’). Other times, Mark and I just ‘chilled’ on the ‘home grown’ together, watched and listen to music videos, played CD’s and the guitar, and chatted about our shared interests. Hilariously, I became known as ‘the Lambrini King’ due to the fact that inexplicably, after just a few glasses of the weak drink, I was completely ‘plastered,’ much to the amusement of everyone else, who very often wished they too could get legless at such a rapid pace! The effects of the ‘home grown’ were even more pronounced and I had to limit my intake accordingly so I could still function on a day-to-day basis. In actual fact, these overt sensitivities were a manifestation of much more serious underlying ‘stuff’ related to the accumulation of head impact trauma I was holding, but I had no conscious awareness of…’

‘Alongside these unconsciously created events and conscious experiences, quite naturally, the persistent ‘realities’ of ‘everyday life’ again pestered me and adamantly demanded my attention (whether I wanted to engage with them or not). As the first year progressed, with rapid effect, I became aware of the financial reality of ‘growing up,’ living away from home, and the associated pressures that soon demand of me. For the first time in my life, I was faced with the serious reality of having to pay a sizeable rent (albeit to the University to begin with) buy all my own food, run and maintain a car, pay for books, paper, typewriter and pens, cigarettes (I smoked roll-ups mostly to save dough) as well as still clothe myself and hopefully have some money left for recreation like guitar strings, plectrums, music, and eventually skating; welcome to the real world Dave! Although I had a basic maintenance grant and student loan, they didn’t fully meet a years’ financial outgoings, weren’t going to last forever (particularly the way we all collectively lived as first year students do; like money was going out of fashion and had not a single drop of financial foresight between us) and the realisation soon dawned that I would have to find a job of some sorts to support myself. Of course, I did the very best I could in terms of avoiding the drudgery of a job living on meagre rations, but I knew that at best, I would only scrimp through the first academic year without one; inevitably, as a penniless working-class student, I would have to go back to work to earn money, alongside studying at University.’

‘After a very short period of cruising around and getting used to the feeling of the free-rolling motion that accompanies skateboarding, I soon felt comfortable on a deck again and the same old feeling of joy and exhilaration started to flow through me as my face began to light up. It was always the same sensation for me; as though I was immediately transported onto my own private island a million miles away from the hassles of day-to-day life. However, at the same time, and for the first time in my life, alongside a sense of being decidedly physically aerobically unfit in comparison to days gone by, I also experienced a sense of questioning about skating through a: ‘Aren’t I too old to be doing this now; after all, I’m at University and meant to be growing-up; people are gonna take the piss out of me for skating and think I’m a fuckin’ retard or a big kid, surely?’ thought. This was perhaps my first ever conscious idea that ‘I was too old to skateboard’ and the manifestation of an increasing awareness of being an adult or old in terms of the activity and sub-culture of skateboarding, and the social perception and pressure of: ‘Skateboarding at your age; surely you should have grown out of such ‘things’ by now; it’s for kids isn’t it?’ Nevertheless, such ideas rapidly vanished as I started rolling around the University campus car park.’

‘…unfortunately it was whilst visiting Bath one weekend that ‘the darkness within the light’ made itself further known, and my newly embraced and resurgent interest and enthusiasm for skateboarding, came to an abrupt, and extremely painful end. Indeed, I was sharply awoken from my escapist daydream and back to the ‘reality’ of my life, once again, by way of a serious ‘head-check’. One afternoon in Bath, whilst casually hanging around the Halls of Residence Helen was staying in on the University campus, and getting ready to drive back to Plymouth in my trusty VW Bug, at the last minute before setting-off, I saw John cruising along the road on his deck. And so immediately, I called over to him: ‘Hey John man, how’s it going?’ He stopped and turned to face me with his usually endearing grin, and so, I ran over to him, excited as ever to see someone with a board. I said to John: ‘Give us a go on ya deck mate;’ and he chuckled in reply, ‘alright then Dave, here you go mate.’ For some bizarre reason, I made the bad mistake of removing my thick beanie hat and asked John to hold it whilst I just went for a quick cruise down the University drive that flowed down a mild gradient. No sooner had I started rolling down the drive, than I heard John shout over to me: ‘Dave; the bus is coming.’ Sure enough, as I looked behind me, the bus was coming down the drive a hundred metres or so away. Now, rolling at some speed, but thinking I just had enough time for a 180 backside ‘ollie’ and then I’d get out the way, I popped around 180, and started rolling fakie. Unfortunately, whilst gazing at the bus behind me, quite unexpectedly, I stopped dead on something. In an instant, I flew straight off John’s deck backwards unable to break my fall with my hands or arms, and after a very heavy ‘slam’ onto my back, with much force, my head violently whiplashed backwards against the tarmac drive without the protection of the beanie hat I’d previously been wearing. I blacked-out completely for what seemed only a few seconds, but in reality was longer, and then remember coming around in delirium, with John standing over me saying: ‘Dave, Dave, Dave, are you OK mate?’’

‘Luckily, in my day-to-day existence at University, on the superficial surface, I was able to maintain a ‘happy-go-lucky,’ ‘everything’s fine’ and ‘fitting-in’ front. On a regular basis, I spent hours in the Student Union smoking and shooting pool with another dude named John; went to ‘student’s nights’ and got wasted; watched live bands; or ended up in the pub simply drinking and smoking my time away with other casual acquaintances and ‘friends;’ so superficially I just swam with the flow of University life with no problem at all. That said, drinking and smoking soon began to feel unsatisfying and detrimental, and eventually, early in ’98, I quit the ‘puff’ altogether. It had a negative impact upon my day-to-day existence and even eventually compounded my unconscious feelings. So instead, I started to go for solitary early morning runs before University lectures alongside a self-created type of callisthenic exercise, which consisted of a combination of sit-ups, press-ups, and basic yoga. At first, it was hard work indeed because I was already somewhat out-of-shape after all the smoking and drinking I’d done in the first year of University, and it took all my dedication to keep running on a regular basis. I wasn’t the world’s greatest runner given my rather short and muscular profile, and I never excelled at the activity previously, but it just seemed a simple and easy exercise to follow for personal ends; slip on some trainers, and away you go in your own style and manner. No coaches telling you what to do or holding expectations upon you; no team games and antics to be a part of; instead, running proved to be a solitary, escapist and independent activity; exactly as I liked it. Accordingly, after a few months, I already felt much brighter in myself and started to trim down from a stocky looking build, developed from all the smoking and drinking I’d been doing at University, to a much leaner profile. At the same time, I kept ‘temping’ for Westaff to earn what I perceived as ‘easy money,’ and each day I walked miles across the city to work as an early morning cleaner at a Prior Park private school located at the very top of a huge hill.’  

‘All things told, my second year at Bath Spa University absolutely flew by in a manic flash and by the summer of 1998, for the first time in ages, I actually felt content with where my life was at. I’d almost seemingly completely forgotten about the need to go out skating again, although whenever I passed the ramp in Victoria Park and heard the manic clatter of skateboard wheels or boards rolling and clattering on it, I would always fondly glance over to it, my enduring (if subdued) ‘skateboard psychic senses’ briefly awoken. Nevertheless, increasingly, skateboarding became just a fond conceptual memory not an actual physical reality; I simply didn’t skate anymore and became increasingly lost and consumed in student life and working to earn money, in my attempt to ‘Embrace Adulthood’ in a positive manner as I’d idealistically planned in the first place, when leaving to go to University in ‘96. With the arrival of the summer of 1998, I worked full-time temping in the Bath Parks Department as before, which provided me with a welcome needed heap of cash, and I lived in a huge shared student house in place called Oldfield Park with Helen and other students. I’d pretty much become a seriously decent runner and went out 2-3 times a week, and even began to cover distances of up to 6 miles at a time, which easily managed, and almost even quelled completely, my ‘divine unconscious shadows’. I’d trimmed down significantly to a lean, cut, ripped and muscular profile again, as previously at college in 1991-93. In accordance with these apparently positive changes, my relations with my family and in my relationship were the best they’d ever been. Indeed, the people closest too me could clearly see the positive changes within me at many levels, and I felt happy that my parents were proud of my achievements and hard work, and that everything was sure to work out OK in my life now; right? Helen and I optimistically discussed ‘our future together’ in terms of careers in academia, marriage and children thereafter, and these aspirations became an accepted norm after University was over and we were ready.’

‘…As the summer of 1999 slowly arrived, I felt the exhilaration of finally completing all the academic work required for my Degree course, feeling safe in the knowledge that I’d passed with extremely admirable grades due to hard work and application. Achieving a University Degree seemed like a decided point of departure for me in terms of everything that had gone before. Despite all the challenges and ‘ups and downs’ I’d experienced at University and the hard work I’d had to invest, for the first time in my life, I’d achieved a level of academic success beyond my wildest dreams. At last, I’d applied myself at every level and achieved what I’d always been capable of by dedication and hard work alone. I naively thought gaining my Degree was an end to failure, disappointment, and confusion in my life, from hereon; a decided, positive stepping-stone into adulthood. A genuine ‘Goodbye’ to the old ways exactly as the beautiful Harriet Wheeler of The-Sundays angelically crooned, on their delay soaked song ‘Goodbye’…. Little did I know how very different the actual reality that was to follow and unfold would be, but how skateboarding, would again remarkably play a pivotal role in those unforeseen and extremely traumatic events...’

Chapter 2: ‘The Process of Depletion’

‘Transforming Consciousness through Skateboarding’

Evolving, eternal, enduring, transitional ‘divine paradox of great perfection’ expressed herein: ‘Within the magnitude of the light is the magnitude of the darkness’ and ‘within the magnitude of the darkness is the magnitude of the light’.

‘Tommy Guerrero suggested something to the effect that ‘unless you can’t actually physically skate, then there’s no excuse for giving up on the activity.’ A very real truth that I never imagined would happen to me in such a manner, or so soon in my life. Now, and quite unexpectedly, I entered a period of my life that would lead me down a path into a hidden world of darkness, pain and suffering I previously never thought I’d be subjected to, would be able to tolerate and endure, or even, imagined existed; a path that lead to my flirtation with death and facing my own mortality. As such, a decided ‘Karmic bonfire’ unfolded quite beyond my conscious control and nearly consumed me altogether, whilst my ‘divine unconscious shadows’ returned as never before, and I came to experience and fully understand the divine and enduring truth that: ‘Within the magnitude of the light is the magnitude of the darkness’ and ‘within the magnitude of the darkness is the magnitude of the light’. Suffice to say, this was not quite in keeping with the idealistic ‘Embracing Adulthood’ notions I held in my head after graduation! …’

‘The significant change in my circumstances, positive ideals and health, began with ‘temping’. Instead of ‘cooling my boots’ and only working part-time throughout the summer of 1999 as planned, I misguidedly committed the cardinal sin after such an intensive final year at University; I kept working full-time. This would prove to be a severe and serious mistake indeed, the long-term negative consequences of which, I could never have imagined possible. After-all, with the amount of physical exercise I did at the time, superficially I felt pretty invincible, supremely fit, and misguidedly believed that I could handle anything, and that people thought highly of me as a hard-working, intelligent and honest person; right? Again, these would prove to be idealistic delusions of grand proportions that were soon proved to be exactly so in relation to what unfolded in my life. Although I intended to work part-time in the Parks Department during the summer, as it turned out, this year they wanted me to do even more work than was previously expected of me the summer before, by combining the full-time round I’d done the previous year with a smaller part-time round as well! This decision was to cover the retirement of an old part-time employee, and release the full-time round driver for other roles in the yard for the summer. Moreover, the full-time driver (who had a financial interest in an overtime pay rate through working in the yard) manipulatively reasoned: ‘If you don’t do it, they can always get someone else to; you’re just a ‘temping student;’ nobody is indispensible around here you know, least of all you.’ This should have been my ‘cue’ to stand my ground and put my own needs first and even leave the Parks Dept’ if they disagreed. However, being young, naive, thinking my personal resources were limitless, and having not a clue as to the fundamentals of human energy, I foolishly agreed, completely ignoring my own need for a well-deserve rest and break.’

‘Understandably, I started to loathe the Parks and the members of the public who treated them like nothing more than rubbish dumps. Within weeks, I’d lost all sense of ‘normality’ or sight of exactly what role the job was meant to play in my wider plan at University, as I started to lose focus on my grand ideals as my health and well-being started to decline with rapid pace. My divine/mind/energy/matter complex was calling out to my conscious-self that something was wrong and it needed my attention; but like most people stuck in ‘divine denial’ I was unwilling to listen. I desperately didn’t want my health and well-being to decline because I had plans/career aspirations right? So using the ‘mind-over-matter’ moniker, I began to fight against the presenting, detrimental physical, psychological and emotional symptoms through exercising harder in the hope of becoming even fitter to cope with the demands of everyday life, and so got caught in a vicious cycle that actually equated to a very dangerous ‘Process of Depletion’ that now unfolded unabated.’

‘But instead of admitting that I was totally beat and needed a break when questioned, in my deterministic, denial laden, but unwise ‘boys don’t cry’ manner, I reasoned that I was working as hard as ever and not slacking at all (which was true for the most part). I continually pinned my hopes on (and even longed for) the end of the summer, thinking my salvation would come when I had to work part-time again and commence the MA in October as planned. The severe and seemingly irreversible damage had been done however, and the end of summer was not my salvation at all. On the contrary, it was a yard stick between what my life was previously like and the hellish nightmare that thereafter unfolded. Indeed, at the beginning of September 1999, I was already a distinct shadow of my former self. The collective sum of these decisions and events had directly lead to me already somewhat ‘pulling a trigger’ within my divine/mind/energy/matter complex that now unleashed a series of events like I could never have imagined possible; events that would even nearly be the death of me, as on top of all this, I came face-to-face with a hidden and insidious wall of deep social and medical denial, scepticism and abuse that previously (and like most people) I’d been completely unaware of, as the ‘Karmic bonfire’ now unfolded and ensued at a rapid pace beyond my conscious control.’  

‘… In terms of skateboarding, by now, I felt completely severed from the culture and activity at almost every level and it didn’t maintain any place in my conscious awareness as being a part of my life at this time. Given my physical decline, I couldn’t skate anymore, so apart from my old New Deal, World Industries, Blockhead, and H-street videos being left on show at the new rental property in Bristol, my Powell ‘team’ board languishing in the garage, and a heap of old-school skate memorabilia at home in Lincolnshire, skating was no longer a safety valve as before. Such a sense of complete severance from ‘the scene’ was further reinforced by the arrival onto the mainstream musical landscape of the likes of Avril Lavigne and her annoying ‘punk pop,’ ‘Skater boy’ song, and wholesale embrace of skating as a superficial marketing tool; in my eyes it was an obvious attempt at projecting an ‘extreme image’ that appealed to kids until it had been rung-out-to-dry and she’d moved on to a new image for her next album. I could only roll my eyes and sigh in reaction to the mediocrity and complete lack of integrity of it all, whilst feeling a sense of sympathy for all those kids that bought into what was another five-minute-fad on the back of skateboarding, thereby wholesale misunderstanding and ignoring the deeper meaning and roots of the activity. Unfortunately, Lavigne opened the door for the likes of Busted, Mcfly and Sum 41 who also declared an oh-so-obviously tenuous, but commercially driven, link to skating through the medium of being punk or ‘extreme;’ a reality of course that had been superseded at many levels in the culture of skateboarding itself, in reaction to the commercialisation of music that was once considered hardcore. Again, this commercially projected face of skateboarding that was being presented seemingly everywhere at the time, just seemed superficial and devoid of integrity to me, further reinforcing my perception that ‘skating’s mainstream, for kids and youths now; I’m no longer those things anymore; I’ll look like a complete dick-head using my board; best to just leave it in the garage where it belongs…’

‘By autumn of 2001, I felt increasingly desperate and isolated, but didn’t simply ‘rest on my laurels’ or try to ‘bury my head in the sand’ any longer. This was ‘real fucking shit’ that I had to take very seriously from now on; I couldn’t ignore the severity and intensifying nature of the symptoms any longer. On the contrary, in a positive manner to try and affect a resolution to the increasingly severe multitude of symptoms, I sought help from ‘complementary’ practitioners. With immense perseverance and dedication, I committed myself to sustained periods over many months of sessions of Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Meditation, Nutritional therapy, Vegetarian Diet, Fasting and Internal cleansing, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Allergy Therapy. But nothing eradicated the on-going daily symptoms which continued to intensify in severity, and they were even exacerbated by some of these modalities. In the end, the psychological and emotional stress associated with constantly finding the money to pay for treatment, the demands of strict diets and fastidious food regimes and hoping that the next style of therapy would work became as draining as the physical symptoms that plagued me. At the same time, I was still forced to keep working to earn a living and after sending out huge numbers of applications for graduate positions with no success, I ended up back where I started mostly forced into doing poorly paid ‘temping’ work here, there and everywhere to simply ‘just survive,’ in fields of employment I absolutely hated surrounded by people I was completely alienated from and got paid peanuts for, amongst various periods of unemployment where I survived off an absolute pittance and my rapidly draining away, meagre financial resources; experiences that left me feeling exactly as Placebo expressed in ‘Slave to the Wage’.’

‘As matters inevitably came to ahead, by the summer of 2003, I was displaying serious signs of neurological dysfunction to the point where even walking around the block or crossing the road became a lottery; a reality I could no longer hide at work and began to openly vocalise, and yet still nobody would accept that there was anything wrong, and offer to help me. Again, I visited a local GP several times, and although he was initially sympathetic to my increasingly dire plight and could clearly see how difficult things had become for me, he simply reiterated the ‘a psychological problem’ line of reasoning and the focus again became related to my childhood, and again, he simply suggested ‘anti-depressants’ as a means of ‘help’. Of course this rapid conclusion was based on the misdiagnosis the GP had written down without my knowledge or consent several years earlier. But when I declined the medication he offered me and intelligently suggested something was clearly physically/neurologically wrong, under the ‘our way or the highway’ mentality, relations became strained as he fastidiously argued to the contrary and even tried to convince me of his ‘psychological line of reasoning’ despite my increasing physical experiences that said otherwise. In the end, I had no choice but to leave the surgery and return to day-to-day life in a decidedly terrible and dangerous state, all the while having to carry on as if I were OK. Consequently, increasingly I had to take days off work, but because I was a new employee, I had little right to long-term sickness or associated pay. Finally, and after arriving at the office one morning in a state that could only be described as something akin to a legless drunken, so severe had the neurological dysfunction become, I had no choice but to leave work altogether there and then; I wrote ‘ill’ on the board, and simply ambled out of the building like a drunk walking home late at night from the local pub. By some miraculous act of will, I drove the short distance home; I’d reached the absolute end of my tether and never returned to work again.’

‘On the basis of this clear written evidence by a medical Doctor and alongside my intense and persistent neurological and physical symptoms, I contacted the local GP and asked to be referred to a Consultant Virologist that Helen’s friend knew for an in-depth assessment and consultation; thankfully, this was granted. Upon listening with intent to the circumstances that lead to the development of the physiological and neurological symptoms that plagued me, a serious consideration of my prior behaviour and character, the literature from the hospital consultants and ENT, and the presenting physical/neurological/internal organ evidence/symptoms, the Consultant immediately suspected I had M.E also, and after many blood tests to rule-out any other underlying infection (which proved little or nothing) and a thorough physical examination and observation, he made a clear and concise diagnosis of (CFS/M.E with marked disequilibrium). Although I immensely disliked the ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’ moniker as it did not fully explain my experience, the Consultant apparently had to follow the ‘currently operating guidelines;’ but at least he had put M.E and referred to the ‘marked disequilibrium’. Unfortunately, although the Consultant was empathetic and experienced in dealing with people with M.E given he was a Virologist, he had little in the way of long-term treatment or management he could offer me outside of pain relief…’

‘…every time I seemed to open my own front door, spoke with neighbours, or people visited our home, I had to listen to them either saying ignorant things such as: ‘Isn’t M.E just feeling tired all the time?,’ ‘chronic fatigue,’ ‘being lazy,’ ‘can’t be bothered to do anything’ or ‘just psychological;’ ‘seeking attention;’ ‘yuppie flu;’ ‘apparently it doesn’t even exit and is entirely imaginary;’ ‘well, you look alright,’ and much worse; extremely cruel opinions, obviously reflective of the individuals’ limited intelligence, understanding and experience. In short, in the midst of the horror of M.E, (an illness that had destroyed my life at every level and relentlessly crucified me) I faced a wall of social denial, scepticism, ridicule and doubt, and was collectively treated by Doctors, Complementary Therapy practitioners, family, ‘friends,’ neighbours, and more, as little more than a ‘neurotic cretin’ who was ‘imagining the whole thing,’ ‘trying to get out of going to work,’ ‘seeking attention/sympathy,’ or ‘not wanting to face up to the problems in his life by choosing to be ill instead,’ and who ‘just needed to pull himself together’. Consequently, I absolutely dreaded speaking to anyone and everyone, having to explain myself all the time, hear the repetitious and soul destroying theme of ‘Dave feels tired/is depressed/has ‘psychological problems’ and accordingly, I avoided people like the plague as never before; I’d never felt so completely alone in the world at any time previously or could have imagined such a state of affairs could ever be allowed to continue in a so-say ‘advanced society’.’

‘As the summer of 2007 quickly passed, and my temporary emotional exhilaration of being awarded an MA slowly faded, the intense isolation, unrelenting pain and incredible suffering of having acute M.E, once again took a firm hold over my life, and my day-to-day existence was reduced to a complete misery without relief, understanding or comfort to be found anywhere. I had nothing in my life as a means of conceptual escape, identity, release, pleasure, or comfort; absolutely no friends to confide in or support from my immediate family. Beyond Helen, I pretty much faced, endured, and was plagued, ravaged, and tortured by the awful condition, alone and in complete solitude, day-after-day-after-day; a reality that seemed to have no end in sight. Indeed, I questioned: ‘Is this going to be the reality of my life for the rest of my days; if so, what the hell do I have left to live for?’ Needless to say, the quality of my ‘life’ (or more correctly isolated and painful existence) was almost reduced to zero and the future looked like an empty, pointless, mercilessly painful, isolated, and bleak one for me all told; a future that many times, I seriously contemplated not continuing on with because it felt like I had absolutely nothing left to carry on for. I desperately needed a life-affirming interest or hobby to give me strength and resolve; to find escapism from my dire situation; to give me identity, belonging and purpose; and to ‘keep faith’ with life itself. Then, in a quite miraculous ‘within the magnitude of the darkness is the magnitude of the light’ turn of events, and as so many times before in my life when I desperately needed it the most, like a lifeline and bright beacon of hope upon which to cling to with open arms for dear life, totally out of the blue, remarkably, my saviour came again in the completely unexpected and surprising form of, skateboarding; an activity and sub-culture that this time, literally kept me alive and saved me from an early grave, whilst even: ‘Transforming [my] Consciousness through Skateboarding’.’

Chapter 3: ‘Defying Convention: the resurrection of self and skateboarding’

‘Transforming Consciousness through Skateboarding’

Evolving, eternal, enduring, transitional ‘divine paradox of great perfection’ expressed herein: ‘Those who hold a significant degree of light equally hold a significant degree of darkness’ and ‘those who hold a significant degree of darkness equally hold a significant degree of light’.

‘By January 2008, since disposing of all my old decks in a moment of recklessness back in 2002, and given the decidedly rocky path I’d walked, tripped, and eventually fallen flat on my face upon via developing acute M.E, understandably, I’d hardly given skateboarding a second thought, more or less thinking that my days as a skater were well and truly, over. After all, skating was ‘dead’ right, and like many ‘old’ skateboarders, all I had left to remind me of those great times were a handful of some old photos. Instead, my existence was now one of almost complete isolation, alienation, and unrelenting suffering and pain via M.E; my ‘life’ was the epitome of emptiness and disaffection as never before; developing acute M.E was devastating at every level and had laid waste to my life in every guise simultaneously. Thankfully, quite miraculously, and in keeping with the inseparable equation of: ‘within the magnitude of the light exists the magnitude of the darkness’ and ‘within the magnitude of the darkness exists the magnitude of the light’ in January 2008, a ray of light appeared in the midst of this darkness, in the form of skateboarding…’

‘As soon as the DVD began to play and the ‘WARNING’ titles came on, a long held, unconscious memory slowly stirred within me; it was as though everything stood still in that very moment, and I was immediately fixated; indeed, I even held my breath as I gasped. As though skateboarding through ‘Public Domain,’ gently slapped me in the face and said: ‘Hey Dave, remember this’ and ‘don’t worry man, you’re no longer alone anymore; you have something to live for again’. As the screen turned blue and the legendary Powell Peralta ‘Ripper’ pierced through the screen and began to mischievously laugh-out-loud, it really did feel like I’d been slapped in the face and re-awoken, and my eyes enlarged as I became speechless; I honestly couldn’t vocalise how I felt and just gawped at the screen in a stunned silence; frozen still for a long moment. I hadn’t seen this skateboard film for nearly twenty years; a film that starkly reminded me of some of the best days of my life as a young skater living in a ‘boyhood skateboard fantasy land’ and ‘brotherhood of skateboarding’. And yet, in the midst of much darkness, right before me and from nowhere, I was watching it again at a time where I had little or nothing to really care about in terms of a meaningful activity or culture.’

‘Consequently, after spending a month or so watching ‘Public Domain’ and ‘Ban This’ for short periods each day, I felt like a torch for skating had been relit and rekindled within me, and naturally I began to wonder where exactly the ‘modern’ world of skateboarding was now at and what’d happened to all the companies and riders I used to be so into as a youth? At first, I didn’t even know if it was possible to find anything out about the history of skateboarding or if any old boards still existed; I was by all accounts a completely ignorant in those respects. And so, in complete obliviousness to the now well established ‘old school skateboard collector’ phenomena, I nonchalantly randomly typed into Google some phrases I thought might help me to find some old school skate products, thinking I’d be lucky to find any information at all. I searched under many of the names of the old skateboard companies I could remember (Powell Peralta, Santa Cruz, Dog Town, Real, Death Box and New Deal etc) whilst also searching through categories such as: ‘Vintage skateboard’ ‘Old school skateboard,’ and so on. Imagine my great surprise at the huge number of skate stores selling vintage skate products; decks, trucks, risers, DVD’s, wheels, videos, t-shirts, skate boots, magazines, rails, rip-grips, stickers, posters, and a lot more besides; obviously, I wasn’t the only old school dinosaur that was interested in skateboarding’s history!’

‘Conceptually entering back into the world of skateboarding through skateboard films slowly eased my sense of isolation and suffering. I came to realise that my ‘unconscious emotive hook’ and attachment to skateboarding was still very much alive and it was only something I’d forgotten, not lost altogether. I realised that like many ordinary skaters who can’t make a living out skateboarding after the ‘boyhood skateboard fantasy land’ has soon passed and they have to ‘embrace adulthood,’ it had become deeply buried and repressed amongst a sea of social pressures and expectations of ‘having to grow up,’ ‘becoming an adult,’ ‘getting in the real world,’ and ‘searching for career and University success’; pressures I’d felt powerless to avoid and even compelled to flow with in an attempt to ‘get in reality,’ ‘find my place,’ ‘stand on my own two feet,’ and ‘survive in society’. Such is the relentless nature of the uncompromising reality of our alleged ‘advanced society’ that if I sank beneath the weight of those expectations, then so be it, as like I’d heard it said: ‘Nobody said that life would be fare or easy’ and if I didn’t agree with this view, then ‘tough’ or ‘I must have a problem’ or an ‘attitude’ or be ‘a lazy bastard and drop-out, who needs to get off his arse and find a fucking job; stop wasting his life away and sponging off the state; being a complete dosser and daydreamer;’ right?’

‘Accordingly, over the next year right through 2008-2009, a process unfolded whereby I established a daily routine around hunting for my old decks on collector forums and online skate stores, either pursuing a particular model each time or just randomly finding them quite out of the blue and in no particular order. Although it was amazing to reclaim any of the decks I skated in my youth, when the very first pro deck I owned way back in 1989, (a Dog Town, Ben Schroeder ‘Clock and Cross’ mini) came up for sale in mint condition, the emotions of seeing it again were mind-blowing, and I was more excited than ever. After buying the board for a comparatively peanuts price, when the deck finally arrived in the post a few days later, it was truly a magical moment that somewhat superseded all others, and the events and stories that I’ve retold in Book 1, ‘Boyhood and Skateboarding,’ streamed through my awareness and again nourished my soul, despite my isolation and solitary internment; I simply couldn’t leave the deck alone for months on end, and at times it felt as though Gutsy was in the room with me. Indeed, every time I gazed at the amazing Wes Humpston graphic, I could see us standing in the skate store in Grimsby together in December 1989, or collectively assaulting the benches outside the Co-op in Mablethorpe together in early 1990.’

‘Nevertheless, slowly-but-surely, skateboarding began to pre-dominate my day-to-day existence, bringing a lot of colour, humour, interest, and art back into my previously empty and isolated life as an M.E sufferer. Accordingly, and with open arms, I became wholesale absorbed in an emotive, ‘boyhood skateboard fantasy land’ as never before, at a time in my life where I really needed such escapism, and which gave me an incredible sense of will, determination and perseverance to overcome M.E, in the hope of being able to go skating again. The skate videos, DVD’S, boards, books, magazines and more, had brought colour, identity, interest, a sense of self, place and purpose, (and ultimately life) back to my existence, in the midst of tremendous pain, darkness and isolation, and I’d somewhat grown at a subtle level. Accordingly, as well as feeling like a skater reborn in terms of decks and literature, slowly-but-surely, my desire to go out skating increased to the point where I couldn’t resist the temptation and urge, despite knowing full well what the dire consequences of such an act would be in terms of M.E, and even believing that: ‘I’m surely way past going out skateboarding again after all the years of absence from actually rollin’?’ Moreover, I was extremely concerned with what other people might have to say about such an act given that hardly anyone truly believed I was seriously ill anyway or even understood how severely M.E was exacerbated by any physical or mental activity. After-all, surely people who have their lives totally destroyed because of M.E, must be ‘imagining the whole thing’ and ‘just need to get with it and pull their socks up the lazy bastards,’ hey? Conversely, I honestly believed and intuitively felt that within skateboarding, a part of my process of recovery lay, so the urge and drive to go out skating regardless remained, and remarkably, even drove me onwards to overcome, the unthinkable.’

‘…Although it felt like an age that I was at the MFI car park that first time on my own, I only stayed for an hour, as by the end of that short time I could barely even walk back to my car. My legs were extremely weak to the point of hardly being able to walk at all, shaking like jelly, the muscles feeling incredibly weak, stiff and painful as never before, and disseminated pins and needles crucified me; I was by all accounts, in absolute agony. At the same time, the dreaded adverse neurological symptoms descended upon me with an awful intensity, like a plague of laughing locust across a cornfield, and the chronic tinnitus was intense to the point of being hardly able to hear anything else at all. My brain felt like it was being compressed and crushed in a vice and ear piercing, splitting migraine headaches besieged me intently, as my vision increasingly blurred and emotional stability began to waver; it felt like I’d been hit with a baseball bat on my head a million times. I could barely even get back to the car, and the short drive home was harrowing to say the least. As I returned home and rested with my board close by, the symptoms associated with acute M.E seriously intensified, and by the next morning I could barely walk, see, hear, communicate, or think clearly, so severe was the muscle pain and weakness, alongside the adverse neurological symptoms, whereby my brain felt like it had been compressed in a vice, and splitting migraines besieged me without end. Furthermore, the internal organ congestion was intense like the worst possible muscle cramp imaginable, and I writhed in agony. I felt like I’d been hit by a double-decker bus at full speed, but had somehow survived and was now left to suffer. Again, I had to just lie still as best as I could for days on end and do nothing but intensely suffer in isolation, with little or nothing I could do about it until the symptoms eased to a bearable level. As it transpired, I had to wait about three weeks to be well enough to go back to the MFI car park, so incredibly ill did only an hour of physical activity make me feel, due to acute M.E.…’  

‘All things considered, 2008 had been an incredible year for me in terms of the resurrection of skateboarding back into my life, whereby, despite all the negative personal consequences this entailed, I’d remarkably created out of absolutely nothing, a magical ‘boyhood skateboard fantasy land’ that again, dominated my day-to-day existence and made life seem worth living again. My existence had been brought back to life through skateboarding, whereby the colourful nature of the activity at almost every level, created a personal and private fantasy world I became completely immersed within that nourished my soul when the rest of the world beyond Helen, no longer seemed to care, understand, or give a damn about me, and I felt seriously abandoned, misunderstood, insignificant, abused, and largely forgotten. In the midst of this darkness, skateboarding gave me a sense of identity, freedom, solace, companionship, affirmation, independence, and insulation when I desperately needed it the most, at a time in my life where the world again seemed like a hostile, unforgiving, isolating, alienating, indifferent, sceptical, cold and ultimately, frightening place to be. Moreover, and much to my delight, with the countrywide closure of MFI, the car park became completely disused and empty; as such, I had a private ‘skateboard paradise’ right on my doorstep, free of neighbours, ‘Joe public’ and hassle; hooray! See, those who persevere will surely be well rewarded eventually, and who had the last laugh MFI staff?; that ‘bloody skateboarder’ did, long after you’d all cleared your moaning asses out of the place.’

‘Many times at the end of a cold solitary skate session, I sat on the steps to the front entrance of the store alone, and just quietly watched the world go by as people came and went, into and out of the store opposite completely oblivious to my existence, as I continued on in my self-constructed and insular, ‘boyhood skateboard fantasy land’ that I found comforting and insulating from the harsh realities of M.E; realities that had nearly been the death of me. My sense of distinct severance from society and everyone except Helen was extremely profound at this time, and my sense of isolation was extremely intense, only somewhat soothed by my private ‘skateboard fantasy land’ in a disused MFI car park, of all things; the melding of wood, metal, urethane, concrete and tarmac, again acting as my source of solace in the world. At the end of a ‘sweaty skate session’ the symptoms associated with M.E would be so intense that sometimes, I’d lie flat on one of the steps, use my bag as a pillow, lie my board on chest, and fall to sleep altogether for a while. These were strangely comforting experiences that developed within me a great empathy for the disaffected, whilst equally being a ‘head-trip’. I never thought for one moment that at 30+ years of age, I’d be seeking solace through skateboarding or experiencing such intense levels of social and personal disaffection, isolation and alienation; without Helen or skating, my existence would have been very uncertain…’

‘Whilst my personal process of resurrection as a skateboarder continued upon its merry path at so many levels, at the same time, and as a direct consequence of Kinesiology, Shamanism and Osteopathy/Cranial Sacral Therapy, I also underwent a decided and radical transition in terms of my perception of the world, my place within it, and my own being; at last, I became aware of the ‘divine unconscious’ and embraced and faced, my ‘divine unconscious shadows’ existing and residing outside of space, time and form…we went to the ‘place of shadows’ in the Underworld; a place that was completely dark, damp and smelled awful. I was absolutely terrified as never before, and as I came to the dark doorway at the entrance of the cave, I wanted to turn around and escape as fast as I could. But when I turned around to escape, there was a giant unmoving rock right before me that made me freeze to the spot, and with the following words etched into it in capital letters: ‘THERE IS NOWHERE IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE AND PARALLEL UNIVERSES THAT YOU CAN GO TO ESCAPE THE DIVINE AND ETERNAL UNCONSCIOUS ASPECT OF SELF ETERNALLY EXISTING AND RESIDING OUTSIDE OF TIME, SPACE AND FORM, MANIFESTING THROUGH TIME, SPACE AND FORM. THERE IS NO ESCAPE ROUTE FROM HERE; YOU HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO FULLY ACKNOWLEDGE, OWN, FACE AND TRANSFORM THE WOUNDS YOU ARE UNCONSCIOUSLY HOLDING. THIS IS YOUR DIVINE DESIRE FOR A WIDER PURPOSE CURRENTLY BEYOND YOUR CONSCIOUS UNDERSTANDING. SO, DO IT NOW AND ACT IN ACCORDANCE WITH YOUR DIVINE DIRECTIVE THAT YOU CHOSE LONG BEFORE YOUR WERE BORN INTO THIS MATERIAL WORLD’…’

‘Of course, given the inseparable nature of  ‘within the magnitude of the light is the magnitude of the darkness’  and ‘within the magnitude of the darkness is the magnitude of the light’ inherent in the ‘all of everything without end,’ the difficult and hard to accept irony was that with the acknowledgement, acceptance and transformation of my ‘divine unconscious shadows,’ the tremendous sense of inexplicable determination, ‘need’ to skate and grind out my cares and frustrations with the world, the anger and injustice I’d felt, and ultimately the private unconscious turmoil that had privately plagued me for the greater part of my life, was put to rest. With it, my intense desire to trick skate also rapidly diminished, as did my previously inexplicable, magnetic pull back to the world of ‘boyhood and skateboarding;’ by embracing the new, I had to also reluctantly let go of the old patterns at a certain level. It was closure on my self-constructed ‘boyhood skateboard fantasy land;’ I had to step out from its insulating, fantasy laden and emotionally comforting confines. After-all, it was a ‘skateboard fantasy land’ that like all others before was ‘already ending as soon as it began’. Moreover, personally, I didn’t want to be an old man on a skateboard; it was time to honour the cycles of my life as an adult. For a while thereafter, I carried my boards around the house like an elephant morning the loss of its calf in a ‘is this really the end of skateboarding in my life; what the hell will I do now’ manner; it was all I’d know for the greater part of twenty years, and as such, the activity holds a special place in my heart. Nevertheless, the young skateboarder who’d channelled those powerful unconsciously driven energy-in-motions he couldn’t consciously understand for 20 years and more, through the activity of skateboarding, was finally coming to peace with himself and the world. The realisation dawned that it was time for him to step into adulthood; to let go of the boyhood dream of life as ‘a genius pro skater’ that had been driven by the pain of the unconscious wounded child. I had to finally accept that my calling lay elsewhere in life, and it was time to move on.’

‘...The true skateboarder’s path is a lifelong addiction without end, and although styles, trends, products, times and life circumstances may change, a dedicated skater’s commitment to the activity at whatever level, does not. At the point of writing these words, I simply hold to a hope that with continued and intensive treatment, my health will improve to the point where M.E is much less intense and disabling, and I’ll be able to make the most of the life I still lead (or maybe one day, a life that I can fully live again). Nevertheless, I’ll make sure that skateboarding remains a regular and inseparable part of my life at some level because the activity has played such a fundamental role in my journey. At last, I finally realise after 20 years of experience, and an incredible (if somewhat tortuous) personal journey that to neglect or deny any element of my being, is nothing more than making myself unhappy, and even in the worst cases, seriously ill; and what would be the point of that? A bro’ on a skateboard website forum recently said to me: ‘Once you begin skating Dave, it will never leave you alone. At some level, you will always be a skateboarder and hold a desire to go out skating; there’s just something about the activity that makes it impossible to ever forget or leave behind; skateboarding’s for life.’ His words ring true to me today at the age of 36, and of course, I would simply ask the question: ‘Why an earth would you ever want skateboarding to leave you alone anyway; it’s amazing!’  

Afterword: ‘The skateboarders’ path never ends’

‘Since when I started skateboarding in 1989, the skateboard industry has been through a relentless cycle of continuous transformation and transition that has been almost impossible to follow and the ‘older ways’ are quickly forgotten, and pro’ skaters ‘come and go’ like the seasons and cycles of ‘life and death’. Indeed, the modern skateboard industry of today is almost unrecognisable to what it was when I first began. Nevertheless, and despite all the ‘peaks and troughs’ as a skater thus far, at the point of writing, remarkably, my enthusiasm and dedication to skateboarding on a personal level, remains undiminished. As a young, naïve and oblivious young skateboarder in 1989, I never imagined that I’d witness an era whereby the skateboard industry rapidly went through one of the greatest, most dynamic, cataclysmic, formative and transitional periods in its entire history that lay the very foundations of the modern ‘street skating dominated’ industry today; indeed, it was only upon reflection that I realised I had. From vertical ramp riding raining supreme, thereby largely dictating the image, style and products of the 1980’s, to the surprising rise of street skating as the ‘new king on the skateboarding block’ which without almost a care or ‘blink-of-an-eye,’ laid waste to many of the vertical pro’s and their livelihoods. In recent times, the skateboard magazine Kingpin has succinctly highlighted the fine, and rather harsh line that pro’ skaters from each generation tread, and in doing so, somewhat captured the essence of the early nineties street revolution and its impact upon vertical riders…’

‘…Clearly, Gator was first and foremost fully responsible for his individual actions and as such, he should be held accountable for them; that is without question. And yet, at the same time, he could not have got so lost in an excessively egotistical bubble if the skateboard industry, media, and public alike, had not agreed with him or supported such views by purchasing all the products bearing his name; cheered loudly for him; patted him on the back and asked for his signature at organised events and skateboard comp’s; plastered his picture everywhere in magazines; promoted him as a ‘superstar;’ and so on. The problem being of course; by projecting a significant magnitude of light onto Gator, within this, was an equal magnitude of darkness; indeed, as we project the light so we project the darkness. So again, the element of collective responsibility inherent in his personal story is clear for all to see, if we are willing to step away from denial. The crucial point being, when the unconscious darkness manifested through Gator, where were all those people who’d happily projected a huge amount of light onto him? They were nowhere to be seen of course because of our ‘endemic divine denial’ and ‘unconscious ignorance’. Luckily, many times, as my own process unfolded and I dealt with my denied shadows which then allowed me to hold more light, I intuitively realised that in the realm of ‘the divine’: ‘All is forgiven; there are no enduring judgements or condemnation placed upon you; the divine is only love for the all of everyone without end.’ This gave me the space to become completely open; to fully embrace ‘my stuff’ without fear of ‘being punished,’ ‘condemned,’ or ‘judged,’ and thereby allowed me to transform my ‘unconscious shadows’ and ‘put the past to rest in a safe manner;’ that which was holding me in old, no longer appropriate, and even destructive ways of behaviour…’

‘…On a personal note, there’s a saying that goes something like: ‘Healthy people live neither in the past nor in the future they live in the present, which gives life a sense of eternal bliss’. I didn’t write this trilogy with the intention of trying to ‘live in the past’ or predict the future, as this would not only be impossible, but equally pointless. I didn’t write this story to play the victim, be a martyr, for sympathy, exact revenge, to demonise or canonize anyone, simply to make money (although all cash donations are gratefully received!) to promote a skateboard sponsor, company or pro’; to act as a ‘messenger’ or example of ‘divinity’ or to find celebrity, adoration and praise. On the contrary, this work was only possible and my motivation sustained during the long, painful and difficult writing process, by a simple, inherent, personal and deeply ingrained and wholesale passion for the act of skateboarding itself, and a desire of wanting to convey a sense of ordinary reality as a skateboarder and thereby give something back in honour of what skating has given to me whilst I have the chance and opportunity. In simple terms, I wrote these books and had the rather large balls to share my direct experiences on paper, only to honestly express the deeper meaning and magic that is inherent in the act of skateboarding through a personal journey and an ordinary, honest life lived; I only hope I have done the subject justice? Each generation of skateboarders unconsciously creates a unique history that unless it’s recorded in some form or another for future generations to ponder over, or for skaters themselves to recollect by, becomes forgotten and left behind as only a fragmented memory of ‘what once was’ in the minds of disparate individuals scattered across the globe; I didn’t want that to happen with the early nineties ‘phat pants and tiny wheels’ era that Transition primarily attempts to express and reflect…’

‘Another important example expressed and shared through this work is that the belief that males should not express, admit to, or even recognise their deeper feelings and emotions, for to do so is surely to be ‘a wimp,’ ‘a sissy,’ ‘a baby,’ or ‘weak’ is false, and as the likes of Gator (and in a different way my example) have shown, are even extremely dangerous and can have fatal consequences. Indeed, as males, if we try to deny our inherent feelings at any level, the consequences can be extremely serious. Emotions (energy-in-motion) and feelings are simply a natural manifestation of the calls and language of consciousness at one level or another. For example, the sub-conscious is a subtle level of consciousness largely associated with our physical being that equally, the unconscious is made manifest through. The sub-conscious acts as a physical filling cabinet of our experiences in the world at many levels, above and beyond the egotistically driven conscious-self that tends to over-dominate, dictate to, and even deny the calls of our sub-conscious. It is also intimately related to our management and reserves of energy. When the ‘energy-in-motion’ cries of our unconscious and sub-conscious are not heard, ignored, denied and repressed, then they will either continue to try and get our attention through the only ways they knows how; feelings and emotions that in the case of denied trauma or serious illness often manifest as intense pain, confusion, alienation, isolation, anger, dysfunction, disaffection, and more. If we continue to deny and repress those calls for attention, they will be made manifest in displays of inner emotional conflict, confusion, or profound feelings of alienation, loss, isolation and inevitably, terrible physical pain. And if those messages are still not heeded, it can eventually lead to, and manifest as, serious dis-ease, illness, or even suicide and death, as a consequence of our ignorance of its calls for help and ultimately, compassion. Those experiences are interrelated and simultaneous; a direct manifestation of the ‘divine/mind/energy/matter’ complex…’

‘…I honestly believe that a true skateboarder is born and it’s not something that can be artificially created by any other means whatsoever (even though some people try to create that very thing to be ‘cool’). It is a sense of purpose, freedom, exhilaration and joy that exists between you and your deck that becomes like a best friend and worst enemy all in one, and a continual personal desire or urge to always raise your level and advance your trickery, without personal profit or gain other than the exhilaration the process of progression itself affords the individual practitioner. These deeper motivations transcend the commercially projected, popular and superficial face of what ‘Joe public’ or ‘big business’ today considers skateboarding to embody as an activity, and the egotistical motivations of which ever ‘hardcore camp’ or ‘sect’ some skaters themselves feel compelled to stand in, identify with, or ally themselves to. For in all reality, it matters not what labels we attach to this great art, only that we persevere on and practice with regularity regardless and for as long as possible (be that individually, in brotherhood, publically or privately) whilst also maintaining an active interest in the many aspects of skateboarding itself into adulthood. It is to that end that I am a skater and keep skating, for it truly is as John Keester rightly said: ‘There’s something about skateboarding that’s just in your soul, it’s part of your being, and there’s just no escaping that pull;’ amen to that!’

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Transition and all the material composing this project is copyrighted. No reproduction in any form is allowed without the permission of the author.

BOOK 3 ‘Embracing Adulthood as a Skateboarder’