Over the past 6 years or so we have taken skate trips to Cornwall and Oop North but never have I ventured far beyond Hampshire for skating exploratory purposes. I wish to share with you the fabulous pleasures of venturing…. darn south.
The redoubtable (but diminutive) Mr Mike Day accompanied me early on Saturday morning in his jalopy through the rain streaked Exmoor (that forms the borders to our beloved North Devon) to the rain drenched sarf coast. After 4 or 5 hours we reached our destination, the fabled Awesome Shoreham. Strangely we were not met by the jellied eel quaffing, wad waving natives that I had been led to believe existed in the deep darn south. Instead we were met by Mr Jelly. It stopped raining. Jelly looked at me and my diminutive friend (did I mention he is vertically challenged) and clearly made the decision that he would treat us with the kindness and tolerance that we so clearly do not richly deserve. He gave me encouragement when my ability to roll between one wall and another so clearly lacked the fundamentally necessary co-ordination and technique. He ignored my unsuitable and idiotic hat. He smiled tolerantly at Michael as Mike tried to joust with his so obviously elevated level of wit. Jelly had support though, the eminently sensible Des and his fragrant wife. They both waded in as a shower passed over the hallowed ground of the bowl and took us for tea in a nearby local establishment. Politely ignoring the West Country lads inability to deal with the dual challenge of cup AND saucer there was much learned discourse on the wide ranging subjects of decks, trucks and bearings. Mrs Des looked on smilingly but masking the horror of the two pasty crunchers inability to talk bollocks and sip breakfast tea at the same time. Fortunately for all, the sun broke through and the cultural interchange drew to a staggering halt. The Des’s said their goodbyes and headed home. Mike and Jelly proceeded to rip the bag out of the bowl with fontside airs, slashing grinds and slides too complex in their nature to name and describe. I ‘carved’ the bottom of the bowl and did three kickturns. The other two eventually tired of their pursuit of ‘rad’ and I decided that perhaps 4 kickturns would be over egging an already successful day.
Jelly looked at us both in our inappropriate headgear and unsuitable shorts. Dredging his seemingly endless source of virtue and charity he kindly insisted that we take showers and beverages at his abode. We immediately repaired to said establishment where we were greeted by Mrs Jelly. Mrs Jelly had only recently returned from observing a high level sporting event and was now faced by a sweaty pudgy middle aged has been and a skater of limited dimensions. Admirably resisting the natural impulse to show the door she patiently listened to the opinions of both yokels as we poured out our perceptions of the noble art of soccer (or was it hockey) for what must have seemed several hours to her. The evening did not stop there though, the house had pipes, some with hot water that came out in a device fixed to the wall. Both of us marvelled and thrilled at this innovation and swore to take the idea back to Barnstaple town. The delight and surprise was not finished yet. Jelly suggested that we ‘go for a curry’. Not being dissuaded by the lack of turnip on the menu both of us chaps gulped down the scarlet food. Jelly masked his pity as we complained that it gave us a burning feeling. Between mouthfuls of curry and flagons of ale Jelly impressed upon us both his knowledge and expertise of skatepark construction and design. We sat opened mouthed as the merits of sharp hips and 8’ transitions flashed before us. I think the two basic concentric shapes presented as a plan for the Barnstaple’s skatepark started to look a little less than convincing now that the scientific principles had been so capably explained. It did not stop there … Jelly has a grasp on other stuff outside of skating. He knows about the ocean and the sea and takes beautiful pictures of the fabulous creatures in it, Ask him about the sea horses in Brighton harbour.
A new day dawned, warm and humid. This time the temple at Shoreham attracted a galaxy of skaters from all over the Sarf East. All shapes and sizes, they ripped. Dean, Nigel, Paul and many others skated for hours pulling more and more incredible moves. The atmosphere round the concrete chalice was warm, encouraging and positively critical. I was so buoyed by it that I tumbled down one slope of the bowl, carved the flat and did a 6th kickturn. Mike did some stuff he called aerials, laybacks and deathbox grinds but personally I think that until he can do a daffy (technical term) he can forget impressing other skaters. Eventually we became fatigued and bade farewell to our newly made friends. We hooked up the horses to Mikes (small-reoccurring concept) van and trundled back to the bosom of North Devon. During the journey, applying all our knowledge and native wit we compared and contrasted the oop north and darn sarf MAS skate scene. Reports were run, data evaluated and conclusions drawn. These are them:
Southerners have greater sensibilities concerning the socks that they wear when demonstrating the art.
Southerners like decks with pointy ends.
We could not think of anything else.
Now we have seen… we will return. Beware there could be three of us next time.