My friend Mike is a talented skater but no one could claim that he is tall. Jelly (the pictured skater) promised he would take a picture of Mike in front of the deathbox at the Shoreham bowl when he pulled off that elusive backside rock n roll. Mike wore his pointy red Protec helmet and red shorts to complete the occasion.
All of the above is a lie and probably libellous. The truth is I do n’t really have a coherent explanation for this strange scene. I snapped it as it happened during our visit to the temple that is the Shoreham bowl.
Four hours or more drive to the chalice of skate beneath the duggs of the South Downs took its toll on me. I started the session feeling sluggish and out of sorts. Des, Jelly and Mike all carved around the bowl grinding the hallowed coping but somehow there was a lack of momentum. An hour or two into the session I found myself installed on the bench after an unsuccessful attempt to capture the action. Then , when my camera was still in hand, I glanced vacantly across the bowl only to be presented with the sight above. I took the photo and then the scene disappeared forever more. The Gnome was placed back in its polythene carrier bag and Jelly wandered back to his skateboard to wait for his chance to drop in. Des landed a big frontside huck and the session grew wings , as the drinks manufacturer says. I tried to get a quick explanation from Jelly but it made no sense.
The boys went to town. Des with ever higher airs, Jelly with slides and ollies and Mike with frontside rock n rolls, the aforementioned backside rock and a perfect 3 foot above the coping fs air. Almost precisely a year ago Mike,Oakley and I visited this spot. In my write up I made a rash statement about pulling an aerial the next time I visited. Guess what folks, I actually did and multiple times too! The return of this manoeuvre after an absence of four or five years gives me a ridiculous amount of pleasure.
Now the rush of yesterdays proceedings has passed I gaze at this photo with almost complete incomprehension. What the hell was he up to? All I can offer are observations on the component parts. Obviously the most important part of this picture is the railings (I despair:Ed).These fine examples of park furniture tell you so much about Shoreham skatepark and the skater framing the gnome. The railings at first sight are ordinary but take a look closer and you can see that just that little bit more effort and thought has been put into their design and installation.The rectangular section spindles below the lateral curve accentuate the wave form by being just that little bit thicker than the circular section spindles above. The thicker spindles more resilient to the knocks from bikes, skateboards etc than the lighter ones above. Function and form. The pleasing mixture of cross sections of the top and bottom rails draw the eye to the curve that ghosts around the bowl. The standards are sited on plates, levelled without packers. Some care was taken here. Jelly had a huge influence on the quality of the design and build of the best bowl in Britain. He cares. He brushes up and collects litter before and after every session. He works tirelessly on the Shoreham Skatepark group to make events happen, lighting to be installed and even palm trees to be planted (soon).Care has been extended even to the deathbox* which has been painted out to mimic a real one. He talks and joshes with the local kids. Then again, the world can see he has appalling taste in socks. It is unclear if the Gnome is a regular skater or a professional. Jelly was not going to take the chance of failing to record his visit just in case he is famous. In all the hubbub I’m unsure if it was the Gnome or Mike that pulled the Andrecht.
*”A deathbox is the square cutout towards the lip of a pool, normally for the filter. If you don’t nail your grind across it, you’ll find out why its called the deathbox”