Looking over the blueprints of the boat that my dad built and sailed around the world with my only friend to survive an avalanche, Vidar Kristinsson.
Delighted to have written a couple of recent articles for The Surfer's Journal. Mostly because it means I get sent the issues to devour, nothing else like it in print.
Matapalo Death Dance (first published on Style.com)
His head is the teeming jungle that
Boils like schools of bait fish
Beyond the shelf
His speech is the livid chatter of kingbirds
Jarring chatter, flowing constant
Leaving behind body parts
Seething hermit tides
Who render all to mulch
He crashes through your thickets with
Finesse of the white-lipped pig
Inviting you into the trackless interior
With a wry smile, a whispered promise
For he is an ape, of course
Nimble and caged
Cunning as the vipers
In his fingers and tongue
For when you are lost he’ll open up
The nectar bats in his throat
Sickly sweet questions that
Unburden every secret
Avail the forgotten promises of your heart
And break them, one by one
Until lights flicker dim and
The sloth pads through his eyes
And just as you loathe each cell in his being
And vow to leave him
He is the macaw’s scarlet flourish
Temporary as falling light
This photo was taken by Thor Jonsson. It's me surfing somewhere near Bundoran a long time ago on the September trip. The board was by Fluid Juice, based on a widowmaker template I'd taken from one of Andrew Kidman's Parmenters. I remember this session with Sam Bleakley and Jim Newitt, the tide dropped out and a few midface rocks appeared and I grazed my head on one underwater. Thor recently passed away and the surfing world said goodbye to another great talent.
I was saddened to learn of the passing of Neil Watson, a Suffolk surfing legend. Alex Wade published an obituary in The Times, where this photo is from. I never spoke to Neil but to say hi, but I'm old enough to remember the epic Grey Juice and Surf East films that he made. The Lowestoft Surf Club scene seemed like one of those magic outpost crews, as anyone who has seen their newsletter will testify to. I dimly remember as a terrified 15-year old seeing these guys on actual surfboards, near home, really surfing. It was the most exciting thing ever.
One August day last year whilst I was working on a farm, I borrowed some boardshorts off my old mate Raven and headed up the coast after work with a good south swell blowing. Neil snapped the below shot, which a friend told me ran in Wavelength though I didn't see it. It was great to put a name to the face. I made a resolution to have a chat next time a good swell made its way up or down our coast. I never got the chance, but I'll remember Neil forever as one of those souls intrinsically linked with a place, a surfer who never fell out of love with it.
That time we stayed out there past the dusk
The light became grains, granular incandescence
The waves were matt lumps, hidden until the final second
And bursting open, their white parts bare for a glimpse
The flat disc of the moon burst upon us
At first a flickering light that flirted with the swell
Danced across its surfaces, swept its corridors clean
And at last a silver screen, that descended on us like a dawn
What had been hidden was wirebrushed metal, figures drawn
And we came into this new light like children
Calling to ourselves, in delight and reassurance
Sitting on our boards questioning, questioning
Riders of the moon lake, this being beyond consequence
Fugitives from the sleeping world, threaders of the brighter dark
Moments linger and drown,
Borders lilt and lift,
No limit to promises, this cylinder twists
Through soft traces, lines of light shift
Shadow running, motes of the moving planet
The rock that flows beneath; a spectre,
Fragments of buried sun shine luminous
And grains of water, falling salt morsels
Mask grasping fingers of kelp
Under glass wide as cathedral windows
Soft treading, sky-dancing
gold in the shreds, jewels in the scraps
I cannot believe this time could pass
I would not wish one iota to shift
Passengers of light, trace walkers
Many the seams to thread
For these journeys are all I am,
these my forevers to tread
Sleep well, Thor
Independent journalism network Contributoria published an article about a new definition of wild. A friend who knows my writing well asked why I'm stuffing these articles so full of quotes. I am writing this way to show just how broad and involved the thinking around these topics is. In writing about interconnectedness and our relation to nature, I'm expressing timeless human questions. We all know this, and feel it, I believe.
A rare chance to spend time researching in the British Library. The illustration is a noaide drum.
The Eden Project gave me an incredible opportunity to spend four hours teaching 16 chemistry PHD students from Bath University. My brief was to challenge their world view, and through a series of activities and discussions I believe this was achieved. Due to the inclement weather, my part of the two-day course took place in the rainforest biome at night.
We form a knowledge of the rise and fall of tides, the twist and play of the wind across the water, the bend and kink of the swell and the sand or rock below. These are lessons you cannot learn in books, from Ordnance Survey maps, off the Internet. These are lessons of exposure, grafted into our minds and memories.