Thursday, 27 March 2014

Waffle






Does anyone ever get good enough at what they do that they never doubt themselves? I personally haven’t met anyone yet who has outright told me so, but on a day to day basis I see people that convince me they are. I guess that’s part of the secret to success, blagging it.

A good friend of mine was responsible for managing a Formula One event. The thought of all that responsibility made my stomach turn over and when I told him this he knew exactly what I was talking about. “I pinch myself Gary, I wonder how the fuck am I getting away with this?” But he did, 3 years in row! And on the back of it he got head-hunted by another company.

The people who ‘get away with’ must be doing something right? I mean on the lower level of responsibility as a painter I often think ‘people are paying me to paint their house, how easy is this?’  But realistically I must be quite good at it ‘cos people tell other people about me and I get asked  to paint more houses. So I guess we might think we’re getting away with it but in truth we’re actually just doing it. Which brings me back to the original question, why the doubt?

I do some writing. It started as a blog when my wife and I did an overland trip mostly to keep family and friends updated on what we were up to. They enjoyed it (they were family and friends!) but they told other people about it and they enjoyed it too. Some actively encouraged me to write and for this I’m grateful, sort of. 

After a bit of false start with a “ Writing Comp “ I found a brand new magazine that seemed to offer a platform for the stuff I was keen on writing about. I contacted them and told them a little about myself and the trip we’d done. The Ed was keen to meet up and have a chat about where to go with regard to doing a piece on the trip, he was suggesting an ‘as told by’, but in the meantime asked if I would mind knocking a summary of what we’d done and where we went in order to have something to go from. 

After a bottle of wine and maybe a couple of whiskys I came up with this. About 5 minutes after emailing to the editor my inbox pinged. To cut a long story… He loved it, said he would like to run it as is. I was stoked. I was even more stoked when he asked me if I would like to be a regular contributor. 

So why, after writing something, reading it, re-writing, reading etc. then deciding it’s finished, do I still have that feeling of impending doom that it might not be good enough? I submit stories before the deadline but never know whether they are in the mag until it arrives in my postbox. As the publication date approaches the gnawing in my insides increases. Why!!?? The pay is close to fuck all and it’s a niche mag with a relatively small market, but that’s beside the point isn’t it? 

Why can’t I just write it and let it go. If it gets out there it does, if it doesn’t what does it matter? I still wrote it. It’s approval isn’t it…? Why do I need approval? It’s a bloody story, it’s an hour or two in front of a computer. It’s letters on a white background. I’m 45 and some would say living the dream and still seeking approval. If I wasn’t would I be arrogant? Is arrogance always a bad thing. Those arrogant people must be the ones with no self doubt? So why don’t we like them? Shit I’m tying myself up in knots here. Doubt is quite obviously a human trait, and I presume that we dislike arrogant people because they’re not like us. But are they kidding us? 

Doctors would have to be one of the most common perpetrators of arrogance that I’ve come across, but shit, how would you feel if they displayed that ‘human trait’? I bet a pound to your penny that you wouldn’t be hurrying back to a doctor that confided he wasn’t sure if he was good enough and thought he was getting away with it. They must think it though. So arrogant people are just better a ‘blagging it’? 

I don’t want to be arrogant, and deep down I don’t think I’m really bothered about acceptance (that’s a lie, I must be) but I wish I could lose the doubt and just be happy with my own work, with my own words, and if other people like them that would make me happy too. And truthfully if people didn’t like it I would be happy if they told me, and why, nicely…

Thursday, 13 March 2014

This is not about racism



This isn’t about racism.

This is about seizing opportunities.

 You’ve fucked up right royally. Not only have you fucked up, but you then go on and fuck up some more by fucking up the apology for the first fuck up. You’re fucked.


Was there ever a better catalyst to be introspective and reinvent yourself? Re-educate yourself. Redeem yourself. Show us that you’ve learned from the fuck up. How about breaking free of the nepotistic cartel that you’re part of? Be the black sheep (fucking irony of that!) run from the flock and be your new self. 

Look in the corner, under that spare desk over there. See that basket? That’s the too hard basket. It’s almost full but no one’s ever dared empty it. Grab it and open up all those crumpled bits of paper. Put them on that spare desk flatten them out and start categorising them. You could do it chronologically or you could do it by subject: Drugs, death, racism, sexism, homophobia, sexual harassment etc. etc. You could even take that introspection to its extreme and look at why you need to be writing this. Why you’re part of an industry that feels it needs to ignore, deny, obfuscate, lie and have that basket under that desk. 

I don’t need to tell you the stories you need to look at, you know them far too well. They’re like a cancer, they go into remission but they’re always there. Everyone knows you know them too, because everyone sees the wagons circling as soon as one tries to get out of that basket. We see the “this comment has been deleted” we see the “404 not found” and we hear the cacophony of nothing at all when one of the clan deserves pulling up. 

You will almost certainly ostracise yourselves from the ‘industry’ but believe me you will ingratiate yourselves with the surfers… Remember them?  

Monday, 30 December 2013

Cave Rock.



Happy New Year people and thank you so much for your support and kind words. It's such a human trait to fear and it takes not only personal courage but encouragement from friends, relatives and peers to overcome it. Look after yourselves and look after each other. See ya next year!!





It was New Year’s day 2004 and it was the first morning since we’d been staying at Rudy’s place that I had to wake him up rather than him disturbing my dreams. The bloke is a certified Grom for life. Dawn every morning he’d rattle the tent “Gaz, wake up Bru, it’s looking lekker”. Rudy and his family run a backpackers hostel on Ansteys beach and I was camped in the garden. I had to find him, it was looking slightly more than lekker to me and Cave rock was firing. For the previous week he’d mentored me on the shifty peaks right out front but today it had lined up and was shutting down in one pre-dawn slow motion closeout. 


We walked South down the seafront, Rudy frothing not only on the waves but also the fact that today was traditionally the day everyone, and I mean everyone, comes to the beach with all their extended family, and barbecue all day long. I was finding it hard to concentrate on what he was saying. The butterflies in my stomach were trying to smash their way out and the voices in my head were asking me too many questions to keep up with. Of course everyone there knew Rudy and everyone there was asking him questions. If you mention Cave Rock to a Saffa they’ll name Rudy as the man. I felt privileged, fucking shit scared, but privileged. 


Eventually we jump in the channel, there were definitely more watchers than takers but a few others were strapping leggies on as the sun started to peak over the horizon out to sea. I don’t even remember having to duck dive but in no time we were on the spot and Rudy, before I’d even had a chance to sit up on my board, was calling me into the rising darkness looming in front of us. My head said “you’re not ready” my heart said “boom boom” in rapidly increasing frequency and Rudy was saying, loudly, “go man, go”. I had no choice.

I made the drop, I made the turn and I got my line. I had every intention of gunning it for the shoulder and getting out as quick as possible but the wave had other ideas. It threw, massively, and without warning. The shoulder got further away and the wall I was dragging my hand along suddenly illuminated bright green, the lip that was behind my left shoulder was now in front of it and the view of the beach was framed in an oval. Then someone turned a power shower on behind me and as it hit my bare back and engulfed me I heard hoots. 


Then it was sunny. 


I kicked over the back and as I did so my knees turned to jelly, I didn’t so much drop back down on to my board as collapse. The hooter’s mouths were moving but I couldn’t hear them, my arms were paddling but I couldn’t feel them. Rudy was laughing and I couldn’t even speak. Never before had I felt the spit on my back. Never before had I been that deep (with my eyes open!). I stayed out but I don’t remember getting anymore waves, I don’t think my legs would have supported me.  When I got to the beach it was like a scene from Milius’s masterpiece. Smoke shrouded the whole seafront and breathing was a struggle. My eyes were watering. The barbecues were being lit. The rest of the day? No idea. 


Sometimes when I fall asleep, I twitch and I’m there. 

Friday, 27 December 2013

The first of June.

Sorry folks, it's been a while! Time to lively up myself I think but not too quickly; so I'll start with a piece that was commissioned by White Horses for their 'Winterfell' issue (#6). The charge was for all the regular contributors to write/paint/photograph something all on the same day (June 1st) and the mag was put together in a time line of that day. It worked out great I reckon but you should buy it and see for yourself!

Any way like I said, I'm not gonna get too cheery on ya first up following my last post (I briefly thought of removing it, but it was/is a reflection of my thoughts right at that moment and I can tell you they've been through a whole plethora of ups and downs since, and if I'm honest they've almost come back to right where that post was). 

Come on Gazza get on with it......


The Editor somewhat (I feel) disengenously titled this 'Whinging Pom' and this was before the cricket! But he sends the cheque so I ain't gonna argue too much.  






Jeez, what a bloody miserable morning. It reminds me of the UK. Cold, damp and slightly on-shore. It’s drizzling and although there’s swell, it’s all over the place. The messy waves I can cope with but the cold… I didn’t move to Australia to stand shivering on a beach watching the sun make a feeble attempt at penetrating clouds in an effort to convince me it’s trying to make a dawn. If you want to draw positives from the scene you could say it looked Turner-esq but that would just remind me of my old home again. 

Pete’s there, as is Graham. They both live close by, Graham close enough to cycle. He used to drive but since his hernia op he now sticks his board on his pushie and gets a bit of exercise. It has to be pretty inhospitable outside for Graham not to be checking it in the morning. He’s only got one board and I reckon he’s had it a fair while. It’s not white anymore. He tends not to push himself too much when it gets bigger and is happy to sit and watch but up to 3’ he’ll be getting as many waves as anyone.

Pete points out that it’s the first day of winter. Fuck, it was only just Christmas wasn’t it? June 1st, 16 days until my birthday, always a summer occasion, but not now I’m upside down. Pete’s what girls would call sweet. He’s no spring chicken but there aren’t too many young’uns that surf here unless the Old’s bring ‘em. You have to have a ride. I like Pete, he’s mild mannered, doesn’t curse and he always asks questions, not just out of politeness either. He’s off to Bali for the first time in September. I hope he likes it but let’s face it, Bali in September can be hard work. He worries a bit too. When it’s big he always tells you to be careful when you paddle out.  

The kneelo fella and his son are next to turn up for a squizz. Funny buggers, kneelos that is. I reckon there are two types of kneelos; the eccentric loners that appear almost embarrassed by their choice of slide. They shuffle down the beach wearing a brand of wetsuit you’ve never heard of and occasionally some sort of random head gear then walk backwards into the surf like they’re retreating from the real world. The other is this fella, he’s proud, he doesn’t wear fins and he paddles around people to get waves. His son is late teens and in love with Craig Anderson. I know this ‘cos he tries his bloody hardest to look like the bendy boy from Newcastle in and out of the water. He even kicks off his waves and does stupid little pirouettes and shit. I feel bad now, it’s my own prejudices. They always say hello. 

My pocket’s buzzing; it’s one of two people at this time in the morning. Brian O’Brian or Sensei. There’s a few Brian’s and this one’s Irish, his real name’s Foster, but that’s too boring. Anyway it’s not him it’s the other… Sensei. Wayne got me into Yoga, he’s got an air-con business and when he needs some lifting and shifting I help him out. He’s trying his hardest to teach me refrigeration, so Sensei he is. He tips the balance of whether I should paddle out or not. A cold room door at the Uni needs replacing he can only access it on a weekend and he could do with a hand, should only be a couple of hours he reckons. 

He was right. Two hours pocket money for me. In the mean time I’ve missed a call from the other one. He’s excited when I call him back, the winds swung more South and it’s cleaning up. Poor old Sensei has to go and do a quote in the hinterlands so I head to Maroochydore to meet Brian alone. It’s 3’ on the sets and the winds across and off. To me, it rarely looks inviting in the bay. I guess it’s a combination of things; I never go there when it’s really good ‘cos the less crowded beaches will be better, so, I only ever see it when the winds got too much south for elsewhere.  A river mouth at both ends of the beach means the water is rarely clear, plus being a town there’s always a few out too. But you know what? I always have a good surf there, and despite the crowd, the sky, the colour and the date, today is no exception. Cheers for the call Brian.

Footnote. The next day was the polar opposite! Stunning sunrise, a whiff of a West grooming head high peaks up and down the whole coast. I surfed with Brian and two other guys for 3 1/2hrs in the morning then went back to the same spot in the arvi for another 2hrs on my own before dark. I got home sunburnt and had tap nose, in bed by nine I was twitching as I fell asleep.



.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Paul



I’m angry.


I’m incredibly sad for him and can’t even begin to imagine the mental turmoil that would lead you to choose death, but I’m mad too. I’m mad because of what he’s left behind. I’m mad because he was so fucking proud. Too fucking proud. I’m mad because I can’t talk to him, because he was supposed to come and visit me, because we were gonna go for a surf. 

I’m struggling to look at the photo’s that friends are posting of him, he didn’t ‘live his life to the fullest’ he killed himself. It’s all very well remembering the good times but it’s fucking hard to look past all the times that were completely shit for him. So shit… 


Fucking hell Paul.