Left or right. That is a question…

I’m not sitting here contemplating the futility of a political leaning. I’m not teetering towards the unoppressive embrace of Engels with a Fidel shaped tear on my cheek or marching brusquely in patent leather knee-highs to a Gestapoian goosestep. I’m simply talking surfing…

I’m a goofyfoot. There I said it. And some of my best friends are goofy too. We like going left. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a non-ambiturning (really, really ridicuously good-looking) male model like Derek Zoolander. I *can* turn right, in fact at times I love it and do it in public. The uncertainty and thrill of that backhand bottom turn, the extra speed and adrenaline that having your back to a moving wall of water seems to generate. But the extra control and anticipation of seeing that line of swell rising up in front of your eyes makes the act of going left most agreeable…

Control or surprise? Uncertainty or anticipation? Left, right? A nice piece of toast with tea or a deep fried grasshopper on a stick in a street market in Vietnam?

Why choose at all? Why torment yourself with the conundrum? Relax – you can do both. Just don’t do them at the same time. That would be wrong…

I didn’t surf today. But I have surfed every month this year. Next up: ‘The December sessions’…

Lost in the mist…

I’ve been a bit lost recently.

Not the ‘manfully driving around tiny country lanes refusing to ask for directions’ or ‘wandering around the local Lidl licking fridge windows’ kind of lost but the listless, lacklustre, (alliteration ridden) lost of the middle-aged, middle-class man. A man in the middle of his life, struggling between the sweet dreams of ambition and the painfully setting concrete of reality.

Is this ‘The Crossroads’ that they sing about? Am I standing on a dusty intersection in Buttfuck Idaho playing a beat up guitar hoping that a demonic venture capitalist will snap my soul up after they spot it on Instagram? Is this the beginning of the end and therefore the end of the beginning? Am I at a junction with choices or have I arrived? Destination: Middle Of The Road.

Maybe it’s the rancid cultivation of racist, misogynist, homophobic rhetoric that has obviously been festering in people’s dark, personal petri dishes apparently without observation. Removed from the dank recesses of private notion, shoved past the barrier of common decency and now thrust into the sunlight to flourish like bindweed. Throttling the free of thought into a gasping heap of hyperbole. How did that shit happen without anybody noticing?

Well the answer is that it was always there. But these notions are cowards and need cohorts and an Emperor to embolden their passage from the night out into the day. Give a candidate a hint of nationalism, a pinch of populism and a fair smattering of good old fashioned bigotry then sit him astride a media train that is careering so far to the right it can never get back to the rapidly rusting tracks at the centre and it’s bound to end up in a giant clusterfuck.

The generous part of my nature would like to rationalise that recent polling decisions by the voting masses have been borne from a desperation for change. Lifetimes of poverty, ignorance or social injustice culminating in an avalanche of political ineptitude. Maybe the lackadaisical liberals and lefties have been too busy sipping frappe lattes with sprinkles to notice all the bed sheets getting eye holes torn into them and the pitchforks getting resharpened and that no now means yes. Thoughts and attitudes from every side ebb in and out of the argument but the core of my being constantly returns to the simple fact that you should never reward somebody for bad behaviour. Especially by giving a lifelong, tangerine tinted, numpty narcissist the keys to the White House and a big red button to play with.

Perhaps I’m standing on a wall. A big beautiful wall that was once demolished by progression of thought and the passion of a changing world but the foundations were being stealthily rebuilt by a huge army of tiny minds with a desperate desire to shore up an Empirical resurgence of hatred. Do I have to choose which side to leap from? Will what remains of my dwindling faith in humanity show me which side to fall? As I peer down it seems there are chainsaw wielding clowns to the left of me and orange faced jokers to the right.

It’s probably time to go surfing…

And on the seventh day…

The rain stopped. Of course we all knew it would eventually – it doesn’t ever rain forever – that would be tantamount to Biblical and who needs that? I was starting to crinkle a bit around the edges and there was a definite whiff of mildew in my darker corners. But cease it did and inevitably the sun came out from behind those breaking clouds…

So the enormous timber frame construction kit that I’ve been whittling piece by piece in a miniscule temporary workshop has finally seen some daylight. Trying to man-handle six metre glulams inside a half built kitchen that only measures five by three has been somewhat trying but needs must when Beelzebub barfs into your beverage boiling pot…

Built using Pythagoras, trigonometry and an exceptionally short pencil this spruce skeleton has tested my maths, memory and man muscles but at last it is fully upstanding. Proudly perpendicular to the horizontal. Plumb to the prone. Erect.

Only thirty eight rafters to cut and I’ll be done…

I didn’t surf today. Too busy getting the splinters out of my big, burly man-hands…

Into the snakepit

I was sitting peacefully on my own in the sea a couple of days ago (on a surfboard obviously – I didn’t go for a wander along the beach and think ‘Oh – that looks like a nice damp spot for a moment of quiet non-upright semi-immersed introspection’) when somebody paddled out and sat next to me.

I prepared myself for the usual half nod and uncomforable silence that stands for “I am a surf-man and I will take my rightful place in this hierarchy of two!”. I was met however with a broad smile and a cheery greeting. We exchanged names, lifestyle choices and then discussed our personal decision to surf a smaller quieter peak than join the plethera of surf practioners at other ‘better’ waves.

“People have forgotten why they surf….” Was a phrase that stuck in my mind; “…everybody gets so …angry!”

He was right. In people’s desperation to catch a perfect wave and get that hit, that high, that moment of joy they become competitive, pushy and just downright nasty. Perfectly reasonable people when on dry land put on 3mm of neoprene suit, lie on a fibre-glass plank and become veritable – well – planks.

There are of course exceptions: I’m sure spiritual surf guru David Rastovich doesn’t burst his Buddhaful bubble, put on his best snarly face and start dropping in on the locals. He has inner peace. Tons of it…

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Yesterday I followed the same tack but after an hour or so it became apparent the lesser peaks just didn’t have anything to offer. They were flaccid and weak. They were suffering from an embarrassing case of surfile disfunction. So I paddled across and joined the twenty or so contenders at the ‘main peak’.

The usual cross section of combatants: a few longboarders catching all the set waves from 20 feet further out than everybody else (I think their names were all ‘Larry’). A lone, slightly rotund bodyboarder quietly sneaking all the best inside waves. A fair spattering of well-behaved mini-mal riders and shortboarders (mostly locals) and a crew of pimply youth (my guess would be postpubescent ‘city-folk’) expressing their pent up #angst through the medium of surf. And of course the requesite group of learners wondering what the hell they were doing there in the first place and what did happen to their erstwhile ‘instructor’?

It was quite a daunting line up, a small take off area that was jacking up to a good head high wave going both left and right. Each time I started paddling there was either a longboarder already on it, a shortboarder snaking me or somebody dropping in down the line. I started paddling away, nervously remembering yesterday’s conversation. Maybe it was time to find a smaller peak somewhere else…

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Then a switch went off in my head: ‘why should I have to leave? I’ve been surfing here for 15 years – I have as much right as anyone to be here…’

I turned and paddled purposefully back to the peak, sat just outside the longboarders and waited for a set wave to come through. My elegantly balding head held high and proud, with my broad (quite tired) shoulders back – I probably looked like a magnificent stallion on the brow of a great mountain. A wave appeared on the horizon, I paddled towards it making my intentions clear: ‘This was MY wave. I own this wave and I will ride it as I see fit!’

I turned, dropping my chest down onto my board. Digging my hands deep into the cool Atlantic water I paddled hard and fast. I was feeling that intoxicating connection to nature as the wave reached me, lifting the back of the board. I started to plane, the board locked in, two more digs with these great big man-hands of mine. And then I took off, feet to the deck – a perfect stance. The wave lining up in front of me ready to take me to surf heaven…

Life can be hard sometimes and so can surfing. Three people had dropped in on me: two #angst ridden youths and a tumbling novice on a foamy. I made it round the first two and then had to kick out before bailing into a rotating mass of polyurethane and ignorance. I caught some white water back to the beach and started the lonely walk to the van.

There’s no clear message from this story. If it is indeed a story at all. As Dave Rastovich would say: “Live simply, so others can simply live.”

Yup. Here’s a picture of a rainbow…

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I didn’t surf today. Still not decided about yesterday…

There is no try…

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The more observant of you will notice that posts on this blog have been less than prolific as of late. The medical term for this is apparently ‘blog impotence‘.

According to Wikipedia:

The inability to get a ´blog-on’ can be both humiliating and frustrating and can lead to awkward social media encounters, such as ‘liking’ your school friends’ meal choices and even Snapchatting with your nieces…

I have been unable to get on top of a good hearty ‘weblog’ in well over a year and to be honest my last sporadic blogular ejaculations have been somewhat disappointing. Leaving me feeling slightly soiled and unappreciated…

So here I am with the wise words of Yoda in my mind – wrapping my dainty man-hands round the reins of a shamefully dusty keyboard to see if I can get back on that Papersurfer horse and ride off into the literary sunset with the cool, spring air whipping through my gracefully thinning hair. To see if I can justify the paultry $9.99 I pay in hosting fees every year and to see if I can untangle my metaphors before I get humped to death by the animal rights police…

This post was going to be about surfing. Which after far too long I have also returned to, with decreasingly painful results. Let’s hope the same can be said about my writing skills…

I didn’t surf today. But I did tune my snowboard ready for ‘Les Pyrenees’…

Kitsch in sync

Play

kitschinsync

My apologies – it’s been a while since I’ve whipped out my digital decks and spun a few tunes out into the spacernet. This is a small eclectic mix of the groovy house variety. A bit of mooch, bump, jiggle and the odd bit of ‘hmmmm that’s nice Max….’ would not be inappropriate. Except if the in-laws are staying – then you need to keep it to yourself…

The tracks are as follows (MP3 on VDJ7):

  • Kackvogel (original mix) – Solomun
  • Movin’ Chris James refix
  • Leadbelly (original)
  • Sally – Adam Port
  • Tread deep – DJ Haze
  • Need in me – Flashmob
  • Gloryhunter
  • The more I want – Eivissa
  • A better World – Fred Everything & Giom

(A big thank you to all 14,855 people that have downloaded my podcasts in the last few years! It seems that the Americans, Brits, German and Chinese are the biggest house fans out there, closely followed by the Japanese, French, Australian and a few Russians. The Dutch and ‘Others’ need to get more involved….)

Wedding photography in central Portugal

Obviously this is a blatant piece of self promotion. I’m increasing my SEO (non-nerds can Google what that means. Non-Googlers – you have no place being on the internet – so go and knit a wholemeal tanktop or carve yourself some panpipes using a rudimentary lathe and some baler twine). I’m doing this by using a ridiculously obvious title, adding live links to the interweb and also telling all of my several subscribers about my new websites.

That is the perogative of the webmaster. I have a tiny corner of the World Wide Web over which I have complete autonomy. Here I am the ruler, the Papersurfer President. In fact, in this domain – I AM GOD…

For a moment I shall leave aside my feelings of insecurity because in the world of professional photography I am merely a tiny speck on the lens of the Universal Camera. I am a byte on the SD card of existence. I am a mere pixel in the infinite RAW file of life itself.

So please share these links. Like my Facebook page. Be supportive and loving and the Universe will hug you in return. Unless you’re wearing a tanktop – then there’s no hope for you at all…

Wedding photographer in Portugal

Surf and travel photography (in Portugal and the rest of the planet)

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/markcrockettphotography

I didn’t surf today. Still spitting out seaweed from the last time I went…

The evolution of surfing…

As the Rip Curl Pro approaches again it reminds me of the first time I paddled into the lineup at a professional surfing event.

It was at the beginning of September in the autumn of 2000 and the World Championship Tour of the Association of Surfing Professionals had finally come to Portugal. In fact it had come to my home break of Cabadelo in Figueira de Foz. A beautiful day as I recall but the swell was junky and the wind had turned onshore. Difficult conditions for a newcomer like me but of course I did have the home advantage.

Rob Machado was making it look effortless on his way to a well earned win, hitting that tiny crumbling lip with an ease and grace that only a man of his Catweazley beard skills and surfing experience can produce. And myself? I was starting to look like an amateur, floundering around in the white water like a rubber-wrapped drowning rodent. So when the loudspeakers finally made the following announcement my fate was sealed…

“Can the idiot in the purple wetsuit on the orange minimal please leave the competition zone. If not you will be removed…”

I didn’t surf today. Or in fact in September, 2000.