Reasons to be sacked – part 1


The Isle of Man – once described to me (by a Kipper) as 50,000 alcoholics clinging to a rock in the Irish sea.

10 years ago I took a team of builders, carpenters and sculptors to Douglas (the capital) to refurbish their council run nightclub ‘Captain Nemo’s Cave’. We were to cover the walls in fake rock and make the bars and booths look like a Jules Verne submarine. Strange but true.

A week before leaving I was approached by an Australian freelance model maker called Matt for some work who promised that he could do any old crap for as long as I wanted him to and he would work hard and fast. He looked big and strong and seemed like a nice guy so I described his possible duties to which he enthusiastically agreed. He was to be ‘pug monkey’. This meant mixing cement and plaster day in day out for 4 weeks on the trot. Not mentally challenging but work’s work….

Day one – the usual confusion – unpacking of plant and tools getting materials sourced and arriving and getting people moving. Matt had a slow start but expected on a first day…

Day two – everyone was getting stuck right in. I am blessed to have worked with some great people who work hard and very efficiently. Matt was starting to concern me. Mixes were slow and inconsistent and he was looking strangly dischuffed…

Day three – morning. I go to visit Matt to see if I can motivate him in any way…

Me – ‘So Matt – how are you getting on?

Matt – ‘I was wondering if er….’

Me – ‘Uh huh…?’

Matt – ‘Well – is there anything else I can do..?’

Me – ‘well… not really I did say this was all that was available…’

Matt – ‘ It’s just that – well I’m a bit tired and a bit bored….and….’

Me – ‘and…?’ (raises quizzical eyebrow….)

Matt – ‘well….’ – he thrust his hands out at me like a 3 year old showing his mum how well he’s washed his hands

‘ ….I do a lot of hand-modelling in London and this is ruining my cuticles!!!’

By the time we’d all stopped laughing he was halfway back to Liverpool on the ferry. There’s a moral to this story. If you don’t know what it is then don’t ask me for a job…

I didn’t surf today.

‘My baby takes the morning train…


…he works from 9 to 5 and then…’

A classic in it’s day. 1980 – a fabulous year for both music and fashion. The point is not to dwell on ozone destruction from hairspray abuse or the temporary worldwide domination of stonewashed denim across the Western world (legwarmers optional) but the fact that my life has become a ‘9 to 5’ drudgery.

Alarm goes off – I get up, eat breakfast, go to work, shower, collapse (temporarily), eat crap oven based meals then collapse again. Repeat until vegetative state is obtained.

Not good. I am becoming an automaton. I am boring , bored of being boring and bored of being bored of being boring. To combat this terminal brain collapse I have been planning a transcontinental surf trip in my mind, spanning the globe and it’s glorious shores –
Costa Rica, Bali, Skegness…

‘…he takes another home again to find me waiting for him…’

But for now it’s back to the Grindstone…

…I don’t even get to go home to an adoring Sheena Easton with her fab eye makeup and modern outlook…

I didn’t surf today.

A moment’s silence please…


Today I lost an old and trusted friend. He fought his ailments valiantly for months – subtle club hammer surgery and regular tractor grease enemas but sadly to no avail…

Ten years we’ve been together – a beautiful union of man and machine. Builder and mixer together as one, endlessly churning out muck for me to create and build. Never complaining, never faltering. Today is the end of an era… *sniff* ….

If nothing else I’d like it said that my mixer was a complete tool…

I didn’t surf today.

Lunchtime snoozing…


During lunch banter is usually fairly loud and predictable. AD rants on about how many women he wants to ‘do’ or waves he wants to ‘nail’ (I think that’s the right way round) and we listen and groan in the available spaces. Today the conversation drifted to interesting sleeping arrangements…

The usual drunken ‘halfway home ended up in a hedge’ stories or ‘woke up wedged into an armchair with a mouth full of doner kebab’ type reared their heads. I thought I’d trumped everyone with my ‘woke up in a bath, in a bathroom in an all girls school dormitory, woken up by a pack of screaming girls’ tale.

But then, from nowhere came Hippy Richard, my latest employee. A slight and wirey man that we call the human JCB. He won’t use power tools, he doesn’t need power tools – just point him at a pile of something give him a shovel and say dig. Then he will dig and dig. Until all is dug. Amazing.

Anyway, his quiet voice pipes up through his tangled beard (a voice rarely heard) and recounts a lunchtime snooze on a building site. He fell asleep on the tracks of a large bulldozer and was so gone by the end of lunch that even the driver starting up the engine didn’t disturb him. Finally only the dozer driving off and dumping him into the mud could arouse him from his slumber…

Now that’s dedication to the art.

I didn’t surf today.

The day of rest…

Several days ago I posted about the ridiculous heat that was somewhat hampering progress at the Grindstone. Perfect for the weekend however, lounging by the river supping an ice cold Magners (yes I still have one left!) and an ice cream or two – until I awoke this morning to a heavily looming sky.

For several hours I debated the pros and cons of legging it up to work and strapping a tarpaulin over the roof. It couldn’t possibly rain – it’s July and I have third degree burns on my cranium.  I debated a tad too long – it has been pissing down all day (most of it apparently on my clients new roof. You know – the one with no tiles on it!).

So I’ve had a loverly day off in the rain. Making makeshift guttering and mopping up pools of water.

Dylan has been an angel – sitting in the car reading ‘the case of the Killer Tomatoes’ whilst I have gradually been having a sense of humour failure.

I love this country. I hate this country. Love it . Hate it.  Grrrr.

No I didn’t bloody surf today so don’t even ask.

Oh, but here’s some lazy photos I shot whilst sitting in the bar the other day. Just to cheer me up…

baleal unknown

…not the best waves in the world but this guy was making the most of it.

Some like it hot…


It’s tricky building a roof here. For months on end it seems like it’s time to brush up on ark design and start slinging pairs of woodland creatures into crates or it’s hot enough to do a round of easy over on rye on the bonnet of my car. My horrifically annoying alarm has been wrenching me from my bed at progressively earlier times in an attempt to get a lid on the grindstone before my tiny head gets microwaved by that big yellow thing in the sky. This normally occurs at around 10.30am when I can’t drink enough to keep up with the sweating and my eyeballs go dry.

5.45am my day began today. Even the tweety birds were turning over and grumbling for me to shut up.  The sun was kept at bay for a while by some stubborn mist hanging on to the hills until it shouldered it’s way through to come into heavy contact with my already fried brain.

Still, the timber is all pitched. The boarding pinned down and the insulation laid. Just a few tiles to throw around and a dollop of cement here and there and Bob’s your Aunties live in lover – sorted.

Also I only have minor sunstroke and partial burning. Bonus.

The poster has nothing to do with roofs or heat or early mornings. But I like it.

I didn’t surf today.

I love a challenge…

quinta da cabril

My new house – I’ve posted a few more ‘before’ photos at flickr. I must be stone cold bonkers – I’ve just spent the best part of ten years working on (or working for the money) to rebuild a pile pf rocks. Then I go and buy an even bigger pile.

It is right by the river though – next to a beautiful gorge with a perfect swimming lagoon. There are worse things to do with the next ten years… I think.

I didn’t surf today. Thursday night – oh yes.