Back in the 70’s I was a keen skateboarder or at least I was until around 1979/ 1980 . I was a lonely skater , an only child with no mates to skate with other than one lad who I would see for a week every summer ”Miles Merckel ” he lived close to the famous Southsea Skatepark . We have remained friends to this day , although he does now live in Australia . I remember how daunting the big bowl was there . I think I dropped in once , hurt myself and never tried it again . My grandfather always spoilt me rotten so I owned an Alva deck , tracker trucks and kryptonic wheels. Its only now that I realise just how expensive these things were in the 1970 ‘s . I thought I was a great skateboarder but 38 years later I realise I was pretty crap ! Despite my arthritic knees , middle aged spread and increased scene of self preservation I think that after the last 6 months of obsessive behaviour I am a better skateboarded now than I was as a child.
It all started last November in Florida . My son took his board to the skatepark at Cocoa Beach . As it happens my arthritis was killing me , the long flight and the days of pacing around theme parks was taking its toll . I was popping ibuprofen every 4 hours day after day. I was hobbling for England . I met this big American guy at the skatepark , he looked like a retired american footballer , big frame , heavy guy , carrying a few extra pounds . He opened his bag and too my surprise started to pad up and put a helmet on. He dropped into the bowl and started grinding the metal on his trucks on what was a very steep serious piece of concrete . That was it . If he can do it so can I . The next day I went to the skateshop bought a board , full set of pads and helmet , we do silly things when we go on holiday , we become someone else ,actually think its the real us enjoying a chance to exist .
The last 6 months has been an amazing chapter I actually feel quite emotional writing about ,yes thats a slight welling in my eyes , it will pass in a moment . I have always had a great relationship with my son and this skate chapter has brought us even closer together . My diary has been very open this winter , we have had so much bad weather that I just have not been to sea and fished . So weekends and weekdays have been spent visiting various indoor skateparks in the South West . I even built a mini ramp in the double garage . We can now skate indoors at home .
Then disaster stuck on the home mini ramp 8 weeks ago . I fell backwards on the ramp and landed on my right elbow and managed to dislocate my shoulder . I went as white as a ghost . It was so painful I felt sick . Three hours later my arm was levered back into the hole under sedation. Leaving me with what could be a 12 – 16 week recovery period . For 2 days I was in a dark place mentally and a great deal of pain .I didn’t think I would ever skate with Oliver again , the honeymoon was over. After 4 days I went online and purchased an new set of elbow pads and removed the sling . I was driving within 7 days . At 4 weeks I ordered another skateboard . My first tentative drop into the mini ramp was at 6 weeks , so I have been skating for 2 weeks . My knees are killing me again and my shoulder is doing really well but I know its not 100 % recovered and it may never get 100 % mobility back ?
So in 6 months of bad weather and very little time at sea I have found new friends via the sport , experienced physical trauma , become involved in community projects and find myself even closer to my son than I was before . As for the future , who knows . I think when you skate at the ripe old age of 50 ( or at least I will be in a few months time ) you appreciate every session , because deep down you know that you are skating on ever thinning ice and the clock is ticking ever more loudly .
The new skatepark will soon be complete at Mounte Hawke and the bowl should be epic. Oliver and I cant wait. Thats the only thing I do know for certain !