White Man, Black Board

Here’s a little story I wrote for the quite spectacular Winter edition of White Horses Magazine.

The gist was to gather as many photographers and writers as possible to converge on the first day of Winter 2013 so each could give a fresh perspective. Not sure if you’re familiar with the classic 1981 ‘A Day in the Life of Australia’ publication, but White Horses’ ‘Winterfell’ was a kind of surf-related equivalent. I’m extremely proud to have made a contribution. It’s a stunning window into a moment.


White Man, Black Board

No one on the roads. A few fluoro-vested worker bees lurking, smoking in the industrial zone that splits my valley home from the Pacific.

On the radio local shaper Richard Harvey does his usual Saturday surf report thing. Talks of two feet, maybe three on a bomb set if it’s my lucky day. Talks of it being too straight on the open stretches. The points are my best bet, he thinks.

This should have excited me.

I’ve got the big Pig on the roof, 9’6″ of loved local labour.

I adore my Pig.

It was a delicious glossy black until a few months back when I failed to restrain her properly on the racks. The wax held her down for a bit, but eventually she broke free and disappeared, a silent flicker in my rear view mirror. When I found her she was broken and battered, chunks missing, fin flattened to her underside, the whole thing a big, black fibreglass carcass munched by Currumbin Creek Road gravel.

It’s amazing what they can do, though. Glossy black was sanded back and holes were filled. Her sheen was stolen – a faded black mat finish better at hiding the scars of my idiocy. She still remains mightily distinguishable, even if her colour sees her suffer horribly from wax melt on hot days.

But today’s not hot.

It’s the first day of Winter.

And now I have my two-maybe-three feet only a few minutes away, conditions theoretically customised to the Pig’s proportions, the kidlessness, the morning quiet, a working week set to be washed away.

You’d reckon it’d all add up to something resembling special.

Not today though.

The week preceding wasn’t one to be proud of.

Race was the culprit. Age old casualised bullshit attitudes by twerps who ought to know better.

A dickhead kid at the football with her dickhead friends who thought it’d be hysterical to call a proud indigenous player an ape. And then a dickhead commentator with a dickhead ego who thought it would be awesome to compound the brouhaha with similar dickheadery.

I did nothing to contribute to it all and yet I remain ashamed.

It’s still filling my head full of sorrow and my heart full of ache as I yank on a wet wetsuit.

Out in The Alley the tide is all over the shop.

From my vantage it looks smaller than what the radio guy crystal-balled but I know this wave well enough now to recognise the deception.

My board’s a mile off being right for this stuff. Too thick, too cumbersome. I can tell by the way the water tugs at my legs, the way my feet get tangled in my leash.

I saunter in regardless and let the cold rush snap me awake.

I start paddling.

It’s futile.

Before I can blink I’m sucked north at alarming pace, snowy seafoam zig-zagging every which way beneath and dragging me everywhere but the direction I want to go.

Given the week that’s been, the irony isn’t lost for long.

A white man floundering with his black board in a wild world where despite best intentions neither work well together.

At least today. Tomorrow’s another, of course. The climate changes quickly. There’ll be a new ocean, a fresh tide, a different breeze.

My board and I will be back.

We’ll try again then.

About mattwebberwrites

I write about sport and other things. I'm a dad and a husband. I regularly do the broadcast thing on 91.7 ABC Gold Coast. I like weird guitars and wacky fuzz pedals. My tweet to follower ratio is poor, but improving. The St Kilda Football Club is my seductress. She kills me daily. Surfing helps.
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