Standard Stoppages

Who - stole the surf away?
Waves - make me dream all day...
Dreams that seem can never come true,
seems as though I'll ever be blue.

During these weeks of poor to zero surf my thoughts keep returning to two things: I keep humming Jerome Kern's song "Who" - but with a longing for surf as the new subject -  and Marcel Duchamp's artwork "Standard Stoppages".

Duchamp dropped metre long pieces of string from a metre high and glued them in whatever shape they fell. Like photographs: they are little frozen moments in time. The string's undulating flatness reminds me of the lack of force/pressure that we're experiencing at the moment. The blue background: sea and sky. The waves (as Duchamp put it "the metre diminished") represent the influence of time on appearance. The 'stoppages' are like cross-sections or film frames. They make me think about surfing: all the shapes that each wave moves through as it slips us towards shore.

I'm learning now that surfing has its 'Standard Stoppages'. Especially in summer. Every so often things will conspire to keep you out of the water for a while. Or at least out of decent waves. I feel like my development, at it's most exciting time (when I'm just really learning to ride the waves), has been forcibly frozen.

The other day, for the first time in weeks, there were suddenly beautiful clean 2-3ft waves at Combesgate. I put my wetsuit on, threw my bag in the car and shut the door to put the board on top: the car then seized the moment and locked itself! It was like some dreadful Herbie Doesn't Want You to Go Surfing nightmare. Keys and mobile phone in the car. Locked out of the flat. After finding a fantastically helpful neighbour to give me a lift around Woolacombe, until we managed to get hold of a spare key from the flat's manager, I got into the water two hours later. Two hours too late. The moment was well and truly gone. I sat in the remnants of surf, surrounded by happy, screaming, boogie-boarders and honestly: I could almost have cried.

I think we've all got half an eye on Friday's surf report for something... anything... fingers crossed!


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