I've tried surfing in high heels many times, but I've just never been convinced that it's practical. Maud le Car would beg to differ. Suitably inspired, I'm tottering down to the beach, surfboard under arm, to try again.
A nice book landed in the hall the other day, the postman having propelled it through the letter box with unusual force. It was joined by another, and then another, and together they were welcome additions to one that arrived a while ago, though whether they will be happy to be in the company of my novel, Flack's Last Shift - due out in a few weeks - is not known.
The first arrival was Golden Lily. This is the story of Lijia Xu, Asia's first dinghy sailing gold medallist. Hers is a remarkable story. "You must comply with every instruction and have no right to say a single 'no'." Lily, as she is known, was told this at the Army training camp at which she, in common with all Chinese athletes, began her Olympic training. I recall a similar edict when I was a trainee solicitor but even so I had considerably more freedom than Lily. That she succeeded so well is all the more admirable given injuries that seriously scuppered her bid for glory. A very good and inspirational read.
The second book through the letter box was The First Indian. As its name suggests, this is the tale of another first, this time that of Dilip Donde, who, in 2010, became the first Indian sailor to complete a solo circumnavigation under sail - a fine effort accomplished by little more than 200 people to date. I haven't finished this book yet but so far it's excellent - an accessible and warm read.
Another in the 'to finish' category is Around the Coast in 80 Waves by Jonathan Bennett. This has only just been delivered and I'd say I'm 80 or so pages into what is an appealing and witty read. Moreover, it's a book that features my good friend Aerial Attack, though perhaps criminally without reference to any of his attacks, aerial or otherwise. A good addition to the ever-burgeoning British surf lit library.
Before this deluge of watery words I was submerged in One Breath, by Adam Skolnick, which recounts the tragic death of Nick Mevoli while freediving. I reviewed this book for the TLS and was complimentary about it, for good reason. Skolnick ably describes the technicalities of freediving and brilliantly captures Mevoli's exuberant and yet tormented character. Interestingly, New Zealander Will Trubridge, who features often in One Breath, has just set a new freediving world record of 122 metres. If you ask me diving down 122 metres is as mad as it is impressive; if you want to understand better what motivates the likes of Trubridge, check out One Breath.
Now then, will these books be pleased that another one is soon to enter the world? I don't know. But the cover of Flack's Last Shift is below and it's published on 9 June.
My favourite coconut water brand, COCO-DIAMONDICO, is currently running a competition. If you buy COCO-DIAMONDICO, you can not only be really healthy but also win a holiday. And not just any old holiday. No, that would be rubbish. If you win a COCO-DIAMONDICO holiday, you get to go to THE BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD.
Because of this, on a recent trip to A SUPERMARKET I bought every carton of Vita-Coco. When I got home I did the competition. Did I win? No.
So I'm not going anywhere - at the moment. I have another 793 entry slips to try, but you're only allowed to do one a day so it may take some time before I get to go to THE BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD.
This is typical of the coconut water lover's life. It's all joy and tropics and upside and balm.
In a less ecstatic development, I walked my dogs. I walk them twice a day, every day, come rain or shine. I love my dogs (Rio, the old one, and Maya, the not so old one) possibly as much as I love the idea of a holiday in THE BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD. Which is why I've posted photos of them (and their black lab mate, Polly) here.
Today we went to an old Cornish cove. I closed my eyes and, for a second, it was as if neither holidays in best places in the world nor coconut water mattered.
In an unprecedented twist the mother of the shark accused of trying to eat Australian three-time World Champion surfer Mick Fanning has declared "Enough is enough."
Mrs J Shark, of J-Bay, South Africa, held a press release three minutes from yesterday in which she said: "My son was out for his usual swim when he found his favourite route blocked by a surfer sitting on a board, apparently waiting to 'ride a wave'. He politely asked the surfer to move by nibbling playfully at his ankle. The surfer then punched him on the back, just underneath his scary fin. It was a disgraceful and unprovoked attack."
Other members of the shark community agreed.
"If you borrow money at stupid rates of interest and fail to pay it back, you've no one but yourself to blame," said Mr Lone Shark. "Or as we sharks like to say, if you can't stand the heat you should get out of the water."
Joining the chorus of disapproval at Fanning's underwater punch were three wise men, four horsemen and Jeremy Clarkson. Said Clarkson: "I'd like to commend the shark for not eating Fanning when he received that punch. If only I'd shown the same kind of restraint. I'd still be presenting Top Gear and we'd be plotting a shark special."
Mrs J Shark's son insisted on maintaining a dignified silence, swimming off and refusing all overtures to speak to the media, sell his story and write an updated autobiography. It was left only for Mrs J Shark to say: "My son didn't do what came naturally. He wasn't himself. He thought for a mad moment that he was a dolphin. Please leave him alone and allow him the space and time he needs to return to normal."
I rarely write this blog any more. Woe is me. The lack of writing is not through lack of interest in surfing but because these days I am always too busy. What am I busy doing? Why, all kinds of thing, but mainly working, which means writing, but not this kind of writing, which is a shame, for me anyway, because when I write this kind of writing I write like some sort of fool which is what my headmaster once called me, or rather asked me, for his words were: "Wade, are you some sort of a fool?"
I always enjoy thinking of this question, which was prompted by a terrible crime. The head was a maths teacher and asked his class to stand up and swivel round in an anti-clockwise direction. I was about 13 and a total dunce at maths. Like a fool, I swivelled clockwise. The head promptly tore into me. He and I had what could best be described as a relationship of cordial hatred; he assumed I'd swivelled clockwise deliberately, to subvert his class.
How I wish this level of cunning had been mine! But it wasn't. I was just an idiot. But what was the head getting at when he asked "Are you some sort of a fool?" Surely one is a fool, or one is not a fool? What sort of a fool was he thinking I might have been?
The answer, perhaps, is a writerly fool, someone who insists on trying to make a living out of this most doomed of professions despite the clear mathematical, not to mention anecdotal, evidence to the effect that a career in mathematics is less foolish.
But there is also honour in foolishness, which is why I remain stoked to be writing Winter's Tale - Waves, Swords and Wisdom - The Story of Russell Winter. Russ and I have had a couple of decent chats and the writing is underway. Tim Nunn sent me this great pic the other day, and it neatly encapsulates why Russ is not some of a fool but instead the UK's most successful ever surfer.
This rarely written blog resurfaces. Am stoked to have had this piece in the Freelance column of last week's Times Literary Supplement, about QPR, the American writer Robert Coover and football. Things are also looking very good for an agreement to write a book about/with a key figure in European surfing. More soon.
All perks come to an end someday. This law of being a freelance writer is as immutable as my good friend Aerial Attack's First Law of Surfing. Just as the surf will pump at precisely the moment Aerial Attack is prevented from going surfing, so it is that I will have to bid a tearful farewell to nice things lent to me by PRs and other kind souls.
And so it was that I said farewell to the Peugeot 5008 MPV, loaned to me by, well, Peugeot. As you can see from the pic above, this MPV does what it says on the tin, room-wise: oodles of space, so much so that it even accommodated my Meyerhoffer, which is a few inches the long side of 9ft.
The car took Caroline and I on a number of pleasing journeys, pleasing because this machine drives so smoothly that sometimes Caroline forgot that I was driving. Often enough, she protests that my driving makes her car sick, but not this time. Look - here she is, a picture of calm:
And here I am, snapped via a mobile phone looking like the proud owner of just the right kind of car, one that works, drives nicely and has whizzy SatNav, as opposed to mine, which failed its MoT today and is set to cost me a small fortune.
I like the Peugeot 5008. Can I have it back, please?