Porthcurno-refugee Alex Wade is considering retiring from football.
"I played so badly last night that I don't think I can face another game," said Wade.
Players who witnessed Wade's footballing travails agreed.
"He had a shocker," said one.
"He must be gutted," said another.
"He alleged that he couldn't run," said an onlooker, "but managed to run whenever he had a sniff of goal, and even managed to score a couple of times. But when he skewed an open goal wide with his left foot it summed up the totality of his play. Leaden, inept, embarrassing. It was pitiful."
Wade said that he knew he was old, slow, knackered and increasingly incompetent, but that he still had something to offer.
"If nothing else, I can be a joke," he said. "Or I could take the kick-off and goal kicks."
But these roles were rejected by Alan Hansen. "Football is too important. It's a matter of life and death. Even on a Tuesday evening game in West Cornwall, the same rules apply: it's all about winning. No team can afford to carry a fading and physically battered has-been like Wade."
Caroline Davidson welcomed the news that her partner might retire.
"All I know is that if Alex does at last retire, he won't return home on a Tuesday evening after what should be an enjoyable experience feeling abject," she said. "Yes, things seemed to have gone well in February and March, with him coming home happy, but over the past two to three weeks he's gone back to feeling rubbish afterwards. I don't know why he bothers. And if he stops, he will have more time to pursue his campaign against Cornwall Council."
Wade agreed, saying: "Life moves on. It's time for a fresh challenge. First, I'm going to ignore Cornwall Council's expensive legal letter and keep banging on at them about the state of the seafronts of Penzance and Newlyn, and second, I'm going to start publicising the extent to which drug dealers are ruining the lives of teenagers in West Cornwall. They're exploitative scum, and I hate them."
Seventy-three old diehard Manchester City fan and chairman of the Joseph Conrad Society Keith Carabine said: "I'm still playing. The lads I play with are half my age, and always make it a worthwhile experience. Isn't that what football is all about? But something seems to be up with Alex. Has QPR's defeat last night sent him over the edge?"
Pictured courtesy of Aerial Attack: Wade, before age, injuries, Cornwall Council and drug dealers in 'idyllic' West Cornwall got the better of him.
The charge was made against Porthcurno-refugee Alex Wade, who last week published a piece in which a dead minke whale - found near Marazion - was said to be a giant cat.
Wade's accuser was a spokesperson for Cornwall Council.
"It was insensitive and crass of Wade to suggest that the dead whale was a giant cat," said the person. "He added insult to injury by maintaining that the whale had been decapitated by a helicopter blade. His story had lots of flaws - for example, who would seriously believe that a giant cat had travelled to Cornwall by helicopter in the first place? We're keen to set the record straight and say that giant cats don't do this, but we also have to say that Wade showed a serious lack of taste. He should be fined or, better still, banned."
Wade rejected the allegations against him.
"I am tasteful," he said.
The spokesperson also said that steps would be taken to stop Wade from persisting in his one-man campaign to defame Cornwall Council for its lack of effort in repairing places like Newlyn green and Jubilee Pool. "We will spare no expense in hiring expensive lawyers to stop Wade," said the person. "We cannot allow criticism, even if it is justified. We will sue Wade if he says another word."
Wade said that he walked past Newlyn green every day, and often wandered past Jubilee Pool too. "It's sad to see these places looking so battered. Why can't the council get on with repairing then? They bang on about how 'Cornwall is open for business' but they seem to be doing precious little to restore the seafronts of Penzance and Newlyn to their former glory. The effect on local businesses is profound but so too is the effect in reputational terms. This part of Cornwall just looks a mess."
At this point, Wade received an expensive letter from an expensive lawyer. Unable - temporarily - to continue his campaign, he said: "Newlyn green looks a state. Jubilee Pool ought to be repaired in time for summer. Why can't Cornwall Council get on with it?"
Pictured courtesy of Laurence Hartwell and the excellent Through the Gaps blog: Jubilee Pool, damaged.
A giant headless cat has been found on a Cornish beach.
The cat travelled to Cornwall by helicopter. Its excessive size meant that it was decapitated when it stepped out of the chopper.
Experts do not understand how it then ended up on a beach near Marazion.
"We are baffled," said a spokesperson for the National Centre of Experts. "Giant cats keep themselves to themselves. Why it came to Cornwall in the first place is a mystery. How it got to the beach is also a mystery." He added: "It is an enigma."
Asked what Cornwall Council intended to do about the cat, a spokesperson said: "Recent task-orientated analysis of stakeholder-led focus groups in plenary sessions, applying a total quality management mission statement, have shown that a policy of non-engagement is best and saves much needed money. We therefore intend to do nothing at all. This policy is serving us very well with regard to Newlyn Green."
Following my report about Cornwall Council's new initiative to tax surfers according to the number of waves they ride - a fundraising measure to repair lots of things because the council has no money - a representative from the Council contacts me with more news.
"We never, ever objected to Frank Zappa, especially not in Porthcurno," he says. "We should be grateful if you would set the record straight."
What about his son Dweezil? Have you ever objected to him?
Was it in Porthcurno?
"No. The second home owners have made Porthcurno a citadel. It is impregnable. Even Frank in his heyday couldn't have got in. As for Dweezil, no way."
So you didn't object to Dweezil because he never penetrated Porthcurno?
"That is correct."
But you did once object to him?
Why and where?
"It was in the Tolcarne in Newlyn. He was on holiday. He said it was a disgrace that we hadn't done a thing to repair the green and were thinking about implementing a wave count tax to disguise how slack we've been."
So what did you do?
"We pretended to like his Dad."
That is a disgrace. You either like his Dad or you don't. But tell me, does Frank Zappa have a legacy?
What is it?
"His son. He's very good. So that's bloke Stevie Vai."
Cornwall Council has run out of money to pay for repairs to coastal areas which were battered in the recent storms. There is no likelihood of Newlyn green being a green again anytime in the near future. Sinkholes will remain sinkholes, debris will continue to festoon the sea front and as for Jubilee Pool ever regaining its former splendour, forget it.
But there is hope. The Council is soon to unveil a pioneering new scheme to shore up its coffers, pay for repairs and add to the annual bonus pool for senior personnel. On 1 May, officers will start patrolling key surfing beaches in West Cornwall, such as Sennen Cove, Godrevy and Praa Sands. They will be tasked with counting the number of waves ridden by surfers, in order to levy a new wave tax at the end of every session.
"Waves caused all the damage in the first place," said Councillor Axel Dawe, newly appointed as Chief Wave Count Officer. "We rather like the idea that waves will now be used as a means of returning Newlyn green and the Jubilee Pool to their former glory."
Dawe explained that different taxation bands will apply. "A surfer who paddles out and rides 10 waves in the course of a session will be charged £1.00 per wave. A wave count of between 11 and 20 waves will result in a charge of £1.50 for each wave after the first 10 waves. Then, all waves after the 20th wave will be taxed at £2.00 each."
Asked if such a system was punitive on pro surfers and Stef Harkon - who need to ride as many waves as possible so that they can 'rip it up' (as surfers say) - Dawe admitted that the new policy could have this effect. However, he justified it, saying that the wave count tax had been designed not only to maximise revenue but also to keep crowds in the line-up down. "Surfers will have to pick their waves carefully, so that they don't tax themselves out of the water," said Dawe. "The likes of Seb Smart, Sam Bleakley, Alan Stokes and James Parry will have to be very, very careful. But if they do run up such a high bill that they can't afford to surf, that means more waves for everyone else."
The wave tax will be administered on the spot. "Surfers will be told how many waves they've ridden at the end of each session," confirmed Dawe. "They will then be given a chit stating the amount payable. If they don't have any money on them we will apply to the courts for an attachment of earnings order."
Alternatively, surfers can register to pay monthly by direct debit.
Asked how the council could be sure of the number of waves ridden by surfers, Dawe said that he had offered jobs to a number of local photographers, including Greg Martin and Mike Newman, and another photographer from 'up the line', Tony Plant. "I'm hoping they will accept the prestigious role of photographing surfers for the Council. Their job will be to record, on digital film, the number of waves ridden by each surfer. They will then download their images, catalogue them and send them to the centrally based Wave Count team. We can't afford to pay them a salary but we can allow £2.75 per week for fully-itemised expenses. Hopefully the knowledge that they are contributing to such a good cause will be reward enough."
Dawe said that he had support from "many quarters" for the wave count tax. "We've been overwhelmed by how many people want to make surfers pay for their insistence on leading hedonistic lives which put a premium on pure pleasure and contribute so little to the greater good," he said. "Second home owners and retirees from other counties in particular have welcomed the scheme. If Cornwall is not for them, what is it for?"
Thankfully, there were not one but two silver linings for the surf community - a waiver of the wave count tax on Wednesday mornings between 5.00 and 6.00am, and no charge at all for anyone who rides under five waves in a session. This news was welcomed by Britain's still functioning if little read surf writer, Porthcurno-refugee Alex Wade, who said (while thinking of another way to mention Amazing Surfing Stories): "Those of us who struggle to get to our feet are in luck. I personally only ever ride about three waves per session, and lately haven't been riding any waves at all."
John Navin declined to comment.
Pictured courtesy of Jim Wileman: Stef Harkon throws his hands up when he hears about the wave tax.
Just enjoyed a thorough read of the final issue of The Surfer's Path (better late than never). Top issue, top mag, edited by a top bloke (ADR). Nice piece in it by Sam Bleakley on Liberia, and some good thoughts/stories from the likes of Andy and Hugo at SAS, Al Mackinnon, Steve England et al. Oh, and an interview with someone called Kelly Slater who seems to know what he's talking about.
I have a piece in The Times today on coasteering. A thread was tied up in its writing. The Times commissioned the piece yesterday morning. I duly rang a couple of coasteering operators for quotes. One was in Jersey, where, many years ago, I went coasteering with my sons. I had good chat with the owner of Absolute Adventures, a chap called Chester Mackley. We shared the same view: that coasteering is not an extreme sport; that if done under the supervision of experienced instructors, it's perfectly safe; and that it's a great way for people to see and learn about the inter-tidal zone. Ben Spicer at Cornish Rock Tors was of the same view.
Towards the end of my chat with Chester, we talked about Jersey and one or two shared acquaintances/friends there. Mark Durbano's name came up. Mark is one of the island's best-known surfers. I've written about him a couple of times here and there, and he was always an absolute gent whenever I saw him in Jersey.
Then I remembered one line in Surf Nation: that Mark goes tow-surfing with a South African based in Jersey called Chester. "Are you that person?" I asked Mackley. "I am!" he said.
I like the way threads like this get tied up in life. But equally, I wish the commission, and the tying up of these threads, hadn't come as a result of the tragic death of Charlotte Furness-Smith.
Thanks to the Laneez Surf Shop on Jersey (run by Mark and his brother Nick), for the image of Mark.
At 26,000 words, this essay approaches novella territory. Well, not quite, but it is long, and the ending is worthy of the very best short stories (or even novellas). I have my brother and his wife Emily to thank for a Christmas present of a subscription to the LRB for the pleasure of Ghosting, which I read over several lunch breaks. I wasn't totally sure of the LRB, having always been a TLS man (it's got more pictures), but would commend anyone to it now.
O'Hagan's portrayal of the narcissist that is Julian Assange is brilliant. He gets the tone just right, even if Assange (and, perhaps, others) will accuse him of betraying a man whose confidence (and confidences) he seems to have had in spades. I don't think this charge stands up. Assange let down any number of people, from his publisher to his ghost-writer (O'Hagan), and appears driven as much by money and vanity as by the undoubtedly noble aims which animated the creation of WikiLeaks in 2006.
Moreover, while O'Hagan criticises Assange, he never puts the boot in. He compares the experience of trying to ghost-write Assange's memoir/manifesto as "like working with Colonel Kurtz". The Conradian simile is apposite, but for me Assange is more Lord Jim than Kurtz. The final image of the complex Australian lingers so that the abiding impression is one of sorrow.
It will not take the leak of international, national or even my secrets to prove that these musings have nothing whatsoever to do with surfing. So what to do? Shoehorn in a query about whether Assange, being from Queensland, was a surfer in his youth? Or simply commend a read of Ghosting? I think it's the latter, though I'll also say that to date my two experiences of ghost-writing have been wildly divergent. The first resulted in The Non-Book, the second will see publication of a book in a couple of months. The Non-Book failed to appear thanks to a lack of coherence, time and organisation on behalf of the person I was supposed to haunt. The soon-to-be-published book will arrive because of the willingness to be haunted by the subject, which means he is always happy to be interviewed, has time to read drafts, responds to questions and has something to say.
A meaningful ghost, it seems, does not exist without a co-operative host.