A couple of days ago I popped into my doctor's for a routine examination of my latest injury, this a broken metatarsal in my right foot. Before I knew it a minor ailment had morphed into a reading of the Riot Act, that most unwelcome of acts, worse even than the Data Protection Act 1998, and that's saying something.
"Give up surfing. Give up football. Give up all contact sports. Take up swimming. Take up knitting. I'm serious. Your neck is too fragile for any of this stuff."
So said the doc, a straight-talker from the Old School, that most excellent of schools, better even than the Sunset Beach Elementary, and as for boxing, he wasn't keen.
"Boxing? Are you mad?" were his words. No, said I, I'm actually rather sensible - I don't spar any more, well not unless Sam Smart promises only to hit me gently, on the side of my chest that doesn't still ache from a couple of broken ribs - and certainly never in the head.
"Even so," said the doc, "I just can't see how whacking the bags and pads at force can be good for your neck. All that impact, being delivered along your arms, through your shoulders and into your neck? No, it's no good. You've got to give it up."
My medico comrade said he felt "wretched" by the end of this chat, which is rather how I've felt ever since, too. I've been pondering his words for the past couple of days, trying to think of what to do if I really do stop surfing, boxing and all the rest of it. Swim? Knit? Somehow they're not the same, but a journey to Newquay on Tuesday didn't help. In the car with me were Aerial Attack and Kerry Powell. Our purpose was twofold: to make further efforts to resolve the present SGB situation, and, in the case of AA and myself, to check out an art gallery for a Cornwall Today piece. Both aims were accomplished, but on the way to Newquay, in Newquay and on the way home fron Newquay, the talk was of one thing and one thing only: surfing.
AA and Kerry had just scored some decent waves at Sennen and were stoked. We bumped into various surfing types in Newquay and they were all stoked, too. On the way back to the far west there was yet more stoke. The bloke in the Shell garage was stoked, the bloke with the white van by the side of the road - he who spells 'potatoes' with an apostrophe, that most egregious of linguistic errors - was stoked, my hat was stoked, the sea was stoked, the gravel was stoked and even the administrative staff at the ASP were stoked, because they've finally introduced anti-doping tests in surfing.
But all this surf stoke had a negative effect on me. As AA and Kerry regaled me with tales of waves ridden at Sennen, it struck me that it's not just the feeling of riding waves that one has to say farewell to, if one is sensible and decides to heed medical advice, it's a big old pulsing, vibrant and super-stoked community.
"Ah yes," counters the doc, "but you could remain involved in surfing. You could take up surfing photography, for example, or throw yet more energy into helping to sort out the state of the UK surfing nation."
Here, though, is the rub. I've always been a doer. Even as a writer - an occupation that tends to the observational rather than the active - I've always preferred to do the thing I'm writing about. Method writing, moi? Exactly. So the idea of sitting on the sidelines, somehow tangentially involved, is of limited appeal.
No, it's clear to me that what I need is a second opinion. I got one from AA the other day: "I think you should carry on surfing." This was good, so far as it went, but it's back to the consultants for me. If a new one - for yes, there may yet be a medical person out there who has not seen me - says that I have to stop pretty much everything and just pad about in cotton wool then OK, fair enough, I will.
Meanwhile, I'm off to London. Work is taking me there and I'm actually looking forward to it. You see, London is not a place of stoke, and the absence thereof is just what the doctor ordered.