08 October 2006

Take The Bull By The Horns

'Hand Wave' By Jim Phillips

I pretty much grew up with Jim Phillips' art but I had never seen this piece until recently. I think I am going to order a print and put it next to a print of the classic 'In The Hollow Of A Wave Off The Coast At Kanagawa' by Katsushika Hokusai. If you look carefully there is a surfer tucked way up in the curl. The colours and ferocity of the hand brought to mind a recent surf trip I took. I'm still busy trying to edit an account of it but here is a little extract from 'Surmounting Terror':

Remember that scene in 'Point Break,' where Bhodi paddles out at giant Bells Beach? "He’s not coming back." And in a sense Patrick, like Bhodi, never did come back. No one can say for sure what happened to our good friend Pat in the woods that night but I can tell you he returned a different man. Perhaps he fought his mid-life crisis in the woods. Perhaps he battled some of his fiercest demons. Who can say? All I know is, he returned with one flip flop, a missing wallet, a missing button from his board shorts and bleeding limbs. Then he stumbled into his cave and the sleeping beast finally passed out.

I awoke as planned, early and willing, in theory, to surf. I scrambled around for my festering clothes and crawled out of my tent into a dense fog. I looked around for the remains of the summer but it was nowhere to be seen. I was cold, tired and trying to deny a hang-over. The motivation to surf, the whole point of this bloody journey, was slipping away from me faster than the summer warmth. I stumbled to the nearest toilet, walked in and saw a vast splattering of shit sprayed across the walls. Good God. I wondered if Pat was still breathing. I wretched and went off in search of a cleaner facility. As I walked through the camp site, our fellow campers were busy starting their days but each and every one of them took time to pause and stare at me as I did the walk of shame to the lavatory. What had they seen last night? What had they heard? I attempted to offer a few apologetic nods in their direction.

After a horribly unsatisfying poo, I sat on the bench on the cliff top over looking the south end of Bastendorff Beach. Apparently there was a good sandbar down there but I couldn't see it. My vision was clouded by internal and external fog. I tried to make out some swell through the mist, to no avail. I was half relieved. I returned to the camp as Mike was stirring. ‘Wanna go down and check the surf?’ He asked. ‘Aye, I suppose we should.’ Just then, Pat crawled half way out of his tent and coughed up a few pints of vomitus. The future looked bleak. Just 24 hours ago, we were fit young men in the prime of our lives, fresh, alert, strong, handsome, ready and willing to take the bull by the horns. Now look at us.