Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My career as a surf dude

Two years, seven months and five days. Being precisely the time it has taken me to consider writing another blog entry. Blogging, or writing in general, is in serious danger of becoming one of the many activities I have started enthusiastically and subsequently failed to progress.
Take this week. The context: we are spending Christmas week 'house swapped'. And what a stunning place we are staying in - check out www.pihaoceanlookoutbandb.co.nz The owners wanted to be in our street to celebrate dad's 90th birthday, and offered us the chance to spend a week in their street. We hardly know them, but already we love them for ever. Anyway given that we are overlooking one of NZ's most celebrated - and most dangerous - surf beaches, I felt obliged to don my O'Neill First in Last Out T-shirt and head off in search of the ultimate wave. With a body board designed for a ten year old.
So on Christmas Day, dutifilly keeping between the flags, I waded out to join the other bobbing bodies hoping for the ride of their lives. Have to say that just splashing about trying to get on the wave was serious fun. And once, just once, I caught the wave and managed a magnificent er....ten metres shall we say? Determined for more of this, I looked back, checked the flags and went out further. Checking the flags is essential - the rip currents here are very disorientating. Suddenly I realise that I now have to swim, feet no longer touching, and that's cool, I can swim. But think municipal baths rather than major surf beach. 'Hey bro, get on your board and paddle!' A seventeen year old willing to teach me a thing or two was fine by me, I dutifully followed his advice and headed towards the rising wall of water. At which point I suddenly understood why you must never put a cat in a washing machine.
Somewhere between pre wash and spin cycle the board and I parted company, and I feared a trail of head injuries and angry surf dudes. Emerging finally, astonished at just how much of the Tasman Sea can fit into my nasal sinuses, I was grateful to see that no-one was clutching their head and my mate Nathan was catching up with the board. Time to call it quits for the day.
Two days, several large meals and an unspecified number of bottles of wine later, I thought I would try again. I obviously couldn't hear the board whispering to me 'get off me you overweight middle aged white bloke you look ridiculous'. In fact, it turned out that the board was so embarrassed that it folded in half under a rather small wave, and will never be ridden again.
Other Gazza enthusiasms which have either waned or ended abortively include:
Motorcycle engineering. Several years ago my old CB350S needed help, and I thought there could be a mutual relationship whereby I gained skills as a bike mechanic, and the bike became rideable again. Thank you to the guy in Stroud who bought the parts. I hadn't even finished taking it apart, let alone putting it back together.
Half marathons. Trained for and loved the Stroud event in 2006. Even put in a semi respectable time (under two hours). Spent a celebratory afternoon in the town pubs and have never attempted a race since.
Tennis. Nice rackets bought at a knockdown price. Courts in Porirua are all free, but the personal cost of embarrassment every time we play on a court next to folk who actually know how to play, is high. Wife is quite good, I am rubbish. All those hours spent watching Caroline Wozniacki in action didn't help one bit.
Five-side-football. First time I had played for years. On to it, chasing a guy half my age, determined to get the ball off him, then BANG, I am rolling around in pain wondering what hit me and why the kid hadn't been sent off. The answer: he didn't even touch me. My left achilles tendon had had enough and snapped, in true textbook fashion making me feel as if I had been shot in the leg or whacked with a baseball bat. Interestingly, while English friends made incredulous comments about my age and the foolishness of this venture ('grow old gracefully' was one email I received), Kiwis merely expressed sympathy and asked how long it would be before I was able to play again.
Which brings me nicely back to the theme of this blog. It is almost three years since we turned our lives upside down and fled to NZ, and so much has happened that I have started trying to write a book about it. It seems a bit egocentric to think that our lives have been so interesting that other people might want to read about them, but I have read biographies and travel books in which frankly not a lot happens, compared to the last three years in gazandjudiland. So in a desperate attempt to multitask I might try and revive the blog by putting a few paragraphs of the book out for consumption, and keep the book writing alive by blogging some of it.
More likely I will go back to work next week and complain to myself that I don't have enough time.

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